Ireland heading for a general strike

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THE Croke Park II proposals to cut the public sector pay bill, as part of an additional one billion euros of state cuts, have been rejected by Irish workers.

Two of the country’s biggest trade unions, SIPTU and the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, have just voted against the deal, joining Unite and four other trade unions, meaning that the deal is dead.

The proposals in the deal included pay cuts, increment freezes and longer working weeks for no extra pay.

The rejection is a huge blow against the Fine Gael-Labour coalition Government, which has been forcing the Irish working class to pay for the crash of the Irish banks, and for the 64 billion euro EU-Troika bail out. It is an even bigger blow against the right wing of the Irish TUC which was willing to take joint responsibility with the government for imposing the massive cuts!

Under this austerity regime, the working class and the poor have suffered while the bankers have prospered. Up to 100,000 youth have been forced to emigrate, and housing and water taxes are being imposed, seeing evictions taking place on a scale not seen since the famine, under British rule in the the mid 19th century.

The crisis was caused by property speculation by the Irish banks on a vast scale. When the crash came, the banks lost 100bn euros. The government immediately stepped in to guarantee their losses, and that the Irish workers and small farmers would make them good. They were to be slaves of the banks.

SIPTU President, and former President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), Jack O’Connor, who had said that the Croke Park II deal was the best that could be got, has suffered a major defeat as has the right wing of the Irish trade unions who were willing to assist the government bringing in the Croke Park II cuts.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny earlier told the Dáil that the options were now limited and the Government would have to carefully consider what to do next.

Labour Party Minister for Public Expenditure in the coalition Brendan Howlin has said that savings of 300m euros must be made.

He said he would be explaining the position to Troika officials by phone and that there would be consequences.

IMPACT and the PSEU voted in favour, but once SIPTU rejected the package by a margin of 53.7% to 46/3%, the deal was dead in the water.

On the No side, the margin of rejection soared to 95.5% in the Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation.

Yesterday, O’Connor said: ‘The result reflects the deep and well justified sense of grievance among working people throughout the country and public service workers in particular. They feel that they are shouldering the lion’s share of the post-crisis adjustment while the wealthy are not contributing anything remotely approaching their capacity to do so.’

‘We urge the Government not to proceed with legislation to cut the pay of public service workers as it would inevitably precipitate a major confrontation,’ he said.

However, this confrontation is well underway, with even the Garda rejecting the austerity measures, and prone to catching ‘Blue flu’ when necessary.

The Irish TUC must now do what the Irish working class wants, and call an indefinite general strike to prevent the government bringing in state control of the trade unions and the savage cuts.

The Fine Gael-Labour coalition must be brought down and replaced with a Workers and Small Farmers Government that will carry out socialist measures.

There is no doubt that what Irish workers have begun the British working class will continue.

The General Council of the TUC is meeting in London next Wednesday and will be considering calling a one-day general strike against the Cameron coalition’s austerity measures. There will be a big workers lobby outside demanding the calling of an indefinite general strike to bring down the coalition and bring in a workers government.

The Irish and UK workers are marching arm in arm to socialist revolutions in Ireland and the UK!