Yes to TTIP, but with common sense

Economy LO welcomes the negotiations on TTIP, a free-trade agreement between the EU and the USA. The Swedish trade union movement is and has always been positive to free trade.

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The rights of workers

LO believes that increased trade between the EU and the USA is of benefit to the Swedish economy and our members. However, one condition is that the agreement safeguards the rights of workers and the democratic decisions of States. LO, together with its affiliates, will therefore analyse the consequences of TTIP for the Swedish trade union movement. This was established by a unanimous LO Congress in a statement today.

Statement concerning TTIP

On Monday 20 June the LO Congress issued a statement concerning the free trade agreement between the EU and the USA, TTIP.

The Swedish trade union movement has and has always had a positive basic attitude to transparency and free trade. LO is convinced that Sweden, which is a small export-dependent country, gains from reduced barriers to trade and investment. LO believes that increased trade between the EU and the USA is of benefit to the Swedish economy and our members. Competition on equal terms between two developed economies promotes necessary structural transformation and creates jobs in profitable businesses. 

We therefore welcome the negotiations on TTIP, a free trade agreement between the EU and the USA. But LO has also made demands concerning the negotiations. We want to play a constructive part in influencing the negotiations and thus the final outcome. TTIP must safeguard workers’ rights, political room to manoeuvre and democratic decisions.

All coming trade and investment agreements, TTIP and CETA (the agreement between the EU and Canada) and others, must rest on the following principles;

  • The agreements must contain guarantees for human rights and freedoms. Rules on protection of workers must never be seen as constituting barriers to trade. They may not affect rules concerning protection of workers in national acts of law, other statutes and collective agreements or the collective trade union rights such as the right of association, right of negotiation and the right to take industrial action. 
  • The agreements may not affect political freedom of action as regards fundamental national political questions. This means that the agreements cannot restrict the decisions of states on matters such as how public services are to be organised, what should be run by the state on its own account, what should be performed by state monopolies, the design of welfare systems and similar matters. 
  • Nor may the agreements restrict political freedom of action in procurements as regards imposing requirements on such things as conditions of work and employment. 
  • If the agreements have an investor to state dispute settlement mechanism it is an absolute requirement that this does not restrict states’ democratic decision-making or restrict party autonomy and trade union rights. LO will never support investment protection that threatens democracy and human rights and that puts the short-term profit interests of companies before labour law and environmental considerations.

The LO Congress is now a stepping stone for continued advocacy to ensure that international trade and investment agreements stand on the side of workers and democracy. We have work to do!

Jonas Wall
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