Ireland

After the recent decision of the INLA to renounce the armed struggle and its call on its members to take the political road, an analysis of this important turn from a Marxist point of view by Gerry Ruddy was published in The Red Plough. We believe it puts the Marxist case very clearly and make it available here for our readers.

The talks between the government and ICTU have collapsed following pressure from the FF back benches. Apparently they had been pressured from “the private sector” to oppose plans for unpaid leave proposed by the union leaderships. Make no bones about it. What this really means is that the Irish bourgeoisie and the multinationals are putting on the pressure and demanding that the public sector takes huge cuts. It raises the temperature in what is already a charged situation.

The Ryan and Murphy reports have exposed the extent of the abuse carried out against children by Catholic priests in the Dublin Diocese between 1975 and 2004. It is also clear that such abuses have occurred in practically all parishes of the Roman Catholic Church in the whole island.

Thursday's planned public sector strike has been suspended after the government and the union leaders announced that a breakthrough had been made. The "agreement" means that some of the cost of wages would be offset by the workers taking "unpaid leave". As we pointed out on more than one occasion recently, the political and economic situation in the state is such that any agreement that has been reached on the basis of "social partnership" will inevitably mean cuts in worker's wages and increased work load and pressure on already stretched services. Effectively it means that the public sector is being put on short time.

Well over 250,000 Irish workers in the public sector were on strike on the 24th of this month. There would have been many more, but the unions guaranteed emergency cover including flood relief in the west, the midlands and the Shannon area and in Cork City. It’s a feature of every major strike, not just here, but throughout the world, that the well fed representatives of the bourgeois and particularly the mean spirited and greedy petty bourgeois attempt to criticise and attack the worker's movement.

Today Irish public sector workers are taking militant strike action. Some sections of the trade union leadership view this as a way of letting off steam. What is needed is the opposite. This day should be part of the campaign for a one day general strike, to bring out the full force of the Irish labour movement. This is the only way of stopping the attacks on the working class.

We might be out of the World Cup, but the Irish working class is at the forefront of the struggle against the bosses crisis. It’ll take much more than a dodgy hand ball to take the heat out of this situation. Earlier today yet another major union voted massively to join the public sector strikes on November 24th. SIPTU’s 70,000 members voted by 85% in favour of participating in what is becoming more or less a de facto Public Sector General Strike.

65,000 teachers in the primary and secondary education, further education and third level institutions have voted to back the strike action on 24th November. The action covering both academic and non academic staff means that effectively the entire education sector will be shut down for the day. The four unions involved INTO, TUI, ASTI and IFUT which organises two thirds of university teachers have all returned huge votes in favour of strike action.

Monday saw the beginning of negotiations between the government and Trade Union officials on the implementations of €4 billion worth of budget cuts in the public sector. €1.3billion of this burden is set to fall on public sector wages. (RTÉ November 9) This follows on from the ICTU demonstrations of over 100,000 across Ireland on Friday in opposition to cuts, and precedes the upcoming public sector strike on November 24th. It is all too clear that the past politics of social partnership can only lead to diminished service, job losses and attacks on pay and conditions.

Tens of thousands of people: public sector and private sector workers and their families, unemployed workers, pensioners and students thronged the streets of eight cities in the south on Friday, November 6; while 10 further demonstrations took place in the north also. 70,000 marched into Merrion Square in Dublin, 20,000 in Cork, 10,000 in Waterford, 6,000 in Galway, 5,000 in Sligo, 5,000 in Limerick, 4,000 in Tullamore and 1,500 in Dundalk. Not bad for a Friday with a grim weather forecast.

Friday’s day of protests by the Public Sector Trade Unions is a hugely important day for the Trade Union and Labour Movement. It could mark a significant step in the struggle to turn back the Fianna Fáil and Green Party’s assault on the Public Sector and on the working class in general. But what is the background to the current impasse and can Cowen and Lenihan face down the massive opposition that will manifest itself throughout the country later this week?

Members of the trade union IMPACT have voted 86% to 14% for strike action on a 69% ballot. This marks a dramatic shift over the past 7 months. But that’s hardly a surprise given the imposition of the levy, the slash and burn budget and the threats of cuts and redundancies and the general economic chaos and political crisis that threatens public sector workers.

It might have started out as a strategy, but the ICTU leadership’s profound belief that they can wrest some concessions out of Cowen and Lenihan would be better described as an illusion or perhaps a death wish. We’ve pointed out many times that in a slump social partnership is like the partnership between a cat and a mouse. But at least in Tom and Jerry the mouse was a master of tactics.

The Green Party has voted overwhelmingly to support the new proposals that their leadership has negotiated with Fianna Fáil. As we explained recently the reality is that the new programme offers nothing substantially different from what was on offer before, merely a few tiny reforms to the programme that FF set earlier. Its a cold plate of lame duck with wilted greens.

With all the mainstream parties and top business people campaigning for a Yes vote with huge resources at their disposal, and with most of the trade union leaders also backing the campaign, it is not surprising that the Irish bourgeois managed to overturn the result of the previous referendum. This vote, however, cannot hide the growing class polarisation taking place in the country.