Frances O’Grady has an article in the latest edition of Chartist about workers’ rights and Europe, acknowledging that unions have been on the back foot for several years, and arguing that as well as opposing the Government’s agenda for repatriating powers over workers’ rights, we should be setting out a vision of the sort of Europe we want. She also spoke about workers’ rights and Europe at an IPPR event recently alongside EU social affairs Commissioner Laszlo Andor and the CBI’s Neil Carberry.
In Chartist, Frances argues that the repatriation agenda is part of a wider attack on workers’ rights, but that our vision of Europe shouldn’t be confined to the repatriation argument. We are also opposed to the European Union’s economic agenda, and Frances is calling for a European Central Bank that not only offers euro-bonds as an alternative to austerity, but also has full employment as a central goal.
However, it is wages that Frances focuses most on, not only because we need to raise ordinaary people’s living standards, but because higher wages for the low paid and the squeezed middle would reduce inequality and promote sustainable growth. And she advances the suggestion that revitalised wages councils and a bigger voice for working people might help establish a higher floor for all.
At the IPPR, Frances argued that trade unions were not opposed to change, and indeed that neither the European status quo nor David Cameron’s proposals are going to get the support of ordinary workers. As we head towards the 2014 European Parliament elections, the TUC will be making that point more and more forcefully.