increasingly clear that the political and economic situation in Ireland is
heating up – what with the banking crisis and the bail-out of the banks, then
the nationalisation of Anglo Irish. Thousands of jobs have disappeared, Dell
and the threat to Waterford
being two of the most important. Unemployment has risen by over 120,000 in a
year and the government is looking for cuts in the private sector.
As we’ve pointed
out elsewhere the Irish bosses and their representatives in the Dáil have been
forced into this situation by the depth of the crisis. The crisis has
evaporated whatever was left of any feelgood factor relating back to the boom
importantly, the Irish working class has been massively strengthened during the
boom and the trade union leaders are being forced to move to defend jobs,
pensions and conditions. The occupation of the Waterford Crystal Factory is a
prime example of the strength of the working class. The occupation has massive
support and is a beacon to the workers’ movement in Ireland and throughout the
Today the 11th
of February the Executive Council of ICTU is meeting to consider the resolution
of the Public Sector Committee calling for a day of demonstration against the
effects of the economic crisis on workers.
As the General
Secretary of IMPACT, Peter McLoone observed, more action might be required to
get the message across. The demonstrations need to be part of a clear campaign
that involves the mass of workers in an escalating campaign that can stop the
government in its tracks.
The campaign is in
response to the attacks on workers which Jack O’Connor (General President of
SIPTU, Ireland’s largest trade union) characterised saying:
‘The assault under
way is about correcting the problem in the public finances without the wealthy
contributing a single cent’, he said.
remember that the first initiative in this campaign on behalf of the wealthy
was actually launched against private sector workers by the construction
industry employers, who profited most during the boom, when declaring their
intention to cut building workers’ pay by 10%.
builders do not need a devaluation because they are only competing with each
devaluation would affect all sectors of society, cutting pay achieves the same
results exclusively at the expense of workers.’
The government is
essentially attempting to drive down wages right across the economy.
Meanwhile, the government are planning on
imposing a pension levy on public sector workers from next month. The Civil and
Public Service Union will be balloting all 13,000 members for a one day strike
across all government departments on February 26th
The ICTU action is
designed to support “an overall plan to address the issues affecting workers’
right across the economy”. It’s clear that despite the strong language of some
of the trade union leaders, the movement is still seen as an auxiliary to
social partnership. The truth is that only mass action by the working class can
defeat the bosses’ plans. We believe that the movement should build towards a
24 hour general strike across all sectors of the economy under the slogan Make the bosses pay for the crisis!
for every job and every cent
out on the 26th February
the bosses in their tracks; for a 24 hour general strike!