Daria Cibrario, local government and regional officer for the Public Services International trade union federation, which represents 20m working people worldwide, speaks exclusively to Unite Brexit Check.
On the potential effects of Brexit on local government services:
Even before Brexit, UK local government was in a funding crisis – as were public services in many other countries. That’s because of a large array of reasons, but Brexit is going to make things even tougher.
I imagine there will be even more of a funding crisis (because of Brexit related budget constraints), which will threaten jobs, the quality of public services at a local level and the standard of living in communities.
On the need to support local government during Britain’s exit from the EU:
It is important to keep local government services in decent condition, if not increase funding for them. In a moment of social and economic crisis, as it may well be with Brexit in the short to mid-term, what will help keep your social fabric and economy going will be local public services.
Hopefully, if the Labour Party comes back into power, there will be a radical change in the way local government services and workers are seen and supported.
On the risks to public services from post-Brexit trade agreements:
Even the agreements the EU negotiates with the US, like TTIP or even TiSA, present challenges for the public sector. These kinds of agreement are very secretive and are not democratically scrutinised.
For instance, in TiSA there are special clauses that enable trading in public services or the locking in of privatisation. If the state or local authorities want to take services back the investor can actually sue – instances that are extremely costly for the taxpayer.
So we’re already in a situation with the UK inside the EU, which is the case until Brexit is fully negotiated, where there is a vulnerability. Obviously the UK on its own, though it’s a very important economy, will have less negotiating power over large international trading blocs – so there is an imbalance of weight and power.
Interview edited for length and clarity.