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Public sector battle – round 2!

From 1480 to 1750 the masses of many countries where whipped up into a frenzy, the powers that be used fear, intimidation and propaganda to conjure up mass hysteria and hatred for so called “unclean spirits”.  I am of course referring to “witch hunts”.

The attack by this government and their foot soldiers in the media on public sector workers is akin to a medieval witchhunt. They want society to believe that public sector workers are lazy, overpaid and are destined for luxurious pensions.  Allowances are portrayed as a ten ton anchor attached to a dingy and unless they are cut loose then we are all destined to drown.

The vast majority of public sector workers are on very modest salaries or low paid and are desperately struggling to pay bills and meet mortgage payments the same as every other working class person.  Allowances are an integral part of this pay. Without these allowances one fifth of the workforce would be financially far worse off and just think of the damage that would that do to the economy?

Recently, David Begg and Shay Cody both said they were open to meeting with Brendan Howlin to discuss allowances. Begg stated that allowances should be “integrated into pay” however he disgracefully added more fuel to the witch hunt fire by suggesting that some allowances were “outdated”. This suggests he is open to scrapping some allowances, resulting in a pay-cut. Allowances should be integrated into salary but only without loss of any vitally needed take home pay.

Talking and lobbying are not working. Unfortunately many trade union leaders accept in large part the economic arguments that underpin the austerity agenda. Some union leaders including the most senior at ICTU leadership level engaged in a sell out of all workers when they turned their backs on the struggle against austerity and helped create the Croke Park agreement. A “deal” which get’s rid of 40,000 jobs at a time of the worst mass unemployment in Irish history, and has slashed pay, pensions and conditions.

What is needed is a campaign by the public sector unions to immediately dispel the myths and lies that are being peddled by the government and Fianna Fail. Public sector workers should be prepared to take action to stop further pay cuts – under whatever guise they are presented – and also to reject the forthcoming “voluntary redundancy” plan. Job losses whether they are so-called voluntary or compulsory all result in the same thing – less jobs!

The Campaign Against the Household and Water Taxes is an example of what is needed in order to stop further attacks on public services and public sector workers – militancy and struggle is the only option.

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