Report back from Dublin meeting on Croke Park - your opinions?


On the 8th of May the WSM held a meeting in Dublin on the Croke Park No Vote.  A 3rd 'deal' has since been announced and we will be arguing for a No vote on that deal but we want to invite our readers to look at the notes below and to post comments on what they think is the way to defeat the attempts by the union leaders and government to impose these cuts in one way or the other.  The meeting was divided into discussion tables with the people attending moving between the discussions at these tables and a WSM member taking notes of the discussion, these are the notes below.

Notes from 'How do public service cuts effect you' table

Some people were public service workers, they said they are seeing increased workload and demoralisation as well as the more obvious cuts to pay that have happened and the loss of sick pay.  It was pointed out that for new teachers they had a additional 20% cut in their starting

We also heard stories about how the public service wages cuts and job losses had knock on effects elsewhere.
- in one 3rd sector think tank where there was a high turn over of workers on short contracts those starting now were only getting 60% of the starting pay of three years ago.
- in private sector TEFL schools there is now much more competition for jobs because of qualified secondary teachers who can't fid other work

Health services were mentioned by several people, in particular stories of sick relatives who were facing long treatment delays.  Also mentioned was the impact of cuts in support services which had made it much harder to access Meals on Wheels.  Some people had seen their Home Help cut to 15 minutes per week.

Connected to this was that some public service workers who are home helps and have seen contact time cut from an hour to 15 minutes per week are still continuing to work the old times unpaid because they are unwilling to walk away from the obvious needs to the people they care for.  Also mentioned was a college lecturer whose area was is social service for marginalised people who now did the workload of what were 3 jobs in order to keep those programs going.

A general theme was the way more marginalised sections were being hardest hits by public service cuts, in particular Irish Travellers, migrants and disadvantaged communities.  This is particularly visible in education where the loss of special needs teachers and a load of other cuts have had major impacts.

Several people mentioned infrastructure decay including
- damaged road surfaces that were leading to accidents and were not repaired even weeks after being reported to council presumably because of lack of resources
- Ballymun theatre
- accumulation of street rubbish in the inner city

A final area of discussion was the impact that austerity was having on people's social lives. the mass emigration of people in the 20-30 year age group in particular is widely known but less considered is the impact it has when for example people discover that their circle of 20 or so friends have been reduced to 5.

2. Why are the cuts happening?

  • Economic climate – bank bailout and Troika ‘The state has no money’ - BUT these are just excuses
  • Theft
  • Ideology -Neoliberalism – never waste a good crisis - run down public services in order to privatise them
  • Crisis of capitalism

Cyclical crisis? In a downturn, employer class looks to restore competitiveness by cutting taxes, services and pay

OR Final crisis? Major systemic problems in world capitalism unlike previous crises – evidenced by extent of non-investment/hoarding by capitalist class in offshore tax havens.

  • Class War

Austerity is political – evidence to suggest it will ‘work’ is flawed or false (e.g. Rheinhart/Rogoff controversy) – instead, class waging war to head off possible wider revolt

3. Why should we resist these cuts? What do we want?

General discussion

Trade Unions

  • Leadership – defeatist/corrupt/self-interested – some union leaders linked to government parties are a block on action/other leaders more susceptible to pushes from members
  • Negotiations – accepting logic of Troika programme before entering talks is self-defeating

Society/Workers/Union members

  • Passivity – accepting austerity cuts/talks as the best we can have – accepting that some losses are necessary then negotiating whether those cuts are to pay or working conditions or services
  • Fearful
  • Atomised – often do not meet regularly to discuss issues – left instead to officials and bureaucracy to fix problems or to define problems

We should resist these cuts because...

  • Austerity/Troika programme is theft and unjust
  • It is undemocratic.
  • Privatisation is more expensive for society
  • We’ve seen what happens when we don’t resist – cuts to pay and cuts to public services – a lower standard of living
  • It is an opportunity to transform trade unions – get rid of ‘Fr. Ted’ union leadership (‘the [social partnership] money was only resting in my account’) – and form unions that will fight for workers’ interests

We Want...

  • To stand up for ourselves
  • To have a wide fight back against the government/state/Troika from the unions to community and property tax campaigns
  • To repudiate the debt and reject the Troika programme
  • Workers to take responsibility for their unions – created worker-centred trade unions that fight for their interests
  • People to feel powerful – to connect with other groups
  • To share new ideas
  • To list and identify specific issues at particular workplaces and to build a list that we can share with other workers/wider public
  • To start and encourage self-organisation – share examples of successful actions
  • Solidarity
  • Justice
  • Socialism
  • Anarchism