Europe: the correct approach

April 24, 2009 at 8:43 pm (anonymous, Europe, Jim D, unions, workers)

Sent on behalf of Graham Stevenson, UNITE – T&G National Organiser – Transport Sector




Dear Colleagues,


The following communication seeks a small act today from every Unite shop steward and officer covering transport membership. We ask that you contact your local member of the European Parliament as a matter of urgency. We consider this act we ask of you to be highly important. Experience suggests that receiving a large number of emails from constituents (not a very normal thing, since most people don’t even know who their MEPs are!), influences them enormously. Whatever the issue, it often does not matter that the MEP does not come from a tradition that has little connection with trade union. Your voice can influence MEPs.  

You will find attached a declaration initiated by Stephen Hughes’ MEP. This is intended for the collective signing by other members of the European Parliament. This declaration is clearly against the recent European Court of Justice judgements (Laval, Viking, Rüffert, Luxembourg), which have undermined workers’ legal rights by citing business freedoms to trade as being potentially superior to basic human rights, such as collective action to defend bargaining rights. (I have also attached a short briefing on the four cases for those who are interested in reading more.)


These judgements are of great concern to Unite’s transport sector, especially since all these cases have thus far largely focused on the bargaining power of transport workers but, clearly, the issue extends far wider than that. Also, it is of great value that Stephen Hughes’ declaration expresses serious concern at the way these ECJ decisions have stimulated xenophobia, racist and ultra-nationalist reaction. 


The MEP declaration calls for a revision of the “Posted Workers Directive”, which covers the rights of workers sent by their employer from one country to another, to re-establish the right of workers from other members states to enjoy the  terms and conditions prevailing in that member state. He is seeking support from other MEPs. Please lobby your MEP to add their name to the declaration. This is particularly important that you do so urgently, since the “Written Declaration will lapse on 7th May 2009, and will not be further actioned by the European Parliament if there are insufficient signatures of support. On the other hand, a significant number of signatories will add to the possibilities for building a campaign around these dreadful decisions. 

For your information, MEPs have access to email addresses using the following form but they may not necessarily use this address: thus:


A simpler and easier way to communicate is to use the website “WRITETOTHEM”:


This provides a simple way to discover your MEPs and to communicate directly and quickly by email. Once you have found the site, this is how to use it. Enter your post code and the site will produce a list of MPs, councillor and (on the right hand column) your local MEPs. Select this list and the site will display a series of names. Generally, MEPs’ constituencies cover a large region and you can write to all of them at once through this system. The WRITETOTHEM site only requires you to put your name and address and a box for your comment will come up.


Write something along the following lines:


I urge you to support the Written Declaration no. 15/2009, opened for signatures on 18.2.2009, <Titre>on the detrimental impact of the European Court of Justice rulings in the Viking, Laval and other cases which are now being used by racist and xenophobic parties to undermine workers’ rights across the EU.


Many thanks,






National Organiser – Transport





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