Leeson was speaking as senior trade unionists were joining the employers’ group IBEC in Leinster House for a Dublin government briefing on the economic crisis.
The Twenty-Six County administration has been keen to resume talks on a ‘social solidarity’ pact between themselves, IBEC and the trade unions.
Leeson said: “The whole notion of social partnership has been shown to be a sham. Logically, it couldn’t outlast the utter failure of the economic system it was designed to protect with a veneer of equality and cooperation.
“What social partnership failed to hide or prevent was the fact that the gap between rich and poor in the Twenty-Six Counties became wider than ever during the years of economic boom. Now that the economy lies in ruins, it is those who were prevented from benefiting in any sustainable way from the boom-times that are expected to pay the price.”
He continued: “No doubt, the Twenty-Six County government had plenty of excuses for the trade unions today about the need to do away with special needs classes for children, the slashing of hospital budgets and presiding over ever-lengthening dole queues.
“These excuses, along with the pleas from government ministers for the unions to share in the blame through a solidarity pact, should be treated with the contempt they deserve.
“The social solidarity that is needed at present is between all those who are under threat of losing their jobs and those who have already lost them; between the parents of children whose education is suffering because Batt O’Keeffe wanted to save €7 million and the communities who are having their hospitals’ budgets slashed; between all the trade unions in this country who represent working class people.
“The unions should let the government and IBEC stew in their own isolation. It is time to treat these criminals to the spectacle of a campaign that will fight against every anti-social public service cutback and every single job loss.
“Workers in places like Waterford Crystal have already indicated how attacks on peoples’ livelihoods and living standards can be met with effective action. It is time for the unions to help build a nationwide campaign, encompassing all 32 counties and every interested individual and organisation. éirígí will not be found wanting.”