Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/562/6759
Jobs meltdown hits Ireland
"THIS IS not about a company that's in trouble. This is about greed, corporate greed. They're going to Poland because apparently they can make an extra 3%."
Stephen Boyd, Cork
This comment from a Dell computers' worker hits the nail on the head. And it is not only Dell that is motivated by greed and profit. The cutting of wages and imposition of harsher working conditions by Aer Lingus, Aviance and many other companies is simply using the recession as an excuse to increase their profits at the expense of their employees.
The Department of Finance has predicted that unemployment will rise to 540,000 by the end of 2010, an increase equivalent to 125 Dell announcements. This will have truly horrendous consequences for working class people, and on top of this the government is planning to implement €12 billion in public spending cuts between now and 2011!
Many capitalist governments are desperately trying to stimulate their economies with public expenditure packages. Yet the remedy for the crisis according to the head of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation, Turlough O'Sullivan, is that the government should sack 70,000 public sector workers. And finance minster Brian Lenihan thinks the best way to stimulate the economy would be to cut public sector workers' pay by between 5% and 10%!
This is the stark reality of what capitalism has in store for working class people in Ireland - mass unemployment, poverty wages and a devastation of public services like health and education.
The attacks on jobs, wages and conditions must be met with an organised fightback. Working class people should completely reject the arguments from the bosses and the establishment parties that we have to suffer "painful changes" in order to get through the recession. The working class didn't create this crisis, the rich did and they should be made to pay.
Trade unions should demand that companies who are sacking workers and attacking conditions should open their books for scrutiny. We should be able to see where all the bumper profits of the boom years have gone. The hundreds of billions in profits were made from the labour of working class people, this wealth should be used now to maintain jobs, wages and to fund public services.
Fianna Fail has used billions of euros of our money to bail out the super-rich banks. The banks should be nationalised and the billions they are making in profits should be used to fund public services.
Workers should demand that the government steps in and nationalises Dell and Waterford Crystal and that these companies should be democratically run by their highly skilled and experienced workforces so that all of these jobs are saved and the thousands of others threatened in the Waterford and Limerick regions.
David Begg, Irish Congress of Trades Unions general secretary, has warned that the government's plans for the public sector will deepen the recession. He is correct.
The president of the SIPTU union, Jack O'Connor, has said that the government's plans will be met with "stout resistance from trade union members... [we] will do everything possible to mobilise such resistance."
Fine words. Unfortunately for workers facing the dole and wage cuts, we can have no faith in these leaders to oppose the bosses or the government.
Workers in Calcast in Derry and Swissco in Cork occupied their factories and successfully won better redundancy payments. Workers in Waterford Crystal and Dell should occupy their factories, not to win better redundancy payments, but to force the government to step in and save all of their jobs by nationalising these companies.
Capitalism in Ireland has failed spectacularly. We need to fight for a democratic socialist society to put an end to the cycle of boom and bust, poverty and inequality and to provide a decent future for all.
In The Socialist 14 January 2009:
War and occupation
Socialist Party editorial
Vote for Robbie Segal
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review
Socialist Party feature