Thursday, April 29, 2010

May Day protest in Sligo - Resist the cuts

This Saturday, May 1, a demonstration has been organised in Sligo to protest against the Dublin government public service cutbacks. The protest, which takes place at 12 noon outside the offices of Sligo/North Leitrim Fianna Fáil TD Jimmy Devins in John Street, has been organised by the newly formed Sligo Workers Alliance.

Over the past 12 – 18 months there has been a systematic campaign by the administration in Leinster House and employers to reduce workers pay and living standards and to erode many of their hard earned rights and working conditions. Particularly abhorrent has been their attempt, cheered on by large sections of a compliant corporate media, to pit private sector workers against public sector workers.

Yet at the same time as they are imposing these cuts and slashing essential health and education services, they are pumping tens of billions of euros to bail out the banks through NAMA. This makes it all the more appalling that what passes for leadership in the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) have sold out their members once again by negotiating the Croke Park public sector pay and reform agreement with the Fianna Fáil led administration at the end of last month.

Speaking in advance of the demonstration éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey urged trade union members to reject the Croke Park pay deal and urged all workers and the unemployed to support and participate in Saturday's protest.

Casey said: “The economic crisis this state is now in was not created by workers or by social welfare recipients. It was brought about by the greed and corruption of the wealthy political and business elite on this island. Workers and the unemployed must not now be made pay for it and any attempt to do so needs to be vigorously resisted."

Casey added: “The decision therefore of ICTU leaders to agree to the Croke Park pay deal at the end of March with the government is truly shameful and a betrayal of the interests of trade union members and indeed of all workers. It is astonishing that these people, who claim to represent the interests of their members, could agree to a deal that would have such a negative impact on the living standards and working conditions of public sector workers, would have major implications for their ability to take industrial action and would massively reduce the effectiveness of public services. Indeed, privatisation is inevitable in the public service unless a strong and defiant stand is now taken.”

“All of these cuts – cuts in pay, cuts in social welfare, cuts in essential public services such as health and education - are not only unjust in that they impact disproportionally on the less well off and low paid workers, but they are also completely unnecessary. The real agenda here is an ideological one. It is about taking on the trade unions and reducing their power and effectiveness and reducing workers pay and conditions in order to bail out the banks and to boost profits for employers.”

“Workers in the private sector who believe the right wing propaganda and swallow the line that cuts in public sector are necessary should examine very closely at what is happening. If these cuts are not reversed and further cuts are imposed, not only will it seriously damage the long term effectiveness of our public services which impacts on the lives of all workers, but the government and the employers will use it to drive down wages and conditions even further within the private sector. It will be used to drive down the minimum wage, minimum rates of pay and social welfare payments also.”

“The gains achieved for workers over the decades have never been granted willingly. They have always had to be taken by workers themselves. This battle is no different. This is a battle that will not be won by union leaders cosying up to the Dublin government and to employers. It will only be won by determined and sustained action in the workplace and on the streets.”

Casey concluded: “These cuts must be resisted vigorously. All workers and the unemployed should mobilise for Saturdays demonstration and let the government and the so-called “leadership” of the trade union movement that they have had enough and will not be made to pay for the failures of capitalism, for the greed and incompetence of the political and business classes and to bail out the banks. Resist the cuts – Resist the Croke Park pay deal.”

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