Following an initiative by the five ULA TDs in August, a succession of meetings took place between representatives from the more fighting sections of the trade union movement and community sector about putting in a joint effort for a pre budget demonstration. This will take place on Saturday 26 November beginning at 12pm at the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Street, Dublin.
After the protest a People’s Assembly will be convened to discuss alternatives to austerity and a strategy for fighting the government’s cuts.
Between now and the demonstration the key task the initiators have set themselves is to build the broadest possible Alliance Against Austerity between the various organisations, campaigns and struggles in Irish society who are fighting the cut agenda in all its guises. The programme for this initiative contains three simple demands:
- Reverse the cuts
- Tax the wealthy
- Public investment in jobs
Around these three simple demands it is possible to involve unions at rank and file level, hospital campaigns, Special Needs Assistant campaigns, Occupy Dame Street, the emerging Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes and many others including individuals belonging to no particular organisation under the broad banner of an Alliance Against Austerity.
Unlike the 30 November 2010 demonstration which was organised by ICTU this should not be a one off event to let off steam with a minimal impact on the course of event. Instead it is the intention of the groups initiating this protest that it will go on to be a sustained campaign against austerity that will work to build up the necessary pressure from below in society to stop the government in its tracks.
The next steps beyond 26 November demonstration need to be part of the discussion between the groups involved. The Socialist Party and United Left Alliance would argue for further action on the night of the budget but more importantly we need to popularise the idea of strike action as a key economic and political weapon to take on the cut back agenda. As in Greece and other countries we need to begin with 24 hours strike action and escalate from there.
A single demonstration will not be enough but it will be a start. If it is sizeable people will draw confidence from it whether they are participants or onlookers. Such confidence is gold dust for the movement. We need to nurture it by setting bigger goals for ourselves. People going away from the 26 November demonstration and assembly need to do so with a clear purpose in mind of how they are going to build the next action and begin to turn the tide in our favour.