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Human Rights in Ireland
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Dublin Opinion
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'F21': Big March Against Levy: 'Anyway, It's Time . . . . ' (but for what?)

category national | worker & community struggles and protests | feature author Sunday February 22, 2009 00:46author by Conor. M from the comments (+eds)author email liberalconormurphy at ymail dot com Report this post to the editors

From A Commenteer: 'France 24, BBC, RTE all say up to 100,000. Every single Garda I asked at the march said well over 100,000. The Irish Times has even said up to 120,000! 20,000 in the difference....

Anyway, it's time for the unemployed, the farmers, the workers (private & public), the students and every other sector of society to strike & demand a better deal or put this government out on its arse.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has called on Labour and the Greens to join his party in "a new alliance for change" which would provide "an egalitarian alternative to the politics of greed, inefficiency, waste and corruption". He goes on to say "And I include parties like Labour, the Greens - if they can survive the fall-out from their participation in this government; other smaller parties ; the trade unions; the community organisations that are on the front line in the battle for equality; Gaelgeoirí; rural agencies and organisations, including farming bodies and fishing communities; women's groups; the students, youth organisations and especially those who speak for the disabled, the poor, the unemployed, the homeless and the marginalised in our society."

In this atmosphere, I think this coalition would be our best bet.... Better than Fine feckin Gael anyway'

Continue below to view a photo series by a WSM member, and to discuss the march. Please add links in comments to discussions taking place on the web.

author by Andrew interviewing Dermot - WSM (personal capacity)publication date Sat Feb 21, 2009 22:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Images from todays demonstration against the pay cuts & job losses and an interview with Dermot who was at the demonstration leafletting for the WSM on the atmosphere of the demonstration and what is to come.
Audio is about 9 minutes long

The text of the leaflet Dermot refers to can be found at http://www.wsm.ie/story/5183

Background articles on the crisis and resistance can be found at http://www.wsm.ie/story/5185

Waterford Glass workers arrive
Waterford Glass workers arrive

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audio Interview about the ICTU march against pay cuts and job losses 8.95 Mb
author by Etain (photography) - WSM (personal capacity)publication date Sat Feb 21, 2009 22:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Five more images from today

Getting ready
Getting ready

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author by Shop Stewardpublication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 01:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well done to the WSM for organising the biggest protest march seen in Dublin in recent times. Nice of ICTU to come on board too and help swell the numbers. FFS - get real guys - who's codding who here? At a time when co-operation, solidarity and co-ordination were never more badly needed what does the so-called Workers SOLIDARITY Movement do? Yep, that's right, they blame ICTU for coming up with the idea of the pension levy. Now, maybe ICTU could be criticised for not doing enough to stop it but thats another story.

author by Andrew - WSM (personal capacity)publication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 12:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Those puzzled by the above reference by 'shop steward' to ICTU suggesting the pensions levy as more sellable then a pay cut will find more details at http://www.indymedia.ie/article/91139

As you'll see from that article the actual source of this story is not the WSM but rather a CPSU executive member who told a meeting of "About 100 highly repesentative trade unionists from around the country" what the CPSU Gen. Sec. was saying of the negotiations. There have been a number of anonymous 'responses' similar to the above but ICTU has yet to clarify what its role was despite the fact that this story and variants of it are widely circulating (and generally being believed) in branches all over the country. The first of these anonymous responses was made within minutes of ICTU being rang for a comment by a journalist (the response by 'worker') the same name was used to publish the ICTU statement to indymedia on Feb 13 ( http://www.indymedia.ie/article/91105 )

Certainly while our anonymous friends 'worker' and 'shop steward' seem to be hostile to this report and keen to misrepresent it in a way consistent with standard PR methods the reports from the march (and indeed from the meeting) indicate this is not how many actual workers or shop stewards view it. The reasons for this are not hard to see, the claim is entirely consistent with much of what ICTU have been saying, the role of senior union leaders in trying to frighten workers off industrial action (see report) and the fact that even with around 20% of union workers on the march yesterday ICTU president Patricia McKeown choose to tell us to wait for the elections (as if a FG led government would be any different) rather than do the one thing that is in our power, withdraw our labour. A 4 year old child could tell her that would not stop the pay cut or the job losses so why is it the strategy our 'leaders' are advocating?

What we need is a national strike as a start to a series of actions that will force the government to back down. The momentum for that has been growing from before this march was announced, the march should have been used to build for it rather than try and direct us down the dead end of electoralism. As it is the more combative unions are taking strike action and others are now balloting. The ballots to date have seen massive proportions for taking strike action (over 80%). Yet ICTU it seems is happy to see the constituent unions go out one at a time rather than doing what any real 'leadership' might and seeking to co-ordinate such action to maximise effectiveness. Really whether or not part of ICTU raised the idea of the pensions levy at the talks is almost incidental when you consider the scale of misleadership above.

Related Link: http://www.wsm.ie/story/5185
author by hmmmpublication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 12:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why was this made into a newswire article? Would it not have been better to just wait less than 24 hours for someone to have done a slightly longer report and analysis rather than just immediately putting up some references to main stream corporate media with regards numbers and a slightly rambling comment speculating on a possible future alternative government?! This has happened several times now with newswire pieces and comments being thrown together quite shoddily and giving very bad impressions as well as a lack of comprehensibility.

Also, on a personal political point, what the hell has worrying about an election got to do with how workers themselves are going to deal directly with the immediate threats of paycuts, cutbacks, jobloss and the diminishment of public services? One of the largest displays of people power since at least the Irish Ferries saga and already indymedia is redirecting it into calls for a new government and elections. Seriously!

Also, social solidarity? FFS! What we want is social struggle not cross class collaboration.

author by {1 of other indy editors}publication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 12:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

'Would it not have been better to just wait less than 24 hours for someone to have done a slightly longer report and analysis....'

All News is fast - indymedia must be fast too - or people go elsewhere for news. Who said there only had to be one feature for any big news subject?

If you don't like it then get involved and contribute - it is what you make of it. Don't hate indymedia, become indymedia...

author by Conor. Mpublication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 14:16author email liberalconormurphy at ymail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Someone said I ''put up some references to main stream corporate media''. Not exactly. I did watch Gerry Adams speaking. I got the quote, word for word, off RTE, but I did hear Mr. Adams speaking so Its not like I went out of my way to use 'main stream corporate media'.

Also, you said it was a ''slightly rambling comment speculating on a possible future alternative government?!'' Fair enough. I wasnt trying to make a comprehensive report here but I wasnt speculating on a future government. I was just referring to what Mr. Adams said. Then I gave my own personal opinion about what he said!

On a completely different note. I couldn't believe the next comment.
''Great to see students protesting again. I did it in 1969. Didn't do me any good though. Capitalism won. And the people of America and Europe became the most fabulously wealthy humans the world has ever know. None of the Public Sector protesters yesterday wore rags. Their expensive clothes blew me away. Well dressed designer protesters. Poor things. Oppressed working class my arse.''

Fair enough, Europe and America did become rich, but at what cost? The slave Labour of our brothers and sisters overseas! The dominant corporate minority! The masses of zombies..... work, spend money on shit you dont need, eat, watch tv, go on holidays once a year and die? Pretty bleak for ''the most fabulously wealthy humans the world has ever know''. Also, I didn't see anyone saying we were the oppressed working class, but they exist. Not here, but in Asia, S.America etc.

You are right, because of protesters like you things got better. You fought for the future generations rights, and I thank you. But are you just going to let them take your hard fought rights away? All because of others mistake, I for one wont......

author by Michael Gallagherpublication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 16:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Conor, I heard the end of the Gerry Adams speech when I arrived home from the march, a bit more on 6pm news and some more comments on RTE radio The Week on Sunday. He said the word social among others like egalitarian, but did he mention the word, socialism?

author by Brianpublication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 21:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Left must unite together to fight the current government. Whether we are Republican Socialists, Socialists, Greens, Communists..we all must work together.

author by Gregor Kerr - 1st May Branch WSM(pers cap)publication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 21:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have to agree with shop steward when he says
"...co-operation, solidarity and co-ordination were never more badly needed..."
We need to build a strong united partnership and solidarity among workers across the private and public sectors. We need to forget the attempts to divide us and we need to realise that the real divide in Irish society is not between public and private sector workers but between all workers on one side and the wealthy on the other side.
But we also need to know who our allies are in the fight ahead. ICTU's only objective on Saturday's march was to have a large protest to allow them some leverage to get back into 'social partnership' talks. When they went into talks with the government on the ‘Framework Agreement’, they accepted the need for cuts. 20 years of 'social partnership' means that ICTU leaders don't know any other way to operate.
The fact is that it was ICTU themselves who proposed the ‘pension levy’. When the government proposed a pay cut of 10%, the ICTU delegation proposed the ‘pension levy’ as being more sellable. No amount of referring to that as a 'rumour' or as trying to pretend it didn't happen will make it go away. There is a reason why it's important that this treachery is commented on. We need to know who will be on our side when the crunch comes. Marching is not enough. We need a National Strike uniting all workers, that was the message that WSM was proclaiming loudly at yesterday's demo and it was a message which received a huge amount of support.
We are not calling for and working for a National Strike because of some weird fantasy but because it is the ONLY way for us to win. A strong and serious campaign of industrial action - kicked off by a one day National Strike across the public sector will show we are serious and will force the government to address the real causes of the financial crisis instead of trying to foist the pain on workers yet again.

author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers cap)publication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 21:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

These are a selection from the many shots I took on a day when our class re-discovered a little something of its old combative spirit, and the numbers marching are more comfort to ordinary working folk than to those who would misinterpret this monster attendance as endorsement of their strategy of appeasement towards IBEC and the government. I saw David Begg walk up Parnell Sq. East towards the Garden of Remembrance a half-hour or more before the march started. He was alone and he looked downcast - surrounded by thousands of his fellow trade unionists, none of whom seemed to notice or even care about his presence among them. Nobody greeted him or was willing to share his company on this day of days. It couldn't have happened out of ignorance on the people's part, for Mr. Begg's face, voice and message assails us from all state and private media organs. It couldn’t have occurred from unfamiliarity either, for surely it couldn’t be true that our leaders generally disdain our company?

‘Social Partnership’ is over. During its operation it delivered far more to Ireland’s ruling classes than it ever did to the workers subjected to it. Even in the ‘good times’ we suffered appalling-quality public services across the board, and the ‘partnership process’ did nothing to alleviate this. Social service provision in Ireland never recovered from the swingeing cuts imposed in the 1980s during the last period of capitalist crisis, and has since always lagged demand growth due to increase in population from the mid-90s onward. There were even cutbacks in service provision during the best of the boom years! The relative share of labour in national income shrank all through the ‘tiger period’ as the share claimed by all forms of rent-taking (dividends, profits, capital/asset price appreciation etc.) increased. As income taxes fell, taxes on domestic consumption rose, further shifting the state’s tax burden from the rich to everyone else.

The ‘partnership process’ allowed union leaderships some limited input into national wages policy but no say on prices policy, rent controls or many other facets of economic and social policy, all of which were practically ignored by trade union leaderships between negotiation periods. This inattention gave space for IBEC/FF/FG etc. to shape the rest of state policy in a pro-capitalist, pro-rentier direction. ‘Partnership’ kept wages down for Ireland’s ruling classes while maximizing their profits in a situation where the Congress trade union movement acted as workplace enforcers and salespeople for that shoddy con. To want to return to that dynamic in recessionary times is a tactic either of a despairing lack of imagination or rank dishonesty.

Courtesy of ‘partnership’ and the Congress unions’ leaderships’ enthusiastic embrace of their role within that system, there has been a creeping revisionism regarding the role of trade unions. Once upon a time, unions saw themselves as the fighting organizations of working-class people, defending our economic rights and interests, organizing across all our class not just those of us who have jobs, and above all organizing for the eventual overthrow of capitalism. Yes, the roots of the trade union movement worldwide are and were revolutionary, here as much as any other country. That was the conception of trade unions cherished by James Connolly, Jim Larkin, William O’Brien (in his younger days at the very least), Constance Markiewicz and countless thousands of working-class people from that day to this.

You’d be forgiven for forgetting this heritage if all you had to go on for historical evidence were the public utterances of union leaders and some of the banners that I assume were designed especially for yesterday’s march. Siptu’s banners were particularly risible – ‘organizing for fairness and justice in the workplace’!? That is a slogan lame to the point of qualifying for disability allowance, and an insult to generations of workers who gave over (and still give over) their lives, leisure and intellect to strive for the victory of workers over Capital. What about workers’ power in the workplace? I suppose that might scare Enda Kenny that bit too much. Even the likes of IBEC’s Turlough O’Connor could declare himself in favour of ‘fairness and justice in the workplace’. Cowen’s government will treat such weak demands with the contempt and scorn they deserve.

I was listening today lunchtime to Mr. Begg on the ‘This Week’ programme on Raidio Telefis IBEC. His analysis of the current situation and what is to be done about it does not differ substantively from that of his supposed adversaries in the government and the ‘business community’. He wishes capitalism would recover on the back of ordinary workers’ sacrifices, and he cannot envisage any scenario where working-class people don’t have to pay (either wholly or in part) for the problems caused by the rich in global society. According to him, we have to strive harder and do without so that the rich can stay ruling over us. He is scared of a real fight with the bosses – not so much because of what it will cost us, but rather because of what it will cost him. Confronting the class enemy means the end of the influence of a collaboration-minded leadership atop Congress. No wonder such a strategy is unpalatable to him and those around him!

All signs so far indicate to me that Mr. Begg et al are playing to lose. We ordinary people cannot afford this losing game any longer for it is us and not Mr. Begg who will end up carrying the can for it, and this is the standard outcome with leaders of all stripes. Time must be called on this suicidal strategy of wanting to parley with those who seek to rob us blind to make good their own losses. Hence the legend on the WSM banner – National Strike now!

P.S. It would be nice if those well-placed carpers at the WSM’s stance would come out from behind their shelter of anonymity. It might perhaps enhance their minuscule credibility. Such tactics are redolent of scrawled libels complete with phone numbers on the backs of toilet cubicle doors, and a sure sign of desperation among those who would shaft the working class movement from within. We are happy to work with anyone who is interested in the future victory of our class, but we do draw the line at cowardly anonymous smear-artists, and unfortunately there are plenty of them about these days.

Gathering before the march
Gathering before the march

WSM banner before march
WSM banner before march

Transport workers - soon to be taking action!
Transport workers - soon to be taking action!

People still arriving before the march
People still arriving before the march

SIPTU Construction and Allied Trades branch
SIPTU Construction and Allied Trades branch

Related Link: http://www.wsm.ie/story/5183
author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers cap)publication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 22:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I must express my thanks to the Cork Branch of Impact for organizing our transport to and from Dublin on the day, and for the marvellous stop-over in Durrow, Co. Laois on the way for breakfast. It sure filled me up with good feelings towards the trade union movement, and added greatly to my enjoyment of the day. A debt of thanks is generally due to the thousands who made the effort to come together to show our strength of numbers. It is a re-assurance that while all of us may disagree on some basic issues, we are far from alone these days in how we feel. In spite of how Power has tried to divide us in the past and present, we remain united in our desire to resist what is about to be foisted on us. That really cheered me up on the way home!

O'Connell St. - looking toward the front of the march
O'Connell St. - looking toward the front of the march

People Before Profit Alliance
People Before Profit Alliance

SIPTU banner - in favour of sunshine and all good things
SIPTU banner - in favour of sunshine and all good things

Mayo Gas Treason - Shell profits while workers pay!
Mayo Gas Treason - Shell profits while workers pay!

Irish National Painters and Decorators TU
Irish National Painters and Decorators TU

author by Veronicapublication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 22:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

communism died circa 1989 (most argue it was already long dead)

thatcherite capitalism died circa June 2008.

social consumerism will inherit what remains after both these morally bankrupt and failed ideologies have finally been consigned to the dustbin of history.

The future is our empowerment as consumers against the corporativist forces of big government, big capitalism and big labour; the revival of the mutual model which will prioritize the interests of its members rather than those of third-party shareholder, and the delivery of universal health-care and universal stakeholder owned pensions for all through mutually owned societies (as in France).

author by Gregor Kerrpublication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 22:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

...

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author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers cap)publication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 22:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

More photos from the march!

SIPTU Dublin Health Services Branch
SIPTU Dublin Health Services Branch

Looks like Ireland, but feels more and more like Zimbabwe!
Looks like Ireland, but feels more and more like Zimbabwe!

SIPTU Sligo Branch
SIPTU Sligo Branch

The Chief and Noisiu - doughty anti-corporate warriors!
The Chief and Noisiu - doughty anti-corporate warriors!

$h€ll's Begging Bowl - let's not give generously!
$h€ll's Begging Bowl - let's not give generously!

author by Gregor Kerrpublication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 22:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

...

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author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers cap)publication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 22:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yet more of 'em!

SIPTU Limerick
SIPTU Limerick

SIPTU Meath - with original and best slogan!
SIPTU Meath - with original and best slogan!

Dublin Council of Trade Unions
Dublin Council of Trade Unions

Impact Dublin City  - fetching banner colours!
Impact Dublin City - fetching banner colours!

A message to Power from a marcher!
A message to Power from a marcher!

author by Gregor Kerrpublication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 22:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

...

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author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers cap)publication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 22:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

They keep on coming!

Technical Engineering and Electrical Union
Technical Engineering and Electrical Union

Irish Traveller Movement
Irish Traveller Movement

Independent Workers Union
Independent Workers Union

Kildare Council of Trade Unions and Dublin Branch Impact
Kildare Council of Trade Unions and Dublin Branch Impact

Migrant Rights Centre
Migrant Rights Centre

author by Gregor Kerrpublication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 22:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

...

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author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers cap)publication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 22:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If it moves I'll shoot it!

Bertie Ahern - gone but not forgotten!
Bertie Ahern - gone but not forgotten!

Appeal for fatcat rescue - contact two knaves called Brian.
Appeal for fatcat rescue - contact two knaves called Brian.

Impact Cork Branch - I'd never be let home otherwise!
Impact Cork Branch - I'd never be let home otherwise!

Irish Nurses Organisation
Irish Nurses Organisation

Sligo Council of Trade Unions
Sligo Council of Trade Unions

author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers cap)publication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 22:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What a day! Five more from it...

The Workers Party
The Workers Party

Communications Workers Union
Communications Workers Union

Medical Laboratory Assistants Association
Medical Laboratory Assistants Association

Teachers Union of Ireland
Teachers Union of Ireland

Irish Socialist Network
Irish Socialist Network

author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers cap)publication date Sun Feb 22, 2009 23:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

OK, I'll stop now! It was great to be part of it, now on to the next phase of the fightback!

National Bus and Rail Workers Union
National Bus and Rail Workers Union

WSM group on march with strike call
WSM group on march with strike call

FEE activists with strike call
FEE activists with strike call

author by Does'nt matterpublication date Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Like Gregor, I have to agree with shop steward when he says "...co-operation, solidarity and co-ordination were never more badly needed..."

I agree with Gregor when he says that:

"We need to build a strong united partnership and solidarity among workers across the private and public sectors. We need to forget the attempts to divide us and we need to realise that the real divide in Irish society is not between public and private sector workers but between all workers on one side and the wealthy on the other side"

However, I also agree with Shop Stewards annoyance with the manner in which the WSM conduct their business. The WSM should not get offended when users of this site get annoyed by stupid assertions about ICTU being behind the pension levy. If the WSM issue divisive statements like this then they have to live with the political consequences. The political consequence in this case is losing the respect of a lot of workers who support ICTU in their current campaign. Whilst Gregor positively contributes toward building a campaign that is inclusive, other members of the WSM have shown absolute contempt for anyone who do not share their political aspirations.This was obvious on the march on saturday. Anybody involved in political organisation should know that a strategy of smear and negativity is self defeating.

Most workers do not like organisations that base their political strategy on attacking the union leadership, or union bureaucrats. We have heard it all before. My advise to the WSM is that if they want respect from workers then base your political strategy on something that is positive (i.e. working in collaberation with other organisations rather than constantly being on the outside) as opposed to attacking organisations/unions/ leaders whom you do not like. If as much energy was put into real tactics of building solidarity (organising on the ground, building alliances, respecting diversity, listening to the voices of others, engaging with reform in the workplace) then we may end up winning this battle.Juvenile strategies of attacking the 'leaders' and 'bureacrats' should be left to the Trots.

The attack on ICTU (and the obsession with union leaders) was a mistake. Take it on the chin, live with the political consequences and start working with other organisations, even if they are not anarchists. I am not an anarchist but it would appear to me that this would be the best way to convince workers of its merits.

author by linkerpublication date Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors


RTE
written coverage: Thousands protest over economy
http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/0221/protest.html
audio coverage: http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/0221/protest_av.html?249545...l,230

Irish Times
Unions to discuss next move after huge Dublin protest
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2009/0223...ia=mr
Dublin protest march February 21st (photo slideshow)
http://www.irishtimes.com/indepth/slideshows/protest-ma...ches/

author by Markpublication date Mon Feb 23, 2009 13:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"However, I also agree with Shop Stewards annoyance with the manner in which the WSM conduct their business. The WSM should not get offended when users of this site get annoyed by stupid assertions about ICTU being behind the pension levy. "
....Most workers do not like organisations that base their political strategy on attacking the union leadership, or union bureaucrats. We have heard it all before. My advise to the WSM is that if they want respect from workers then base your political strategy on something that is positive (i.e. working in collaberation with other organisations rather than constantly being on the outside) as opposed to attacking organisations/unions/ leaders whom you do not like. If as much energy was put into real tactics of building solidarity (organising on the ground, building alliances, respecting diversity, listening to the voices of others, engaging with reform in the workplace) then we may end up winning this battle.Juvenile strategies of attacking the 'leaders' and 'bureacrats' should be left to the Trots..."

With the greatest of respect, there is a lot of heat and not a lot of light around the issue of the pensions levy, a de facto pay cut. The WSM doesnt not have a 'strategy' of attacking the union leadership or bureaucrats. It would be a pretty shit and particularly short 'strategy' is that was the case.

We do however operate in an honest basis, somethhing that all those who have worked with in the past know full we. We are open and honest, and at times that means asking questions that are pertinent, if uncomfortable.It doesnt matter if its been heard before.

Most workers would prefer is they knew exactly what was said, proposed and agreed by whom. Populist left unity has to be based upon respect and TRUST.

The idea that WSM and other anarchists are somehow fixated on attacking union leadership isnt beared out. you suggest that "If as much energy was put into real tactics ", ie the energy to post here was put into real tactic. Posting news and commentary on indymedia and elsewhere, whilst important can hardly be considered to take up a great deal of WSM resources and time. And again asking questions can hardly be described as junvenile. A bit of perspective please.
As for the source of ICTU involvement in the governments proposed paycuts, it wasnt WSM as both the video footage and audio reporting on line here and elsewhere suggests. Something isnt true just because someone says it, but neither does it help to censor the questions that arise from the claims of other unionists.

author by Jpublication date Mon Feb 23, 2009 14:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Seanad is to hold a rare sitting on Friday to push through emergency legislation to introduce the public service pension levy.

President Mary McAleese is expected to sign the controversial measure into law before the weekend.

The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill (2009), introduced by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, is expected to pass all legislative stages in the Dáil on tomorrow and Wednesday before being referred to the Seanad.

“The Seanad will convene about 90 minutes earlier than usual at 9am on Friday morning and will begin debating the Bill at 10.30am,” said an Oireachtas spokesman.

Seanad leader Donie Cassidy may propose an Early Signature Motion to ensure that President McAleese signs the Bill as soon as possible.

Usually, the head of state has up to seven days to sign legislation after it is received at Aras an Uachtaráin.

The salary-based levy will be calculated on gross pay and will mean a 3% contribution for workers on €15,000 per annum up to a maximum 9.6% for staff earning €300,000.

http://breakingnews.ie/ireland/eyauaukfkfoj/

===

Contact the ICTU and your unions to call for a national strike!

author by Jimpublication date Mon Feb 23, 2009 14:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I walked through Dublin city centre from Government buildings back along the route to O'Connell Street and it was heartening to see such a massive turnout.
No government whether it is the current incompetents or a likely coalition of FG/Lab can ignore the anger of ordinary people who want the corrupt gangsters who run the banks sacked and made to pay, who want their jobs and livelihoods protected as much as possible, who recognise that difficult painful decisions will have to made made but the load must be borne by all and the weakest and most vulnerable must be safeguarded through his unprecedented economic storm and the wealthy who can bear the burden must carry the load.

The only blot on the occassion was the bizarre sight of people protesting about Shannon, Palestine/Israel and other utterly irrevancies.
Who are these people? They appear to believe the plight of ordinary people in Ireland is a joke.

author by Clarence Darrowpublication date Mon Feb 23, 2009 14:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yes! Fight for a National Strike!

But also lobby the President!

Ask her to refer the Act to the Supreme Court to see if it is Constitutional!

author by HumanBeingpublication date Mon Feb 23, 2009 17:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Whatever problems we will have here pale into insignificance in comparison to what the palestinian people went through in gaza. That's exactly the kind of me fein look out for number one attitude fostered by capitalism that helped get us into this mess in the first place. If we cared for our fellow man a little more then we might have rejected such blinkered thinking earlier on and voted for people with a set of humane people centric policies, likely more supportive of indigenous small industries, agriculture and employment and less supportive of bankers, foreign corporations, supermarket chains ,housing speculators, landlords and liberalised capital flight. (and which would include properly addressing issues like shannon and palestine)

How to create a nice profitable third world country environment for corporations 101:
(1) liberalise the financial instutions allowing easy capital flight, hence giving rich capitalists power over the government policies (if we don't like something we'll pull out all our money)
(2) run down public services then open whats left of them to privatisation
(3) push down wages, cut social welfare programs. They'll work or starve.
(4) open some nice efficient sweatshops
(5) play all the third world countries off against each other globally for maximum downward pressure on wages

How are we doing?

Surely half the point in having a society is quaity of life? When life for most people (if they are lucky!) consists of nothing but a stressful form of mindless wage slavery just to keep a roof over their heads then they should ask the question...Why are we living like this? who benefits? have we all lost the plot? Is there another way?

author by linkerpublication date Mon Feb 23, 2009 18:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Government should resign - Adams

Sinn Féin Presiedent Gerry Adams has called for a realignment in Irish politics to create a united progressive and democratic movement to bring about real change.

In his address to the party's Ard Fheis in Dublin, Mr Adams said it was time for Brian Lenihan to do his patriotic duty and go, saying he should bring the rest of the Government with him.

He called for a new alliance for change to provide an alternative to Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, saying he invited potential allies, including Labour and the Greens, to join in securing real change...

Related Link: http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/0221/sinnfein.html
author by Shop stewardpublication date Mon Feb 23, 2009 18:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

OK, so the theory that the so-called "pensions levy" was ICTU's idea comes from ONE member of the CPSU executive who alleges he heard his General Secretary say it was a Congress idea (or Dan Murphy's idea, depending on who you believe.)
Fair enough. Hearsay upon hearsay so far. For the sake of argument lets assume there's something in it. Are we to believe that ICTU officials, in a stunning display of class treason, said something like "oh dear, the country's finances are in trouble - tell you what - public servants can pay up to 10% of their incomes in a levy to the government"? No, doesn't seek likely to me either. Or more plausably, government was threatening to impose a 10% pay cut - so Congress point out that if you do that it also hits existing public service pensioners and then government says ok, we won't make a pay cut - we'll impose a levy instead. Congress say this is also unacceptable so government says you can have the pay cut or the levy - congress say levy is lesser of two evils. Government spin that levy was a Congress proposal to take some heat off themselves.

Now I'm not saying that it happened this way - i just don't know. But it seems a lot more plausible than Begg and O'Connor volunteering a levy from the public service off their own bat.

I am disappointed that people who have an anti-ICTU, anti union "bureaucrat", anti social partnership approach are seizing on this as a reason to have a go at the ICTU leadership. I've no problem with people holding such views and putting them forward at Union Conference - this has been done and rejected in many unions. (And remember Jack O'Connor was elected in a ballot of all SIPTU members so he has one of the biggest democratic mandates in the country.)

But when you're in the middle of a battle is not the time for internal warfare. And this is as big and nasty a battle as the trade union movement is likely to find itself in. Every union rep who has ever negotiated a deal or represented a worker in a row with an employer knows that "divide and conquer" is the oldest tactic in the employers armoury. Every shop steward or union official worth his salt has been told countless times by employers that "your members are not behind you" or "you're out of touch with your members (or the non-members)". Meanwhile they're using management stooges and fifth columnists to spread the same message on the shop floor. Its a pity to see the same message coming those who profess to be in solidarity withthe workers but in reality are pursuing a minority political agenda. But then again I doubt whether any of these idealogues have ever nogotiated a pay increase or a recognition agreement or fought a workers case through a grievance or disciplinary procedure. Hurlers on the ditch...

Same goes to Jim and Human being above. Not the place or time for an internal row. Gaza is a worthy cause - so is opposing the levy. You can do both and neither should distract from the other, so take the handbags elsewhere.

Having said that, I would like to see a more aggressive stance from ICTU. I do appreciate that Saturday was only a warm-up and the real action is yet to come (or at least I hope so!) I and many others have expressed this view strongly in my own union and it has been listened to and will be acted on. However I am a bit dubious about an all out public service strike that would hit hardest those who depend most on public services. I would prefer a targeted and selective graduated campaign of industrial action leading up to strike action. How about a work to rule on processing TD's expense claims for a start?

author by linkerpublication date Mon Feb 23, 2009 21:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Irish Times
- 120,000 march in Dublin over handling of economy
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/0223/1....html

- Letting off some steam on the monster march
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/0223/1....html

Never mind how many people marched, or fat-cat placards were waved, or impassioned speeches delivered, the ordinary taxpayer will still have to stump up for the crimes of the banking wide boys.

That was the unpalatable truth behind Saturday’s demo.

- Unions say big turnout shows depth of anger
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/0223/1....html

- First strike against levy takes place on Thursday
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/0223/1....html

FURTHER PROTESTS: THIS COMING week will see the first strike action in protest at moves by the Government and the semi-State sector to deal with their declining finances.

On Thursday 13,000 lower-paid civil servants who are members of the Civil and Public Services Union (CPSU) will hold a one-day stoppage against the Government’s new pension levy.

This move will affect services across a range of Government departments, as well as social welfare and passport offices.

At the weekend staff at Dublin Bus will begin what could be an opened-ended strike at cutbacks planned by the company.

On Saturday, one union at Dublin Bus, the NBRU, will stage a one-day strike. On Sunday, the other main union at the company, Siptu, will begin a continuous all-out strike.

- Adams calls for coalition with Labour and Greens SF leader urges change to keep FF and FG out of power
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/0223/1....html

“The dominance in this State of two large conservative parties can be brought to an end if a new alignment in Irish politics, North and South, can be created. The replacement of the current Coalition at some future election by another coalition with Fine Gael as the main party would be like replacing Tweedledum with Tweedledee."

- 'We have a major part to play in starting to right all the wrongs'
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/0223/1....html

Muireann Meehan Speed, chair of the Uí Chadhain/Tone Cumann in Trinity College Dublin said: “Sinn Féin is an alternative voice. We are a socialist republican party that believes in unity for Ireland and equality for young people.”

Niall Ó Donnghaile (23), a delegate from the Short Strand in Belfast and an honours graduate in Politics from the University of Ulster said: “Activists from across the country were in a very, very positive mood.”

Regarding the Adams call for left unity he said: “At times like this it becomes evidently clear why the Left needs to stand together and why the Left can offer a very, very real and dynamic alternative to the State politics that have failed.”

author by curiouspublication date Tue Feb 24, 2009 10:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors


I ask because I'd like to see more of these people at large protests (which I feel will be a bit more common this year than last) writing, posting pics and vids up on indymedia.ie

So it would be useful to let them know that they don't have to depend on the whims of the editors of the letters pages to get their point of view across.

Indy could become very useful if more of these people find out about it, and seeing as there's no budget for advertising, how about we all pitch in and encourage people to find out about the site?

author by Dublin Community Televisionpublication date Tue Feb 24, 2009 13:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

.


Caption: Embedded video Vimeo

author by redjadepublication date Tue Feb 24, 2009 14:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I hope to see more in the future - I'll be spreading the above video around on various interested websites.

Just as I have also been spreading around Dave's video around the planet....

Video Report: Levy Protest
comments at http://www.indymedia.ie/article/91227



Caption: Embedded video Vimeo

author by Rational Ecologistpublication date Tue Feb 24, 2009 15:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yes, I am angry at having to bail the banks out, like every other taxpayer in this country. It has been pretty obvious what has been happening in this country for the past 12 years. House-price inflation was directly linked to a relaxation of bank-lending policy. The unions had little or nothing to say about this over the last decade and presided, by their inaction, over the abuse and exploitation of migrant workers.
The levy is tough but on the whole it is only fair. Benchmarking is a fiasco. Now that private sector wages are in decline, should not benchmarking work in the opposite direction?
Before we march, we should know what we are marching about. I do not support this Government, even though I was a member of the Greens.
I think the levy is fair but as it is imposed is ludicrous. Too many on low wages will be hit.
We are in a hole and we do have to get out of it but utopian rhetoric will not suffice. I listened to Gerry Adams' turgid speech-get real, SF are now a centre-left party, heading for the centre.
We were badly represented by the unions and are now being used by them to regain credibility-we should not give it to them!

author by linkerpublication date Wed Feb 25, 2009 12:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Regarding the lack of post march written articles from this thread, here are some that have been posted on imc-ie:

Marching is not enough - We need national strike action
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/91261
The economy's crashing, the dole queues are growing. Yet the bankers, bosses and developers responsible are untouchable - because the politicians supposed to hold them to account had their noses in the same trough. So-called experts bluster to cover their confusion, make tut-tut noises about corruption and greed, then shake their heads and agree, that in the end its the ordinary workers and taxpayers that will have to foot the bill. Because that's just the way it has to be...

Over 120,000 workers march through Dublin's fair city
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/91263
Like many others who attended the march on Saturday 21st February I was surprised at the massive turn out. At 13.50 I was walking up O’Connell street and the march was passing the GPO. I walked around the march, curious to see how it was arranged, and what groups were represented. Eventually, I trickled down to the back of the march which passed the GPO at around 3.30pm. There were at least 120,000 protesters on the march. Some estimate slightly more, some slightly less. ICTU claim it was the biggest march in thirty years at 150,000+ , whilst RTE claim less than 100,000. But, overall I think 120,000 is a fair estimate. Either way there can be no disputing the fact that this was a huge turnout.

author by linkerpublication date Wed Feb 25, 2009 12:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dublin demo huge success - mass potest against pension levy
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/91266
On Saturday 21 February 120,000 workers marched in Dublin against the imposition of a pension levy on public sector workers’ wages by the Fianna Fail government. League members and supporters report from the demonstration

The economic crisis is hitting Ireland hard, and workers here are not taking it lying down. The actions of the government and private sector employers to save money by cutting back on spending, including jobs, is a typical capitalist measure to get themselves out of the crisis. Now ordinary people are being made to suffer, many of them being thrown out of work and with a shrinking labour market it is not clear where employment can be found.

Related Link: http://www.fifthinternational.org/index.php?id=193,1534...0,1,0

They didn’t share the wealth - Why should we share the pain
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/91285

There is no money left in Ireland. At least that’s what you might think after listening to Brian Cowen, Enda Kenny, IBEC and the parade of capitalist economists and pundits who parrot this nonsense. Yes, we are heading into a deep recession but guess who is expected to pay the cost?

The Government has no problem finding money to bail out bankers and speculators, it’s only when cash is needed for special-needs teachers, the sick, or to improve run-down schools and hospitals that nothing can be found. The attack on pay & pensions is class struggle by employers and the government against working people.

It may sound old-fashioned to talk of class struggle, but what else do you call it when one class wants to preserve its wealth at the expense of the other class? When private sector workers see 90% of pension funds they paid into for years going down the tube, Brian Goggin of Bank of Ireland thinks he is hard done by because he will “take home less than €2 million” this year.

author by dunkpublication date Wed Feb 25, 2009 13:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A month ago, a joke, or perhaps an accurate vision?, was circulating about what might soon lie in store for Biffo and crew...

Question; Whats the difference between Iceland and Ireland?
Answer; 1 letter and 6 months!


From the day of the march, an IMC-IE commentor posted:

BBC estimates "up to 100,000" - Iceland went to the streets & brought down their government
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/91214?&condense_comment...46050

Iceland is very like Ireland in many ways:

Except of course for Bjork, geysers, free heating, having no surnames and that terrible business with the whale hunting. But once you leave aside pretty much everything which makes Iceland the unique home of the Icelander the one thing in common with Ireland was the utterly fucked up trust put in the global banking system of neo-liberal economics and most particularly derivitative trading and so-called "knowledge based financialy service" model for economic development.


So, who knows?
1 month and counting...
What sort of state will Ireland be in, in 5 months time?

Related infos + vids:

People Start Revolting In Iceland: Summary Of Action News In English
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/90296

Iceland's government collapses amid financial meltdown (January 26, 2009)
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2009/0126/...3.htm

Huge protest over Irish economy
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7903518.stm
About 100,000 people have taken part in protests in Dublin city centre to vent their anger at the Irish government's handling of the country's recession.

BBC: Over 120,000 march on Dublin in protest of Irish economy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uMU-Oio4is

100,000 ar na sráideanna - Tuairisc TG4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrCiIE_TL_4

Libery Hall reminds the city about the 120k march
Libery Hall reminds the city about the 120k march

Caption: Embedded video Youtube Video


Caption: Embedded video Youtube Video


author by Hervé Amoroc. France 24 correspondentpublication date Wed Feb 25, 2009 13:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

120,000 protest over Irish economy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuPrB22p7yk

The Irish do not take to the streets ofter, but when they do, they do in masse. This is the largest demonstration in 30 years... Among ordinary workers, anger is rising.
Hervé Amoroc. France 24 correspondent

Caption: Embedded video Youtube Video


author by seb via friendpublication date Wed Feb 25, 2009 23:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Flickr Set:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sebastiandooris/sets/72157...1439/

Caption: Embedded video Youtube Video


Caption: Embedded video Youtube Video


author by last 4 sebpublication date Wed Feb 25, 2009 23:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

.

Caption: Embedded video Youtube Video


author by marcherpublication date Fri Feb 27, 2009 14:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Note from the Munster Express:
"Four men stood near Government Offices, bizarrely holding a toilet mounted on a board at shoulder height (something to do with the ‘Shell to Sea’ campaign if memory serves me correctly)."

http://www.munster-express.ie/opinion/to-be-honest/amon...eets/

author by Workerpublication date Sat Mar 07, 2009 11:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Listen to why participants marched on Saturday 21st March on ICTU's youtube channel:

http://www.youtube.com/irishcongress

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