March 13th: Unions Strike Across North of Ireland, but One Day isn't Enough


On the 13th of March, unions across the north of Ireland will be striking against another round of service cuts and job loss proposals including the introduction of prescription charges.

The Minister for Health would like to introduce prescription charges across the 6 Counties. The DUP’s Jim Wells claims that this is to be done in order to provide a “cash injection” to his department to create a specialist drug fund which would pay for drugs that are either too expensive or too specific to be licensed right now. In doing so he is proposing £3 per item and hopes to raise between £5m and £10m per year claiming that this is not “unreasonable”. But it is unreasonable; the rich should be taxed for this.

They are the ones who are polluting our air; who do not give us decent wages to be able to buy good, healthy food and make a profit off of selling us fast food aided and abetted by their friends in the media industry. By forcing us to work heavy hours so that we can afford to live they refuse us time to exercise and put a strain on our mental health with their demands and constant fear that we may soon be let go. The negative impact that they have on our mental health oftentimes has an effect on our physical health.

Our class should not have to pay when we are already struggling as it is and there are some who would have no difficulty in paying this charge. It is all well and good for a man who can afford to pay the charges to introduce them. This will only put further pressure on working class communities who are already struggling in this economy and will only increase the anxiety levels in us all. Simply put, the Capitalist society is ripping our health apart, and it does not help when you have a government which is openly hostile to you if you are queer or if you are in need of proper reproductive health care.

Wells claims that “Patients should have access to the drugs they need.” What he means is that straight white wealthy male patients should have access to the drugs they need. Wells is staunchly anti-choice even in the case of rape and everyday pregnant people bear the financial strain of his refusal to legalise free and safe abortion on demand.

This is just another reason why we must all stand together and refuse to accept the cuts. Public Services, Education and those of us on benefits are facing attack after attack in a society where big business and the government will always win unless we start the fight back. In a series of workplace and public meetings held across the north over the past number of months, public and community sector workers and activists have voiced their anger at politicians in Stormont, on both sides of the sectarian divide, who have united to implement a Tory agenda.

On Friday the 13th of March as workers take to the streets as part of a unified working class response to their these attacks, we must remind those union officials also that we need a general strike, and not just for one day.