Organise! dissolve and fighting partnership - For starters WS 58


Irish syndicalism - WE HAVE LEARNED with regret that the Irish section of the International Workers Association, Organise!, has decided to dissolve itself. Although we had political differences with this anarcho-syndicalist group - in particular with their approach of trying to build new revolutionary unions - we welcomed their existence as offering another option to those interested in anarchism in Ireland.

Along with ex-members of Organise! we hope to produce a bulletin looking at the history of this group and the political reasons why it dissolved. If you'd like to receive a copy of it please write to WSM, P.O. Box 1528, Dublin 8, Ireland.

Beating 'partnership'

As scandals about DIRT tax, planning permission, offshore bank accounts and payments to politicians pile up the patience of PAYE workers is being tested. Having been conned by talk of 'social partnership', many workers who voted for Partnership 2000 now see they have been ripped off.

Tiny pay increases, weak unions, rocketing house prices and declining public services are what we got. Huge profits, state handouts and effective exemption from tax laws are what the bosses got.

Nurses, bus workers, DART and mainline rail drivers, building workers and teachers are just some who want a bigger slice of the cake. Afterall it is our work which creates the wealth, why shouldn't we enjoy it? The overpaid leaders of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, together with the bosses and government, will try to sell us a new national deal. This time around they will probably offer us a 'sweetener' like additional local bargaining or 'profit sharing' schemes, an extra crumb or two from the table of the Celtic Tiger.

A campaign based on trade union activists opposed to 'partnership' has a real chance of winning a majority 'no' vote. WSM trade unionists have been in talks with other activists about just such a project. We know what we don't need as well as what do. We certainly don't need a campaign which is dominated by any political party and used primarily to boost their image and maybe gain them a few new members.

What we do need is a network of activists prepared to take the arguments against a new deal into their workplaces, sections and branches. We need to show that the bosses can never be our partners, our interests are diametrically opposed. Instead of yet another pay restraint agreement we will argue for cash claims to help the lower paid, for solidarity action in support of workers in dispute, the use of union power to assist the poor and marginalised, and opposition to the anti-union provisions of the Industrial Relations Act.

Such a campaign must be democratic in reality as well as in name, it must be controlled by its members. The building of activist groups in unions (e.g. SIPTU, CPSU) and in sectors (e.g. teaching) is the first step. We don't need a 'leadership' making grandiose statements, we do need people who will 'do the business' of winning a majority to oppose a new deal. Without a grassroots campaign capable of doing this we may defeat proposals in a first ballot but the ICTU executive will return with a slightly amended deal and be able to sell it as "the best possible".

A successful campaign will depend on not just winning a majority 'no' vote but also winning support among our workmates for a fighting trade unionism. This means not only showing that the pay terms of a new deal will be pathetic but also that 'partnership' is a myth. We are willing to work within and assist any genuinely independent and broad based grouping which may be formed to do this.

This article is from Workers Solidarity No 58 published in Oct 1999