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From: Home, 13 March 2015: Socialist Party news and analysis

Search site for keywords: Northern Ireland - Strike - Public sector - Ireland - Austerity - Socialist

Northern Ireland public sector strike against austerity

A Socialist Party press release, 13.3.15

Tens of thousands of workers have today united in a one-day public sector strike across Northern Ireland. In the civil service, health, education, transport and more, workers have joined together to say no.

The Northern Ireland Assembly wants to axe 20,000 public service job cuts and make other draconian budget cuts.

The Socialist Party in Northern Ireland, a sister party of the Socialist Party in England & Wales, says:
  • Fight all cuts - Defend every job and every service; reject the excuses of the DUP and Sinn Fein
  • March 13th is just the start - The trade union leaders should name the next strike day in a rolling programme of coordinated and escalating action
  • Link the struggles - Build unity with workers and communities in England, Scotland and Wales who are fighting the same cuts
Padraig Mulholland, NIPSA union president, said (in a personal capacity):

"Today health, education, the civil service and public transport will be on strike in Northern Ireland. Tens of thousands of workers and young people will be fighting against the Northern Ireland Assembly to defend jobs, living standards and services. In all likelihood the strike will have the feel of a partial general strike. The big question now is will the union leadership have the stomach to finish the fight or are they ... planning the strike to let off steam? In Northern Ireland workers have very strong memories of the November 30 pensions sell-out and they fear the same will happen again this time.

Attempts to avoid a repeat of the sell-out and open up discussions on the next stages of the campaign against cuts have been rebuffed and the partnership-like relationship between some union leaders and the NI political parties is becoming an increasing stumbling block in conducting the struggle.

At every point these leaders try to turn members away from getting stuck into the local austerity political parties and try to shift the blame exclusively onto the soft target of the Tory party. To protect the local parties and scale back the campaign they have tried to shift the discussion on further action from strike action towards action 'short of strike'. Such a step would wind down the campaign, break up the effective unity of the trade unions and send a clear message to workers that they are wasting their time.

What is needed instead is a clear programme that goes from strength to strength, building up action with a combination of campaigning, action 'short of strike' and sectorial strikes but crucially setting dates for more all-member strike days. A key stage in the developing the campaign must be to break any cosy link between the political parties imposing the cuts and the union leaders and to put massive pressure on the austerity parties in the run up to the elections on May 7. All the barriers to winning the battle can be overcome if an honest debate is opened up in the unions and a clear programme of escalating action is outlined."

The Socialist Party in England and Wales sends support to the strike rallies taking place across Northern Ireland today.

The Socialist Party and Anti-Austerity Alliance MPs in Dublin - Paul Murphy TD, Ruth Coppinger TD and Joe Higgins TD - have also sent solidarity.

Sinn Féin withdrew its support for the present programme of attacks in the North, but not on the basis of principled opposition. Rather, it has its sights on election victories in the South and fears damaging its prospects there, where a mass revolt against water charges and the wider austerity agenda is taking place.

Across Ireland, Britain and Europe people have had enough of austerity.

In Britain the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is standing over 120 anti-austerity candidates in May's general election.

For contacts, information, lists of candidates and video clips about TUSC and more: @TUSCoalition

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