Join the protest Feb 9th and demand a General Strike!


The ICTU leaders have called for major union mobilisations on Saturday 9 February. Demonstrations are taking place in Dublin, Waterford, Cork, Sligo, and Limerick.

The main theme of the demonstrations is against austerity. Quite rightly, the union leaders say that there must be a re-structuring of the bank debts so that the Irish people are not burdened for decades to come. They want to use the occasion of Ireland’s EU Presidency to tell its top elite that the debt must be reduced.

The unions also want a stimulus programme to create jobs.

Despite our vigorous criticism of the ICTU, Socialist Worker urges full support for the demonstration. All of us have an interest in cancelling the debt – and the union leaders should be saying that openly. We may disagree with the lack of protest activity from the ICTU but when they do call action, we should join in.

But we should also go much further than the ICTU.

The union leaders are playing down criticism of the government and concentrating their fire on the EU. Yet it is the FG-Labour government which is carrying through cuts.
Government decisions

They decided, for example, to introduce a tax break for company executives to send their children to private schools while they slashed benefits for lone parents.

They rejected an EU Commission proposal to put a tax on financial transactions which would have raised €500 million. Instead, they imposed a property tax on our homes.

The EU leaders are terrible and their only interest is in saving big European banks. But the Irish government are part of the same set up. They, too, put the interests of Irish bankers ahead of the vast majority of the Irish people.

So let’s direct our anger at BOTH the EU leaders and the Irish government.

The ICTU also wants a one day protest when most people are off work as a way of ‘letting off steam’ and strengthening their credibility in the eyes of members as they try to sell a Croke Park 2 agreement.

Everyone knows that a government will not change course because of one demonstration.

They will not refuse to pay the debt and establish a public works programme to create jobs just because we marched on a Saturday.

Increase the resistance

We need to go much further and call for a national one day general strike.

A general strike, which brought the country to a halt, would be a serious signal that the days when workers accepted defeat after defeat were over. It would be a reminder to the government that they do not have all the power – and force them to back off.

The union leaders are totally opposed to this course, however, because many of them are members of the Irish Labour Party. They will not take the action that is required to stop attacks on workers because they do not want to rock the boat for Labour.

We should use the occasion when many trade unionists come together, therefore, to raise two key issues:

• We need a one day general strike to oppose austerity and debt repayments

• We need to break the links between major unions like SIPTU and UNITE and the Labour Party.

January 22, 2013 - 10:53