Yet another secret trade agreement is being negotiated.
Australians now know of some of the content of the secret Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, but thanks only to the whistle-blowing efforts of WikiLeaks.
Now Public Services International, a French-based global trade union federation operating in 150 countries, has called for opposition to the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA).
It describes the TISA as “currently being negotiated in secret and outside of the World Trade Organisation rules…a deliberate attempt to privilege the profits of the richest corporations and countries in the world over those who have the greatest needs.”
“The TISA will prevent governments from returning public services to public hands when privatisations fail, restrict domestic regulations on worker safety, limit environmental regulations and consumer protections and regulatory authority in areas such as licensing of health care facilities, power plants, waste disposal and university and school accreditation.”
The negotiating countries are a self-selected group of neo-liberal adherents including the US, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Colombia and Peru.
China has asked to join the talks but this has so far been obstructed by US demands that it meet certain preconditions including a very strong commitment to deregulation of a range of services.
While the TISA would require all signatories to open their service delivery sectors to competition from corporate monopolies unrestricted by domestic regulations, there are no requirements on labour standards. Indeed, it would be required of participating countries that there be a free flow of labour between countries, and that any measures such as labour market tests, designed to show that there is a genuine shortage of suitably trained local workers, would be abolished.
On April 21, Brazil adopted an “Internet Bill of Rights” to protect itself from measures likely to be adopted through TISA on the liberalisation of Internet services designed to benefit the industry’s major players, including Facebook and Google, all of which are US corporations.
The Brazilian Bill guarantees net neutrality, regulates government surveillance on the Internet, and places limits on the data companies can collect from Brazilian customers.
Likewise, countries such as Argentina, Canada, France, Tanzania and Malaysia have seen local or national governments exercising “remunicipalisation” rights in which a previously privatised public service is transferred back to the public sector.
So, on the one hand, imperialist corporations are pushing to open public services as areas for the investment of surplus capital, and on the other, peoples and communities are fighting back.
No doubt, the federal government Review of Competition Policy, to be delivered shortly, will take the side of the imperialists and contain a number of measures designed to complement the TISA.
Unions and community organisations must take up this challenge to our lifestyles and communities and unite the many to defeat the imperialists and their local servants.
Australian education unions unite to oppose TISA: http://www.nteu.org.au/degreemortgage/article/Joint-Media-Release%3A-Education-unions-call-on-the-Australian-Government-to-protect-public-education-in-trade-negotiations-17608#.VVCZqLEVsrc.email