Stability Treaty: Unions say ‘Yes’ vote essential to protect employment, investment, public services and State benefits
Three leading trade unionists today (Monday) urged a ‘Yes’ vote in Thursday’s referendum and said Irish ratification of the stability treaty was essential for jobs, investment, public services and the incomes of those – like pensioners, social welfare recipients and public servants – whose incomes depend on the public purse.
The call was made at a Dublin press conference called by the Charter Trade Union Group and the two trade unions that have made a clear recommendation for a ‘Yes’ vote – the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and IMPACT.
CWU general secretary Steve Fitzpatrick said the balance of workers interests lay in passing the referendum. “This is particularly crucial for the communications and technology sector where so many Irish jobs are effectively supported by investment from major international brands. Also, the economic recovery will require further investment in our communications infrastructure and networks. This investment will only be forthcoming and maintained where international business has confidence about Ireland’s position as the only English speaking member of the Euro zone. A ‘Yes’ vote is central to maintaining this confidence,” he said.
IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody said the ‘No’ campaign was asking the Irish people to take a massive risk because it had failed to identify a guaranteed alternative source of funds for Irish Government borrowing. “Unless we vote ‘Yes’ Ireland will have no access to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). That will put us totally at the mercy of global financial markets when we need to roll over borrowing at the beginning of 2014. At best, a ‘no’ vote would significantly increase the cost of Irish Government borrowing, which would increase the pressure for higher taxes and charges and further cuts in benefits and other public spending. At worst, a ‘no’ vote could lead to a situation where Ireland was unable to borrow in international financial markets at all. With access to the ESM cut off, this would mean a large and sudden reduction in exchequer funding, with dramatic consequences for social welfare benefits, pensions, public services, investment in infrastructure and domestic demand in the wider economy,” he said.
Blair Horan, secretary of the Charter Group, said a ‘yes’ vote was essential to protect the value of the Euro, and possibly Ireland’s continued membership of the currency, “The consequences of a ‘No’ vote would likely involve a default and a possible exit from the Euro. That would inflict severe hardship on Irish citizens, especially the most vulnerable.”
The CWU and IMPACT have both pledged to continue to campaign against EU austerity policies alongside ICTU and European trade union federations. But they say Ireland must maintain access to relatively affordable State borrowing to maintain investment, public services and State benefits. The delegate conferences of both unions have endorsed their decisions to recommend a ‘Yes’ vote.