Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 2 December 2009

Irish Republic: Huge public sector workers' strike against cutbacks

ON 24 NOVEMBER over 250,000 public service workers in the Irish Republic took part in a one-day strike. The walkout was in protest at the Fianna Fail/Green Party coalition government's threat to cut 1.3 billion from the public service pay bill in next month's budget (9 December).

Michael O'Brien, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland)

This is on top of similar sized cuts in social welfare payments and in public service provision itself. 2.5 billion has already been taken from public sector workers in a mis-named 'pension levy', which on top of other new taxes on income, saw low and middle earners in the public service lose thousands of euros from their pay packets.

The government and media wanted the 24-hour strike to be marked by incidents of a hostile general public venting abuse at a so-called 'cosseted and privileged' section of the workforce.

Instead, incidents of hostility were more the exception than the rule and were far outweighed by signs of support from passers-by, who honked their car horns in appreciation for the work of public servants.

For many, it was their first ever strike action, and across the board rank and file trade union members stepped forward to look after the logistics of getting placards and working out picketing rotas.

The Socialist Party's call for a follow up 48-hour strike - in advance of the budget, coupled with a campaign to get private sector workers on board for future actions - was listened to by workers, who see the need for further action to force the government to back down.

Currently, 3 December 2009 is the date set by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) for the next day of strike action - apart from IFUT (university lecturers) and the AHCPS (senior civil servants) who need to ballot again for any further action.

Joe Higgins

Socialist Party MEP, Joe Higgins, flew back from a plenary session of the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, to visit picket lines at James Connolly Hospital, Dublin, and at Fingal County Council, in Blanchardstown, before touring the city centre picket lines at various government departments, museums and galleries.

The contrast with establishment politicians from government and so-called 'opposition' who gave the pickets a wide berth was not lost on picketers who were pleased with Joe's support.

While the government was surely rattled by the turnout and the generally positive response of the public, they will take some encouragement from the line argued the next day by Peter McLoone, general secretary of Impact (public sector union) and chair of the ICTU public services committee, who has publicly conceded that there will have to be 'temporary' cuts in public services expenditure.

Peter McLoone and the other trade union leaders are back in talks with the government. They are attempting to make a deal that will supposedly leave "core pay rates" intact, but which, in reality, will mean major pay cuts for public sector workers.

Discussions are taking place around the idea of reducing the pay bill by cutting paid holidays, extending the working week, extending the working day, paying overtime at basic rates and imposing 12 days unpaid leave.

No matter how they try to package such a deal, it basically will result in pay cuts for all public sector workers. This is a disastrous position which, if put into effect, would severely cut the pay of nurses, paramedics, firefighters, prison officers and others who work anti-social hours, as well as low paid administrative workers who have depended on overtime to supplement their meagre basic pay.

The lack of leadership and a real fight by the trade union leaders during this crisis has fed a certain cynicism among many workers who see cuts in pay as inevitable but feel that a stand must still be made.

This outlook is due to the lack of any alternative and the constant propaganda from the establishment parties, media and also the trade union leaders, that everyone must share in the pain!

However, the depth of the crisis is such that the government and the union leaders may not concoct a deal that is 'sellable' to union members. Regardless of the choreography at the top of society between government, employers and union leaders, an active response is needed from the ranks of the unions to reject any sell-out deal.

The Socialist Party believes the next stage in this struggle should be a 48-hour public sector strike. At the same time, the unions should broaden out the campaign to include fighting pay cuts and redundancies in the private sector. On that basis, the unions should call combined action of public and private sector workers - a one day general strike to defeat the government and push back the employers.

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

In The Socialist 2 December 2009:

Climate change 'gigantic market failure'

Copenhagen climate change talks

Socialist Party NHS campaign

National Health Service: Patient safety not private profit

Youth fight for jobs

Youth march for jobs: "A fantastic experience"

Credit crunch

Dubai's house of sand crumbles

War and occupation

Chilcot inquiry: Put the warmongers on trial!

Socialist Party news and analysis

Fast news

Yorkshire strikes - the lessons

BA management get tough

Fighting university cuts

Fighting council cuts in Greenwich

Stoke Axiom action continues

Defend the Four!

NUS plans mean students pay


Rally to oppose racist EDL

How mass campaigning closed BNP HQ

International socialist news and analysis

Irish Republic: Huge public sector workers' strike against cutbacks

Indonesia: Eyewitness report from Tamil refugee boat

Socialist Party election campaign

Politics 'illegal' in Lewisham council

Help give a socialist answer to cuts and privatisation

Marxist analysis: history

Liverpool council's budget 'black hole': Establishment parties only offer swingeing cuts


Home   |   The Socialist 2 December 2009   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


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


triangleArriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangleRoyal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangleUnite local government sector plans strike ballot

triangleStriking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni

Public sector:

triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?

triangleTories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!

triangleBalloting members on the pay cap


triangleNorth London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses

triangleWhat we saw


triangleSocialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea




Hong Kong

Campaign against political repression in Hong Kong



Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't



Solidarity with Catalonia - the people have the right to decide



Eyewitness: Irish socialist MP participates in events



Exemplary resistance by the people of Catalonia



Germany: Election results in political earthquake



Strike against Madrid's 'state of emergency'!



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



French Labour reform protests



Catalonia: Student strike called



Brutal repression of Rohingya people sparks massive humanitarian crisis



Solidarity with Catalonia in the Spanish state



Berlin hospital strike



Korean peninsula: is nuclear war likely?



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 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



October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice