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(en) Ireland, WSM* leaflet distributed to Thousands march in Cork in solidarity with Irish Ferry workers

Date Sat, 10 Dec 2005 23:06:42 +0200


Workers spilled onto the streets. What traffic there was ground to a
halt. In our thousands we fell in behind the banners of our unions.
TEEU, SIPTU, IMPACT, IWU, CWU. etc a few Starry Ploughs, Anarchist flags.....
http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=1947
THE LEAFLET
Friday’s demonstration is an opportunity for all Irish workers to
show our support for and solidarity with Irish Ferries workers in their
battle against job displacement and exploitation. Their fight is our
fight because if the company is successful in defeating the
workers’ resistance it will open the floodgates for employers
throughout the economy to slash wages and attack working conditions
– a process which is already well under way.

Workers in Irish Ferries have shown the way in which employers’
attacks can be resisted. Their response to the attempts at bullying by
management and their hired thugs was immediate and direct. They
didn’t wait around but took immediate direct action to protect
their livelihoods and force the management on the defensive. It was
this action which forced the issue of job displacement on to the
national political agenda and which forced the leadership of the trade
union movement to take the issue seriously.

Industrial Relations Act must be smashed
Today’s demonstration is a welcome opportunity for all workers to
demonstrate our support for Irish Ferries workers. But it does not go
far enough. The most effective way in which all workers could show
the bosses and government we intend to do more than complain
would be through a national work stoppage. This would involve
challenging the 1990 Industrial Relations Act which makes solidarity
action unlawful.

The leadership of the trade union movement have however shirked the
opportunity to challenge this anti-trade union law. Instead of issuing a
direct call for all workers to walk off the job to support today’s
demo, they have “requested” member unions to
“maximise the participation of their members”.

Instead of this shilly-shallying, Congress should directly challenge the
Industrial Relations Act. It is the strength of our numbers which
would allow us to do this. If all workers across all unions took
simultaneous action, it would render the law ineffective and would
demonstrate clearly our potential power. If Congress are afraid to issue
this call because of fears that the assets of the unions would be placed
in jeopardy, why don’t they ask us – the members – what
we think. After all the unions belong to the members, we should be
allowed to make that decision.

Legacy of “partnership”
It is clear however that the leadership of Congress do not want to
challenge the Industrial Relations Act because ideologically they are
unwilling to challenge the government. This is the legacy of 18 years
of so-called “social partnership” – a “partnership”
which is so meaningless that employers in Irish Ferries, An Post and
elsewhere can simply tear up their side of the deal at will.

It should surely be clear to everyone now that the ‘Race to the
Bottom’ will only be halted by a strong fighting trade union
movement. Far from “social partnership” being a means of
preventing exploitation and job displacement, it has actually provided
the cover which is allowing this to happen. Agreement to contracting
out some work is actually part of ‘Sustaining Progress’.

It is time now that “social partnership” be consigned to the
dustbin of history. We need now more than ever a trade union
movement which will make a reality of the slogan of an injury to one
being the concern of all. We need a trade union movement which will
set itself the task of organising the unorganised, of recruiting into
membership workers across all sectors of the economy who are being
ruthlessly exploited. Gama, nursing homes, meat factories and many
more have shown this exploitation. “Outsourcing” and other
forms of exploitation will be defeated by recruiting the
“outsourced” and exploited workers into the unions and
fighting alongside them against that exploitation.

Seize control
All of us as trade union members must rally to this cause. We need to
seize back control of our unions and we need to make those unions
into fighting bodies which will stand up for the vulnerable and
exploited and which will show clearly our strength in numbers.

The direct action of Irish Ferries workers has shown the way. The
challenge to all of us is to ensure that their action is the spark which
ignites a fight back and which demonstrates to government and
employers that we will no longer tolerate the exploitation of our fellow
workers
=======================================
* Irish anarchist federation
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