Mobilise the unions in a struggle against austerity

Jack O’Connor SIPTU president spoke at a Dublin Council of Trade Unions press conference to promote the 24 November anti-austerity demonstration. In doing so Jack O’Connor, who is also a leading member of the Labour Party, attempted the art of doublespeak.

Jack spoke out against austerity whilst at the one and the same time arguing in favour of austerity. Jack O’Connor argued that a path was needed that “promotes growth and jobs within the narrow parameters of the Troika programme”. But wait a minute! What is the Troika programme – it is austerity. So Jack O’Connor one of the most senior trade unionists in the land is arguing that the impossible should be done. Continue with the vicious austerity programme, which is destroying the economy and will guarantee the continuance of mass unemployment and mass emigration and at the same time create jobs. This is the government’s strategy and it isn’t working.

The ICTU leaders have effectively been silent since the demonstration in November 2010 that mobilised 80,000 plus on to the streets of Dublin. The subsequent surrender by the ICTU leaders to the Troika and Fine Gael/Labour’s austerity agenda was a betrayal of working class people and helped to create the idea that nothing could be done to stop austerity.

On the eve of what Enda Kenny has “promised” will be the worst austerity budget yet, the union leaders have come out with some more guff about the need to invest in jobs.

David Begg, ICTU general secretary has made a video entitled Growth, Hope & Jobs which outlines ten points that they claim would help create 100,000 jobs and get the economy going again.
None of Begg’s proposals will work unless the austerity agenda is stopped and it won’t be halted by spin, fancy videos and graphics!

The government has called on the trade unions to join talks on a new Croke Park agreement. Croke Park One has been used to get rid of 45,000 public sector jobs and to slash wages, pay and conditions. Croke Park is part of the austerity agenda. In Croke Park Two the government will go after even more jobs and will specifically target pay and pensions for more cuts plus increase outsourcing and privatisation.

ICTU leadership should say no to talks. Instead they should follow the lead of the hundreds of thousands of people who have refused to pay the household tax. The campaign against the household tax and the property tax has shown that standing up to austerity – refusing to accept it, organising and fighting back is the answer to the austerity attacks.

Austerity can be defeated. There are 600,000 trade unionists in the South. If mobilised along with the thousands from the communities who are fighting the austerity taxes this would be a powerful force that could stop the government’s agenda. Trade union members and activists should unite and campaign within all unions to demand that the union leaders organise a fightback – organising demonstrations is not enough – real action including strike action against austerity is needed now.