Upping the Stakes - Keep the Pressure on for National Strike

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if ICTU are unwilling to take the action we should remember that the trade unions are our organisations and we should be ready to take the initiative ourselves in our own unions and in our own workplaces.On 25th February ICTU wrote to all affiliated unions re its 'Campaign in Support of the Congress 10 Point Plan for a Social Solidarity Pact'.

The letter states that "It was decided to up the stakes somewhat" so one might expect to see a proposal for a campaign against the government attacks on workers or a campaign against the ‘pension levy’ pay cut imposed on public sector workers. But no - ICTU’s great plan to “up the stakes” will be implemented “by offering to negotiate a three year agreement with Government…”

So the so-called ‘social partnership’ that has brought us to this sorry mess is somehow going to rescue us from it. By going back into talks, ICTU are accepting the need for cuts and are buying into the government strategy that it is workers who will pay for the crisis.

Meanwhile on this evening’s Six-One News Brian Cowen has lauded ‘social partnership’ as the way out of the crisis, while earlier on RTE radio’s ‘This Week’ he – with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek - claimed that the government is “not yet considering a pay cut for the public sector but that all options will have to be considered.”

It’s a fantastic machiavellian turn of phrase. Just two days ago, the Seanad passed the ‘Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest’ Bill which imposed a pay cut in the form of a ‘pension levy’ on public sector workers. Now Cowen says he may have to consider a ‘pay cut’ and ICTU are ready to go into talks.

If it was a Monty Python sketch it would be thought to be unbelievable but unfortunately it’s all too real.

The response from workers must be to maximise the Yes vote for industrial action as ballots take place over the next couple of weeks. Following on from the huge show of strength on the streets last weekend, we need to ‘up the stakes’ within our trade unions and keep the pressure on ICTU to make them go through with the national strike on 30th March.

And, of course, if ICTU are unwilling to take the action we should remember that the trade unions are our organisations and we should be ready to take the initiative ourselves in our own unions and in our own workplaces.

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