The McCarthy or “Bord Snip Nua” report on public spending outlined a range of proposed cuts in government expenditure. Of the €5.3b in possible savings, it can be safely said that at least €4b of this (and probably more) targets the working class. Indeed, a full third of the cuts are aimed at pensioners and unemployed. In the private sector, attacks on our class continue in the form of pay cuts, short time and lay-offs.
Different strategies have been proposed to tackle this onslaught on working people and the unemployed. Jack O’Connor, president of SIPTU, has suggested that social provisions be built into the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA) legislation so that property acquired by the state from the banks can be put to socially beneficial use. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has proposed a ‘social solidarity pact’ to deal with the problem,
These proposed solutions, while perhaps having some marginal effect, ignore the fundamental problem that capitalism, by it’s very nature, always involves crises. So, we will always face these arguments for combating the worst excesses of the beast, when in fact it needs to be slain.
We need an economy and a society built around anarchist principles of co-operation and mutual aid, whereby working people have direct democratic control of their workplaces and communities. Such a society will provide for all and not be subject to the vagaries of capitalism and the market.
However, this is not to say that, short of this goal, our class cannot make gains. At the time of writing, action by workers at the Element Six plant in Shannon is ongoing in an effort to improve redundancy terms. Dublin port workers, employees of Marine Terminals Limited have been on strike since the beginning of July as their employer has tried to cut pay and break the union. To broaden the struggle there have been marches and blockades of the terminal entrance, with support from other trade unionists and the local communities of East Wall and Ringsend.
These are examples of workers taking the initiative themselves through direct action, rather than passively relying on union leaders and their proposed solutions outlined above. This is the direction that our class must take if we are to successfully combat the attacks on everything we won over the last 15 years.
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