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Marching is not enough - We need national strike action

category national | worker & community struggles and protests | news report author Tuesday February 24, 2009 11:50author by Alan MacSimoin - Workers Solidarity Movement Report this post to the editors

The economy's crashing, the dole queues are growing. Yet the bankers, bosses and developers responsible are untouchable - because the politicians supposed to hold them to account had their noses in the same trough. So-called experts bluster to cover their confusion, make tut-tut noises about corruption and greed, then shake their heads and agree, that in the end its the ordinary workers and taxpayers that will have to foot the bill. Because that's just the way it has to be...

So we get a 1% levy, then the pensions levy (which is really just a big pay cut), then more cuts in jobs and services like buses and hospitals. We don’t have to accept this. A campaign of strike action when we shut down our workplaces will show our strength and show that we mean business. 

We need a unified day of strike action across the entire public sector to demand total withdrawal of this pay cut. We don’t want it merely made less severe, we want it completely scrapped.

Of course, one day of strike action is unlikely to be enough win this. It needs to be followed up with an ongoing campaign of strike action. For instance this could consist of one day’s action across the public sector one week, followed by two days the following week, three days the week after. 

The low paid Civil and Public Service Union gave a lead with their national strike on February 26th. Ballots have been taken by bus workers, civil servants, teachers; and all delivered a resounding vote for strike action. 

Whatever we choose to do, we need to work out a strategy to win. Trade union leaders have sold us the myth of ‘social partnership’ for the last 21 years. We need to build an alternative sense of solidarity whereby workers across all unions support each other. 
 The bosses are not our partners, our fellow workers can be.

The government will be happy enough if all we do is have protest marches and issue angry press statements. They won’t even be too upset by isolated strike days in different jobs.

It is time for the trade union movement to stand up and defend the interests of working people as vigorously as the government and the state is defending the interests of the bankers and the employers. 260,000 public sector workers, the vast majority of whom are union members, can close down the country. That is the sort of short, sharp action that can force them to withdraw the pay cuts.

On New Year’s Day the SIPTU Executive said “In this our centenary year, we salute the courage, personal sacrifice, commitment and solidarity of the women and men who founded, built and sustained this great trade union. We are proud of the organisation of tens of thousands of men and women, the improvement of pay and conditions of work…

“In solidarity with each other, the members of our Union have confronted exploitation and injustice and have sought to transform society so that all our people enjoy dignity and respect at work and in the community.”

That’s the sort of tradition we need to build on. Unfortunately, many senior union leaders don’t see it like that. They are happy for us to “let off steam” and “make a point”, all they want is a show of support so they can go back into talks in the hope of being given some small concession.

People like IMPACT’s Peter McLoone with his €150,000 a year, plus €25,000 as chair of FAS, do not share the same interests as their members. That is why the top union officials on the ICTU executive can say, “workers did not create the problem, but will contribute to solving it…”

They accept the system as it is. They aren’t calling for a claw back of the €8 billion in tax breaks given to private for-profit hospitals, or for nationalising the Corrib gas field. Why? Would it be because they think that seizing wealth from the super-rich is going too far?

When ICTU was talking to the government about the ‘Framework Agreement’, they accepted the need for cuts. When Fianna Fail and the Greens proposed a pay cut of 10%, the ICTU delegation suggested a ‘pension levy’ as being more acceptable. 

These people cannot be trusted. Taking back control of OUR unions is part and parcel of the fight to protect what we have won over the years. 

Capitalism is failing us; once more it is dragging us all into a crisis not of our making. This crisis is deep and the recession is likely to last for several years. If we don’t fight back, we might as well resign ourselves to ever decreasing incomes. If we don’t start fighting to end the rule of the billionaires, we will never get away from the insecurity of the boom/slump cycle.

It is true that if we fight we may not win everything we want, there are a lot of illusions in the ICTU leaders and we have gone through two decades with little experience of struggle. It is absolutely certain, however, that if we don’t fight we will win nothing.

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author by Old headpublication date Wed Feb 25, 2009 15:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Marching and strikes may force a u-turn on recent levies, however, there will still be a huge financial hole to plug. What are your proposals to address this because the money has to come from somewhere?

author by Pritt Stickpublication date Wed Feb 25, 2009 16:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well old head what about making the rich come up with the money to plug the gap!

author by che_jesu - sppublication date Wed Feb 25, 2009 16:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Easy, you cease all the vast sums of money amounted by the rich, greedy, vulturs durning the celtic tiger. Billions and billions made thro the labour of Irish workers hidden in off shore accounts and tax havens. The value of the gas off the coast of Mayo alone would pay for the proposed cuts in public services. That Gas was given away to a ruthless multi-nation company, shell. That gas should be nationalised and used to build hospitals, schools and better public services. It could be used to massivly invest in our public services and therefore provied decent jobs for the 1000s on the dole que. This crisis was caused be the greed and profiteering of a small cabal of parasitic capitalists. Worker people should pay for the crisis. Make big business, the rich and the bosses pay for the crisis that their greed created.

author by dunkpublication date Thu Feb 26, 2009 13:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Today "the first industrial action of its kind in Ireland for almost 20 years." National Strike seems imminent...

One-day strike by civil servants

Some 13,000 civil servants are staging a one-day strike over the pension levy.

It is the first industrial action of its kind in Ireland for almost 20 years.


Unions to ballot on national strike

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has decided to hold a national strike on 30 March because employers - including the Government - are not abiding by the National Wage Agreement.

After a two-hour meeting, the ICTU Executive Council said it had hoped that its ten-point plan on tackling the economic problems could be the basis for a three-year agreement to take the country through the crisis.

ICTU outlines national strike plans

General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions David Begg has said a national strike could take place on 30 March in protest at the Government's handling of the economic crisis.

However, Taoiseach Brian Cowen told the Dáil that while he recognises the rights of unions to protest, industrial strife would not solve any problems.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Begg said the ICTU's plan for the economy was to offer the Government an alternative three-year agreement, based on a ten-point plan published before last Saturday's rally in Dublin.

Civil servants srike today, National strike 30 March
Civil servants srike today, National strike 30 March

author by dunkpublication date Thu Feb 26, 2009 19:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Is Europes bubble bursting at the edges?
see accompanying map below, where recent government threathening activity has been happening:

BLACK: Iceland, government kicked out after people taking to the streets
RED: Greece, government nearly kicked out after people taking to the streets, with massive civil unrest, shooting, strikes, police brutality etc...
ORANGE (color choosen for ideas of heat and fire, nothing else): Ireland, people in initial stages of taking to the streets, calls being made for ousting of government...

Indymedia and March 30

Indymedia contributors should start to think now about how this site
will report the strike called for March 30 . There is no certainty that
the strike will go ahead ,some deal may yet be done to avert it, but if
the stoppage does go ahead we need to report it in a way that befits
the occasion. A national strike would have profound significance both
nationally and internationally . Up to a million
people will be involved one way or the other ,the world will
be watching Ireland .

120,000 workers march through Dublin - National strike now!

Momentum Builds for National Strike

Make the strike a reality
But while a momentum is definitely building towards a national strike, it will only become a reality if every one of us in our own unions take up the call. If your union is one of those already balloting, make sure you do everything you can to encourage your friends and workmates to deliver a resounding Yes. If your union has not yet announced a ballot, get together with your fellow trade unionists and demand a special emergency meeting of your branch. At that meeting put down a motion demanding that your union hold a ballot for industrial action and join with other trade unions in opposition to the government attacks on our living standards.

Getting the ballot passed will only be step one. After that we need to keep the pressure on our union leaderships to actually call strike action. We also need to discuss and work out a strategy to win. A one day strike won’t make the government back down but it will be step one in letting them know we’re serious. We need to work out a strategy of industrial action which is designed not alone to register a protest but to win – to make the government back down and to make the rich pay for the crisis.

The momentum is with us. Let’s keep it going.

Turn the 30th March into a one day general strike…

Twenty four hours ago (on February 24th 2009), we suggested that the way ahead for the Irish public sector trade unions was to build towards a 24 hour public sector general strike.

We didn’t pick that idea from the sky. It seemed inherent in the situation, following on that it is, from Saturday’s monster march. Now the Irish Confederation of Trade Unions has called for a national strike day on the 30th March because the employers in both the public and private sectors are reneging on the national wage agreement.

The 30th of March is a crucial date for the Irish working class, Ireland needs a socialist solution. The ideas of James Connolly as well as Karl Marx and Lenin have never been more relevant.

120,000 March in Dublin: Now for a One Day National Stoppage!


Before this gigantic demonstration, the response of the union leaders was weak. And they still have to be pushed much further from below.

We need emergency union meetings to make our unions speak out with a strong voice. We need one united national shut down.

• Instead of talking just about ‘fairness’, we have to demand the full withdrawal of the levy.
• There should be no ‘solidarity pact’ with this corrupt government and their friends in IBEC


There is a whiff of revolution in the air as tens of thousands go on the streets to voice their grievances.

The current government has no mandate to subsidise bankers. They never won any election on the slogan of wage cuts!

In the coming showdown the stakes are high:

Either the pension levy will be withdrawn and Cowen will be driven from office


A huge defeat is imposed on workers that will push us all back for some time.

After this march, we have to rise up and drive out this government –as the people of Iceland did.

Is Europes bubble bursting at the edges? Iceland, Greece, Ireland.... what will it look like in 5 months time?
Is Europes bubble bursting at the edges? Iceland, Greece, Ireland.... what will it look like in 5 months time?

author by redjadepublication date Fri Feb 27, 2009 00:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

''Indeed, if you want to be grimly impressed, hang a world map on your wall and start inserting red pins where violent episodes have already occurred. Athens (Greece), Longnan (China), Port-au-Prince (Haiti), Riga (Latvia), Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sofia (Bulgaria), Vilnius (Lithuania) and Vladivostok (Russia) would be a start. Many other cities from Reykjavik, Paris, Rome and Zaragoza to Moscow and Dublin have witnessed huge protests over rising unemployment and falling wages that remained orderly thanks in part to the presence of vast numbers of riot police. If you inserted orange pins at these locations -- none as yet in the United States -- your map would already look aflame with activity. And if you're a gambling man or woman, it's a safe bet that this map will soon be far better populated with red and orange pins.

For the most part, such upheavals, even when violent, are likely to remain localized in nature, and disorganized enough that government forces will be able to bring them under control within days or weeks, even if -- as with Athens for six days last December -- urban paralysis sets in due to rioting, tear gas and police cordons. That, at least, has been the case so far. It is entirely possible, however, that, as the economic crisis worsens, some of these incidents will metastasize into far more intense and long-lasting events: armed rebellions, military takeovers, civil conflicts, even economically fueled wars between states.

Every outbreak of violence has its own distinctive origins and characteristics. All, however, are driven by a similar combination of anxiety about the future and lack of confidence in the ability of established institutions to deal with the problems at hand. And just as the economic crisis has proven global in ways not seen before, so local incidents -- especially given the almost instantaneous nature of modern communications -- have a potential to spark others in far-off places, linked only in a virtual sense.....''

• more by Michael Klare....

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