were spectres haunting Dublin on Saturday, the fear of unemployment and of job
cuts but more importantly the spirit of James Connolly and Jim Larkin the
founding fathers of the Irish labour movement. It took two hours to get from
Parnell Square to the final rally. 200,000 people, workers, their families and
their kids, young and old, from all over the country, Cork, Kerry, Sligo,
Donegal, the midlands and all over. And they were fed up: “why should we pay
the price for these greedy b*******?” The fact is that the crisis in Ireland
has generated a huge movement. Many people pointed out that they’ve never been
out on strike or been on a demo in their lives, but then again we’ve never had
this sort of situation before. Even members of the PDFORRA, the soldier’s
organisation, were present.
not hard to see why. Unemployment is now 326,000 and all over the country jobs
are going over like ninepins. It was no surprise that the Waterford workers and
the workers from aerospace firm SR Technics, where closure has been announced, were at the front of the march. The
latter shows the depth of the crisis while the former shows the fighting spirit
which has characterised the working class in this crisis.
is clear as well is that demonstrations like this help to give the workers a
sense of their own power. 200,000 is about 1 in 20 of the population. That’s
like 15 million marching in the states or 3 million in Britain. The Irish
bosses have been wrong-footed by the strength of the Irish workers’ response.
The Irish bourgeoisie is very weak. It’s massively dependent on foreign
investments and exports particularly to Britain, so much so that the volatility
of sterling against the Euro is creating big problems in and of itself.
the flip side of this is that the Irish working class has been greatly changed
over the past years. Instead of emigrating to Britain or the United States for
work, people have been “coming home” for years now, wages have gone up and to be
honest people have more to fight for than ever before. The crisis puts all that
at risk and people aren’t prepared to lie down and take it. The problem for the
bosses is that to make all this money they’ve strengthened the working class.
They’ve created their own gravediggers, as Karl Marx said.
scandals over the last few days over the “golden circle” where the Anglo Irish
Bank management lent €451million to 10 of its top shareholders to buy its own
shares, only adds to the anger. Why should the working class pay for the
crisis? It’s entirely of the bosses’ own making. That anger was reflected in
the speeches by the trade union leaders. ICTU President Patricia McKeown, said “it
was time for workers to demonstrate their power and if Government did not
pledge to act on their behalf they must be prepared to deny them a single vote”
(RTE news). David Begg of ICTU pointed out that “sooner or later – and he
believed sooner – the whole banking system would need to be nationalised.”
(Irish Times). The government is clearly under enormous pressure. But they are
on the horns of a dilemma. Someone has to pay for the crisis, and you can be
sure that the bosses won’t. So they are trying to appear reasonable, meanwhile
everyone can see they are in a tailspin.
a statement issued this morning, the Government said there was a considerable
amount in ICTU’s Plan for National Recovery that was ‘entirely consistent’ with
its own agenda.
particular, it reflects the Government’s view that an integrated national response
to the current crisis is not only desirable but essential if there is to be a
sufficient impetus and coherence of approach to meet the scale of the
challenge," the statement said.
Government recognise that the measures which it is taking are difficult and, in
some cases, painful. The Government is also convinced, however, that they are
both necessary and fair," it continued. (Irish Times).
statement described the pension levy as "reasonable" and said it
reflected "the reality that we are not in a position to continue to meet
the public service pay bill in the circumstances of declining revenue".
the strength of Saturday’s march and given the huge pressure that the trade
union leaders are under, we can expect that they will be forced to go further
than they perhaps intend. But it would be an absolute disaster to simply rely
on the 10-point plan to save jobs and wages. We should demand of the trade
union leaders that they fight for every job and for every cent. The banks should
be nationalised under the democratic control of the working class. Any company
threatening redundancies should be nationalised under workers’ control. We need
a majority Labour government with a socialist programme. No excuses and no
collaboration with the tweedle dee and tweedle dum parties of Fine Gael and