THE element of the Lisbon treaty which has most caught the eye of worker representatives is its conferral of legal status on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
There are several elements of the charter which impact directly on the rights and entitlements of workers and which will come into force in a yes vote.
Chief among those are:
Article 23 which states equality between men and women must be ensured in all areas, including employment, work and pay.
Article 28 which says workers and employers have the right to negotiate and conclude collective agreements at the appropriate levels and, in cases of conflicts of interest, to take collective action to defend their interests, including strike action.
The document also points out that the European Union will establish an internal market which shall work for the “sustainable development of Europe based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress, and a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment”.
The treaty also claims to promote economic, social and territorial cohesion, and solidarity among member states, hinting at the opening up of more established trading routes between its participants.
Another major concern for Irish workers is the future of the public service.
Under the treaty, public services are given special status through a protocol.
According to the Government, that protocol “affirms that the provisions of the treaties do not in any way affect the competence of the member states to provide, commission and organise services such as education and health”. Whether, for better or worse, that means that those services will remain under the effective control of each member state — the Government.
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