LISTENING to various commentators rehash the same opposing arguments concerning the second Lisbon vote is like rewatching an old film, and not a very good one.
Yesterday, it was the turn of Irish regional secretary of Unite Jimmy Kelly and Labour spokesperson on Europe Joe Costello to go head to head on RTÉ radio trotting out the same debate about workers’ rights we heard last year.
In short, Mr Kelly argued on behalf of Ireland’s second largest trade union that the treaty was bad news for workers’ rights.
And yes, you guessed it, Labour’s Joe Costello said the treaty was good news for Irish employees.
Mr Kelly argued the EU’s “solemn declaration” protecting the rights of workers was worthless given the way that European Courts have interpreted workers’ rights as being subservient to those of business.
“In the EU itself, we have factual experience of European Court of Justice rulings which set back workers’ rights proportionate to the interests of the market, and the European Court of Justice has handed down a number of rulings which in each case sets back the rights of workers,” he said.
Of course, the Labour spokesperson on Europe had an entirely different view as “Jimmy hasn’t told the full story”. Far from undermining the rights of workers, it actually helps them, he said.
“In the Lisbon treaty, there is an absolute commitment, that was put in by the European Trade Union Confederation, and that is there is a commitment by the European Union to the social economy to the social market and that commitment is to be within the context of the European treaties so that, essentially, when policy-making is taking place in Europe it must be socially-proofed,” said Mr Costello.
From there, it was only a short step to who was more visible defending the Thomas Cook workers on their trip to the Bridewell.
“It’s only a few weeks since workers at Thomas Cook were in the Bridewell so don’t lecture anybody on workers’ rights here,” said Mr Kelly.
The Labour TD hit back with: “I was with Thomas Cook workers. I didn’t see you there.”
Unite’s Irish regional secretary retorted: “Well, I was there, I was photographed in the paper if you were interested.”
The farcical episode drew to a close with each man accusing the other of not telling the truth.
With such pettiness, repetition and paucity of sensible argument on show, it’s going to be a long month for voters.
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