Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/420/4915

From The Socialist newspaper, 15 December 2005

Massive support for Irish Ferries' workers

OVER 100,000 workers marched across cities and towns in Southern Ireland on 9 December.
It was a massive show of opposition to the job displacement and gross exploitation of immigrant workers by the Irish Ferries company.
Demonstrations of between 5,000 and 15,000 took place in Cork, Waterford and Limerick. There were also important mobilisations in Rosslare, Sligo, Galway, Athlone and Tralee.
In Dublin, upwards of 60,000 turned out with the demonstration taking a couple of hours to pass through the city centre.
Kevin McLoughlin, Socialist Party (CWI), Dublin, reports.

THESE WERE the biggest workers' demonstrations in Southern Ireland since the mass movement over taxation in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They were also the first major reflection of the general anger that has existed for quite some time over attacks on workers' rights. It is a clear signal that the workers' movement has entered a new phase.

The dispute at Irish Ferries continues. Its fleet is grounded as a result of the occupations of some vessels by ships' officers and solidarity action. This followed attempts by management to bring replacement crews, unannounced, onto the ships in late November, and its plan to re-flag its ships as Cypriot. They want to replace trade unionised crews with non-union, migrant workers on 3.60 an hour (less than one third of the previous wage level).

There was a strong, basic class-consciousness on the demonstrations; that workers, regardless of where they are from, have rights and that immigrant workers have a right to have the same rates and conditions as Irish workers.

There was a layer who agreed with that, but their tone and words indicated that their attitude was governed mainly by the danger that lower paid migrant workers posed to Irish workers.

The fact that the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) organised the 9 December Day of Protest, reflected the broad anger in society at what is happening at Irish Ferries. But while the turnout was very big, with a more serious and fighting lead by the trade union leaders, the numbers could have been boosted substantially.

ICTU wanted to put pressure on the government to move against the management of the company and to register their disappointment that the government and the bosses are not doing their bit under 'Social Partnership' to resolve the dispute.

However, the mood and confidence of people could have been developed much further, with the complete shutdown of the country through strike action. The potential for such an escalation remains implicit in the current situation.

Minimum wage

INTENSIVE TALKS, where the unions indicated a willingness to negotiate conditions, have yielded nothing, as yet. In fact, management threatened that they may close the company.

In the talks, it seems the company accepted that the conditions of officers, who are the force behind the dispute, would be maintained. The main issue of difference was on the re-flagging of the ships and the impact that would have, particularly on the crews, where wages and conditions would be bound by Cypriot rather than Irish law.

However, the indications were that if a mechanism could be found, whereby the Irish minimum wage was legally enforceable, the unions could possibly accept the new crews on the minimum wage and possibly end the dispute.

In other words, the bargaining position of the union leaders, who have mass popular support in this struggle against Irish Ferries, was to accept a drastic reduction in wage levels for the ships' crews!

The minimum wage is quickly becoming the maximum wage. If such an agreement were reached, Irish Ferries would be able to pay less than the minimum 7.65 due to loopholes. In such a situation, while not getting all that they wanted, the company would have clawed back a lot, weakened the union and, undoubtedly, other bosses would try the same.

Perhaps it will not prove possible to find a legal mechanism to make such a deal. Likewise, it is possible that the mood and actions of the officers, the working class generally, and events, will reduce the union leadership's room for manoeuvre and make such a deal unacceptable.

24-hour general strike

Notwithstanding their cap-ability of signing a rotten deal, and then arguing for a new social partnership deal, the union leaders also have to be mindful of their position and authority. Given the mood of workers, this dispute could escalate and mortally wound the social partnership.

The position of workers has been considerably strengthened by the huge protests but this, on its own, is not enough. The government will try and resist the pressure to act.

During 9 December, the Socialist Party got a very positive response amongst many workers, for our three central demands; for a 24-hour general strike within the next week, involving all workers to force Irish Ferries to drop their plans completely; nationalise Irish Ferries and stop all other privatisations; for fighting democratic trade unions not 'Social Partnership'.

It is vital that activists in the unions take up and pursue the issue of solidarity action and the demand for a 24-hour strike that involves all workers in order to put pressure on the union leadership to pursue this battle to the very end.

While we will need to see the broader impact of this movement on society, what is clear it that Southern Ireland has changed. The demonstrations reflected the growing class polarisation and the openness that exists amongst the working class once a lead is given. This points towards the development of serious struggles, and to a sharp shift to the left, in the months and years ahead.

The Socialist Party in Southern Ireland participated in the major demonstrations. They distributed 8,000 leaflets and sold around 350 copies of their paper The Socialist.

The Socialist Party also held public meetings immediately after the demonstrations in Cork, Limerick and Dublin.

A follow up public meeting will take place in Dublin, on Monday 12 December.


Solidarity at Holyhead

ABOUT 60 transport workers rallied in Holyhead, North Wales on 7 December to support workers barricaded in the Irish Ferries ship marooned at Holyhead Port.

Hugh Caffrey

As RMT organiser John Tilley explained to the socialist, the deregulation of deep-sea shipping through "flags of convenience" has meant a catastrophic decline in pay, conditions and safety. The fight is on to defend ferry workers from the same fate.

Socialist Party members attended the demonstration to show our support and ran a campaign stall in Holyhead town centre.


Pembroke Dock protest

AROUND 100 Welsh trade unionists staged a second protest at Pembroke Dock on 10 December in support of the Irish Ferries workers.

Alec Thraves

The magnificent demonstrations in Ireland, which were widely reported on Welsh television, undoubtedly had an effect in increasing the number of local trade unionists who turned out.

Socialist Party Wales again had the largest contingent at the rally with members selling 130 papers on the day and raising 135 fighting fund.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 15 December 2005:

NHS in crisis

Huddersfield's big demo

Campaign for a new workers' party

Building a voice for Iraq's workers

Montreal conference - Little change on climate change

Ukraine's Orange revolution - one year on

Portuguese workers strike against Blairite cuts

Massive support for Irish Ferries' workers

Stop the job cuts

Confusion over pensions at NATFHE executive

Media giants attack journalists

Rail workers fight bosses' offensive


 

Home   |   The Socialist 15 December 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Ireland:

triangleBoeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

triangleLeeds Socialist Students marks 'International Safe Abortion Day'

triangleEyewitness: Irish socialist MP participates in events

triangleChesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangleBuilding workers' struggle and the forces of international socialism

Socialist Party:

triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?

trianglePowerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

triangle'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future

Socialist:

triangleSocialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

triangleCan you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

triangleNo cuts - hands off King George A&E!

The Socialist:

triangleOctober 1917 reviews: 'More bright than any heaven'

triangleStriking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni

International

International

18/10/17

Hong Kong

Campaign against political repression in Hong Kong

11/10/17

Catalonia

Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

4/10/17

Catalonia

Solidarity with Catalonia - the people have the right to decide

4/10/17

Catalonia

Eyewitness: Irish socialist MP participates in events

2/10/17

Catalonia

Exemplary resistance by the people of Catalonia

27/9/17

Germany

Germany: Election results in political earthquake

27/9/17

Catalonia

Strike against Madrid's 'state of emergency'!

27/9/17

Germany

German elections: rise of the far right and right-wing government will provoke resistance

27/9/17

France

French Labour reform protests

25/9/17

Catalonia

Catalonia: Student strike called

20/9/17

Myanmar

Brutal repression of Rohingya people sparks massive humanitarian crisis

20/9/17

Catalonia

Solidarity with Catalonia in the Spanish state

15/9/17

Germany

Berlin hospital strike

13/9/17

Korea

Korean peninsula: is nuclear war likely?

13/9/17

Students

Interview with leader of students' union in the Spanish state: "When we fight, we win!"

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

More ...

triangle21 Oct Birmingham: NSSN Solidarity Forum

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2