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Greek workers face brutal EU-driven austerity

The socialist case for EU exit

By Matt Dobson 

David Cameron and the bosses’ organisation the CBI are telling us that an exit for from the European Union (EU) will see job losses and increased threats from terrorism.

But the same fear campaign is being used by UKIP and anti-EU Tories to convince us not to remain. Workers and young people cannot trust either pro-big business campaign. Both are responsible for austerity and wars. To put forward the interests of working-class people in the referendum debate we need our own campaign.

The EU is a bosses’ club of institutions, built by treaties that aim to allow big business to exploit and hunt for profits across the continent.

It has austerity and anti-working class policy built into its DNA. This is why the SNP and Jeremy Corbyn, who have an anti-austerity mandate, and the leaders of many major trade unions are wrong to call for a remain vote.

Only socialist policies, which the EU fundamentally opposes, can solve the problems faced by workers and youth. Socialist Party Scotland and the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) have nothing in common with UKIP, Tories and other pro capitalist anti-EU campaigners, we are working alongside trade unions like the RMT for an independent campaign that makes a socialist case for EU exit.

Reasons to vote for EU exit

Austerity: EU law demands austerity from governments. Its treaties include strict rules limiting public spending and borrowing. Its institutions have brutally imposed catastrophic attacks on workers and young people in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland.     

Privatisation: EU treaties have driven privatisation of postal and transport services. The NHS is threatened by the latest secret EU deal TTIP. EU competition law makes nationalisation illegal.  

Workers’ Rights: EU structural adjustment programs promote “flexible” working, i.e. zero hour contracts and low pay. Collective trade union bargaining is being undermined by EU directives.   

Racism: The EU response to the refugee crisis is to let those fleeing warzones drown in the sea, to build walls and fences and pass racist laws to keep them out. EU powers back regimes and sectarian forces that are driving these conflicts.     

Workers’ unity: Greedy bosses, in their cynical attempts to boost profits and drive down wages in the workplace, exploit workers from other EU countries.

Racist division over this is being stirred up by anti-EU Tories and UKIP. This not being effectively answered by trade union leaders in the remain campaign. The only solution is for all workers to unite in trade union struggle and fight for the rate and conditions for the job and a £10 an hour minimum wage.

Cameron‘s latest deal over EU migrant workers will see their right to claim benefits attacked. Socialists stand for all existing rights of workers to be protected, in or out of the EU.

Recent strikes of teachers, council workers and construction workers have secured agreements that defy EU legislation. The organised power of workers and trade unions, through collective action, is the best defence of their rights.

EU legislation has failed to stop anti-union laws from successive governments. The same TUC leaders who laud the benefits of the EU are reluctant to mobilise the power of workers through co-ordinated strike action against austerity.

EU and independence

The SNP have raised the prospect of indyref2 if Scotland votes to remain and the UK votes to leave. They are under pressure from radicalised anti-austerity YES voters to push for independence. But they are caught in a contradiction as they are representing big business interests to remain in the austerity-laden EU.

Many Yes voters and SNP supporters remember leading EU politicians joining Project Fear. They also recognise that EU institutions and member states worried about their own national questions would ferociously oppose the democratic right for another indyref. The EU as with all its member states would oppose any attempt by an independent Scotland to implement anti-austerity and socialist measures.

For a socialist Europe

The EU is in crisis like the system it rests on, capitalism. Its member states are divided and caught in a spiral of recession. Powerful movements of workers and youth can block the austerity it imposes.

A socialist left government could even defy its rules. Unfortunately, recently, the SYRIZA government in Greece betrayed the anti-austerity mandate given to it by the Greek working class. If SYRIZA had implemented socialist policies they would have been kicked out of the EU, which is why reform of this undemocratic EU austerity apparatus, which some on the left argue for, is futile. But workers and youth across Europe would have rallied to their aid. Mass movements could have developed bringing more left governments to power.

An exit vote could topple the Cameron government. We call for the linking up of the rising movements against austerity in France and across Europe.

Socialists have no illusions that a capitalist Britain outside the EU would be any better, we want unity with the working class across Europe and the world to struggle for socialism.

Instead of European Union bosses’ club that enforces planned poverty, a voluntary socialist confederation of Europe could plan with the democratic public ownership of the major parts the economy jobs, homes, services and production needed to meet the needs of the majority.