“The news of Eircom’s owners’ intention to shed at least a further 1,300 jobs on top of the similar amount of voluntary redundancies it has already sought and almost achieved shatters the government guff that we are embarking on an economic recovery”.
“The privatisation of Eircom was a textbook example of capitalism’s failure to deliver on major public infrastructure. It was a profitable net contributor to the Irish exchequer when state owned, albeit bureaucratically and inefficiently run at the top, before the Fianna Fáil led government aped Thatcher by selling us what we already owned. In reality the vast bulk of the people who bought modest amounts of shares were burnt by the big players who waited for a collapse in share prices before moving in and taking over.
“From the time of the share issue, Eircom passed through the hands of several venture capitalists none of whom significantly developed the infrastructure that was originally built up by public investment. Indeed one such group of owners actually sought government funds to develop the broadband network!
“The leadership of the CWU going back to the time when David Begg was general secretary has consistently failed to give a fighting lead to workers in Eircom when faced with assaults by employers past and present and actually contributed to the process of privatisation when it backed the creation of the Employee Share Ownership Trust. Rather than accepting as good coin the PowerPoint presentations of the current owners justifying another jobs massacre the CWU leadership in consultation with the workforce should mount a campaign for the renationalisation of this major piece of vital infrastructure under democratic workers’ control and management to protect jobs and ensure the development of a world class telecommunications system that serves the needs of the public.
“The appointment by the government of An Bord Snip Nua’s hatchet man in chief Colm McCarthy to complete an inventory of other semi state assets and to make recommendations on what should be sold or retained is like asking a wolf to perform the task of a shepherd. Can there be any doubt that this neo liberal academic will advocate anything other than the selling off of ESB, DAA, CIE and any other asset from which the privateers can milk a profit?
“The workers in all of these companies must learn the lessons of what has befallen the workers of Eircom and Aer Lingus post privatisation and ready themselves for a camapign to defend their jobs and the service they provide.”