Following on from John Recto joining his striking Green Isle colleagues Jim Wyse and John Guinan on hunger strike a settlement was reached between the strikers and the company overnight.
The ending of the hunger strike will understandably come as a relief to the families, friends and supporters of the three men. John Recto now has to face demands from the Department of Justice to leave the country by next Monday as his work visa was not renewed. He should not face this challenge alone but receive active backing from the trade union movement.
The strikers who stuck out this six month dispute are authentic working class heroes. The terms of the settlement are confidential but do not entail the reinstatement of any of the strikers let alone the three men who were unfairly dismissed. No amount of monetary compensation from Green Isle does them justice.
Had a fraction of their effort and sacrifice been matched by the trade union leadership through organising the blacking of the company’s goods by other unionised workers backed by a well resourced consumer boycott campaign this strike could have been settled with the reinstatement of the men and the resulting consolidation of the TEEU organisation in the factory. Such an outcome would have also provided a strong platform for SIPTU to organise all of the general operatives in Green Isle as well.
Instead the task of unionising Green Isle has to begin essentially from scratch with the experience of what the strikers went through and the outcome doubtlessly being used by the company management to frighten the workers who remain in the job.
General lessons need to be drawn by the workers movement from the experience of the Green Isle strike. With the current trade union leadership’s strategy of acting strictly within the confines of the Industrial Relations Act and not seeking to hit employers in the pocket quickly and hard through the methods of Connolly and Larkin which built the movement in the first place i.e. effective pickets, blacking and other forms of secondary action the bosses can sleep easy with the assumption that a challenge from them to drive unions from the workplace cannot be met by the trade union movement.
Socialist Party and other left activists in the unions will be at the heart of a struggle within the movement for a long overdue return to Connolly and Larkin’s way of dealing with the employers.