Ireland: Well over
250,000 Irish workers in the public sector were on strike on the 24th
of this month. There would have been many more, but the unions
guaranteed emergency cover including flood relief in the west, the
midlands and the Shannon area and in Cork City. It’s a feature of every
major strike, not just here, but throughout the world, that the well
fed representatives of the bourgeois and particularly the mean
spirited and greedy petty bourgeois attempt to criticise and attack the
worker’s movement. These fine gentlemen and ladies are always the first
to reach for the box of tissues as they weep crocodile tears about the
poor and the vulnerable who they claim (wringing their hands in woe)
are being let down by the strikers. The fact that the government have
been slashing and burning public services for the last year and
attacking the vulnerable seems conveniently to have been forgotten.
Here’s what IBEC and friends had to say about the action according to the Herald:
Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) said it was
“unacceptable” and “wrong” for public sector unions to drag the general
public, including the most vulnerable in society, into a dispute that
would not create a single job.
those who have the most secure jobs and pensions are adding to the
burdens of the country, as we struggle to put our finances back onto a
sustainable path,” they said.
Fielding of the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises association (ISME)
argued that unions needed to realise that the alternative to Government
cuts in the public sector is bankruptcy, leading to the IMF, the EU, or
both, taking over the financial affairs of the State.
action will serve no purpose, except to create hardship for those in
need, inconvenience the public and undermine the economy
internationally, which will have negative consequences on future
investment,” he added. “
we might as well all go back to work chastised! Nonsense, these are
crocodile tears. Remember these are the people who reneged on the
national wage agreement, the people who are trying to destroy the
Registered employment agreements and who are “putting on the poor
mouth” to justify cuts in our wages, services, pensions and conditions.
It’s the language of class war. It wouldn’t have looked out of place in
Thatcher’s Britain. This attitude is precisely why the strikes are so
important and why the pressure needs to be kept up.
don’t strike because they just fancy doing so, strikes are forced upon
workers by the policies of management and the government. The workers
in Galway, Athlone and Cork were working yesterday to save life and
limb in the floods, workers are reliable sensible people in the main.
That’s why when you have well over a quarter of a million on strike
then there is something up. There is indeed something serious up. It is
a crisis of capitalism that is corroding the economy and the state and
affecting the consciousness of all classes in society. These crocodile
tears are something else though, these are the people who filled their
boots in the Celtic Tiger years, now they are attacking workers for
defending their families, its sheer hypocrisy.
truth is many workers in the public sector are on poverty wages, the
bosses are only trying to divide workers against each other. The
private sector workers won’t wear the bosses lies, in fact many
recognise that the action in the public sector is holding back the
likes of IBEC from their worst excesses.
action was solid with pickets out all over the country in big numbers.
Firefighters, civil servants, teachers – the education system was shut
down, huge numbers of workers. It was a serious error on behalf of the
ICTU leaders not to organise mass demonstrations to crystalise the
mood, but the strength of the movement was self evident.:
negative affects of today’s protest are likely to be felt for weeks
with 16,000 hospital appointments being cancelled and HSE swine flu
vaccination clinics being closed.
Embassies in London and Brussels, where staff are paid by the Irish Exchequer, were also hit by the strike.
The Army had to be drafted in to carry out security duties at several Government offices, including Leinster House.
65,000 teachers and lecturers working in primary and second-level
schools, further education colleges and third-level institutions also
refused to work.
is the first time since the controversial ASTI strike in 2001 that
schools across the country closed because of industrial action.
are barred from strike action, but while officers did report for work
this morning, most choose to avoid issuing penalty points.
Only emergency services are guaranteed up until midnight, when normal service will resume.”
we explained recently when even the Gardai are taking action – some off
duty Gards turned up on picket lines – then the government are in
serious trouble. With a wafer thin majority, its clear that there is a
lot of “putting on a front” going on at Leinster House. Cowen and
Lenihan are after presenting the image that they are "totally in
control of the situation". No doubt Father Ted and Dougal would have
said the same thing when they were in a predicament – although they had
the great advantage of being funny. Cowen and Lenihan will deliver
their budget on the 9th December and doubtless not many workers will be
laughing. The only smiles will be on faces in the boardrooms, in
Dublin, Washington and the City of London.
Fianna Fáil and Green coalition looks like it will be driven out of
office at the next election – if they last as long as that. But
although the so called “thoroughbreds” in the “soldiers of destiny”
might be taking a long walk off a short plank, the evidence is that
Enda Kenny and the Fine Gael offer very little better. Eamon Gilmore
has been choosing his words very carefully recently and no doubt there
will be pressure growing within the Labour Party as well. We believe
that if Labour adopted a clear Socialist programme that presented a
genuine alternative to the failed capitalist system then it would
receive huge popular support. Starting with nationalising all the banks
and big industry under workers control and management
new layers are being drawn into activity and the pressure from below
within the movement will only increase. It needs to as well, it is
evident that McLoone and other sections of the leadership are
determined to drag the movement back in the direction of social
partnership. But we have to be absolutely one hundred per cent clear:
Social partnership at this time means selling the movement short, For
sure Cowen is all in favour of sitting in a smoke free room with Peter
McLoone and making polite politics with the members
livelihood. But how is that going to help families in negative equity
with looming redundancies and wage cuts? Workers and especially the
active trade unionists need to keep a close eye on the leadership.
There is to much to lose to allow a few trade union leaders to play
percentage politics with workers wages and jobs.
There is a due to be another strike on the 3rd
December, just days before the budget, that movement needs to
demonstrate an escalation from this action. There should be
demonstrations in every town and city and plans should be drawn up to ensure
that these actions are backed up with further action that has the
capacity to disrupt revenues and affect the operation of the
government. The mood is there to fight these cuts. The mood in Irish
society is such that a one day general strike involving both the
private and public sector workers would receive huge support.