Secret negotiations threaten public services in 50 countries | National Union of Public and General Employees

Secret negotiations threaten public services in 50 countries

More than 350 organizations in 115 countries warn that Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) will make it easier for corporations to make profits and with impunity.

Ottawa (28 Apr. 2014) — Members of civil society took to the streets today in a number of countries around the world to protest against the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) secret negotiations resuming in Geneva, Switzerland.

Users of public services and public service workers are demanding the release of more information on this sweeping trade deal, and the assurance that it will not affect provision of any public services. They are also delivering to government leaders a protest letter signed by over 350 organizations from over 115 countries.

Undemocratic move to give more power to corporations

Speaking from the lead protest in Geneva today, Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of Public Services International (PSI), said: “This is an attempt to secretly extend the most damaging parts of the infamous GATS agreement that previously sparked global protests. The aim of public services should not be to make profits for large multinational corporations.  Ensuring that failed privatizations can never be reversed is free market ideology gone mad.”

Pavanelli emphasizes that, “It is fundamentally undemocratic for parliaments to permanently hand over the people’s democratic mandate to multinational companies.”

In Canada, Larry Brown, the National Secretary-Treasurer for the 340,000-member National Union of Public and General Employees­ said, “Our government must immediately release the text it is negotiating so that members of the public can understand the potential effects on our everyday lives.”

Study by Canadian researcher finds TISA could tie hands of future governments

The first study to examine these secret negotiations has found that the agreement could hinder future governments from delivering vital public services, such as health care, child care, and postal services, as well as utilities such as power and water. 

In the new report “TISA versus Public Services,” researchers highlight how the Trade in Services Agreement would lock in existing and any future privatization of public services. The proposed agreement could make it impossible for future governments to restore public services to public control, even in cases where private service delivery has failed. It would also restrict a government’s ability to regulate key sectors including financial, energy, telecommunications and its cross-border data flows. 

Brown warns that "this agreement will tie the hands of future governments regardless of who wins an election or any Canadian court decisions.  If the Harper government has nothing to hide they should immediately release the details of these negotiations.”

The report was written by Scott Sinclair from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood from the Institute of Political Economy at Carleton University. 

More Information:

TISA versus Public Services

NUPGE and International Trade


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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