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DAPSE Minutes, 13.12.2003

category international | irish social forum | press release author Wednesday December 17, 2003 14:55author by DAPSE - DAPSE Report this post to the editors

DAPSE Minutes, 13.12.2003

Minutes of DAPSE Meeting,
Saturday, December 13th, 2003.
Teacherís Club.

Brendan Young, Fergus , John Meehan, Aidan McKeown, Miriam Murphy, Carmel Duggan, Deirdre de Burca, Barry Finnegan.

Review of Seminar on 6th.
New Year Activities
Alliances / networking.

The Seminar on the 6th drew a small attendance, due to other events going on at the same time. The Press Conference was difficult to organise and took a lot of time. Overall, though, the two events were a good start and an effective base to build on. Making the connection to FJ Stummann was good and useful meetings were organised with him and SF and NGOs.

Seminar also succeeded in getting media attention, i.e., Paul Cullenís article in the Irish Times. Brendan and Miriamís follow up letter to the Irish Times will be published on Monday 15th. The media covers the IGC every day but deals with the opposing view point only sporadically.

DAPSE needs to develop an effective and strategic way to work with the media, and avoid the naievity displayed by some activists. A list of doís and donítís could be drawn up by DAPSE (Brendan) to guide people in working with the media.

John Meehan will also follow up his letter to Pat Kenny show, perhaps in conjunction with the Green Party.

Potential activities for 2004 include:
Getting DAPSE speakers to talk to the organisations of those people we have made contact with: SF, ASTI, WERRC, Green Party, DCTU and other relevant organisations. Deirdre de Burca will draw up a list of such groups.

Resourcing these talks means that DAPSE members themselves will have to get up to speed on all the technical issues and on presentation / using the media skills. Date for training on technical issues set for December 18th at 6. Possibility of media training will be explored in the new year.
Possibility of getting FJ Stummann back to Ireland in March. . Deirdre de Burca raised possibility of inviting him to speak to the Forum for Europe, along with a speaker from DAPSE.

If he were to be in Ireland at end March, DAPSE could avail of him to stage some event to counter point a presidency event.
At some point in February, Health Ministers meet in Cork. DAPSE will organise something to coincide with this and will approach other groups on this, for example Miriam will contact Doctors for their Communities to let them know about DAPSE. Miriam will also contact Jo Murphy Lawless as a potential speaker for such an event. Miriam continues to research examples of priviatisation of health services and anyone else who can, should do this also.

Pan European Anti Gats Alliance is coming to a head. World Development Movement is working for a mass Local Government Motion passing day whereby anti-gats groups will provide the Local Authorities with motions that they can pass. A global anti-Gats day is also planned.

As Local Authorities have little power in Ireland, contacting them has more PR value than strategic value, but should be done.
DAPSE could meet with independent TDs, either individually or as the Technical Group. Deirdre will check to see if it is possible to meet them before Christmas.
Pascal Lamy is coming to Dublin on January 6th as part of the formal handover of the Presidency. Time is tight, but DAPSE should try to do something. Possibly a press conference (Jo Murphy Lawless, Bernadine OíSullivan, Mary Lou McDonald suggested as speakers), and / or some street theatre type activity. Could also try to get the Pat Kenny show to cover this, seen as how a preliminary connection was made.

Alliances / networking
The case for building an overarching alliance of groups to create awareness of, and opposition to, the current text of the Constitution and potentially to call for a no vote in the referendum was made. The document produced by the Assembly of the Social Movements was seen as a good base for this.

The case for as inclusive a movement as possible, allowing organisations to contribute from their strengths, was made. DAPSE will be good on lobbying, providing information etc, but other activities will also be important.

Brendan has proposed to the PANA executive and to Daithi Doolin (Sein Finn) that a meeting be called for the 10th of January to set up an overarching campaign and to invite participants of the AEIP meeting on December 13th to this.

Next Meeting:
DAPSE training, Thursday 18th December 6.30 Ė 8.30. 4 Lower Ormond Quay, D 1.

author by Citizen Joepublication date Wed Dec 17, 2003 15:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

My understanding of DAPSE is that it is trying to raise awareness of the dangers of a privatisation agenda being part of the new European constitution i.e. that privatisation of public services such as health, education and local government would be encouraged in the European constitution.
Would it be a good idea to talk to trade unions which represent public sector workers such as IMPACT, SIPTU, INO, ATGWU, craft unions, INTO, TUI etc to get their involvement and their expertise etc into the campaign?
Any plans for such a move?

author by Ciaranpublication date Wed Dec 17, 2003 21:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Citizen Joe, yes it would be a good idea to get trade unions involved in anti-GATS work. Unfortunately, the over-cautious approach of the leadership to everything, combined with 15 years of "partnership", have, I think, completely dulled the Trade Union movement to the dynamics of how capitalism is working, via GATS, to completely undermine everything the Trade Union movement has acheived.

The AFL-CIO in the US produced some good analysis on what GATS would mean for trade unionists. For example one of their statements produced in 2002....

February 27th, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America.

U.S. trade negotiators at the World Trade Organization (WTO) are currently seeking to expand an existing trade agreement called the General Agreement on Trade in Services, or GATS. Negotiators are not only trying to extend the reach of GATS to more sectors and thus more areas of our lives, but they are also working to create new GATS rules that will further limit how governments around the world regulate and provide services in the public interest. Unfortunately, the interests of workers and their families have not been the focus of these GATS negotiations. Instead, negotiators are prying open countries' markets to foreign service providers without adequate public discussion or any clear assessment of the impacts these negotiations will have on workers' rights, the environment, and social and economic development.

As part of the multi-year, multi-issue Campaign for Global Fairness we launched in 2000, the AFL-CIO is working with trade unionists and other allies from around the world to change the current direction of the GATS negotiations. Through membership education, international solidarity, corporate campaigns and political action, we will make our voices heard in the domestic and international arena. We demand that the GATS must serve the needs of the many, not just the few.

We are deeply concerned that GATS negotiators - with little expertise on regulatory policy, development, or the social aspects of basic services - are intruding into areas of domestic law and policy that have very little to do with traditional trade rules on tariffs and quotas. The GATS now covers investment and labor mobility as well as trade, and GATS rules could facilitate the privatization and deregulation of services in a broad range of sectors.

∑ Because the GATS covers investment in services, it will affect the regulation of purely domestic services, like construction and sanitation. Even rules that treat foreign and domestic service suppliers the same - including rules setting standards for professional licensing and certification, safeguarding public health and safety, ensuring universal access to basic services, controlling monopolies, and protecting workers' rights and the environment - could be challenged at the WTO if foreign investors feel these rules unduly constrain their competitiveness.

∑ The GATS also contains rules on the temporary entry of service personnel. Some countries have suggested that the GATS should allow companies to import workers with less government oversight, yet the GATS contains no provisions to ensure that the fundamental rights of these workers will be protected.

∑ Except in the narrowest of circumstances (where no private providers compete with government services), public services can be subject to the GATS. This allows WTO members to challenge domestic policies that protect governmental services if they believe these policies put private providers at a competitive disadvantage, even where government involvement is necessary to guarantee access to essential services in areas such as health care, education, and utilities. WTO rules will also penalize governments that reverse privatizations, even if such privatizations have lowered service quality or have led to less public accountability and access.

∑ Negotiators may place additional limits on government involvement with the service sector by further restricting public subsidies and controlling the way governments purchase services for their own use. Without adequate safeguards, these new rules could subject public grants, loans, tax incentives, and other aid to challenge, and they could threaten responsible contracting rules and living wage laws.

Given these potentially serious and far-reaching consequences, negotiations should be suspended until a full and open assessment of the GATS is completed. This assessment must address how the GATS negotiations will affect the economic and social development of poorer countries, the provision of public services, the use of government subsidies and responsible procurement policies, the effective regulation of services, and the protection of workers' rights, the environment, and human rights. It must include the WTO, UN agencies including the ILO, elected representatives and regulatory agencies of the WTO member governments, academics, trade unions and other civil society groups from around the world. The assessment is necessary to guide negotiators in their work and to enable politicians and the public to provide educated input into these negotiations.

As a condition of future GATS negotiations, the GATS, like all trade agreements, must include enforceable commitments to protect workers' rights and the environment. No company or country should be allowed to benefit from GATS rules if it violates the core labor standards, which are defined by the International Labor Organization to include freedom of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively, and prohibitions on child labor, forced labor, and discrimination in employment. Service sector workers are among the most poorly paid in the world, they are more likely than workers in other sectors to be women, and they receive fewer benefits and enjoy less job security than other workers. Like all workers, they must be able to freely exercise their fundamental rights if the benefits of increased trade and investment are to be broadly shared, and if the global economy is to work for working families.

In addition, we oppose any expansion of the GATS until the following guarantees are fully incorporated into the agreement:

∑ All essential public services, like health care, education and utilities - including public services provided in competition with the private sector - must be clearly excluded from the GATS. The United States must not use our negotiating leverage to convince other countries, especially developing countries, to make WTO-enforceable commitments to privatize their essential services. Countries must be free to reverse any existing commitments to privatize essential services if they determine that it is in the public interest to do so. Rules on subsidies and procurement must fully protect the ability of governments to support and purchase services in ways that promote economic development, social justice and equity, public health, environmental quality, and human and workers' rights.

∑ Guestworker programs too often are used to discriminate against U.S. workers, depress wages and distort labor markets. Meanwhile, the proliferation of these programs has resulted in the creation of a class of easily exploited workers who cannot fully exercise their fundamental rights. Before any new commitments on temporary entry are made under the GATS, these programs must be reformed to include more rigorous labor market tests, involve labor unions in the labor certification process, and guarantee the same workplace protections for temporary workers that are available to all workers.

∑ The GATS must allow governments to regulate foreign investors and other service providers to fully protect public health and safety, consumers, the environment, and workers' rights. Currently, GATS rules on domestic regulations might be based on the so-called "necessity test," which bars any regulations that are not absolutely necessary - from the WTO's perspective - to ensure the quality of the service. This test does not adequately balance the public interest against private interests, and it provides a completely unacceptable foundation for disciplining government regulations.

∑ A number of service sectors should be excluded from the GATS entirely. Some of these sectors, such as maritime, air transport, trucking, and other transportation services, should be exempt because of the need for adequate government regulation of these sectors. The current GATS exemption for air transport services should also be maintained because the current well-developed legal framework for negotiating air service rights is likely to provide superior benefits to United States interests than would the GATS.

∑ Other sectors that are heavily regulated because they are natural monopolies or have an inherently social component, such as postal services, utilities such as water, energy, and sanitation, corrections, education and child care, and health care, should also be exempt from the GATS. Potential liberalization of these sectors must be debated amply in the domestic political arena, including at the state and local level, and not locked in through international trade negotiations.

Finally, the WTO must also become more open to the public: draft negotiating positions and other country documents, along with the WTO's own documents, must all be available to the public. And even the best set of GATS rules will not provide much comfort to workers and their families until the WTO dispute resolution process becomes more transparent and allows the participation of interested stakeholders such as trade unions and other civil society organizations.

author by Citizen Joepublication date Thu Dec 18, 2003 11:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks Ciaran. I'm learning. However, while I accept that the union leaderships are wary of rocking any boats these days, I still think it would be worth the effort to try to build alliances and get the involvement of the unions in DAPSE. I'm pretty sure (if I get a chance I'll trawl the websites to show some evidence) that public sector unions are against privatisation of services such as health, local government and education - of course they are! So why not get them involved. Better to get them involved than to slag them off from the sidelines. If they are involved, it's more likely that an awareness of the dangers of the new Euro constitution can be made among their members.

author by Part of the Resistancepublication date Thu Dec 18, 2003 12:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"I'm pretty sure (if I get a chance I'll trawl the websites to show some evidence) that public sector unions are against privatisation of services such as health, local government and education - of course they are! So why not get them involved. Better to get them involved than to slag them off from the sidelines."

Good point but then most of the unions are against the bin tax but that didn't stop the bureaucrats getting into trucks and breaking solidarity strike action by bin workers.

author by seedotpublication date Thu Dec 18, 2003 12:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Both Pat Cahill and Bernadine O'Sullivan have spoken at DAPSE events - from ASTI, one of the teachers unions.

There has been contact with the INO.

If you wanted to get involved a co-ordinated attempt to find at least one member of each affected union who would feed material into their branch and other committees would obviously be a big help in any campaign like this.

In the meantime, thanks for the insights.

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=62556&topic=eu
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