Local activists will be joining a rally at Westminster on Saturday as part of a Europe wide protest against a treaty that would effectively open up publicly owned institutions to take-over by American private sector giants.
The TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and investment partnership) is a new trade deal between the European Union and the United States. The British government has expressed their support for this agreement as a means of attracting 100 billion in additional capital growth. However what the Government doesn’t say is that the deal’s actual aim is to strip away obstacles to large corporations making a profit out of public services.
The biggest issue for the UK is the privatisation of the school system and the NHS. The NHS already has a programme of privatisation, started under the last Government but accelerated under this one. With this agreement NHS services and schools will have to be put out to tender. There is no possibility of the existing state providers maintaining a privileged status if the treaty is passed.
Naomi Beer, A GP from East London said “There is a significant danger with TTIP that large corporations will muscle in on the now compulsory tendering procedures for any public services. This puts any NHS service at risk despite government protestations that the NHS will not be affected.”
She added: “The logo may not change but the services it delivers will suffer. The ethos of these corporations does not match our own public service ethos. They are profit driven companies. Where there are limited funds and profit targets, the only way they can make money is by delivering a lower standard of service or getting less qualified staff or downgrading wages and conditions for their employees.”
Martin Allen from the Lewisham People before Profit Organisation said: “TTIP is a corporate ‘smash and grab’, benefitting only trans-national corporations, the City, trade lawyers and the wealthy.”
He added: “It is deeply undemocratic in the way it is being negotiated without even MEP’s having access to the documents and in its likely impact on national sovereignty over laws and regulations concerning the environment, employments rights, food standards, pro health legislation, indeed any area where corporations feel national legislation impacts on their profits. It will be a further and deeper nail in the coffin of public services including the NHS. Once privatised it will be virtually impossible for such services to ever return to the public sector, as the corporations will threaten to sue via the ad hoc trade tribunals. US health companies are looking eagerly at the prospect of getting their claws on the £10 billion NHS budget.”
Des Freedman secretary of the Goldsmiths universities union (UCU) also expressed his concerns to ELL. He said: “We in UCU are concerned that higher education, previously left out of the major world trade deals, is likely to feature as part of a new transatlantic trade agreement. This would mean that private for-profit providers, who until recently played a relatively marginal role in the UK university sector, will start to carve out a larger chunk of the higher education ‘market’ as rules are liberalised and the whole sector increasingly privatised.”
He added: “The University of Phoenix, already number one in Google Search results for higher education, would be able to bring its high-volume, low-quality business model over to the UK and further undermine our attempts to make a university education a public good and not a private commodity. Free trade deals don’t work for bananas and they most certainly won’t work for students and staff.”
Allen said: “It will affect citizens of East London, young, old, working, not working, studying or NEET. It will give students something to protest about, but sadly once signed off it will be hard to the turn the tide. It is not clear how long it will be in place, as, like other details no-one other than those negotiating it, has access to the detail, but unlike national legislation it cannot be overturned in Parliament.”
Beer said: “Bids will probably be assigned on lowest price, not quality and value for money. The problem with TTIP is that it is irreversible. We lose our right to make decisions based on what we believe is right for our communities and our country. We effectively cede sovereignty to international lawyers who may rule in favour of large corporations rather than our own national government.”
Rallies are being organised across Europe in hope that this deal can still be stopped and turned to benefit the people instead of the companies. For more details on where to go on Saturday click here.
Apology: a quote in this article was wrongly attributed to John Millington at Keep Our NHS Public it has therefore been deleted and we sincerely apologise for including it.