The momentum towards a national strike and putting revolution on the agenda

WSM on Dublin march

As those who are following my Facebook status updates will be aware things have gone crazy busy here in Ireland.  Because Ireland was one of the most globalised economies it is being hit hard by the global recession.  The impact is further added to because neo liberal ideology meant we have a very very deregulated bank and property sector and a government based on that section of the capitalist class.  This led to a lot of what they call 'corruption' which meant that the very wealthy 1% ripped off huge quantities of wealth during the celtic tiger but are now trying to impose the cost of the crisis on the working class.


The ground work was laid for a huge anti-working class offensive by the government and employers in the mainstream media over the last six months.  We have had 24 hour whining about high pay rates and competitiveness for month after month with the highly unionised public sector singled out for particular attention.  It was obvious this was preparation work for a big anti-workers offensive and in the last month this has rolled out in the form of large scale closures and redundancies in the private sector and a huge pay cut (called a 'pension levy') in the private sector.  As this took shape I published an article Thoughts on the crisis, what is planned for us and the alternatives to argue both for the form of resistance that was needed but also to suggest the depth of the crisis put revolution back on the agenda.

If the government and employers thought they were going to have it easy its become very clear this will not be the case.  As explained in the article above two decades of social partnership had de organised the union movement.  However the depth of the proposed cuts meant that a sizeable rank and file revolt has emerged.  In my workplacd which has not seen a strike for over 20 years a mass meeting voted 98% for strike action.  The same thing happened in other workplaces in my sector and in quite a few branches across the public sector.  Some of the union leaderships, notably those of the CPSU, moved rapidly to call national ballots for strike action, which have been passing by 80% plus.  In Waterford Glass, a traditional centre of worker militancy the attempt to close the plant was met by a mass occupation which is now in its third week.

Saturday before last I attended a gathering of trade unionists from all over the country, including delegates from the Waterford Glass occupation.  I wrote a report on this meeting titled 'Were Irish unions leaders behind the public sector pay cut' after this meeting to report not only on the growing wave of resistance but also on the report given at it that suggests the ICTU leadership suggested the idea of dressing up the pay cut as a 'pensions levy'.  ICTU have yet to clarify or deny this story although that hasn't stopped what look like a couple of ICTU trolls trying to misrepresent what it says on indymedia where it was published.

Last Saturday saw a huge demonstation of 120,000 workers in Dublin, about 20% of the entire trade union membership of the island.  This morning I prepared a feature for the WSM site of reports from our members from the march. This was called by ICTU to demand talks but large numbers of workers on it were responsive to then leaflet WSM put out calling for a national strike and explaining why ICTU should not be trusted to led the struggle.  This weeks sees the first public sector union strike and on Saturday the first Dublin bus strike, the first of several called.  Also this week other unions are balloting their membership for strike action.

These are extraordinary times.  At the extreme this may be a depression as bad if not worse than that of the 1930's, the markets have continued to fall month after month and every economy is now in recession.  I first wondered about where things were going in a blog post back in November

What is happening in Irealnd illustrates that the bosses are going to go on a massive anti-working class offensive, workers will either have to roll over or resist so we can expect a huge upsurge in militancy everywhere.  In the context where no one any longer believes the argument that capitalism is working this may put revolution on the agenda as it has not been at any point in decades. 

Is the anarchist movement ready for this?  It doesn't matter because ready or not, here it comes and we have got to make what we can in the days, weeks, months ahead.  With a bit of luck I won't have much time for blogging.

WORDS Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )


 ICTU have called a ballot

 ICTU have called a ballot for a national strike starting 30th March


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