Unite has backed a warning from Airbus management to its employees not to vote for a Brexit, apparently taking the view that what is good for monopoly capitalism must be good for the working class.
But the claim by Unite’s assistant general secretary Tony Burke that “UK workers derive significant benefits from European social and employment legislation that would immediately be lost if we voted to leave the EU” misleads workers. (Unite welcomes Airbus EU referendum letter and strongly urges members to vote ‘Remain’, Unite, 5 April 2016)
When any of these workers’ rights have proved a serious impediment to the profitable exploitation of labour, they have been effortlessly waived (remember the working time directive?) And Greece’s continued membership has done nothing to stop the country becoming a graveyard of workers’ rights, despite its enduring EU membership.
As the capitalist crisis deepens, this capitalist club necessarily reveals its true priorities: concentration of capital across national borders, privatisation, austerity, zero-hour contracts and the crushing of workers’ rights. This is not just, as Tony Burke suggests, an “austerity and privatisation agenda that the EU has been following in recent years” (an ‘agenda’ which could supposedly be ditched in a ‘reformed’ EU), but an imperative that is dictated by the very nature of the global crisis in which imperialism is foundering.
Burke’s further appeal to “the critical role that the European Union has also played in securing peace” rings hollower still, bearing in mind the crucial role played by the EU and Nato in destabilising Ukraine and sowing the seeds of new wars.