Belfast rallies against job cuts- Lions led by Donkeys


Belfast City Centre was brought to a standstill last Friday lunchtime in a rally organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) against the latest job losses in the manufacturing and textile industry.
Around 200 people turned out including trade union representatives and workers from FG Wilson, Bombardier and a majority contingent from the Visteon workplace occupation. Around 30 Bus drivers in the city centre temporarily left their placement in a show of solidarity and support. Banners displayed at the march included ‘Your Job could be next’ and ‘One Solution, Revolution’.

Addressing the rally outside the City Hall, ICTU Assistant General Secretary Peter Bunting demanded action from the Stormont administration such as setting up a Workers’ Protection Fund to give financial help to the recent unemployed.
“It is perfectly within their powers to pass laws which can protect those workers at risk of redundancy,” he said.

Last week, visteon workers rejected an insulting offer from their former bosses, providing employees a cash payment equivalent to 16 weeks pay. Adding to insult has been the exclusion of Belfast union represantives from talks taking place between national union officials and the owners. This is not the first time, top union officials are shafted workers. Remember the Gate Gourmet strike in 2005 and recent hunger strike by the Belfast airport workers outside Transport House.

We must remain in control of our own struggles until demands are met, independent and not reliant on politicians and the union bureaucracy. In the face of company attempts to evict the workers occupation, we need to mobilise our communities and workers at home and across borders, both unionised and not in a show of defiance and solidarity. A victory for visteon workers is a victory for workers everywhere.

An international day of action suggested by Organise! comrades is a practical step in defence of the occupation. In the long- term, we must move beyond occupations towards removing the entire foundation of the status-quo resting on the antagonistic interest between capital and labour. The viable and practical vision of workers' control of industry is the only lasting solution.

For too long we have listened to sterile and boring speeches from top union officials who have more in common with the bosses than the rank and file. Our local administration on the hill a long time ago nailed their colours to flag of capital and turned their backs on us to face the brunt of dole ques, poverty wages and house evictions. The Visteon workplace occupations and 'boss-nappings' in France are leading by example.

We need to take the struggle of the Visteon workers back to our workplaces’ and communities, to strike and to occupy. Direct action sends a powerful message to the sound bites and betrayals from above, and is the most effective means we have to force concessions from the bosses. In the process building links of solidarity and support between unionised, non-unionised and unwaged. Bringing together occupations and sit-ins from Belfast and Glasgow to France and Greece, as their crisis is global and so is our resistance.