People Before Profit activist and socialist Anna Doyle reports on the battle against Irish Water
We need to fight for a General Strike
The decision of the Labour Party to vote for the Social Welfare Bill today and on the property tax next week is a turning point.
The Social Welfare Bill will cut child benefit; raise an extra €264 a year on all PAYE workers by abolishing the PRSI allowance; slash the respite care allowance by €325; and reduce the Back to School Clothing and Footwear allowance.
The property tax will charge the average person between €300 and €400 just to live in their own home.
Labour was elected on a promise to soften the rough edges of Fine Gael. But they have joined them in robbing the majority of people to protect the interests of the privileged. When it was pointed out to Pat Rabbitte during the recent Politics programme that Labour had promised to protect child benefit during the last election, he simply replied ‘But isn’t that what you tend to do before elections?’
In other words, it’s fine to lie your way to a Dail seat – because that is the ‘game’ called official politics. We do not have a real democracy and so we need to go beyond parliamentary battles to reflect the aspirations of people.
When the government cynically ignores the democratic will as reflected in Rabbitte’s response, the only option is a national strike and peaceful mass civil disobedience. The question is how to organise this.
AGITATE IN YOUR UNION FOR ACTION
We build up a momentum in the unions to force the union leaders to act. We can do that in a number of ways:
1. Put down a resolution similar to the following:
‘We propose that the Irish Congress of Trade Unions organises for a single day of action during weekday working hours whereby members of the trade union movement engage in a day of civil disobedience.
Such a day should demand:
a. An end to the attacks on our income and living standards.
b. Cancellation of debt re-payments arising out of private bank debt.
If your workplace passes such a resolution, publicise it and encourage other workplaces to follow. Socialist Worker will highlight your story if you send us the details to email@example.com
2. Take up a petition among your workmates
Use the resolution above and put it on a few sheets of paper to circulate around your workmates as a petition. Encourage others to take it around and send it on to your union head office. Demand a response from your union to your request for action. Again please pass on the results to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will publicise.
3. Encourage union members to break connections to the Labour Party.
If you are a member of SIPTU or UNITE, money from your union contribution is automatically sent to the Labour Party – unless you state otherwise.
This party is now revealed as an enemy of workers and sits in government only to carry out orders from the IMF and the Troika. Yet the three main union leaders in SIPTU – Jack O Connor, Joe Flynn and Patricia King - are members of this party and actively promote its interests within the unions.
The only way you can sever the connection with the Labour Party is to fill out a form to withdraw from the political fund.
Ring up your union office and demand that they provide you with this form. Tell them you are withdrawing from the political fund until such time that a commitment is given that no money goes to the Labour Party and all connections with this party are broken.
OUTSIDE THE UNIONS: PROMOTE THE IDEA OF A DAY OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE
Through these methods, union members can lobby hard for a one day general stoppage. But even if this is resisted by the union hierarchy, we will still work towards a day of national civil disobedience.
Over the past two years, a number of campaigning organisations have emerged to resist austerity. They include the Campaign against Household and Water Charges; the Home Help Action Group; The Carers’ Association; active retirement groups; disability organisations.
Between them, these organisations have mobilised tens of thousands of people to march on the streets – but they have done so separately.
There should be a concerted push to bring as many as possible together to discuss co-ordinated action to resist austerity. Up to now the government has mainly gotten away with picking one group off and then another.
Some campaigners argue that ‘we should be non-political’ and just lobby on specific causes. If they mean that a campaign should not be party political – i.e. dominated or linked to one political party – then this is clearly correct. But if they are suggesting that they avoid a broad, general stance against austerity, this is wrong. As long as the government determines that the interest of bankers and bondholders come before everyone else, then all campaigning groups will be affected.
We, therefore, need to promote the idea of a People’s Assembly or Anti-Austerity Convention to bring all anti-austerity groups together to name a date for a day of civil disobedience against austerity and continued payments to bondholders. This can happen at both a national and a local level.
There is plenty of anger now against this government. With careful organisation, that anger can be channelled to free us from these treacherous politicians and their austerity programmes in 2013.
If you want to help organise join us. text JOIN to 0863074060.
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