From Socialist Voice, July 2008

EU Court of Justice supports transnational corporations

by Uli Brockmeyer,
Communist Party of Luxembourg

It was exactly one week after the Irish referendum on the EU Treaty of Lisbon that the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg took another decision in favour of big capital. The judgement says that enterprises that are sending personnel to work in Luxembourg are not obliged to respect Luxembourg laws.
     The labour code here contains a series of points favourable for the workers. So, for example, the entrepreneurs have to respect certain regulations concerning free time and holidays, part-time work, time contracts, and others. But the bone of contention is two points that have direct influence on the balance sheet of the companies.
     In Luxembourg the minimum wage (but also the cost of living) is one of the highest in western Europe—while in several countries, such as Germany, there is no minimum wage at all; and additionally, the enterprises have to follow the regulation to adjust automatically the wages to the index of prices. (The latter was introduced after the First World War with the intention of avoiding strikes.)
     The background of the story is that Luxembourg’s labour regulations are among the most progressive compared with most of the EU countries—thanks to a strong labour movement mainly in the 1950s and 60s, when the working class was well organised in trade unions. For several years after the Second World War there was a communist trade union, and even after it was dissolved the militants of the Communist Party of Luxembourg were among the activists of the trade union movement.
     On the other hand, in the 1950s and 60s the steel and mining industries in Luxembourg were very wealthy and made good profits. So it was easier to introduce social regulations in favour of the working class under the conditions of a small country of less than half a million inhabitants.
     After the counter-revolution in the former socialist countries of Europe and the reintroduction of the capitalist system, the ruling class in Luxembourg—as in all western European countries—did everything to reduce social standards. So the number of people who are working under the conditions of collective contracts is already significantly reduced. And the instrument of using the number of unemployed to put the screws on the workers belongs also to the everyday habits of the bosses in Luxembourg.
     If now the foreign companies working in Luxembourg are not obliged any more to respect the social standards, then this is also important for the Luxembourg enterprises in their attempts to continue the policy of social destruction.
     The Communist Party of Luxembourg denounced clearly the decision of EU class justice to open the doors for the final destruction of the social standards, for the worsening of working conditions, for the harmonisation of the cost of the work force on a lower level, and thus for a stronger exploitation of the workers.
     With a view to the significance of the judgement it is easy to understand why its proclamation was delayed for one month, as the court did not want to give further arguments to those who said No in the Irish referendum, says the KPL statement.
     For the Communist Party of Luxembourg this judgement is a further proof that the European Union, with all its institutions, is a supranational construct in the interests of big financial and industrial capital. The KPL declared on 19 June: “The EU cannot be reformed by any Lisbon Treaty, but must be abolished. This is the only chance to pave the way for a democratic, social and peaceful development in the interests of the working people in Luxembourg as well as in Europe.”

Home page  >  Publications  >  Socialist Voice  >  July 2008  >  EU Court of Justice supports transnational corporations
Baile  >  Foilseacháin  >  Socialist Voice  >  Iúil 2008  >  EU Court of Justice supports transnational corporations