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Coughlan on Workers’ Rights and the Lisbon Treaty

coughlanIn today’s Irish Times, the Tánaiste [Irish deputy prime minister] and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan (left) writes about the implications for workers rights of the Lisbon Treaty. As might be expected, the Tánaiste denies suggestions that a yes vote for Lisbon in next month’s constitutional referendum would do damage of any kind to workers’ rights. Indeed, she stresses that our membership of the European Union has in fact been a significant factor in driving minimum standards for workers upwards.

The piece itself is relatively long for an opinion piece and can be read in full here. The following quote provides a flavour:

Put simply, the single most important ideal behind the European Union is that it is about helping all countries to achieve growth and social progress at the same time. The opening up of markets and the insistence on high levels of worker protection go hand in hand.

At a time when globalisation is increasing the challenges faced by countries, the EU is the only hope which individual states, especially smaller ones, can have of overcoming them.

The adoption of legislation setting minimum requirements has improved labour standards and strengthened workers’ rights. It is one of the EU’s main achievements in the field of social policy. I defy anyone to demonstrate that EU labour standards have not been a major driver of individual and collective workers’ rights in Ireland.

To suggest that the Lisbon Treaty will now somehow weaken those rights – when it contains the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the Social Clause and the Solemn Declaration on Workers’ Rights, is simply wrong and completely misleading.

If you are entitled to vote in Irish constitutional amendments please ensure that you are registered to vote, read the (very accessible and well presented) unbiased information from the Referendum Commission, and exercise your vote in whichever way you wish on 2 October.

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