The TUC vows to oppose EU 'social dumping' treaty writes John Millington. Communists and activists in a range of unions, especially within rail transport facing EU promoted privatisation, have been campainging for two years to bring the issue to the wider public. Parliament is pretending Mode Four is not happening. The Government is actively supporting it and trying to cover its tracks.
New European Union free trade agreements with Indian firms risk undermining collective bargaining and creating a tier of slave-like labour in Britain, RMT warned TUC delegates.
Moving a motion against "mode 4" transfers - the World Trade Organisation's term for moving workers across borders - the transport union's president Alex Gordon said a bilateral agreement due to be ratified by EU member states in December could mean Indian workers being moved into Britain with no workplace rights, no right to remain and no access to the legal system.
"This is potentially the greatest threat to collective bargaining and workers' rights for many years," he said.
Under Mode 4, Indian companies operating in Delhi and London could move low-paid workers from India to Britain, undercutting workers domestically.
"Transnational companies will be able to move workers across national borders and nation states will limit their own constitutional authority over these corporations.
"Workers' rights will be lost forever to corporate power."
GMB delegate Fern McCaffrey added an amendment criticising the record of free trade agreements in south America.
"They have had a negative effect on the ability of nation-states to foster national and local economic development and to promote and protect human rights," she said.
Ms McCaffrey also questioned the Indian government's record on workers' rights.
"India has not ratified four core International Labour Organisation conventions, including number 87 on freedom of association and the right to organise collectively.
"A new International Trade Union Congress report revealed recently that India's record on child labour left a lot to be desired and there were multiple arrests of protesters for workers' rights."
She called for the "veil of secrecy" to be removed and the free trade agreement negotiations to be made public.
"We need a full consultation with all relevant civil society organisations, especially trade unions at every stage."
Congress agreed to go on a public awareness raising campaign and push politicians to reject the free trade agreement.