Socialistparty.net spoke to Laura Waters, a shop steward and Laura Ashley striker who has just joined the Socialist Party
socialistparty.net : What do you think the bank bailouts and IMF/government cutbacks say about the way Ireland is run?
LW: Ireland is run by a government that support the wealthy elite, and this is proven in the way they have attacked the working class with the austerity measures introduced in the last budget. The attack on the minimum wage, social welfare cuts and an increase in college fees will have a massive impact on people who can least afford it. While the bankers and the speculators that caused this recession receive massive bailouts, the ordinary working class people are left to struggle with these cutbacks in order to facilitate paying back these debts.
socialistparty.net : What do you think of the response of the leadership of the trade union movement has been to the cutbacks?
LW: I believe the leadership of the trade union movement is far removed from the real crisis that faces its members on the ground. Earning large salaries and having become comfortable during the Celtic Tiger has lead to a bureaucracy within the unions that leaves the leadership completely detached from the people they are supposed to represent. They have shown themselves unwilling to be a real voice of the people by refusing to call strike action and by showing practically no opposition to the cut in the minimum wage.
socialistparty.net : How have your experiences of being on strike impacted on your political outlook?
LW: Being on strike has profoundly affected my political outlook. Having experienced firsthand the way a profitable company like Laura Ashley can get away with treating workers in such an appalling manner has made me question the society we live in. The capitalist system allows companies to take advantage of workers and resources and when these businesses feel that they are no longer making enough profit they will take their money and move on with absolutely no concern for the workers or communities they leave behind. From my recent experience, I firmly believe that socialism can offer a real and viable alternative to the current system.
socialistparty.net : What made you decide to join the Socialist Party?
LW: I believe there is something fundamentally wrong with the capitalist system. A system that allows greed and corruption to go unpunished, while ordinary workers face the disastrous consequences of the actions of the wealthy elite. The idea of solidarity and a genuine concern for the interests of workers has made me want to become a part of something that can affect real change within society.