Ireland

The Thomas Cook workers who occupied their shop for four days have now been released by the High Court having “purged their contempt”. But it’s going to take more than that to purge the contempt that many workers will feel for bosses who were prepared to use the law courts and, 80 heavy handed gards who turned up at 5am – when they thought there wouldn’t be an audience, to manhandle the 27 workers down to the courts. If ever anyone needed convincing of the way that the state apparatus acts in the interests of the bosses then this is a perfect example.

The AECI, one of the two employers organisations in the Registered Employment Agreement for the Electrical contracting industry has voted to reject the 4.95% settlement agreed in the Labour court recently.

After a week long strike that saw some 240 sites being picket by TEEU members the union has instructed the 10,500 strikers to return to work, following the decision of the Labour Court to recommend a 4.9% deal – to be paid in two installments; 2.5% in September and 2.4% in January. But, it would be a mistake to suggest that the dispute is over and done with.

The TEEU strike, that started Monday, might well represent a new sharp turn in the course of events. The 10,500 electricians punch well above their weight; they have industrial power beyond their numbers. They can stop constructions sites and factories nationwide. They deserve the full backing of the whole of the Irish labour movement.

The spending cuts recommended by An Bord Snip Nue will this time be extended to the unemployed and to child benefits. They reveal once more the class nature of the state and the FF/Green government. They will provoke a general reduction in living standards of workers. To reverse these attacks, unions must stop wasting precious time in useless negotiations with the government and start mobilising.

Irish civil servants face wholesale restructuring and even the closure of some departments. Public sector pay is also threatened. The An Bord Snip report, yet to be officially published, is a recipe for class conflict and the trade unions should act accordingly.

We share the revulsion of the hundreds of Belfast workers who demonstrated on the Lisburn Road against these racist attacks in Belgravia Avenue and Wellesley Avenue over the last week. We applaud the efforts of those workers who gathered together and offered their moral and practical support to the Roma people who were forced from their homes by the fascist thugs using the name of Combat 18 – the British fascist terror group.

The elections in Ireland revealed a historical opportunity for the left if the correct approach and ideas are adopted. In Dublin, in particular, there was a marked shift to the left. Now the workers will expect some real change from the left, which however is only possible by changing the right-wing reformist policies of the Labour Party, and building a united front of the left wherever possible.

If you hadn’t noticed, there is an election or rather a number of elections this week, what with the Euro Elections and the Council ones. Every lamp post, telegraph pole or slow moving animal has been festooned with posters for weeks. All of the hopefuls smile at you as you walk past, each photo carefully doctored so you can’t see the vampire fangs.

The workers of Ireland are feeling the pinch. The so called "Celtic Tiger" has proven itself to be an illusion. The Irish economy is now in free fall and the  government and the bosses are doing their best to make the workers pay for the crisis. The only way to stop this onslaught is through co-ordinated industrial action.

Recent weeks have seen Ireland bear witness to two factory occupations that subsequently inspired similar actions across Britain. These events are significant developments in class struggle in that they pose the question of whether power resides with the boss or the workers. It is fitting that these events should coincide with the ninetieth anniversary of the Limerick Soviet.

We publish for the interest of our readers this article from The Plough, the journal of the Irish Republican Socialist Party, as it makes many relevant points about the situation in Northern Ireland today. In particular it highlights the need for working class unity and class struggle as the only way out.

Despite being regarded as a central point in Irish history and an event that is widely recognised as pivotal to the traditions of republicanism little of the events of 1916 are retained in their popular representation as they have been surrounded by a systematic campaign of distortion almost since they took place.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan and the Fianna Fáil lead coalition have announced a budget that takes €837 out of the economy for every man, woman and child in Ireland. This direct assault on the working class is going to have massive implications for years to come.

“The factory should be nationalised under workers’ control. But that would be too radical a step for any of the parties in Stormont already committed to administering the neoliberal economic policies of the pro-business Brown Government in Westminster.”

The ICTU leaders have deferred the strike action planned for Monday 30 pending the outcome of negotiations. The problem is the government and the bosses have very little room for manoeuvre. The only way to stop the Fianna Fáil/Green Party government and the bosses in their tracks is through militant action.

Union after union has been balloting its members over strike action and the message from the rank and file is clear. SIPTU, the teachers, the nurses, the TEEU are all coming out; in IMPACT, the biggest public sector union 65% voted favour and even in UNITE where there is a big private sector presence the votes are on a knife edge. The conditions are all there to transform March 30 into a full-fledged one-day general strike, if the trade union leaders were prepared to make such a call.

After displaying a high level of militancy and determination, the Waterford workers have ended their occupation after the union leaders brokered a deal with the owners of the company. This is a bitter blow for the workers, but it also highlights the need to struggle within the unions for a fighting leadership.

Sectarianism only serves to divide the working class. When in reality the conditions that Catholic and Protestant workers face mean that they have far more in common with each other than they could ever have with the bosses.

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