After Croke Park - Winning the Fight - Organising Together


The massive vote by union members to reject the 'Croke Park Extension' proposals was a clear and unambiguous rejection of government attempts to impose yet another 1billion of austerity cuts on public service workers.  It was also a clear statement of opposition to the trade union leadership's decision to enter talks on the basis of these cuts in the first place.

For many workers and for many trade unionists this is the first time that they have said No to any aspect of the austerity agenda.  As such it represents a huge step forward in terms of building the confidence of union members and the wider public.  It also represents a shift in the power base within many public service unions.  Leaderships who supported the deal or who, under pressure, were forced to at least nominally remain neutral find themselves somewhat on the back foot and members who organised for and won the No vote have a renewed sense of confidence.

That confidence can and must be built on.  Union members need to organise as quickly as possible in our own unions and across unions to support each other in delivering the message that NO means NO, that there is no room for 'tweaking' and that there is no mandate for anyone to enter any talks about paycuts.

The decision by the 3 teacher unions to call a ballot for strike action is welcome.  A strong Yes vote for industrial action will deliver a message to the government that any legislated paycut will be met by determined resistance.  Obviously the strength of any proposed legislation will be determined by the expected response.

A strong vote for industrial action will also give the union leadership the message that they must listen to and follow the wishes of the members.   It would be a mistake for union members to trust that officials who gladly went into talks a couple of months ago to ‘negotiate’ a paycut for us are now ready to lead a fight against those same cuts.  We must take ownership of the fight and must build the sort of structures and campaigns in our own unions, across unions and with our allies in the private sector - both unionised and non-unionised - that can build a fight to win.

The fight against threatened paycuts is a fight that should unite all workers - public and private sector.  If the government is successful in driving down wages in the public service even further, private employers will be rubbing their hands in glee and will be eagerly waiting to pass on those paycuts to their employees.

This is also a battle that should concern all of us who use public services - schools, hospitals, dole offices....  The agenda at play is to both cut the wages of public servants and run down the services available to us as citizens.  It is in all our interests to oppose such an agenda.

To do so need to build for sustained strike action that will shut down the entire public service and bring the country to a halt.  For this to be successful it will need the active involvement of other groups targeted by austerity and of all workers - complementing and supporting the strike action by acts of mass civil disobedience.  In such a scenario, everyone has a role to play.

It is for this reason that Workers Solidarity Movement is hosting an open discussion entitled 'After Croke Park - Winning the Fight - Organising Together' in the Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square, Dublin 1 on Wednesday 8th May.  We want to bring together people from all unions and none to discuss with each other how each of us can contribute to the building of such a movement.

Please come along and join in the discussion - RSVP & promote this event on Facebook