Oppose outsourcing and attacks on union rights: Solidarity with ESB technicians

Text of the Socialist Party leaflet in support of striking ESB network technicians.

ESB network technicians and members of the Independent Workers Union (IWU) are to be applauded for the industrial action they are taking against the creeping privatisation of the company, through the outsourcing of projects to private operators.

Experience has shown that this will inevitably result in a drastic undermining of health and safety, a much poorer service, and a workforce than has less rights and less pay. This is what happens when our public services and semi-state companies are privatised for profit.

Trade union rights under attack

Over 500 network technicians (out of a total of 1,250) in ESB have chosen to join the IWU. Its growth in recent years reflects a real desire to fight back against the policies of outsourcing and all that goes with it. There are also real issues regarding a system of two-tier pay and an undermining of pensions in the company that its workers are rightfully opposed to. Increasing numbers of workers want a union that takes a fighting stand on these vital issues.

Not surprisingly, the company wants to block such a development. They have refused to negotiate with, or recognise, the IWU. This echoes the approach adopted by the HSE towards workers in NASRA (National Ambulance Services Representative Association) in 2019, when it likewise refused to negotiate with this union. Both examples amount to a form of union-busting and it reflects the fact the government and bosses want to stop workers from effectively organising.

Solidarity needed

On top of this, ESB management has outrageously threatened the IWU with legal action for today’s and last week’s industrial action. The wider trade union movement must actively oppose this draconian measure. It comes in the aftermath of Gardaí being used to break the pickets of the Debenhams workers in different parts of the country

The fact that network technicians in other unions have refused to cross the pickets is to be warmly welcomed. It is in the interests of all workers that ESB management’s attempts to break the strike by getting workers to go directly to site be opposed. There is a real mood of solidarity to oppose management’s union busting and the creeping privatisation that they are pursuing. The unions that organise other workers in ESB must take an active, united stand with the IWU.

Workers should have the choice to join the union of their preference. All outsourcing in ESB must end and any services that have been outsourced must be brought back into public ownership. If additional workers are needed they should be directly employed by ESB, not by private contractors.

Socialist Party TD will raise the issue of the strike in the Dáil today.

MICK BARRY TD: “I want to voice my 100% support for the ESB network technicians who have been
forced to strike again today. This is a strike against privatisation and all who are opposed to privatisation must support these workers. It is also in effect a strike for democratic rights too. When hundreds of workers in a given workforce choose to join a particular union the employer should be compelled to recognise that
union and negotiate with its representatives.” Mick Barry’s exchange with the Tánaiste will be shown on Oireachtas TV (Saorview Channel 22, Virgin Media Channel207, Sky Channel 517or at www.oireachtas.ie) sometime between 12.35 pm and 1.00 pm today and will be posted to the Mick Barry TD Facebook page before 2pm.

Join the Socialist Party

The Socialist Party stands for a fighting trade union movement in the traditions of James Connolly and Jim Larkin. The capitalist market system serves only a tiny super-rich elite. We’re organising for a socialist alternative where the wealth and resources in society are publicly owned and democratically planned in the interest of all people and the planet.

Come to our online meeting:

“The Debenhams Workers & the Fighting Traditions of May Day”


Karen Gearon- legendary Dunnes anti-apartheid striker. Carol Anne Bridgeham- Debenhams strikers from Cork, Ginger Jentzen, unionise Amazon activist from US. Ruth Coppinger- former Socialist Party TD and activist. Chaired by Mick Barry TD
Friday, 30 April, 6.30pm. Register here: http://tiny.cc/nwmwtz

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