Marching Is Not Enough, Organise for a general strike
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ ‘Get Up Stand Up’ protest on Friday 6th November is of huge importance. The government have made it clear that they intend to make ordinary workers pay for the financial crisis. Friday can be the start of us finally standing up and saying that we are not going to accept this.
Huge efforts have been made by politicians and economic commentators in recent months to drive a wedge between private sector workers and public sector workers. Friday provides us with an opportunity to demonstrate that they have been unsuccessful and that workers will stand together and defend our common interests.
Make the wealthy pay
1% of the Irish population owns 34% of the wealth. This tiny number of people own assets (excluding residential property) worth €100billion. In fact, the asset base of this group rose from €25billion to €100billion in the period from 1995 to 2006. Yet Brian Lenihan claims that there is no ‘pot of gold’ to be got from the wealthy. But there clearly is! These are the people who made all the wealth in the Celtic Tiger years. They must now be made to pay for the crisis that their reckless financial gambling and speculation has caused.
In addition to this, there are 1,447 people in the Irish workforce whose annual income last year averaged €2.3million. These people could take a 95% pay cut and still have an income of €100,000 a year. That would be €1,920 per week – hardly poverty wages! But instead of looking at a radical strategy such as this – which would force the wealthy to adopt some of that ‘civic’ or ‘patriotic’ spirit that we hear so much about – the decision has been taken to take money from the pockets of workers on low to middle incomes and from the unemployed.
National Strike needed
It is time for us all to deliver a strong message to government that we are not going to accept this political direction. While it is important that Friday’s march is huge, in itself this will not make the government change course. The march must be followed up by a national strike which will unite all workers under the slogan ‘There is ANOTHER way – Make the wealthy pay’.
Already public sector unions are balloting for strike action and are planning a public sector wide strike for Tuesday 24th November. This is a welcome first step. But it must be built on, and workers in private sector jobs should be getting organised and planning strike action to coincide with this action.
We have been here before. In March of this year, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions announced a national strike in response to government attacks on workers’ living standards only to call it off at the last minute when the government invited them back into talks. We need now to build a momentum from the ground up which will not allow ICTU to pull the rug from under the action this time.
If the day’s strike on 24th November goes ahead, it will show clearly the strength that we have as workers. It will demonstrate to the government that we must be listened to and that we do have the strength to impose our political will on the direction in which we are being taken.
Let’s each of us continue the work in our workplaces and in our communities to build for Friday’s demonstrations and to build towards 24th November and beyond. By ensuring we take and build the initiative at grassroots level, we will make it more difficult for the leadership of Congress to divert our protest down the cul de sac of meaningless talks with government.
Workers Solidarity Movement members in our workplaces and in our communities are doing our bit to help to build these protests. We are willing to support and help anyone in any way we can in organising your own workplace and/or community. Don’t presume that someone else will do it, but take the initiative yourself. Get in touch with us through our website www.wsm.ie and we’ll do anything we can to support and help you in taking that initiative.
Let’s build the protest. Let’s show our strength. Marching is not enough. Build now for a national strike.