The Technical Engineering and Electrical Union is to contact ‘like-minded unions’ to seek ‘international legal opinion regarding the possibility of mounting a successful legal challenge declaring the Anglo Irish debt odious and illegitimate and, in so doing, prevent its repayment, and in particular, the repayment of 3.1bn euros on March 31st next’.
This was the motion proposed by the union’s president, Frank Keoghan,at its conference in Portlaoise.
He added: ‘There is a crisis of confidence in the unions, and among the general public, whose trust in us was high going into the present crisis’. He told members that unions needed to resume their leadership role, as the largest democratic social solidarity organisations in the country, in defending those values.
Speaking about privatisation he said: ‘Parts of the ESB, Coillte’s production for at least the next 80 years, the remaining strategic stakes in Aer Lingus, Bord Gais, Dublin Port, Irish Life, VHI – and who knows how many jobs – will be going down the river in the rush to privatise in order to service an odious bank debt. In the face of inaction so far by unions, the TEEU has been left with little alternative but to organise its own campaign to defend remaining public enterprises with like-minded unions.
He continued: ‘This union has traditionally concentrated on improving the terms and conditions of employment of its members and will continue to do so. But there is a larger picture which includes the old, the poor, the sick, the unemployed and the vulnerable in our society, some of whom are also our members or their dependants. We must defend the welfare system against a heartless government and its EU/IMF bosses. Energy supports for older people have been cut twice in the last 14 months, despite the fact that we have an excess winter death rate of almost 2,000 each year.
He pointed out that ‘Of course, there is little point in collecting more tax if it only goes towards paying bondholders. Debt as a proportion of national income will likely be 143% in 2013 and remain at 140% until 2015 – despite all the years of savage austerity. 24bn euros has been taken out of the economy since 2008 but the debt mountain has only been reduced by 3bn euros – austerity is killing our economy.’
Earlier at the conference, TEEU General Secretary Eamon Devoy said ‘Exporting goods not people should be the government’s primary objective.’
In today’s crisis-hit Ireland that slogan is revolutionary in itself, since the other side of the policy of robbing the working class and the middle class of tens of billions to bail out the banks, is to export Ireland’s youth, the vital force for a necessary revolutionary change.
The TEEU leaders have correctly outlined the problem, that is that the Irish workers and youth are being systematically robbed and forced into exile in order to pay for the bail-out of the Irish banks and for the crisis of world capitalism.
This process has reached the point where huge privatisations are taking place and where the Irish workers are losing confidence in their organisations, who are not providing the necessary leadership in this struggle.
However the cure is not to seek legal backing from bourgeois courts for repudiation – that is for action against their banks. This is like pleading with Dracula’s representative that he must get his master to transfer from blood to water.
There is only one way to deal with this crisis. The Irish workers must be mobilised for the revolutionary repudiation of the debt. The entire banking system must be put under under permanent state ownership and workers management, and the privatisations reversed, as part of the establishment of a socialist planned economy.
It is capitalism that has failed and it is the capitalist system that must pay the price in Ireland, Europe and throughout the world.
This can only be through the building of a revolutionary party, as part of the Fourth International, that organises the Irish workers and the rural poor for a socialist revolution as part of the struggle for a Socialist United States of Europe, and world socialism.