Today’s action by the EBS workers deserves 100% support from workers and the unemployed. A clear distinction must be made between the obscene rewards still given to the senior management in Ireland’s banks and the hard won pay and conditions of the ordinary employees.
The strike by the EBS workers clearly falls into the latter category. The 13th month payment was a modest but important concession won by EBS workers 45 years ago to supplement a basic salary range which today amounts to €18,000 to €34,000, in other words below the average industrial wage.
When I called upon Minister Noonan in the Dáil last week to intervene and give his consent to the 13th month payment he scandalously attempted to put the EBS workers in the same category as the top bankers who, incidentally, in the case of EBS received bonuses this year thanks to an exemption stood over by this government.
The strike is a warning to senior management and the government that these workers have had enough. If there is no movement from the employer further action will likely be needed to place the necessary pressure on the employers.
This dispute has to be understood in a wider context of an assault on the jobs and conditions of ordinary workers across the entire financial sector since the crisis began. The employers and government are opportunistically using the crisis and the justifiable anger that exists among the wider public towards the banks and financial institutions to implement sackings and cuts.
A fighting response is needed and the lead from UNITE and the IBOA is vital in that regard. The EBS workers have set a good example to others.
The Socialist Party will continue to give the EBS workers every practical support we can until the workers win back the payment they are rightfully due.