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(en) Ireland, WSM*, Workers Solidarity #90 - Magnificent solidarity in Ireland as 100,000 'walked out' by Alan MacSimoin

Date Sat, 25 Mar 2006 13:41:59 +0200


Analysis of Irish Ferries walk out and the role of union leaders
Most of our unions are run by people who see their role as simply
lobbying the government, providing services and dealing with individual
members' problems rather than also fighting to improve pay and conditions
The old union motto "an injury to one is the concern of all" is taken
more seriously by ordinary union members than by many of our "leaders".
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions, sheltering behind the 1990
Industrial Relations Act which makes strikes in support of other
workers unlawful, didn't call for a national walk-out. We knew they
wanted us to strike and march but their over-cautious approach
didn't exactly inspire workers with particularly aggressive employers.

Nevertheless 80,000 marched in Dublin, 15,000 in Waterford,
10-15,000 in Cork, 10,000 in Limerick, 3,000 in Tralee, 2,500 in
Sligo, 2,000 in Athlone, 2,000 in Rosslare, and 1,000 in Galway.
When we add in those who walked out of work but didn't get to their
local march and those who attended smaller rallies like that
organised at the last minute in Drogheda, we have about 150,000
workers taking part. This included many recently arrived workers
from Eastern Europe, who are on the lowest wages.

Most of our unions are run by people who see their role as simply
lobbying the government, providing services and dealing with
individual members' problems rather than also fighting to improve
pay and conditions. These people have no interest in conflict with
employers or government, being the most enthusiastic supporters of
'social partnership'.

Our unions have fantastic potential. We have the numbers and we
have the ability to close down the country. But as long as we place
our trust in the likes of Begg and O'Connor that potential will remain
untapped. They have us fighting like a drunk with one hand behind
our back and the other in our pocket. The more weakness the bosses
see, the harder they stick the boot in.

See also Irish anarchist analysis of Irish Ferries strike settlement deal

From Workers Solidarity 90, Jan/Feb 2006
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