There can be no doubting that Ireland is a country of Them and Us. For them: NAMA’s €54 billion, €1 million for ex-FAS boss, €216,000 expenses for John O’Donoghue. For us: pay cuts, social welfare cuts, child benefit cuts, health cuts, education cuts, new taxes. €4 billion worth of cuts this December to hit the quality of life of every working class man, woman and child!
The 6 November ICTU day of protests is an opportunity for working class people to show their opposition to the government’s attacks. On 21 February 120,000 marched and ICTU followed this up with their plan for a general strike on 30 March only to call it off for nothing more than getting into new “social partnership” talks.
This “sell out” by the union leaders angered and demoralised many. Workers should question the motives of the Congress leaders for calling the protests on 6 November (see article page 5). The prospect of new “social partnership” talks has been mooted once again. Statements from ICTU general secretary David Begg and president Jack O’Connor indicate that their horizons are as low as gaining leverage for these talks in order to mitigate the worst aspects of the cuts.
Some public sector union leaders are prepared to concede cuts in services, working conditions and even extending the working week as long as there are no pay or job cuts.
The Socialist Party completely rejects this approach. The starting point for any movement against cuts in public services and threats to public sector workers pay, jobs and pensions should be how to defeat the government’s plans.
The 6 November protests should be upgraded to a 24 hour general strike. There are 650,000 trade union members in the South. A call by the trade union movement for a one-day general strike to defeat the government’s budget plans would receive the overwhelming support of all workers as well as the unemployed.
The Fianna Fail/Green coalition is weak. If ICTU was to really take “the gloves off”, they could bring the government down and stop the cuts dead.
The media will soon be filled with the “cries” of government ministers, big business leaders and the bought and paid for charlatan economists who will be collectively condemning the unions for threatening the “nations” recovery and international reputation. They should be ignored!
The country has been brought to the brink of bankruptcy by Fianna Fail and those who slavishly support the capitalist market in whose name 450,000 have been condemned to the dole.
Give them their answer by coming out on the 6 November in your hundreds of thousands, the unemployed, the communities faced with cuts in vital services, health and education workers, private and public sector workers united in a common struggle to defend jobs, wages and conditions.
Fundamental political change is needed. The capitalist market that caused the crisis should be rejected. We need a mass working class party committed to establishing a socialist society in which the needs of the majority come first. Join the Socialist Party today.
“I would urge all working class people, the unemployed and those who fear Minister Lenihans’ savage cuts to join the protests on the 6 November. Let us make this a day that Fianna Fail and the Greens will never forget. Let’s make this the start of a real movement to defeat the cuts”
– Joe Higgins MEP (Socialist Party)