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coke workers

category dublin | rights, freedoms and repression | press release author Thursday February 12, 2004 17:05author by coke Report this post to the editors

coke workers give the REAL story

Coke workers reply

A Chairde,

We are reluctant to engage any further with Gearóid Ó Loinsigh — the reason why will become clear. His comments on your letters page (29 January 2004) must be answered if only to do justice to the workers we represent.

It is simply untrue to assert as he does that no offer of solidarity was offered to Colombian trade unionists at the meeting we attended with Eduardo Luis, the Colombian Coca-Cola worker. Why does Ó Loinsigh persist in denying this? The answer is simple: if one does not support a call or an organised boycott, any other form of solidarity is rejected. This is not the behaviour of a solidarity activist; it is the behaviour of a political sectarian.

Ó Loinsigh complains of "body language" and that the meeting translator was "interrupted whilst translating" and "interrupted again when making comments of his own". He fails to mention that both he and the translator were one and the same person.

Here lies the problem. Our attempts to communicate with Eduardo Luis were totally dependent on Mr Ó Loinsigh, whose apparent inability to state or report facts is matched only by his ability to separate himself from himself. The only hostility at the meeting emanated from another Ó Loinsigh initiative, the unexpected presence at the meeting of UCD student officers who had engaged in hostile behaviour towards Coca-Cola shop stewards.

Ó Loinsigh's partisan disregard for the facts leads us to question his 'translations'.

In future we will bring our own translator and, while we have no problem meeting with LASC, we will not be having any more meetings with Mr Ó Loinsigh. We hereby withdraw the longstanding, but predictably ignored, invitation to Mr Ó Loinsigh to discuss repression against Colombian trade unionists. He has never, at any stage, seen fit to consider the views of Irish bottling plant workers.

The IUF, SIPTU and the ICTU have over the past few months met with, questioned Coca-Cola corporate management, and discussed the conditions at bottling plants in Colombia. The meetings have taken place in the US and Ireland.

As Irish bottling plant workers, we have been to the forefront of raising issues of trade union organisation, working conditions, justice and human rights and will continue to work with the International Union of Foodworkers in building global solidarity action and union organisation in the Coca-Cola system.

Paddy Cahill, Branch Chairperson and Senior Shop Steward

Tommy Grant, Senior Shop Steward Production

Gerry Mahony, Senior Shop Steward Production.

author by Tallaght residentpublication date Thu Feb 12, 2004 10:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Did anybody know that while Mick Murphy and his party were involved in trying to ban coke he was working for and being paid by cokes largest rivals, the soft drinks distribution company Cantrel & Corchrane. sounds a little bit weird to me. hopefully we wont need a tribunal in a few years.

author by Muppet watchpublication date Thu Feb 12, 2004 11:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don't think the SP were really in the van when it came to the Coca-Cola campaign and to the best of my knowledge C & C haven't taken to shooting Colombian employees (if they have any).
Although I can think of a few high ranking TU bureaucrats that they could start on.
Now Tallaght resident, back to your cave.

author by Muppet Watch Watcherpublication date Thu Feb 12, 2004 13:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So what if one member of the SP are employed by C&C. That doesn't mean he's supporting a Coca Cola ban because of this. I'm sure if you ask him he'll say that C&C aren't the world's best employers!

The point about Ann Speed and her SF comrades are that they were doing the work of their employers. They leafleted Belfield and Earlsfort Terrace with leaflets supporting Coca Cola. Ann Speed and her SF members denied that there were any human rights abuses. SF members showed massive disrespect to the UCDSU members and officers. SF members did the work of Coca Cola in trying to break a workers' boycott.

author by Davidpublication date Thu Feb 12, 2004 17:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Are the workers in the Coca-Cola bottling plants informed of the situation in colombia and have they had the chance to vote on the issue or is this just another case of "reps" taking an imaginary mandate.
I talked to several SIPTU reps working in different Industries and when i mentioned the Killer Coke issue they thought i was referring to Cocaine.

If you don't support the Sinaltrainal Trade Union call for an international boycott then you are not in support of the People who are facing very real threats to their life and freedom In Colombia because of the activities of Multinational Corporations in particular Coca-Cola.

Does SIPTU think that Coca-Cola have the interests of Irish workers at heart? Are you not aware that it is now their policy to automate their production as much as possible and that the technology exists to put most Coca-Cola workers out of employment?

In Light of the Coca-Cola Corporations attitude to this Issue do you honestly think that asking them nicely to please stop their union busting activities will work? Does SIPTU not realise that the race to the bottom accelerates every time an active Union is crushed and that in the medium term this WILL result in migration of investment and employment to these low cost economies, low cost because the workers rights have been decimated

author by John Meehanpublication date Thu Feb 12, 2004 18:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Coca-Cola shop stewards write :

"We are reluctant to engage any further with Gearóid Ó Loinsigh — the reason why will become clear. His comments on your letters page (29 January 2004)"

What publication is referred to here?

Could somebody either paste in the relevant GOL letter, or add a link?

author by UCDSU memberpublication date Thu Feb 12, 2004 19:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why don't you take a leaf out of the UCDSU book and put the issue to a vote of your members? In UCDSU there were 2 votes and both times there was support for the ban.

The SIPTU shop stewards are not acting in the interests of their members, rather they are acting in the interests of their employers (Coca Cola) and their political party (Sinn Féin).

These people have shown complete disrespect to UCDSU. UCDSU officers have been abused and threatened by these people outside the gates of their University.

These people have tried to flood the University with litrature against the regulations of the UCDSU. For 2 days of the 1st vote and the 2 days of the second vote they stood outside the Belfield and Earlsfort Terrace campuses with leaflets that undermined UCDSU democratci process. You may be funded by Coca Cola- students are not and there have to be limits on expenditure.

These people also tresspassed on the property of the University- none of them were staff, students, graduate, or invited by a Society or Department. They had no business on campus.

They also acted against the wishes of the SIPTU section in UCD.

These people are scabs that are doing the disgusting work of Coca Cola. They have defended Coca Cola against human rights abuses in Colombia- they deny proven fact.

author by Phuq Heddpublication date Thu Feb 12, 2004 19:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

QUOTE: The IUF, SIPTU and the ICTU have over the past few months met with, questioned Coca-Cola corporate management, and discussed the conditions at bottling plants in Colombia. The meetings have taken place in the US and Ireland.

ANSWER: Wow! met, questioned and discussed. With solidarity like that the murdered and tortured trade unionists in Colombia must feel better that they can count on international support from the brothers in Ireland.

As queried above: why hasn't there been a democratic vote taken on the issue of a boycott of Coke in Ireland by the trades union?

author by Remember Ennispublication date Thu Feb 12, 2004 21:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The person who posted the gratuitous and libelous personal comments about Mick Murphy should be aware that it is as easy for anyone else to post personal allegations for public consumption here.

author by socialistpublication date Fri Feb 13, 2004 09:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It isnt hard to see why coke workers would be concerned about the boycott of coke, it isnt because they are scabs it is because they have real worries about their jobs.
We should remember that the coke workers are not the coke company.

author by Davidpublication date Fri Feb 13, 2004 10:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Union is supposed to represent the workers, how can they possibly do this when they dont know what the workers want because they have never asked them?

I demand that pro-coke people stop declaring that "siptu are against the boycott" when clearly SIPTU have not formed a democratic decision about this issue

author by Gearoid O Loingsigh - Lascpublication date Fri Feb 13, 2004 10:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The letter referred to is a letter to AP/RN.

Firstly, you bring your own translator if you want. However, I was not just translator I was the person who organised the visit by Luis Eduardo Garcia, got his visa etc and I was also the person who asked the ICTU global solidarity ctte to arrange the meeting with Siptu. The presence of the UCD students was justified as they were there as part of the campaign on coke issues, they were not and are not outsiders on the issue.

I have no problem separating myself from myself, but the fact is that I was interrupted WHILST TRANSLATING WHAT SIPTU HAD SAID. Hardly sounds like a harmonious meeting.

The comments on body language and tone were Luis Eduardo's not mine.

As for meeting to discuss the issues. get real, you have displayed no interest at all in discussing the issues and no specific invite was ever issued!

author by Gearoid O Loingsigh - Lascpublication date Fri Feb 13, 2004 12:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Here below is the letter to which Siptu shopstewards have taken great offence. It was a defence of a previous contribution by Dan Connolly.

SIPTU, Coke and Colombia

A Chairde,

SIPTU's letter of reply to Dan Connolly on the Coca-Cola boycott is misleading in certain aspects that I feel I must correct. It is true that Dan Connolly was not at the meeting between Sinaltrainal and SIPTU, however, he was at a public meeting in Tar Isteach, given on the same evening, where Sinaltrainal described it as a waste of time, and that "it was like a meeting with management". Sinaltrainal speaker Luis Eduardo Garcia went on to say that he was surprised at the degree to which "the thinking of Coca-Cola management had penetrated the thinking of Irish trade unionists". Dan Connolly's comments that the Siptu branch is pro-company are very much in line with the report given by Luis Eduardo.

I should further clarify that the meeting between Sinaltrainal and SIPTU was convened by the ICTU development committee "Global Solidarity" at the request of the Latin America Solidarity Centre (LASC). Whilst the most acrimonious part of the meeting took place at the end with the students (who formed part of LASC's delegation and were there as of right), it is not true to say that it was comradely. Even the Colombian comrade, who does not speak English, noted the tone and body language of those present. Luis' translator was interrupted on a number of occasions whilst translating and interrupted again when making comments of his own.

The main point though, is that SIPTU is not in solidarity with Colombian trade unionists. SIPTU does not have a disagreement about the boycott tactic. They simply do not accept that Coca-Cola has a case to answer. Their public statement on the matter says that allegations against Coke are "sweeping and unsubstantiated", echoing those of IUF, the international federation that SIPTU are members of.

SIPTU were asked at the meeting what was their alternative to a boycott, none was forthcoming. We have yet to see any action taken by SIPTU in solidarity with Colombian trade unionists. In the face of such inaction, consumers are left with one alternative and that is the boycott launched by the Colombian Congress of Trade Unions (CUT) in July of last year. There is no getting away from the fact that the boycott is an affective weapon and has raised the profile of the issue in Ireland to such an extent that a number of bars and also UCD students' union have banned their products, not to mention that Coke sent one of their top men to Ireland to try and stem the tide. What role did SIPTU play in the visit of Coke's rep in the middle of the referendum in UCD?

Gerard Ó Loingsigh,

LASC, Dublin.

author by Jonahpublication date Fri Feb 13, 2004 13:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

At least two posters have deliberately lied on this thread.

Sinn Féin supports the boycott of Coca-Cola by UCD students and the boycott campaign called by Sinaltrainal. Let there be absolutely no doubt, nor equivocation on this matter. If individuals wish, they can ring the Press Office to confirm.

Members of Sinn Fein in their capacity as Trade Union representatives took a different position. Their position was the one mandated by their workers, it was not the Sinn Fein position.

We respect the right of Trade Unions to make decisions that are not in line with party policy, nor do we expect Trade Union officials to disobey the wishes of their members.

Frankly, I think it would be extremely dangerous of members of political parties who were Union officials did what their party told them to do, and not their members.

Lastly, the entire debate has been carried out on the letters pages of An Phoblacht, where over a number of weeks both sides to this dispute have laid out their arguments.

author by UCDSU memberpublication date Fri Feb 13, 2004 13:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It was Sinn Fein members in Coca Cola that initiated their activities in UCD. It was SINN FEIN members that raised it as an issue.

Even if it was not SF members initiating it, why didn't the SF members argue against it and show some leadership by putting the blame on Coca Cola for laying people off not UCD students with 5 small shops.

The fact they did not put forward this argument shows that they are unprincipled and are on the right-wing of the Union movement.

SINN FEIN played a disgusting role in the Coca Cola boycott. Sinn Fein members in UCD refused to take a stand and were not active.

author by observerpublication date Fri Feb 13, 2004 13:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Do you people all have to use the same words and phrases in everything that you write and say? It is like talking to a member of the Moonies.

As for the substance of your attack on SF, it has been answered by Jonah. Deal with it. SF is not some cult that has a "line" or a "perspective" on every thing from what you have for breakfast to what music you listen to. It has a large membership with many who - like some of those SIPTU reps - are not just party members but who also have a duty to their membership and it was they who having considered the boycott issue decided against it. The party Ard Comhairle decided to support the boycott.

You see that's what happens in the real world. People argue, take different positions and decisions are made that don't please everyone. Personally as a republican I am opposed to the boycott because I do not beleive that the case has been well enough made to prove that the company was directly involved in the murder of Coke workers. Bad fcukers they may well be but no worse than any other large US corporation.

To dismiss the valid concerns of the Dublin Coke workers in the manner you have done demonstrates a certain contempt for the very people you are trying to "save". This is their livelihood and their families, and they dont need anyone to lecture them on the realities of the capitalist labour market.

author by Observing observerpublication date Fri Feb 13, 2004 13:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You say
"Personally as a republican I am opposed to the boycott..."

Ok, you say personally but then qualify it by saying as a republican.
Which is it? Plenty of republicans have come on and say they support the boycott. You are slipping into the same speak as those of whom you complain.

author by observerpublication date Fri Feb 13, 2004 14:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am a person who supports SF but I don't support the boycott. In what way is that confusing?

author by Chekovpublication date Fri Feb 13, 2004 14:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"It is simply untrue to assert as he does that no offer of solidarity was offered to Colombian trade unionists at the meeting we attended with Eduardo Luis, the Colombian Coca-Cola worker."

And the solidarity offered was...what exactly? I've seen this repeated on inydmedia several times by siptu officials and their supporters, but have yet to see what it means in concrete terms. If SIPTU could actually say what support they are proposing instead of the boycott, the whole sordid dispute could advance beyond the current personal bitterness.

"Why does Ó Loinsigh persist in denying this? The answer is simple: if one does not support a call or an organised boycott, any other form of solidarity is rejected. This is not the behaviour of a solidarity activist; it is the behaviour of a political sectarian."

I don't know why Gearoid persists, but at a guess I'd say that it is because SIPTU have not yet revealed what their proposed solidarity is. Here again, rather than arguing their case for their particular form of solidarity, they go for a personalised attack on their opponent. This is normally indicative of having a very weak argument. So could the SIPTU officials please cut out the ad hominem shit and simply explain what form of solidarity action they are proposing. The longer they stay quiet, the more it looks like they are proposing nothing.

author by Davidpublication date Fri Feb 13, 2004 15:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In maynooth the pro boycott campaign contains many individuals who are completely unafiliated with any political party and a few members of Ogra Sinn Fein who have all agreed to campaign on a totally non party political basis. Their personal stance on the issue is what is motivating them, they ar not getting any funding for their activities either from their sinn fein society on campus or from the party itself.

author by Januspublication date Fri Feb 13, 2004 15:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'm actually a wee bit scared by all this, not the Coke issue itself, on which I've made my position clear, but the attitude of some people towards party members who are Trade Union activists and elected representatives of workers in Unions.

Should an elected representative of workers take his line from the workers who elected him or her or from the political party that person is a member of? The assumption here seems to be that latter, I would not have even thought a decent Trade Unionist had to ask the question.

It's something that as a Trade Unionist, and a former political party member I take very seriously. I have had Shop Stewards and Branch officers who were members of political parties and I always assumed and based my work with them on the basis that they checked their party membership at the door and put on their Union hat.

Now certainly there is naivete to that, and I accept that particularly in elections, party policits comes into play, but I would be disgusted if members of ANY party allowed their party line to over-ride the line they got from the workers, even if it is something I agree with.

In this Coke thing, I think the workers are wrong and I am entitled to my opinion. Just as they are entitled to theirs, and just as they are entitled to have their representatives air their views. I would be disgusted if some SP or SWP or SF or Labour representative basically told the workers where to go because their party line said support the boycott.

I am absolutely and utterly opposed to social partnership, but I have voted in favour of it when mandated to do so by the workers who chose to send me. I didn't enjoy it, I was member of a party opposed to it, but I did it. Because I was there in my capacity as a Union officer, and not as a Sinn Fein member, which I was at the time.

Leave party politics outside the Trade Union movement as much as possible. There are three sides to this argument, the SIPTU Coke workers, the boycott supporters Gearoid and Co and the people desperate to drag Sinn Fein into it because members of that party, which supports the boycott, did what they were mandated to do as Trade Unionists.

You're not bashing Sinn Fein, you're attacking a basic principle of Trade Unionism and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

author by Curiouspublication date Fri Feb 13, 2004 15:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John sets very high standards for SF members who are Trade Union Officials. But is John able to measure up to these standards himself? John Meehan works for IMPACT this means that he has to send out circulars supporting partnership and attacking the Anti Bin Tax Campaign. Normal people realise that John has to do this as part of his job. Why cant John accept the same of SF members in SIPTU.

author by Davidpublication date Fri Feb 13, 2004 16:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why do we expect people to negotiate a position that they do not agree with? They could not honestly give a good account of that mandated position.
The whole elected delegate system is flawed. The Union should hold a meeting and then decide on a course of action and then elect a delegate to represent this particular issue based on his understanding of the issue. this allows people to keep their principles and is more transparent.

author by Old timerpublication date Fri Feb 13, 2004 16:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

When you have some experience of the real world of the working class and you see how few people hold such maximalist Anarchist views then perhaps you will be less silly in your approach.

author by Davidpublication date Fri Feb 13, 2004 16:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Women had no equality with men. Men used the fact that most women didnt seem capable or motivated to assume equal roles as a basis for justifying the inequality. John Stewart Mill argued differently. He said the only reason the women appeared to be inferior to men was because they were drowning under the weight of their oppression by society. they had little access to education and they were societly conditioned to behave in a certain way. In the 20th century the role of women has begun to change hugely because they are now facing much more equality of opportunity, they are not there yet but hopefully soon all women will have the same opportunities as men do.

The arguement that women were incapable of equality with men has been proven to be totally false and i believe that if workers were given the opportunities they would quickly find the skills and motivation to control their own lives.
Just because something isn't a certain way doesnt mean that it shouldn't be or that it never will be.

author by IMC Dalekpublication date Fri Feb 13, 2004 16:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

David, this thread is not about trade unionism in general please keep on topic. And dont be drawn out by cranks.

author by Phuq Heddpublication date Fri Feb 13, 2004 16:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

And instead let's get at what exactly it is that SIPTU is proposing to actually DO about the issue. We've heard arguments as to why a boycott is not a good idea and why it is natural that coca-cola workers in Ireland are not going to support a strike. I don't agree with either of those above points, but let's move on and instead answer the question posed by Chekov: WHAT is SIPTU actually going to do? Are they just issuing a paper statement of "solidarity"?

author by Dan - UCDSUpublication date Fri Feb 13, 2004 17:17author email rogerprotzlives at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

I attended the meeting between SINALTRAINAL and the SIPTU reps, along with two other UCDSU officers, at the invitation of Luis Eduardo Garcia. So I can report exactly what happened.

Luis spent roughly half an hour describing the situation in Colombia. He made it absolutely clear why he held Coke responsible for the anti-union campaign. His testimony was totally clear and unambiguous. Ann Speed then spent more than an hour trying to pick holes in what he had said and create ambiguity where there was none. Obviously her only intention was to find an excuse for doing nothing while soothing her conscience.

However, the hypocritical mask slipped on a number of occassions. The most notable example came when she was told that Luis and his family had been threatened, and responded by sniggering and making a flippant remark (the SIPTU reps better not try and deny this, there were five witnesses). Despite this provocation, we all remained calm and said nothing.

After listening to her seemingly endless waffle for more than an hour, I then spoke very briefly, saying "Basically, your position is, you don't accept that Coke are responsible for what's happened in Colombia, and you wouldn't support a boycott under any circumstances anyway?". This was exactly what she had been saying for the previous hour, but apparently Speed doesn't like to have her own views expressed in plain language without any bullshit. She again tried to wriggle out of it by saying "No, what I said was, we need more information, of course we accept that terrible things have happened to workers in Colombia."

This, of course, was totally worthless. EVERYONE accepts that "terrible things have happened", including Coke. The only question in dispute was, were Coke management to blame. Speed clearly didn't need any more information, she'd just heard Luis describe his own experience of having been falsely imprisoned after being framed by managers, along with many other examples of management culpability. Either she accepted what he was saying, or she didn't. So I asked (in a perfectly calm tone of voice): "Do you accept that Luis is telling the truth, or don't you?"

Obviously Speed was enraged at being put on the spot, and began screaming abuse at me. I had to smile at the idea that this woman was meant to be a professional negotiator, yet would scream like a spoilt child just because she was asked a simple question.

In summary, the UCD reps, the LASC members, and Luis himself, were all perfectly calm and civil, despite extreme provocation; the meeting only became heated because we weren't inclined to help Speed wriggle off the hook - if she was determined to do nothing, we were going to make sure that she stated that position in plain language.

I can't for the life of me understand why the SIPTU reps believe it's "comradely" to laugh at the very real threat to Luis' safety, and the safety of his family. Of course, Ann Speed did use the word "comrade" every couple of minutes (it was like being at a meeting of the Soviet Politburo). But this was just a feeble attempt to mask the lack of genuine comradeship in her attitude.

Now, having refused to speak to us (apart from shouting abuse), Speed and her comrades are refusing to deal with Gearoid. Obviously they don't want to have any dealings with anyone who will make them feel uncomfortable about the cowardice and hypocrisy of their actions. Let's just go over some of the contradictions in their line:

a) They insist that "we need more information" before deciding what's really going on in Colombia. Yet they are willing to distribute leaflets claiming that Coke are in no way responsible for the murders of union activists. So either they DO have enough information, or else they're happy to distribute leaflets making claims they have no way of knowing are true or not (in any case, we've provided them with more than enough information already to form an opinion - if they are still ignorant, it's by choice, because they'd rather not know anything that would make them feel uncomfortable).

b) Despite making it clear that they don't believe Coke has any case to answer, they then go on to insist that UCD activists, and anyone else involved in the campaign, should leave it to them to sort things out. We ran our referendum because we DO believe that Coke are responsible for the murder campaign against SINALTRAINAL. Do you really think we are going to put our faith in you, when you insist "there is no problem"?

c) Again and again, they talk about the wonderful solidarity gestures they've made towards SINALTRAINAL. Can they give us a single example? Their ONLY contribution has been a (failed) attempt to stab SINALTRAINAL in the back.

Anyway, Ann Speed really let the cat out of the bag at a meeting organised by Labour Youth. After somone involved in the UCD campaign said "This campaign is all about saving lives in Colombia, that's what it comes down to,", Speed replied "Well, I'm not a petit-bourgeois moralist". Which, of course, is a pretentious pseudo-Marxist way of saying "the death of innocent people doesn't bother me in the slightest" (it's the same sort of rhetoric we used to hear from the apologists of Vyshinsky and Pol Pot).

Let Ann Speed and the other SIPTU reps be aware, we don't buy your line about "defending Irish workers" for a moment. We know perfectly well that SIPTU has a lousy record of defending Coke workers, which is why they've started to lose members to the IWU. We know perfectly well that if Coke announced plans to shut down every Irish plant, your main priority would be finding an excuse to do nothing. And we know perfectly well that Speed earns more than seventy grand a year, which puts her sad rhetoric about "middle-class students who don't care about Irish workers" in perspective.

After seeing their antics, we regard Ann Speed and the shop stewards who've posted this statement as errand-boys for Coke management, not legitimate workers' representatives. And we have every right to do so. "Solidarity" means a little more than throwing around the word "comrade" while preparing to stab fellow trade unionists in the back and ally yourself with murderers.

author by Januspublication date Fri Feb 13, 2004 19:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The description from the Dan from UCD of the meeting is certainly a damning one. I can only say that reading in the letters page of the Phoblacht, and on Indymedia, the only two sources of information I have on this debate, I still don't know who to believe.

I think SIPTU were absolutely wrong in the position they took, don't get me wrong, but there are so many contradictory accounts of the meetings that took place, so many ways people could be giving an honest, yet contradictory account of the meeting I'm not sure who to believe.

I was interested in Dan's point about the IWU. I've been a member of SIPTU since just after it was founded but am more and more disillusioned with the decisions it has taken on partnership, on the big salaries for bureaucrats, refusing to stand up to the Government and big business and since the narrow failure of the Duggan campaign, not much of an internal opposition. I know of a chap in the IWU and it seems like something worth getting into from their website. Dan, are you a member?

author by Anne Speedpublication date Sat Mar 06, 2004 15:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The posting by “Dan-UCDSU”, has just been brought to my attention.

Initially, it made me sick.

His comments, and those of others claiming to be from UCD, undermine the cause they claim to support. It is only the faint possibility that a non-response might leave an impression of truthfulness that elicits a response from me. The comments also serve to vindicate everything SIPTU shop stewards have said about the attitudes and behaviour of certain students in UCD.

The posting is without question an absolute tissue of lies.

The accusation of “sniggering” and “laugh[ing]” at examples of threats and repression is a slander. It is not the first, but it is one of the worst.

The allegation that shop stewards were “errand boys for Coke management”, I treat with contempt. The statement that they are “not legitimate workers‚ representatives” I regard as similar to the attitude of the right-wing paramilitaries ‘Dan’ says he opposes.

The similar reference from another UCD stalwart to democratically elected workers representatives as “scabs… doing the disgusting work of Coca Cola”, I treat as further examples of offensive and hare-brained scribbling.

The suggestion from ‘Dan‚ that I was “screaming abuse” at him is an ego-fuelled fantasy. The youth organisation he supports, whose name is omitted for fear of guilt by association, should consider counselling for ‘Dan’. I will certainly advise them to do so.

I have met ‘Dan’s’ type before. They are the loudest and most abusively ‘left’ as students. Once that is out of their system they are first to tryout for a career in management - or in journalism. In either position Irish workers will continue to be berated for having the effrontery to express a point of view or to go out on strike.

The references to shop stewards as “these people” whose views don’t count is typical of the prejudices that working people face everyday and it is why they need trade unions to put manners on those who engage in ‘boss-talk’ in their efforts to manage the activities of workers.

The gibberish about SIPTU misrepresenting Coca Cola workers is not worthy of comment. Maybe ‘Dan’ could do better. He could weed out the “not legitimate” elements currently elected as shop stewards. Since he mentions them, he could look up Vyshinsky and Pol Pot on how to create a purer Irish working class, replacing the one that so disgusts him.

The nonsense about my salary is as delusional as the rest of the posting. Ditto the reference to Sinn Fein.

I really couldn’t be bothered answering questions or responding to ‘demands’ put by such an obvious twit. The only thing that surprises me is that there may be people who think this behaviour helps the cause of trade unionists under attack in Colombia.

‘Dan’s’ very personal and abusive comments about me I suspect have more to do with misogyny than with politics.

I also suspect that they arise in the context of shop stewards’ criticism of his behaviour in UCD:
• Threatening to call the police
• Threatening legal action
• Relying on college authorities to censor the shop stewards
• Physically assaulting workers and throwing their placards over a wall

These are not the practices normally associated with comradely debate and discussion in the labour movement. I note ‘Dan’s’ difficulty with the use of the term ‘comrade’. He can rest assured; it will never apply to him.

[Note: the anonymous posting of the shop stewards’ letter out of context at the start of this thread was probably, and unfortunately predictably, designed to engineer the cesspool of sectarian slander that it has indeed generated. Well done.

I note that the editors have moved or edited material before. They should have looked critically at the abusive tirade that has made this response necessary?]

author by Juicypublication date Sun Mar 07, 2004 16:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So when does legitimate criticism become a "abusive tirade"? The criticism in those comments is not any more intemperate than your own.
Try dealing with the issues.

author by Tuesdaypublication date Tue Mar 09, 2004 08:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There is no way that the string of abusive comments from some UCD students could be termed "legitimate criticism". That guy 'Dan' obviously has a problem. You cannot debate with people who just throw around the worst possible insults that come into their head.

Maybe that is the way people 'debate' around here (or in UCD). If so, count me out.

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