Trade Union movement needs to take Greek lessons – No ‘social partnership’

Taoiseach’s blunt warning at ICTU conference of more attacks on working people is a fresh declaration of class war which requires a like response

Responding to calls by IMPACT General Secretary Shay Cody for the reinstatement of social partnership Socialist Party TD and SIPTU activist Clare Daly said:

During the course of the economic crisis our trade union leadership have consistently refused to lead an elementary struggle defending their members pay and conditions. Government and employers have meanwhile waged a one sided war on working people and the unemployed making them pay for the crisis in Irish capitalism.

In the face of these cuts and the promise of more to come the call by Shay Cody for Social Partnership to be reinstituted after it was abruptly folded by government and employers calls to my mind the pathetic image of a pet dog put out the back yard for the night plaintively scratching at the door to get back in.

So supine is the ICTU leadership the Taoiseach did not feel any pressure to sweeten his message during this address to the conference yesterday where he bluntly promised privatisations and further austerity.

David Begg correctly says that austerity has not worked but I say to David Begg that his, Jack O’Connor’s and Shay Cody’s message to the members for the past three years has been to swallow every attack or worse will happen – swallow every attack and the government and bosses will leave us alone.”

Joe Higgins TD added

As in Greece, Spain, Portugal and everywhere else the lesson is that austerity cannot be voted or negotiated out of existence, it has to be fought in the workplaces and commuties through strikes and mass mobilisations. The conclude otherwise is a grotesque disarming of workers ahead of the next wave of austerity.

The leadership of Messrs Begg, O’Connor and Cody and the majority of paid union officials who mimic them at branch level has to be pushed aside by the ranks of the movement. I support the development of activist groups in the ranks of the unions who will campaign for the movement to adopt a fighting stand in the face of  these attacks. This necessitates democratically winning positions and branch and executive level and subordinating paid officials to the democratic will of the members or give them their marching orders.

The sell outs of the trade union leaders is fundamentally a political question. They are close to the Labour Party and in SIPTU’s case fund them. Like the Labour leadership they are bound in the ideological straitjacket of capitalism. The task of beginning a fightback has to be linked with the struggle for real political representation for working people and the unemployed.