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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 September 2007, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Delegate views: EU referendum
Unions are pushing Gordon Brown to hold a referendum on the EU treaty. Delegates at the TUC conference in Brighton give their views.

ARTHUR CHAMPION, UNION OF FINANCE STAFF

Arthur Champion

The thing many people will remember about Gordon Brown is his stealth taxes. His attitude to the EU treaty doesn't seem any less stealthy - not to mention undemocratic - to me.

I think the European project is going too far. It seems a step in the direction of a world made up of huge trading, political and even religious blocs.

There are good reasons for some of it, like fighting climate change, but it's gone too far.

I hope there is a referendum. I would vote against ratifying the treaty if we had a referendum.

ANITA HALPIN, NATIONAL UNION OF JOURNALISTS

Anita Halpin

We had a referendum on entry to the Common Market, so it's important we have one on a constitutional treaty.

Two years ago this government promised a referendum on the constitution, so there should be a vote on the amending treaty.

We want an end to opt-outs for the UK on workers' rights.

What we are calling for is a discussion with the government. The fact that we are calling for a referendum doesn't put us in the same camp as the anti-Europeans.

Europe must be a force to improve workers' rights, rather than bosses' rights, and Gordon should listen to us by holding a referendum.

JOE MCCARTHY, UNITE

Joe McCarthy

The government made a promise that we would have a referendum and they should give it to us.

There needs to be a more favourable attitude towards workers and the unions.

We are Labour Party supporters and Gordon Brown should bring in the changes required by people.

At the moment, the gap between rich and poor is widening. A Labour government should not just stay in power; it should listen to the people while it is in power.

STEVE COX, PRISON OFFICERS' ASSOCIATION

Steve Cox

The British workers were the only ones in Europe denied fundamental rights for trade unions in the treaty.

The government's argument was that our economic competitiveness would be damaged. But France, Germany and other countries didn't feel the need to deny rights to their workers.

There's massive pressure on the government. If Gordon Brown doesn't listen to unions more, he's going to have huge problems this winter.

The feeling is that Labour has to stop giving out the line that it is "better than the Tories". That's not an acceptable way to defend its policies after 10 years in power.

We hoped Brown would be more sympathetic to us than Blair. He needs to respond better to workers' needs.

JANETTE VIZARD, UFS

Janette Vizard

We need a referendum, as we were promised when this government came in.

Otherwise, people are going to see that their government isn't listening.

There's no reason why people shouldn't be given a say. If people are given a balanced, clear set of information, they can decide properly how to vote in a referendum.

It would be very hard to leave Europe, but we should have the same rights in this country as in others, if we sign up to the treaty.


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