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11 National Associations of Healthcare Workers Issue Letter demanding More protections for Health Workers.

To raise the "standard of care" (of how we treat) all professionals we need to stop the agenda that is embedding a trade agreement agenda of forcing all domestic regulations to the global least common denominator as a precursor to globalizing them. It aims to increase profits greatly by replacing our domestically grown professionals with ones from the developing world (taking them from countries that desperately need them) - One of the reasons they want to do this is is precisely to prevent them from having input on all sorts of things- including things like this.

On sweatshop jobs and decent work

This paper argues that while rooting out sweatshop conditions raises unemployment, the potential gains include an increase in decent work employment, a pro-worker shift in distribution, and an improvement in overall efficiency. In a search model of employment inspired by firm- and household-level evidence about the harm that sweatshop conditions pose to workers' capability to be productive at work and to be vertically mobile, this paper unpacks the irony of job losses and efficiency gains by examining equilibria where, unless regulations are in place, employers tolerate unproductive sweatshop conditions, and where workers accept insufficiently compensating sweatshop wages.

Book: Blame It On the WTO: A Human Rights Critique

by Sarah Joseph 365 pages Oxford University Press, Oxford When the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was established in 1995, few human rights lawyers at the time realized the significance of this event for their discipline. In part, this may have been because the creation of the WTO followed more than a decade of neoliberal policies characterized by deregulation and the removal of barriers to trade and investment in many regions. Although it strengthened the system originally established under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1947, the WTO was not seen to represent a seismic shift: it was the final stage of a gradual evolution, rather than the beginning of something radically new... The relative indifference of human rights lawyers also stemmed from a lack of understanding of the consequences of this ambitious overhaul of the global trade system. The WTO was deliberately placed outside the remit of the United Nations. With its establishment, the international trade system included for the first time a dispute settlement mechanism of a quasi-judicial nature, binding upon the WTO Members, and which could allow economic sanctions to be imposed on States that failed to comply with the disciplines imposed on them. Indeed, in retrospect, it is this aspect of the WTO Agreement that appears both the most novel and that has the most far-reaching consequences. Most notably, it created an imbalance between the commitments of States under the WTO framework and their other international obligations, including those under human rights treaties: should conflicts emerge between the two sets of obligations, States may be tempted systematically to prioritize their duties under the WTO, because of the sanctions attached to non-compliance, leaving aside the comparatively ‘softer’ commitments made under human rights treaties. As this important book by Sarah Joseph shows, things are now changing. The problems arising from the fragmentation of international law are increasingly being acknowledged, and solutions are being explored to overcome them. Due to the ‘special nature’ of human rights treaties, which are irreducible to exchanges of undertakings between States, merely to state that these treaties are paramount, will not suffice. We need to work towards practical ways of avoiding conflicts whenever possible, and of solving conflicts when they emerge, in ways that do not lead to the sacrifice of human rights on the altar of increased trade, even for the sake of economic growth.

GATS, Migration, and Labor Standards

(Search domain www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---inst/documents/publication/wcms_193612.pdf Mode 4]," Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh, director of trade in services at the World Trade Organization said "Ah, yes - it could be hundreds [of millions] if we liberalize." John Zarocostas, Migration helps export services, Washington Times, January 3, 2005, p. A10.

Studying the Supra-National in Education: GATS, education and teacher union policies

This article starts by putting the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) into a general context of privatisation. It is noted that the privatisation process is in many cases complex and not only about full-scale privatisation of schools. The growing trade in education must be seen in this context. GATS is not an agreement which deals with educational issues from a political or educational perspective, but from a commercial and trade perspective. The purpose of GATS is to liberalise trade in services, which also includes education. Commitments made in GATS negotiations are difficult to withdraw and the protection of commercial interests which GATS provides is stronger than the protection of human rights, in, for example, the Convention of the Right of the Child. The protection given in GATS to public services, including public education, is ambiguous at best and in many cases open to interpretation by Trade Dispute Panels. It can be assumed that such panels will deal with some educational matters in future. Another risk for the future is that governments will use GATS as an excuse for deregulation and privatisation within the education sector. There is also a risk that education will become part of a general negotiation game where governments may have to open up the education market in their own countries in order to get access to other markets and that education policies will increasingly be decided by trade ministers instead of education ministers.

TISA - backdoor services liberalisation on a global level!

The Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) currently under negotiation on the side-line of the World Trade Organization (WTO) poses significant deregulatory threats for the majority of services sectors. International trade in services is dealt with by the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and its annexes. Each WTO country so far autonomously decides which sectors are to be opened up to cross-border competition. Services sectors liberalisation is carried out once governments gave their explicit agreement to do so (positive lists). TISA intends to reverse this logic and implement a negative listing of liberalisation commitments. Only explicitly targeted sectors in the agreement would not be subject to further liberalisation. This poses significant risks of liberalising all services sectors of the economy unless explicitly exempted from the agreement. TISA would contain “Standstill” and “Ratchet” clauses. Standstill clauses effectively freeze the degrees of regulation in particular sectors and countries are no longer free to implement more strident regulatory provisions. A recently leaked text showed that the financial services industry, through TISA, intends to freeze international financial regulatory efforts by setting a minimum regulatory floor which could not be subsequently superseded by any government wishing so. Ratchet clauses effectively impede government to reverse achieved liberalisation floors. Once a sector is liberalised, there cannot be a turning back. These clauses mean that governments will no longer be able to challenge decisions and choices made by previous governments. The combination of the ratchet and standstill clauses renders the reversal of liberalisation levels impossible. Additionally, TISA could prescribe necessity tests for regulatory measures. Governments would have to prove the necessity of a regulatory instrument before implementing it. For example, in a discussion of universal coverage, a Government would have to prove the necessity of re-regulating already privatised services such as postal services.

Ellen Gould discusses GATS on Talking Stick TV.

Video - Ellen Gould is a trade expert whose insight here is quite accurate. See what she tells us here about domestic regulations, technical standrds, licensing, medical standards, everything. Lots of info on what they want to do with healthcare. The WTO could sanction us if we wanted our doctors to meet higher standards than those in the developing countries. (around 25:00) The WTO also wants us to allow for profit offshoring of poor patients. Which would be subject to the same problems as the for profit system does now, except likely worse, with less accountability.