Both sides argue over how ratification could affect workers’ rights

JOBS were at the fore of the Lisbon Treaty debate yesterday with both sides arguing how ratification could affect workers’ rights.

Libertas frontman Declan Ganley began the day by claiming those who suggested Lisbon would boost employment would “fail Junior Cert economics”.

He called for evidence in the text of the treaty to back up the Yes side’s claims.

However, the trade union movement responded and said the best way to protect workers and conditions was to vote Yes.

And Labour party leader Eamon Gilmore told the Oireachtas committee on European Affairs there were many victories for workers in the Treaty.

He said a Yes vote next week would improve the employment prospects here and across the EU.

Because otherwise, he said, the EU would have to return its attention to the original objective in Lisbon, to streamline its decision-making process.

He said ratification of the treaty would allow Europe to focus on dealing with important economic issues “rather than plunge the union into a number of years of institutional naval-gazing”.

Mr Gilmore said the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the European confederation of trade unions both endorsed the treaty on the basis of workers’ rights.

And Mr Gilmore rounded on Sinn Féin’s anti-Lisbon stance and its Deputy Aengus O’Snodaigh for raising the issue of the minimum wage in the context of the Lisbon Treaty. He said the pressures on the minimum wage were not coming from Europe but from Northern Ireland, where Sinn Féin is in government and employers can pay workers less.

“If Sinn Féin want to do something constructive in this jurisdiction please do something about the minimum wage north of the border where you are in government,” he said.

Earlier Mr O’Snodaigh was critical of an apparent about-turn by the Labour Party leader on whether the decision taken by the electorate in 2008 to reject the treaty should stand.

“In the aftermath of the first referendum in June 2008, Deputy Gilmore proclaimed that the Lisbon Treaty was “dead” and that the result of the referendum must be fully respected.

“He went on to argue that it would be entirely wrong, inappropriate and counterproductive for the European Union to proceed on the basis of any settlement that does not fully respect the voice of the Irish people,” he said.

Mr Gilmore said he stood by his assertion and that the treaty would be dead if Ireland did not ratify it.

He said, however, that the guarantees secured in the meantime had cleared up contentious issues.

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