Letter: Workers lack protection against Maastricht policies

Share
Related Topics
Sir: The Government's claim that the changes to be brought about by Maastricht are not new, given our earlier adherence to the Treaty of Rome, resembles a claim that there is no essential difference between a first toe into the ocean and a step taking one out of one's depth (report, 8 June).

Unconditional federalists regard the relative decline of Westminster's powers as the essential reason for supporting Maastricht; but many democratic socialists do not and will favour a referendum for reasons different from Baroness Thatcher's. For them the central question is whether this irreversible process is so demonstrably in the interests of the people that their consent need not now be sought in a referendum (having been given no opportunity to refuse it at the last general election).

The Maastricht policies of 'convergence', from which Britain could not in practice escape, create a danger of our being locked in to restrictive policies decreasing public spending for social purposes - a process already begun in many member states.

This is why many democratic socialists would support Maastricht only if the Social Chapter (the Social Protocol and Agreement) were attached as part of the Community's 'social dimension' to protect workers at a time of restructuring and high unemployment.

The social dimension is now in general frail and even the Social Chapter's protection would be limited. For example, while, under it, a qualified majority of member states could adopt Community laws over a wider social area, including 'working conditions', the agreement specifically prohibits measures on freedom of association, the right to strike, or even 'pay'.

Similarly, a 'declaration' attached to it declares that there is 'no obligation' at all on member states to implement European-level collective agreements, or even 'to amend national legislation in force to facilitate their implementation'. Even measures promoted through European collective bargaining - on which many bravely pin their faith - could therefore remain

ineffectual.

Two questions arise: first, how can those who demand that we adhere to the Social Chapter support Maastricht without it? Second, should not those who are going to be most affected in any event be asked their opinion by way of a referendum on this irreversible change?

Workers in Britain look as if they will have neither a vote nor social protection. The elite (in all parties), who currently scoff at the ability of ordinary people to understand these Maastricht issues, should put their beliefs to the the test.

Yours sincerely,

WEDDERBURN OF CHARLTON

London, N6

8 June

The writer is Emeritus Professor of Law, London School of Economics.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Argyll Scott International: Risk Assurance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Bill Cosby speaks onstage at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund 25th Awards Gala on 11 November 2013 in Washington  

Bill Cosby: Isn’t it obvious why his accusers have stayed silent up until now?

Grace Dent
 

Our political landscape is not changing anywhere near as much as we assume it is

Steve Richards
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible