The decision of the Garda Representative Association to ballot for strike action shows two things. In the first place it shows the scope of the opposition to the pay cuts outlined by Brian Lenihan in the budget released yesterday. On the other hand it shows the deep discontent that exists in Irish society.
In normal times … and these are surely not normal times, the Gards are the upholders of the law and the guardians of private property. The fact that the GRA are embarking onto what is probably illegal action, is just yet another sign that the situation in Ireland has passed onto a qualitatively different situation. The Celtic Tiger is missing presumed extinct.
The Gards anger has been building for months now. As part of the 24/7 Frontline Alliance the GRA has been actively campaigning against the cuts in their wages and allowances and many Gards marched in the big demonstration on November 6th. They weren’t allowed to march in uniform so instead they all turned up wearing the baseball caps. Many off duty Gards joined picket lines to try and convince any civilian staff not to cross picket lines.
The Gards have taken action before, they have all simultaneously developed symptoms of a mysterious “Blue Flu” virus that meant they were absent from work for the day. But this situation is different. The executive of the GRA have been warned that they might end up behind bars if they induce others to take strike action. However that does beg the question as to who might enforce that warrant and indeed who might arrest and charge the other 11,000 members of the GRA. The GRA should receive the full support of all workers for this action, ICTU must support full trade union rights and immunity from prosecution for the Gardai and for the army for that matter.
If the government can’t even rely on the Gardai then who can they rely on? The situation In Ireland is becoming polarised. Wednesday’s budget was the third slash and burn budget in 14 months. The Irish ruling class are at an utter impasse from which they cannot extract themselves. Only the workers movement armed with a bold socialist programme can break that log jam, and if the Gards are striking then that is just one less obstacle to driving Cowen, Lenihan and the so called “Soldiers of Destiny” out of office.
No wage cuts; no cuts; make the bosses pay
Support the Gards right to strike