Communist Party of Britain chairman Bill Greenshields launched a blistering attack on the European Union and its supporters in Britain’s labour movement at the weekend.
“The EU Commission, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund ‘troika’ has imposed policies across Europe to slash or privatise public services and throw millions of workers and their families on the scrapheap,” he told the CPB executive committee ahead of this week’s European elections.
“Yet, incredibly, trade union and Labour Party bodies are peddling pro-EU propaganda for the European elections which could have been written by a top Brussels bureaucrat.”
Mr Greenshields targeted a leaflet which praises the EU for introducing equal pay and health and safety rights in Britain.
“It’s a slur on the struggles of workers for these demands to attribute their victory to the EU and its so-called Court of Justice,” he said.
The former NUT president pointed to union campaigning and the industrial action led by shop stewards which led to the Equal Pay Act, the Health and Safety at Work Act, the Employment Protection Act and the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act in the 1970s and the Minimum Wage Act in the 1990s.
“The European Union didn’t lift a finger to help create this basic framework of trade union and employment rights in Britain,” Mr Greenshields insisted.
He also argued that the last Labour government could have repealed our severe anti-trade union laws but refused, while the EU did nothing about them either.
“Instead, we have had a series of judgements from the EU Court of Justice in the Viking, Ruffert, Laval and Luxemburg cases which undermine terms and conditions secured by member state law or trade union negotiations anywhere in Europe,” he pointed out.
International secretary John Foster attacked the role of the EU in stoking up the Ukraine crisis by backing the overthrow of the elected government in Kiev in February.
He welcomed the EU election statement issued by 17 communist and left parties, including Germany’s Left, the Portuguese Left Bloc and the Danish Red-Green Alliance, condemning the EU as “militarist,” “neoliberalist” and “not reformable.”
Britain’s communists agreed that it should be a top priority to maximise the votes for No2EU — Yes to Workers’ Rights candidates who are standing in Wales, Scotland and the London, West Midlands, Yorkshire & Humber, Eastern and North West regions of England.
The executive also urged support for CPB and Unity for Peace and Socialism candidates in Thursday’s local elections in England.