SIPTU said the Government’s failure to convince workers meant it only had itself to blame for its failure to get a yes vote on the Lisbon treaty.
The union, which has 276,000 members, had been prepared to back the treaty if the Government was prepared to back the collective bargaining aspect of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. On two occasions in the past three weeks the union demanded a commitment from the Government on collective bargaining before it advocated a yes vote.
It said the Government never gave such a promise.
“Without a clear commitment to workers’ rights there was no way the Government could persuade those same workers to vote yes. It was an act of faith that the experience of Nice did not justify,” it said.
Craft workers’ union TEEU had set out its stall on Lisbon early in the campaign and yesterday’s result backed its call. “The TEEU favours a social Europe but, unfortunately, recent key judgements by the European Court of Justice show that the pendulum has swung against workers’ rights and in favour of big business,” said the union’s general secretary Eamon Devoy. “We have seen a sustained attack on working conditions since the adoption of the Nice Treaty. Why would workers vote for more of the same?”
Unite, which had asked its 60,000 members in the Republic to vote no, said the way in which the campaign was fought pointed the way to a new more socially based Europe. “The quality of the debate on workers’ rights has been high and this should point to a greater prominence for the rights of all the people of Europe taking precedence now that
Europe’s political leaders are being forced to draw breath,” said regional secretary Jimmy Kelly.
Employers’ body IBEC said it was disappointed with the result. IBEC director general Turlough O’Sullivan said: “This treaty was always about making Europe work better so it would be stronger in the world. When the fog clears, the challenge for all of us is to see how to do this without weakening Ireland in Europe or Europe in the world.”
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