Opposition to single currency grows

A recent poll of Labour voters by ICM has shown that only 22% wanted to join the euro in this Parliament and that 20% said they would not vote for Labour if they campaign for the single currency. 54% do not want to abolish the pound.

Meanwhile 30 Labour MPs have now formed a coalition to oppose the euro in the Party. The Chancellor of the Exchequer warned a recent meeting of European Finance Ministers that the European Central Bank’s plans to scrutinise national budgets before they were presented to their own people would have cut £11 billion from public spending prior to our recent budget.

Britain’s largest trade Union UNISON has just sent a special pamphlet to all of its 1,250 local Branches called Say No ! It is a powerful argument against the euro. UNISON’s General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “The UK’s public services are not only under threat from the PFI and PPPs. They are also threatened by membership of the Euro. The strict budgetary limits imposed by the Growth and Stability Pact means that if the UK joined the Euro. We would be force to cut public spending by £10 billion. The indepenent think tank the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, is even more pessimistic and believes that the cuts could be as much as £22 billion.”

Workers in Italy have just staged General Strikes against their Prime Minister’s attempts to deregulate labour market controls following the EU’s summit. Workers in Germany are also taking widespread strike action. IN fact in Germany, where the word teuer means expensive, the euro is known as the teuro. Prices have universally risen and the economy of this so called mainstay of the euro is in free fall. There were 46,900 business insolvencies in Germany in 2001 as they prepared for euro entry. Unemployment has gone up sharply officially to 4.32, but more realistically according to Die Welt at the start of 2002 to 5.5 million.[1] In the first quarter of this year German retail sells fell by 4%. The German banks, once the powerhouses of Europe, are now bottom of all the European banking league tables. Not surprising to see that in recent polls only 38% of Germans are in favour of the euro and most want to return to an independent Deutschmark.

Despite Germany’s recession, which is really bordering a slump, British Treasury officials have recently calculated that the pound would need to be devalued by a staggering 30% before Britain could join the euro and they have described the path “to a devaluation of that magnitude” as being “too difficult as it would reignite inflation.”

Eurozone – low growth area

The misnamed Stability and Growth Pact designed rhetorically to get eurozone countries out of their misfortunes is only compounding the problems. Germany will have to cut its public spending by a massive 12 billion euros to meet the terms of the pact and Amsterdam and Maastricht Treaties, hardly a helpful move for its unemployed and public sector and manufacturing workers. French Ministers and officials have already made it plain that to achieve a balanced budget by 2004 would be “impossible”. The newly elected Prime Minister of Portugal has already said that Portugal’s public finances are “totally out of control” and a budget deficit in excess of 4.5%, that is way above the Maastricht guidelines, is already anticipated. In this context it is inevitable that some European countries are seeking to break the rules on other matters too. For instance France is seeking to protect itself from the neo liberal competition that underpins the euro. It has refused to open up its energy market to competition, while of course remaining quite keen to buy up any energy supply, utility or service on sale under EU laws in Britain or elswhere.

CYWU Gen Sec active on the issue

CYWU’s General Secretary has been speaking and writing avidly against the single currency on the basis of CYWU policy both at home and abroad. He has recently addressed an NEC fringe meeting of the Public and Civil Service Union and demonstrations in Europe and the Congress for Democracy and No Campaign and Democracy Movement. Copies of Doug’s pamphlet: The Euro: Bad for Trade Unions is available for £1.50 from National Office. A recent article for Federation News by the Gen Sec on this issue appears on the cywu website.

Cinema advertisement

Peter Richardson of Comic Strip has recently produced an ad which will go on release in all cinemas opposing the euro. It stars Vic Reeves, Harry Enfield, Rik Mayall, John Sessions, Phil Cornwell, Jools Holland and Labour MPs Kate Hoey and Diane Abbott. In the ad Harry Enfield appears as Time Nice But Dim while Vic Reeves appears as a toilet roll salesman comparing euro notes with Buffy Fluff toilet paper.

No euro forces unite

While the pro euro forces are in a state of collapse, the anti euro forces have united recently behind the No Euro campaign. This brings everyone together from big and small businesses to trade unions and political and campaigning groups.

For those seeking to find out more about the impact of the euro on your work and your community start with one of the many websites: www.no-euro.com or www.freebrit.demon.co.uk

Our new commitment to political education as a union should perhaps begin with this the biggest political issue of the day that will effect all of our lives.


[1] Die Welt January 9th 2002.



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