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EC must remember workers in trade deals; Union

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John Monks, general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation will today tell the European Commission that it must not forget its obligations to European workers when negotiating new trade deals with foreign powers.

The ETUC today publishes a position document entitled 'Global Europe: competing in the world', during a conference in Brussels and says it will call for a "genuine Europe-wide debate" on the issues it raises.

The confederation, which represents national trades unions throughout the continent, says that it will air its views to European Commission Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson.

The body says that it will stress its support for multilateralism; stress that the EU should take its own specific and original approach to external trade based on its own values as set down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights; and demand that European companies should respect European values and international labor standards in their external operations.

The ETUC will also tell the Commission that it needs to act coherently and not "decouple" trade policy from "social, developmental and environmental considerations."The Commission has identified a number of countries as key targets for Free Trade Agreements including India, Korea and China.

The labor body said that Mr. Monks would today stress:

  • The need for observance of core conventions of the International Labour Organisation to be explicit in all negotiations;
  • That unions must be informed of "any moves" by the Commission towards a trade deal with Korea;
  • The need for the Commission's to deny reports that it has agreed not to raise labor standards in negotiations with India;
  • The need for continued trade union involvement in the development of relations with China.

The ETUC says that it agrees with the Commission that China needs "special attention" because of the opportunities and risks that it presents.The union confederation said that Mr. Monks will insist that each trade agreement should include a "social dimension" and be accompanied by a "social dialogue committee".