Exit left: the socialist case for Britain leaving the EU

“[T]he idea of a borderless Europe seems to have blinded people to the shortcomings of the EU. […] After-all, the EU exists within the capitalist mode of production – an economic model which, because of its emphasis on competition and private property, tends toward disunity and division, as well as the concentration of wealth and power. […]

Stripped of its ideological mask, open borders are designed principally to, on the one hand, help big business to circumvent existing workers’ rights through the use of underpaid migrant labour, on the other, to provide the super-rich with easy access to foreign markets. […]

On the related issue of how the EU treats workers, last week Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “EU gave us rights to paid annual holiday, paid maternity/paternity leave, equal pay & anti-discrimination laws.”

This is, at best, misleading.

The Equal Pay Act in the UK has its roots in a 1968 industrial dispute between women sewing machinists and the management of Ford Dagenham, where women workers took three weeks of strike action because of pay inequalities; and the Holidays with Pay Act was introduced in 1938 as a result of massive pressure from trade unions.

Similarly, in France, the government only signed the Matignon Accords in 1936, which mandated 12 days (2 weeks) of paid leave for workers each year, following a General Strike.

Whilst it is true that once the UK joined the European Economic Community (forerunner of the EU) in 1973 these principles were reaffirmed through articles in the Treaty of Rome, to suggest that the EU is responsible for establishing these codes is utterly irresponsible.

Attributing workers’ rights to the EU only serves to further reconcile workers to their own sense of powerlessness. […]

To argue that the EU works to the benefit of the working class when Greek, Spanish, and Italian workers have seen their living standards smashed mercilessly since the onset of the 2008 recession; and Irish workers have been subjected to draconian water charges as well as massive cuts to public services, is absurd. Far from protecting workers from these austerity measures, the EU, alongside the unelected European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, has played a leading role in ensuring that they are implemented.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/03/11/exit-left-the-socialist-case-for-britain-leaving-the-eu/

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