PUBLIC OWNERSHIP: REALLY POSSIBLE IN THE EU ?
Yes. It is. Technically. But not in any real sense. Take the rail industry. Companies with a single state shareholding do exist in a number of EU countries. But they have to compete for franchises.
We can see the consequences in France today. After years of resistance by the French rail unions, the government is now seeking to enforce full compliance with the terms of the EU’s Fourth railway package.
As well as changing the technical ownership of the French public sector company, SNCF, the government is cutting pension rights, wages, conditions and the range of services offered. Passengers will suffer as routes are cut.
Competing for services with private companies means a race to the bottom.
We have seen the consequences of such policies ever since John Major privatised British Rail following the first EU rail package in 1992. Fragmented services. Erosion in infrastructure withterrible consequences for passenger safety. Constant attacks on the conditions of rail workers. And if we look at the policies of the nominally state-owned companies from Belgium and Germany, Abellio and , they operate just the same. Commercially they have to.
The reality is that comprehensive public ownership is not possible in the EU – for transport, energy, communications. This is why, in ROSE’s opinion, Labour is correct to say that any progressive programme for industrial transformation is not compatible with membership of the EU Single Market and why it is calling for a ne
gotiated membership of a Customs Union instead.
This is also the best way of supporting the struggle of the French rail workers by exposing the real origins of the current assault. Radical Options for Scotland and Europe is about internationalism – on the terms of workers not big business.
PUBLIC PROCUREMENT? Read the small print!
Long-term jobs are currently at risk in the Clyde yards and at Rosyth because the government is insisting that contracts for the new generation of navy support and supply vessels go to international tender. Why ? Because these ships do not qualify as warships and therefore, under EU rules, are not exempt from this requirement – conditions that will now apply till 2021.
This is the small print to read before endorsing membership of the EU Single Market – because these rules would then be applied in perpetuity.
These rules would, of course, also continue to apply to virtually all other public contracts. They are the EU rules that have saddled us with SERCO, G4S and Carillion.
Public procurement is potentially one of the strongest levers that any progressive government would have for reconstructing a strong, efficient and fair industrial economy, respecting workers rights, adhering to sectoral collective bargaining, excluding black-listing employers, paying a real social wage, ensuring a well-trained and permanent workforce and with purchasing policies that support regional economies in a planned way.
Join ROSE to win the Radical Options!
• the enhancement of workers’ rights in Scotland
• internationalism and solidarity with all those across Europe struggling against austerity and privatisation.