Ireland: Thursday’s planned public sector strike has
been suspended after the government and the union leaders announced that a
breakthrough had been made. The "agreement" means that some of the
cost of wages would be offset by the workers taking "unpaid leave".
As we pointed out on more than one occasion recently, the political and
economic situation in the state is such that any agreement that has been
reached on the basis of "social partnership" will inevitably mean cuts
in worker’s wages and increased work load and pressure on already stretched
services. Effectively it means that the public sector is being put on short
at 6.01 tonight everyone was being tight lipped as to just how much of the
planned €1.3 billion worth of cuts will be covered by this proposal. But, it is
likely that a sizeable chunk of unpaid leave is going to be forced on workers
in the public sector. Here is the calculation: There are about 370,000 workers
in the public sector in Ireland.
That means that if the whole €1.3 billion was raised, it means €3,500 per
person. Last year’s slash and burn budget from Lenihan meant an additional
burden of €837 per man, woman and child in the country. The truth is that this
cut is potentially even bigger than that. Doubtless the whole amount won’t be
cut in this way. But any further cuts will be another disaster for workers.
the real world – after the spin has been unravelled- this deal essentially
means putting the Irish public sector workers onto short time working. The
trade union leaders are preparing to sell the workers short in this situation.
The experience of the strike last week and the demonstration on the 6th
November is that the workers are prepared to stand up for themselves. There are
sections of the trade union leadership who are determined to try and channel
the workers anger in the direction of "social partnership". There are
two reasons for this. In the first instance the trade union leadership are
very aware of the economic situation, but they don’t have a socialist
perspective, far from it in many cases. On the other hand they are acutely
aware of the fact that the mood among the working class means that they might
be forced to go further than they are prepared to do.
mass character of the opposition within the public sector to the cuts has
been reflected in layers of workers coming into political and trade union
activity for the first time. Under these conditions it is possible that over a
period of time the right wing could begin to lose control of the movement if
they fail to deliver. This agreement, the scale of which isn’t yet clear
will be portrayed as a victory and for sure it is not the worst possible
deal that could have been struck. But it certainly is far from the best. How
much are the bosses paying for the crisis? How will this agreement help
workers? Somewhere between one in 4 and one in 6 families in Ireland
probably have a public sector worker in them. That means big cuts in
wages. It will further cut the market for Irish goods, reduce tax revenue and
further impoverish the government. Its a short term measure that reflects the
active trade unionists in Ireland
this deal looks to represent a desparate attempt by the government and the
right wing of the unions, neither of whom want the entire working class in the
public sector breathing down their necks. The deal won’t solve anything in the
long run and is likely to be followed up by more cuts and more levies, more
uncertainty, more attacks from the bourgeoisie and their mouthpieces in the
press and the media. Ultimately, had the strike not taken place last week this
deal wouldn’t have happened. It shows that the government hae been forced to
change tack from the wage cuts and job losses they have been advocating.
Doubtless many workers will see the calling off of the strike as a sell out by
the leadership. Some will question the role of McLoone and David Begg and
a minority will look towards the ideas of marxism and of socialism for an
explanation of the events taking place in Ireland today. Its our ambition to
provide an answer.