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PAPER OF THE SOCIALIST PARTY

ISSUE 54

JUNE 2010

Pensions face axe as Cowen orders €3 billion cuts! By Stephen Boyd NGELA MERKEL and the major EU governments are taking an interest in making sure Irish working class people pay up for the economic crisis. They are going to check Brian Lenihan’s budgets from now on, just to make sure they contain enough cuts. And to pacify their “European partners”, Brian Cowen has ordered his Ministers to come up with €3 billion in cuts by the end of the month. According to the economics professor Morgan Kelly, “It is no longer a question of whether Ireland will go bust, but when...by 2012 Ireland will have a worse ratio of debt to national income than the one that is sinking Greece”, Irish Times, 22 May 2010. That means billions more in cuts in social welfare and significant tax rises for working class people are on the cards in order to pay for this debt crisis. The health service is set to lose another 3,500 beds at a time when hundreds still lie suffering on trolleys. Almost 2,000 nurses and midwives posts have been lost in the last two years but another 6,000 jobs are to be lost in the health service. Eamon O Cuiv, Minister for Social Protection [sic], has flagged up the prospect of cutting the old age pension in December’s budget. “I am not ruling anything in or anything out in relation to social welfare changes...Pensions have to be taken into account in the mix. They are €5 billion of the €22 billion we pay out of the social welfare budget...I cannot rule out the possibility that they might be [cut]”.

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Brian Cowen is gearing up for a fight. Fight back with the Socialist Party.

A propaganda campaign from the government aimed at creating support for the idea of cutting the state pension and for further cuts in child benefit may unfold over the summer. The pensioners have already given Fianna Fail a thrashing when they tried to cut medical cards for over 70s and cuts in the pension could provoke a similar reaction.

The government claims the crisis is bottoming out yet jobs losses are averaging 6,000 per month and company closures are 25% higher than this time last year. Quinn, IBM and Pfizer announced up to 2,000 job cuts, despite all three compainies being highly profitable. IBM made pre-tax profits of €22 billion last year and Pfizers bought Wyeth for

CONTACT THE SOCIALIST PARTY - (01) 6772592, PO Box 3434, Dublin 8

$67 billion last October. There is no economic justification for these job losses, they are simply happening because of the greed of super-rich shareholders. Instead of continuing to pour billions into the black hole of the banks, the government should launch a major programme of public works to create jobs and nationalise major companies imposing big lay offs. As the government continues to make a mess of the economy, with Fine Gael and Labour biding their time, waiting in the wings to get their hands on the Mercs and perks, the need to build a real working class alternative has never been greater. “The Irish economy is like a bleeding patient from two gunshot wounds. The government has moved competently to staunch the smaller, budgetary hole, while continuing to insist that the litres of blood pouring unchecked from the banking hole are ‘manageable’”, Morgan Kelly. The measures the government are implementing are futile and rather than resolving the crisis, they are making it worse. The political consequences are potentially explosive as the working class and young people can not indefinitely pay the price being extorted by the government. A strike wave is sweeping across the countries in Europe that are introducing the most draconian austerity measures. It may not be too long before the struggles and strikes in Greece, Spain and Portugal come to Ireland. The Socialist Party is committed to building a socialist alternative to the pro-market establishment parties and the right-wing union leaders, so that this movement can be directed towards achieving socialist change – join in the fightback, join us today.

info@socialistparty.net

Water charges: Gormley’s plan to raise €1 billion By Ann Katrin Orr HE GREENS are pushing ahead with their plans to implement water charges. No details have been confirmed and statements are being kept vague but it is easy to see that this charge is nothing but another burden on ordinary people. The Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, has said he plans to raise €1.1 billion a year from these charges, while at the same time claiming that talk of a cost per household of €400 is wide off the mark. Maths has never been the government’s strong point but if they want to raise €1.1 billion from 1.1 million households that means up to €1000 from each household! Environmental reasons have been used for the reintroduction of water charges, mainly by the Greens. However, studies conducted in the UK have shown that in the long-term, water charges don’t lead to a reduction in the amount of water used. Huge costs are involved in treating water so that it is drinkable, but instead of placing this burden on workers and their families, it should continue to be paid for through central taxation. The whole infrastructure needs to be upgraded as in some areas over 50% of treated water is lost through old, leaky pipes. This requires massive investment but instead of addressing this, the government is trying to make us pay for their inaction. Desperately needed jobs would also be created through this necessary upgrade. Other methods including rainwater harvesting (which could substitute up to 50% of mains water), the installation of dual flush toilets combined with an education campaign are necessary to reduce the amount of water and especially high quality drinking water that is used. The Socialist Party believes that water charges must be resisted. The example of bin charges, which have led to a steadily increasing financial burden on households since their introduction, as well as privatisation of the sector, show that the introduction of a charge is not in the interest of ordinary people. The introduction of the charge must be resisted from the earliest possible point – the installation of meters. A mass campaign like in the 1990s is necessary to force the government to back down. The Socialist Party has already begun campaigning on this issue and we will continue to prepare the ground for a mass anti-water charges nonpayment campaign.

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THE SOCIALIST

OBITUARY By Kevin McLoughlin PETER HADDEN died peacefully at his home in Belfast on 5 May 2010. This obituary is based on speeches made at and after Peter’s funeral. Peter Hadden joined the Militant at Sussex University in 1968 in the context of the radicalising impact of struggles and revolutionary events internationally, before returning home to the North on a permanent basis in the early 1970s. For a time, Peter worked for the union, NIPSA. Socialist Party member, Billy Lynn, recounted his first meeting with Peter in May 1975. He had been instructed to throw Billy out of the NIPSA conference for heckling but as he dragged Billy out, Peter began a discussion that lasted for the next three days and resulted in Billy joining the Militant. Sectarian conflict flared, five hundred people were killed in 1972 alone. Peter Taaffe said after the funeral the task Peter faced was "like trying to climb the north face of the Eiger without an ice pick". However, Militant was built and by the mid 1980s, we had a strong and influential base in the North through our work in the Young Socialists, in fighting for political representation for the working class and particularly through our successful industrial work and workplace interventions. Peter developed a deep understanding of Marxism and its method because he tried, tested and honed it in the most extreme of conditions. Peter made a huge contribution by developing a class based programme on the national question. On many occasions, when it seemed impossible to see a way forward, for example on the parades issue, Peter saw further than anyone else and was able to advocate an approach and programme on the issue that made sense to working class people, both Protestant and Catholic. Peter showed that there was a "conflict of national aspirations" in Ireland and that Protestants in the North would always oppose being part of a

PETER HADDEN 1950–2010

capitalist united Ireland as they correctly feared that they, just likes Catholics in the North, would be a discriminated against minority. Therefore, the primary opposition to a united Ireland was not the presence of the British army as the Republican movement argued but the opposition of one million Protestants. “Socialism means taking the major industry and all key services into public ownership and running them democratically, with need replacing profit as the motive. It means no privileged elite, only the right of people themselves to manage their own affairs. It means creating an international brotherhood and sisterhood, a unity based on respect of difference and in which all national and minority rights would be guaranteed. It is the unity of the working class, built in the struggle for such a society that will solve the national problem in Ireland.” –

Peter Hadden, Troubled Times 1995. While the cynics said that bringing politics into the unions would make divisions worse, the ordinary workers consistently supported our approach of class unity and our campaigns which served to strengthen the movement and educate people that there was a real alternative to the sectarian parties. Peter and our comrades in NIPSA were critical in establishing the tradition of workers striking against threats or attacks from paramilitaries and this was essential in forcing the trade unions to organise mass mobilisations which at critical stages exerted the decisive pressure on the sectarian forces and prevented the North from tipping into a civil war. Peter’s role in the victorious six year battle for justice of the Belfast Airport strikers against the UNITE union, whose official had colluded in their sacking,

was landmark and deserves to be studied. Likewise, John Maguire, the senior shop steward in the Visteon occupation of last year said it was the workers themselves and the Socialist Party, particularly Peter, who achieved the victory. “I’ll always personally be grateful for Peter and Susan and everybody in the Socialist Party for the help they gave me. Every time I go home and see my family and kids, I know who helped me at least hold onto the life I had before Visteon closed the factory.” Peter also played a unique role in the party in the south and in all the main battles we’ve been involved in. MEP, Joe Higgins, said Peter had been the giant at his and our collective shoulder for decades. As a leading member of the Committee for a Workers’ International, Peter made many important political visits to dif-

ferent countries including Italy, Nigeria, Israel and Palestine, Czech Republic, Greece, Scotland, Australia, Belgium and the USA. Peter Hadden has a special position in the hearts and in the minds of the members of the CWI. Music was a vital part of Peter’s life. He was an enthusiastic fan of Paul Brady, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan and in particular Steve Earle. The last concert he went to was Steve Earle in Belfast last September. Despite his huge achievements, Peter was very unassuming and led by example, displaying again and again the selfless sacrifice that only great leaders can show. Peter was honest, very straight and very generous. Cynicism was simply not part of Peter’s make up. Peter Hadden was a very developed human being, a man of politics and principle to his very core. Susan Fitzgerald, Peter’s partner for many years, also has all of the qualities mentioned above in spades. Susan stood with Peter, side by side and hand in hand, at the time of his greatest need, which was a huge comfort. Susan too has been an inspiration to the comrades. Peter was a very proud father to his sons Stephen and Owen. Peter is also survived by his older brother David, David’s wife Lucille, their daughter Kathy and son David and by Mary, Stephen and Owen’s mother. Peter made an historic contribution to the cause of working class in Ireland and on the national question, he brought Marxist understanding to a higher level. He was one of the most capable leaders and advocates of the working class and of socialism to emerge on the Marxist left internationally from the radicalisation and struggles of the 1960s. Peter’s coffin was draped in a red flag and before it was lowered, we saluted our comrade by singing the Internationale, the anthem of the international working class, to whom Peter had dedicated his whole life. Thank you Peter for your incredible life.

Reject Croke Park deal - Build broad left opposition By Stephen Boyd OOT IN both camps” – “talking out of both sides of their mouth”. These idioms don’t accurately describe what many union leaders have being doing during the campaign on the public sector Croke park deal. With both feet firmly in the government’s camp, they have been wailing and lamenting that the crisis is so bad, workers can do nothing but bear the pain of bailing out the rich. On May Day, Jack O’Connor, SIPTU President, made an astonishing statement which the Irish Times reported: “If every trade union stepped up to the mark, the trade unions would probably win, given the government’s unpopularity, but it would be a “pyrrhic victory”. That’s because according to Jack,

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the state would still face the enormous legacy of debt and the need to borrow. Not for the first time, Jack O’Connor has stated that he believes the trade unions can defeat the government. But just as previously, on this occassion what he is really saying is that many of the union leaders have chosen not to defeat the government – but why? Simple really – the majority of the leaders of the ICTU believe the propaganda of the government and the opposition parties that there is no alternative but to implement a drastic austerity programme. Because the unions leaders accept the limits of the capitalist market, they believe that worker’s pay and conditions must take a hit. The campaign has exposed the complete impotency of the right wing trade union leaders, who are little more than assistant managers

for which ever capitalist parties are in government. The Public Services Committee of ICTU is meeting on 15 June to cast their votes on the Croke Park deal. SIPTU and IMPACT are crucial to the outcome and the Socialist Party and other opponents of the deal are

campaigning to deliver a no vote. If the deal is passed, this will not represent an acceptance on behalf of public sector workers of the government’s austerity programme. Either way, workers (public and private) face a struggle to stop the billions in cuts that the next few budgets will contain and to battle against job losses and rising unemployment. Jack O’Connor is wrong. If union leaders like him were to “step up to the plate” and lead a real fight against the government it could be defeated, and its agenda would be halted. Public sector national strikes and general strikes like those in Greece, Spain and Portugal would bring down this hated government. Fine Gael and Labour would then have to decide how it was going to take on public sector workers emboldened after an historic victory.

Shay Cody, IMPACT general secretary, singled out the Socialist Party and other left opponents of the deal for a vitriolic attack at the IMPACT conference. This is because he fears the growing support within his and other unions for those who put forward the alternative to his type of sell out trade unionism. The widespread opposition to the Croke Park deal shows the potential that exists to build members based broad left opposition groups within all unions. That’s what opponents of the assault on public sector workers need to focus on now – harnessing this opposition into cohesive forces to challenge and build an alternative to the union leaders who accept the dictats of the capitalist market. If you are interested in finding out more then text or phone 085 7132937. Read the Socialist Party leaflet at socialistparty.net


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THE SOCIALIST

HIGGINS SOCIALIST PARTY MEP THE EUROPE wide “Week of protest and Solidarity, 21-26 June”, initiated and promoted by Members of the European Parliament from the European United Left Group(GUE/NGL) is an important development. It is the beginning of trying to link up the fight back by the working class in different European countries against the outrageous speculation at their expense by the sharks in the financial markets and the savage programme of cuts in living standards and public services by various governments backed up by the EU establishment. It is particularly in solidarity with the Greek working class who have been struggling hard through industrial action and massive mobilisations. This initiative involves MEPs from Syriza in Greece, the Left Bloc in Portugal, the Left Party (Die Linke) in Germany, AKEL in Cyprus, the Socialist Party in the Netherlands, the Left Party in Sweden, the Socialist Party in Ireland, the Left Party in

France, the People’s Movement in Denmark and the Communist Part in France. The recently launched Anti Capitalist Party (NPA) in France is also backing the initiative along with the Committee for Workers’ International with groups in many European countries. The MEPs have sent letters to trade unions and social organisations and left parties not represented in the European Parliament inviting them to work with us and to participate and mobilise in their various countries. It has been a major failure of the official labour movement in Europe that there has not been a coordinated link up in the opposition by workers, pensioners and social movements against the attacks. Yet everywhere I have visited in the last months there has been an enthusiastic response to this idea. That was very much the case when I addressed two thousand supporters of Syriza at a major rally in Athens on 14 May.

The predatory investment banks and the parasites in the speculating hedge funds coordinate their profiteering on an international basis and it is crucial that the working class can also respond with international action to stop them. The programme around which the mobilisations at the end of June are to be organised is a comprehensive rejection of the present policies of governments, the EU Commission and also of those trade union leaders who are capitulating to the pressure from the ruling classes around Europe: ★ Workers, pensioners, the unemployed, students, youth and those socially excluded must must not pay for the crisis - Make the super rich and bankers pay. ★ Solidarity with the working people of Greece and for the unity of working people across Europe. ★ No to cutbacks, wage cuts, unemployment and increases in the retirement age. ★ No to privatisation of public services. ★ End the dictatorship of the financial markets, credit ratings institutions and the IMF. ★ Stop the bailouts of the banks - nationalise the banks and financial institutions in the interests of working people.

Gardai – treachery, democracy and trade union rights

EUROPEAN-WIDE WEEK OF PROTEST & SOLIDARITY NO TO IMF/EU DICTATS ★ National protest action, Saturday 26 June, Dublin For more information or to get involved contact The European office of Joe higgins MEP on 01 6795030 e-mail: info@joehiggins.eu

In an effort to get a broad level of support for a mobilisation in Ireland, I have invited a broad range of left groups and unions to an organising meeting in Dublin to discuss the possibilities. I have proposed a “Protest and Solidarity” March and Rally for Dublin on Saturday, 26 June. Both I and The Socialist Party will work with all those for a good mobilisation. As the attacks intensify and move onto other countries like Spain and Portugal and resistance develops the international

dimension will become more important. Of course a crucial part of the fight back is to continue to campaign within the trade unions in this country for a comprehensive rejection of the sell out path being taken by many union leaders.

Joe Higgins is the Socialist Party MEP for the Dublin constituency

Nationalise the Quinn Group

By Councillor Mick Barry HE SPEECH was “irresponsible and bordered on anarchy” according to Fianna Fail Senator Labhras O’Murchu. It was “treacherous” according to Green Party Senator Dan Boyle. What got them all fired up was a speech that was never actually made. It was due to be given to the annual conference of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) by Michael O’Boyce, the outgoing President of the Association. When the Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern, received an advance copy he decided to boycott the event in protest and as the speech was intended for the Minister, O’Boyce never gave it. So, what did it say? The speech described the Government as a “government of national sabotage”. The government had been “corrupted” by power and “bought” by developers. They had “sacrificed” an entire generation to “protect the people who had bankrolled your party and robbed the Irish people”. Public servants, including gardai, had been subjected to an “unrelenting, distasteful and vitriolic attack from the Government and their wealthy cronies.” But “the anger that we feel will find its target.” Delegates to the convention cheered and clapped when GRA General Secretary, PJ Stone, announced that the Minister would not be attending. Ahern described the speech as an “unprecedented political inter-

EW PEOPLE can imagine what €4 billion looks like, but that is just what Sean Quinn lost gambling on the stock market. As a result of this grotesque speculation and lust for profits, thousands of honest workers directly employed by the Quinn Group are to lose their jobs, not to mention the thousands of other workers whose jobs are dependent on the Quinn Group. Sean Quinn lost this sum speculating that the depressed price of Anglo Irish Bank shares would recover. Instead of the shares going up in price as he hoped, they went down. Seeing this and in a vain attempt to recover €900 million in losses at that point, he went double or quits. However, when the Irish government was forced to bail-out Anglo Irish Bank, those shares become worthless. The Quinn Group was left facing debts amounting to €1.3 billion and the Quinn family owed Anglo Irish a further €2.8 billion. Despite this, the Group’s operations continued to be profitable with pre-tax profits of €466m in 2008, and €530m in 2007. These were before a payment of €762m to the Quinn family! The net result is the loss of 900 jobs of which about a half are to go in Fermanagh and Cavan and 300 in Dublin West. But a significant question mark continues to hover over the heads of all

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Gardai in action in Rossport, Co. Mayo.

vention” and called on the GRA to apologise to the Irish people for trying to politicise the force. Garda Commissioner, Fachtna Murphy, called in PJ Stone and newly elected GRA President, Damien McCarthy, for a dressing down over the incident. McCarthy said that he supported the comments “100 percent and without reservation”. O’Boyce’s concluding remarks got very little coverage but may, in the end, prove to be the most significant of the entire speech: “The GRA has now set forth on a course to become a full trade union”. Socialists and trade union activists need to register the importance of these events. The Garda Siochana are a key part of the Irish State, a state which exists, in the last analysis, to defend the interests of the capitalist elite. The Gardai are consistently used against working class struggles. They have been used in recent times in the interests of Shell against the community in

Rossport, Co. Mayo, and to brutally break-up the occupation by workers at Thomas Cook. While the Gardai will continue to be used in this fashion, the capitalist elite will look at the events at the GRA conference with real concern. They will ferociously resist any attempts to move in the direction of full trade union rights for Gardai because it would create the potential for the Gardai to take industrial action which would weaken the state. The Socialist Party supports democratic community control of police services so that their anti-working class and political role could be ended. During the 1907 Belfast dockers and carters strike, James Larkin succeeded in bringing the police out on strike, and it is precisely for this reason that we would support the Gardai’s right to join a trade union as this would potentially weaken the ability of the government to use them as a force against workers engaged in struggle.

remaining 7,000 Quinn Group employees, as without the income from the Insurance operation, it is unclear how the Group can continue to keep the bondholders satisfied. The option of leaving the Quinn Group in the hands of individuals who are only interested in making huge profits will only result in further job losses. The Socialist Party is calling for government to intervene and nationalise the Quinn Group as the only sure way to safeguard all the jobs. The workers themselves should democratically manage the business in the interests of communities who rely on these jobs, not for wealthy individuals to cream off the profits. The range of activities conducted by the Group offers an opportunity to the workers and representatives of the wider working class to draw up an integrated plan of production which would not just save jobs, but could create thousands of new jobs. It is crucial that Quinn Group workers now begin to organise independently and tap into the great reserve of support within the wider trade union movement. Mass demonstrations should be organised to call for action by the Irish government and the Northern Ireland Assembly to intervene and bring the company into public ownership. One man’s greed should never be able to consign a whole region to economic devastation.

opinion & news

JOE


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THE SOCIALIST

Reply to Mary Harney No to a two-tier health service - Fight the cuts By Councillor Matt Waine T WAS stomach churning to read Minister for Health, Mary Harney’s, opinion piece in The Irish Times on funding the health service. Her article was a pale defence of the status quo. But don’t be too hard on her. Mary Harney is the victim of a severe illness. She suffers from acute tunnel vision, where she only sees what see wants to and shuts out all the bad stuff. She has blocked out the cancer misdiagnosis scandal and the outrageous debacle of un-opened X-ray results. Her article is a case in point. She opens her remarks by stating that the government will spend €15.4 billion on health this year, a figure that is greater than the total annual take from income tax, therefore implying that we’re not paying enough for our public services. She fails to mention that something approaching twice that figure has already been poured into the banks this year. The reality is Ireland ranks below the EU average when it comes to actual health spending and the system is still recovering from the draconian cuts inflicted

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Mary Harney isn’t alone in government in supporting private healthcare

on the health service in the 1980s. This has been matched with €1 billion in cuts this year. The INMO claim that over 1,000 beds have been closed in the recent period and 1,900 nursing positions have been lost. Her argument is about how we spend money, how we get value for money, and how we use limited resources. We need to focus on preventative health care because “the hospitalization model of care is financially unsustainable,” she claims. While a greater emphasis on preventative care is to be wel-

comed, it is incredible and criminal to suggest that we need less hospitals. Between now and the end of the year, most services in Blanchardstown hospital in West Dublin will be closed for four weeks. In addition to that, some services are to be scrapped and Blanchardstown Hospital and Beaumont will “share” some service provision. Whichever way the Minister spins it, this will result in a worse service to the public and patients will undoubtedly suffer. Despite the nominal increase in

Campaign to stop Orthopaedic closure

health spending in recent years, the health service still suffered from cutbacks and overcrowding (such as the trolley crisis). Quite simply, there was not enough investment to cover need. In addition, the increasing role of the private sector, a policy encouraged by Harney and the government, has acted like a leech, sucking out vital resources from the public health service. Ireland has a two-tier health service. The public health service, starved of necessary investment and reeling from years of cuts to staff numbers, budgets and services has resulted in lengthy queues. In an attempt to clear some of these waiting lists, the government, through schemes like the National Treatment Purchase Fund, pour millions of taxpayers money into the private sector to pay for treatments and procedures available in the public sector! “It’s more important how money is spent than how it is raised,” she claims. However, what Minister Harney doesn’t get is, at present, your ability to pay determines the quality of healthcare you receive. If you cannot afford private health insurance, you join a long queue. Harney dismisses any alternative proposal, like a national health

Carbon Tax Just another stealth tax By Dave Vallely

By Dave Keating HE HSE'S plan to remove all orthopaedic services from St. Mary's Orthopaedic Hospital was the subject of a public meeting held on 27 April. The meeting, called by the Campaign for a Real Public Health Service, was attended by staff from the hospital, local residents and ex patients. I spoke to expatient Norma Goulding. DK. How long have you been a patient of the Orthopaedic? “On and off, for the last 46 years. I was born with bi-lateral congenital hip dislocation (CHD). Today, children are routinely checked for CHD and once diagnosed early, it is easi-

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ly remedied. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was two and so had to spend the next three years in the Orthopaedic. I have been in and out since having had two hip replacements up there a few years ago.” DK. More recently you had a knee replacement operation and had to go to a private hospital. Why was that? “The various specialists who looked after me always advised me to stay within the public health system. However, the surgeon who performed my hip operations left the HSE and I was too nervous to let someone else do my knee. I felt I had no option but to follow the surgeon.” DK. How did the two systems compare?

“I couldn't say enough good things about the Orthopaedic. The whole hospital is geared toward orthopaedic care in both facilities and staff. The staff in the private hospital didn't seem to have the experience of the Orthopaedic staff and the facilities were those of a general hospital. “No monkey poles, wrong chairs etc for orthopaedic patients. I dread to think what things will be like if the HSE get away with what they are doing. The Orthopaedic Hospital has built up huge expertise over the years and I do not want to see that lost. I am calling on other concerned patients, past and present, to protest outside St. Mary's Orthopaedic Hospital on Thursday, 27 May at 1.30pm.”

Government’s Savage Cuts for Dental Care for Medical Card Holders By Oisín Kelly HE DENTAL service continues to be slashed. Last month, the medical card service was viciously slashed by 29%. This is on top of the earlier drastic cut in service to PRSI workers. In the past 18 months, public dental care funding reduced by 35%. Previously, medical card holders got free routine treatments such as check-ups, fillings and extractions. More complicated work was also included in the scheme. With this €25 million cut, medical card holders will be reduced to pain relief and extractions with additional

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care only in “exceptional or highrisk cases”. The Irish Dental Association (IDA) estimates 468,000 fewer examinations of medical card holders this year. With growing unemployment and pay cuts, this year will see over 1.6 million medical cards issued – a rise of 144,000. The service needs to be expanded and not cut! The IDA estimates that there needs to be a €30 million rise for the medical card service. These savage cuts are in addition to cuts in the PRSI scheme. Last year, a PRSI payer could get two free check-ups and a free cleaning each year. There were also subsidies on other dental

work. Mary Harney cut this to just one check-up per year. Before the cuts, the dental service was inadequate – those reliant on it, mainly the poor and elderly, had worse dental health. More will be discouraged from visiting a dentist regularly. Public waiting lists for treatments will grow – storing up dental problems for years to come. Dental care will be increasingly pushed into the more expensive private sector – the poor and elderly being left with a run-down public service. The Socialist Party stands for a universal free public health care providing regular check-ups and all treatments to all.

service, free at the point of use, in favour of the status quo on the basis that it would be unworkable because it is impossible to provide unlimited care for all with limited resources. This is a question of priorities. The reality is that it is government policy to “limit” health spending. They favour a significant and increased role for the private sector, to boost their profits at the expense of working class people. If a fraction of the money which has been dumped into the banks, money which finds its way into the pockets of wealthy bondholders and global investment banks, was instead diverted into the health service, the cutbacks and waiting lists would quickly disappear. The job losses and bed closures could be reversed and a real, decent health service could be possible. Also, by bringing health workers – doctors, nurses and ancillary staff – into the management of the health service, the debacles over misdiagnosis and wastage etc. could be ended. These are the people who know what works and what doesn’t, not the bureaucrats in the higher echelons of the HSE or a Minister who values the interests of bankers over the right to a decent health service.

HE FIANNA Fáil and Green government continue their assault on the living standards of working class people with the rolling out this month of the carbon tax on home heating oil. This new tax will lead to increases of 6% for natural gas and 8.4% in household fuel bills. The price of home heating oil has increased by 35% in the last year. It marks a yet another shift of the tax burden onto lower income households. Minister Gormley’s assertion that the poorest will be shielded from the brunt of the tax is bogus. The reality is that the money the government is allocating for the insulation of social housing and alleviating its impact on those vulnerable to fuel poverty is wholly inadequate. The €130 million set aside for the retrofitting of homes is miniscule in comparison to the estimated €30 billion to €40 billion that is needed to upgrade the housing stock in Ireland to an acceptable standard of energy efficiency. The carbon tax is a stealth tax on incomes that will disproportionately affect those who earn less. The bottom 10% of income earners already spend about 16% of their disposable income on fuel, whereas the top 10% spend just 4%. Working people use most of their disposable income on necessities. A flat tax, such as the carbon tax, takes money out of ordinary people’s pockets that would have been spent on food,

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clothing and other essentials. Meanwhile, the wealthy remain comparatively untouched. The cost of heating is already a major concern for low paid workers and the unemployed. According to figures by the ESRI, 19.4% of households here experience fuel poverty, while 8% of households have gone without heating in the past year because they could not afford it. This will only be exacerbated as the recession gets worse. This new so-called “levy” will have little impact on curbing carbon emissions. People have no choice but to pay. Indeed, the role of this tax is not to protect the environment but to raise more revenue to be squandered on the bankers and speculators. Instead of requiring that developers build sustainable and energy efficient homes during the property boom, the government are now saying that the working class must pay.

...one more stealth tax


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June 2010

THE SOCIALIST

By Councillor Clare Daly HE RESIGNATION of Governor of the Women’s Prison, the Dochas Centre, Kathleen McMahon at the end of April, followed by the announcement of John Lonregan, Mountjoy Governor that he is stepping down from his position has given a glimpse of the massive problems in the Irish prison service. Coupled with the Oireachtas investigation into claims of overcrowding, and degrading and inhumane conditions brought by a former member of the Mountjoy Visiting Committee, it is clear that the prison service is at breaking point, with serious implications for both staff and inmates but also for society as a whole. Reports of prisoners sleeping in shower units and on floors with coackroachs and other vermin have been submitted to government, along with the fact that almost 100 inmates were “under protection” and violent disturbances were inherent in the situation. One third of medical services in Irish prisons are unsuitable. The government’s “solution” – to create an extra 500 prison places and to relocate Mountjoy out to rural north county Dublin is a costly joke – designed to create the illusion of a “get tough on crime” approach, while supposedly addressing prisoner welfare issues, but the reality is that this

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costly debacle will only add to the problems. Families, particularly from outside Dublin will find visiting this location very difficult, adding to stress and isolation. It is true that many of the prisons are outdated and Victorian and should be decommissioned, but this is not the root of the problem. The Dochas Centre, for example, which opened in 1999 is a very modern facility. It was supposed to be a flagship for modern prison management, improving prisoner conditions and trying to use the time in prison to rehabilitate people rather than having them constantly reoffend. But this was consistently undermined by overcrowding. The prison was built to accommodate 85 women, it is now housing 135. The health care unit is being used to accommodate six women. Others sleep on the floor in commonrooms. This is barbaric. Placing women in bunk beds in rooms designed for one will undoubtedly increase stress and pressure and cause tension resulting in problems for the entire unit. By doing this, prison officials are planning for overcrowding into the future rather than dealing with the fact that the entire penal system needs to be reformed. Society has to examine who is being put in prison and for what. Traditionally, the number of female prisoners in Ireland was in single figures. It is only in the past twenty years that it has become more common for custodial sentences to

Victorian conditions in Ireland’s prisons.

be handed down to women. Most women are in prison for non-violent crime, either theft or drug related, generally guilty of crimes linked to poverty and disadvantage. Drugs are rampant in the prison, both illegal and prescribed medication. In overcrowded condi-

Greens in government – what a joke!

tions, with widespread depression and isolation, it is absolutely disgraceful that there is not a single counsellor is available to help deal with the circumstances that gave rise to the crime or the drug taking in the first place. Meanwhile, it has been revealed

that 3,300 people were incarcerated in the first ten months of 2009, for non-payment of fines. If that rate were to be maintained, half the prison population would be incarcerated for this “crime”. With the economic crisis leaving more and more people falling behind in payments, jailing us all is hardly a solution. It causes huge strain on the family involved, particularly if they are living far from the prison, does not sort the problem of the debt which remains unpaid and costs the state €93,000 a year for the privilege of keeping a person in prison. Even on economic grounds, this does not make sense. Non-payment of debt or fines should not result in a custodial sentence. Similarly, tackling the reasons why people take drugs and assisting them to get clean has to be prioritised. A revolving door, with the same people reoffending demonstrates graphically that the system isn’t working. There must be a massive investment in drug support treatment, counselling and psychiatric support and education, both in the prisons but also when someone is released. It is well known that the prison population is directly linked to social disadvantage with 146 prisoners for every 10,000 people in the most deprived areas, compared to 6 in the least deprived. Investing in education, social services and jobs, not more prison places, will make society a safer and better place for all.

Protect the environment

Dublin Bus to slash jobs, Oppose Coillte land privatisation routes and buses By Stephen Rigney By Michael Murphy UBLIN BUS has announced further cost cutting measures to bus services. There will be cuts to bus services in the city and county which will further impact on passengers and hit the jobs and conditions of Dublin Bus workers. Up to 200 workers are likely to lose their jobs with 90 buses being taken out of the system. There will be the creation of 10 new “super routes” which means a whole number of bus routes will disappear and existing routes will be elongated, for example the 46A will be extended to the Phoenix Park and the number 10 bus will axed completely, leading to less buses on a very busy corridor which serves UCD the biggest university in the country! Most of the job losses are expected to be from not replacing people who retire or leave. However, Dublin Bus and our other transport companies such as Bus Eireann and Irish Rail need investment and more workers, not less. The trade unions in Dublin Bus must organise a campaign against every job loss and to fight for every worker who leaves to

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Public transport has suffered despite the Green’s election pledges.

be replaced. If this campaign were taken into the affected communities, it would get a big response from commuters. The government are deliberately starving Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann of investment as a way of further deregulating the bus market and allowing more and more private

operators to run bus services. Ironically, after nearly three years of the Green Party in government, the balance of transport use still tilts towards the private motorist and the quality of public bus services is poor and uneven. Instead of improving its services last year, Dublin Bus management reduced the number of buses and saw passenger numbers fall by about 10 per cent. At the same time, the number of private cars going into the city rose for the first time in years. On top of these cuts in Dublin Bus, there have been cuts to Bus Eireann services and now Metro North – linking the city centre to Dublin airport and Swords – which was to be finished by 2012 but has now been pushed back to 2016. An underground rail interconnector, designed to link the Metro, the Luas, the Dart and Dublin Bus services, will not be completed until 2018, at the earliest! Yet the number of people using the Luas and the success of the new bicycle rental system in Dublin city demonstrates when people are given a real and reliable alternative to the car that people enthusiastically embrace it.

OILLTE, THE stateowned company responsible for the maintenance of our forests, has been engaging in a long-term policy of quietly privatising our forests by selling off our assets to private investment funds. Communities throughout Ireland have been ignored when Coillte has ear-marked publicly owned lands for the development of residential and tourist sites, landfills, power stations and wind farms. Environmental groups have also objected to the widespread planting of non-native trees which affect biodiversity and animal life in the forests as well as causing massive damage through the extensive usage of pesticides. However, the use of non-native trees has been extremely profitable for Coillte particularly for their timber production operations. Between 2000 and 2008, the company made over €200 million in profits from their forests, though only €2.6 million has ever been paid over to the Exchequer. The industry has quickly attracted

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significant commercial interests as well, as investments in forestry are tax-free and investment fund managers are promising returns as high as nearly 8% each year, largely due to timber production. And with the privatisation of Coillte being recommended in the An Bord Snip Nua report, numerous investment funds are circling Coillte waiting for the kill. One such company, the International Forestry Fund, chaired by Bertie Ahern, has already been buying up swathes of land promising massive profits to investors. Successive right-wing governments and their appointees on state bodies and agencies have attempted to sell-off, or as in the case of the Corrib gas field, to give away our natural resources to private bidders. Ordinary workers, community and environmental groups and those who work in these industries (who will see their pay and conditions slashed by private corporations) must resist any attempts to privatise our natural resources and insist that these valuable assets are used sustainably in the interests of the environment and ordinary people.

news

Prison reform urgently needed


6

June 2010

feature

THE SO

Ireland & the EU

Austerity programmes prov general strikes and strugg By Kevin McLoughlin CCORDING TO some Greek protesters Ireland is not like Greece - one banner on a demonstration read, “This is not Ireland, we will fight”. Finance Minister, Brian Lenihan, says the same but from a different stand point. He keeps repeating that Ireland is not like Greece in the hope that such an economic collapse won't happen here, precisely because he is afraid of a similar revolt of the Irish working class. Lenihan's hopeful argument that the two countries are fundamentally different goes as follows - Greece cooked the books and lied about their financial and debt situation; its national debt is nearly 130% of Greek GDP; the Greek economy is declining and its debts are rising; there is resistance causing political and financial instability in Greece. In addition, Lenihan says Ireland is moving to improve competitiveness and tackle the problems in the banking system, unlike Greece. Ireland didn't cook the books? Recently, Ireland's current budget deficit jumped from 11.5% to 14.3% of GDP, why? Because the EU insisted that the Irish government could no longer pretend that the cost of the bank bail out was not a burden on the states finances. When bank assets were first being transferred to NAMA at the start of April, it became clear that the banks had continuously lied about the extent of their bad debts, forcing the government to announce a massive increase in the cost of the bank bail out over night. What is all this except a cooking of books! It’s true that the debt in Ireland, at around 85% of GDP, is significantly lower than Greece's but its closing in fast, as in 2007, it was just 25%. In fact, Ireland’s 14.3% current budget deficit is worse than Greece’s. If there were strong reasons to believe that growth in Ireland was likely to take off, thereby giving a basis to reduce the debt by creating new wealth, then perhaps it would be clear that Ireland is in a different position to Greece, but is that likely? There seems to be a stabilisation of the economy, but at much lower level than before, with no real prospect of any return of Celtic Tiger growth to help avert the slide into indebtedness. In fact, the property market is continuing to decline and therefore, it’s likely that the crisis in the banks will get worse, meaning that this government will go into bigger debt to bail out the banks even more.

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The EU Project - is it doomed? THE EUROZONE is faced with a potential break up. Currently, the governments of the so-called peripheral economies are determined to remain within the eurozone, and are trying to enforce savage austerity packages to ensure they can. However, whether they will be able to carry through the attacks demanded by the IMF and German capitalism is clearly in question when confronted with the massive movements of the working class as seen in Greece. If they are not able to carry through these attacks successfully, these countries will certainly default and may well be pushed out of the eurozone through a combination of pressure of speculators and German capitalism, which is unwilling to "bail-out" other European economies. A very different eurozone than that which currently operates is a possibility - the common currency area could be reduced to the core countries of European capitalism. In that scenario, it is inevitable that they would impose new and deeper cuts. Like in Greece, at a certain point, cuts won’t be enough to calm the “financial markets” and the Irish economy could have the legs pulled from under it by the sharks and the speculators. The cuts, rather than providing a

The future direction of the European Union itself has also been put into question. A decisive shift in power within the EU took place in the course of the crisis. During the boom years, governments and capitalist classes in the European countries were happy to give power to the European Commission. The Commission, more removed from pressure than national governments, was able to largely successfully implement strategic measures across Europe in the interests of big business. The posting of workers’ directive, for example, allowed migrant workers to be exploited across Europe. However, as the crisis developed, key governments in Europe, in particular, Germany, have shown themselves unwilling to allow the

platform to salvation, will further undermine the economy and threaten a downward decent into deeper debt and crisis. In fact, one of the reasons for the recent decline in the euro is the fear that the austerity measures across Europe could already be pushing Europe back into full recession.

By Paul Murphy Commission and central EU to make the key decisions in relation to the Greek crisis. Rather than Barosso and Trichet as the heads of the European Commission and the European Central Bank making the key decisions, Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, became the key figure. Regular trips to Berlin by the key figures in the crisis symbolise the shift of power away from centralised institutions back towards national capitalist classes. The dreams of those who envisaged a "federal Europe" akin to the US have been dashed against the reality of the increasingly divergent interests of the European capitalist classes. Instead, while the EU will continue for the moment, it will increasingly be riven by tension between these national capitalist interests.

The reason the EU came out with a new €750 billion deal in early May on top of the €110 billion for Greece, was precisely because they are scared stiff of collapses in Portugal, Spain and Ireland, which could potentially mortally wound the euro as a currency. “We have closed ranks to save the

euro,” Christine Lagarde, French Finance Minister, recently said. They are hoping, having delayed desperately on assistance to Greece that this proactive commitment will ward off attacks on the euro. So far, their hopes have been in vain, as the euro has continued to decline. The €750 billion package is anoth-


June 2010

7

OCIALIST

Greek workers show the way – the “PIGS” fight back!

voke gles er confidence trick - they are hoping that by stating what they would do in the event of the crisis getting worse that they won’t have to do it. But the debt and investment crisis that capitalism is suffering from cannot be just wished away, it is inevitable that there will be much more economic pain, the issue is who will pay. They have said €500 billion will essentially come from the 16 Eurozone countries and €250 billion is from the IMF. The IMF involvement underlines that the US in particular is very concerned at the instability that Europe is causing the global economy, in the context that many economists are expecting a significant decline in China sooner rather than later and possibly new problems in the US when the affects of Obama’s stimulus packages fizzles out in the second quarter of this year. “By establishing a €750 billion euro fund to bailout Greece and aid other struggling governments, Germany and other strong European states are chasing a dream - a single European currency and broader European unity - that may have no place in reality,” said Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland. It is clear that the euro is facing a fight for its survival. If the currency continues to decline sharply, that will place huge pressure on the EU and all the countries individually. Clearly the EU will try to intervene with cash and loans to bolster weaker countries whose problems are undermining the euro. But will the likes of German capitalism just continue to put money in when it clearly isn’t convinced that the situation can be saved? For the indebted countries, every decline in the euro significantly increases their debts and crisis. In Ireland, we need to be prepared that a new crisis can hit extremely suddenly. Further problems in Greece, bad economic news here, a downgrading by a ratings agency of Ireland's debts - all could exacerbate the situation and leave Ireland facing the same insolvency collapse that faced Greece. At the moment, the respective governments have chosen to hang together, but at a certain stage they may decide to hang separately and in so doing, completely undermine the whole EU project as we know it. There are so many fault lines in the EU that it is impossible to tell where the next difficulty will come from. What’s clear is that this crisis is far from over. Minister Lenihan and the whole cabinet should get the Ouzo ready, there could well be some Greek style strikes and street parties after all. ■

AS TV screens were last week filled with the spectacle of Greek workers and youth attempting to storm parliament buildings in Athens, wherein MPs planned to vote on a draconian raft of vicious austerity measures, the developing fightback of the working class of the “PIGS” (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain) stood at centre stage. The deep impact of the international capitalist crisis on the economies of Spain, Greece and Portugal has led to a rapid decline in the living standards of the majority. Mass unemployment (which in Spain, stands at over 20% of the workforce), and declining living standards have quickly developed, alongside the multi-billion euro handouts doled out to the financial elite in these countries, whose reckless dictatorship over the economy led to the current situation. With the explosion of the Greek debt crisis in the last weeks and months, the vultures of international capitalism, both in the countries effected and in the international institutions (EU and IMF) have closed in, demanding ferocious austerity, in the form of massive programmes of cuts and privatisations, to assuage the “gods” of the international finance markets an credit ratings agencies. The contagion which grew out of the Greek crisis saw ratings agency, Standard and Poors (S&P) downgrade the credit rating for the Portugese and Spanish economies, as well as consigning Greek government bonds to “junk” status. This had a disastrous effect on the European, as well and the Spanish and Portugese financial markets, and makes these countries’ national debt significantly more expensive.

“The next Greece?” Speculation that Portugal could be “the next Greece” has emboldened the Socrates government there to bring forward its austerity package, which includes savage cuts to social welfare and unemployment benefits, the whole-scale privatisation of previously publiclyowned companies, in the transport and postal sectors etc, and tax increases which will hit the whole population. The Zapatero government in Spain, which has come out all guns blazing against rumours that it would be next in line for an IMF “bailout” (to the tune of over €200 billion) has too announced the most devastating plan of attacks on the public services and living standards since the Franco era. Last week, Zapatero made announcement of additional attacks, including an across-the-board public sector pay cut of 5%, and the abolition of a form of child benefit, in order to further assuage the markets. Portugal has seen an eruption of workers’ struggle in response to the government’s plans. The month of April saw the highest number of days “lost” to strike action for 16 years, as workers in every sector took action. A general strike of the transport sector, threatened with privatisation, saw a shattering 95% participation. On May Day, over 100,000 took to the streets of Lisbon, in massive, angry demonstrations against the government’s and capitalism’s agenda in planning to slash living standards. Increasing pressure within the main trade union federation, the CGTP, has forced the question of further strike action, including that of a general strike onto the agenda. In Spain, mounting anger has developed at the effects of the crisis, which was reflected in the massive demonstrations, totalling over 200,000 which forced the government to retreat on its proposal to raise the retirement age to 67. The struggle there has now entered a

new phase, with unions responding to the announcement of the latest attacks with the calling of a public sector general strike for 8 June. This marks the moving of the working class onto the scene of struggle - an event which in the next period will surely shake the Zapatero government and Spanish capitalism.

For international workers’ resistance! Greece, which has seen a tremendous fightback by the working class and youth, with numerous general strikes in the last weeks and months, represents the most advanced country in Europe, in terms of struggle, at this stage. The question posed over the next weeks and months, which will see further general strikes, will be that of an escalation of the fightback, and for a militant programme of sustained united action to force the government and bosses back. Democratically elected committees of struggle, to discuss and coordinate the struggle, and fight for a political and economic alternative to capitalist crisis and attacks, should be formed in Greece, Spain and Portugal as the fightback develops. The next period will also see the question of a European-wide struggle against the austerity agenda of capitalism across the continent posed. Joe Higgins’ initiative has led to a call for united protests and actions around the 21-26 June being made by a number of left MEPs, which could represent an important step in this direction. The CWI is organised as Xekinima in Greece, where comrades participate in the left coalition SYRIZA and fight for its development as a mass fighting force capable of organising a mass struggle to change society. We are also currently building our forces in Spain and Portugal, in order to organise and offer a socialist programme in the struggles that develop and to point the way forward to the only viable solution to current abyss facing working people in Southern Europe and beyond – a democratic socialist Europe, in which the dictatorship of the capitalist market is broken and wealth and resources can be used to develop the lives and living standards of all.

What are the bond markets, rating agencies, hedge funds?

By Paul Murphy THE DICTATORSHIP of the market has been laid bare in the last number of months, as right-wing commentators and politicians, have breathlessly asked, at each successive attack on working people - "Will this be enough to satisfy the markets?" Yet, who or what are these markets, rating agencies and hedge funds which hold such great power? Simply put, the bond markets are where most governments choose to borrow money. They issue bonds, which are then bought by

investors (generally institutions or hedge funds) who are promised a return at a certain interest rate at a date in the future. Credit rating agencies come into the picture as the private companies that "rate" how safe different investments are, which in turn affect how high interest rates have to be paid. The ratings they give go from AAA (prime) to D (in default). Their decision on how to rate countries has an enormous effect on those countries' economies. For example, while Germany (which has an AAA rating) would pay currently pay about 0.8% interest on a 2 year loan,

Greece (rated BBB-) would pay 12.7% interest. It is workers, pensioners and young people in Greece who are expected to pay the price. These same agencies gave basically worthless subprime debts AAA ratings before the bubble burst. What is really interesting is asking who is it that is buying and selling these bonds on markets? The answer, to an important extent, is shadowy hedge funds. Incredibly, in terms of volume, between 40-50% of transactions in the major stock exchanges in New York and London relate to these hedge funds. Hedge funds are highly speculative investment vehicles. The minimum investment in a hedge funds ranges from $500,000 to $3 million, meaning they are exclusively for very rich people or institutions, seeking to make money from movements in the markets. There are 9,000 of these hedge funds in operation worldwide, in control of billions of euro. The top 25 fund managers earned $25.3 billion last year, a new record for the industry, and the average return of hedge funds in 2009 was 19%. This is mostly as a result of the hedge funds betting that the governments would bail out the banks. Therefore, when the bank stock prices bounced up, they benefited hugely, in effect, getting a portion of the bailouts for their massive profits. The start of 2010 has seen the same story, with the hedgefund.net Industry report declaring, "Hedge fund performance in Q1 2010 was the best first quarter since 2006". One can only surmise that gambling at the expense of Greek workers has been a major winner for these funds.

feature

By Danny Byrne, CWI


8

June 2010

THE SOCIALIST

: n a l p s b jo w e n S Á F

SHORTCUTS By Liam Cullinane

! E E R F R O F K R WO I

Scrooge in Blarney Castle

By Manus Lenihan

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MAGINE BEING turned down after a job interview. Then imagine checking an employment website some time later only to find an ad for that same job, word for word, except for the fact that it is now a "Work Placement Programme"- a job where your only "pay" is a few words on your CV. There are now a range of job advertisements on jobbank.fas.ie offering ninemonth, full-time contracts, each declaring that "This is a work placement programme and does not offer a salary." These jobs are advertised in renowned companies such as Ecco Shoes and Centra. On acceptance of the job, the employer pays nothing and the worker continues to receive social welfare payments – in effect, it’s the state, not only subsidising private companies but also legitimising slave labour, undermining the pay

Why get paid when you can work for free with FÁS!

and conditions of workers already employed. Perhaps more shocking is a recent offer to the FAS-funded Moyross Jobs Club. FAS sent a letter encouraging unemployed people in Limerick to join the

Royal Irish Rangers, a British Army regiment which has troops in Afghanistan! It should be noted that failure to respond to job offers can lead to expulsion and a cut in dole for members of this Jobs Club.

So employers can now choose to pay in a currency called "experience" instead of euros. Such experience varies from operating and balancing tills - which doesn't take nine months to learn - to the vague and somewhat ominous "how to build and maintain a positive attitude". Capitalism’s offer to young people of work-for-free placements, McJobs, or the dole is an indictment of the system. We must work together to "build and maintain" a socialist alternative that puts the needs of people before profit. Building such an alternative will include a rank and file movement in the trade unions to force them to fight in the interests of young workers and the unemployed. Step one will mean taking on Fas’s shameful Work Placement Programme. Such a step should be linked to the fight for a job for all on decent wages and conditions as a basic right that all young people deserve.

Post Leaving Cert Disaster By Sean Malone

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AM just finished doing a science PLC (Post Leaving Certificate) course and I found the science aspects of the year interesting enough, the trouble is only half of my classes are science based the other half are classes designed simply to stretch out the year. Communications is a brilliant example of this. The assignments are long and pointless and the classes ruin any enthusiasm people have for learning. This class is mandatory and

you have to get a distinction in it to get a proper diploma at the end of the year. This applies to almost all PLC courses around the country. To be honest, the curriculum for communications is demeaning to me and the rest of the students. You have to write up a load of formal and non-formal letters which is basically a return to what we learned in primary school. We also had to learn how to send faxes - I don’t know anybody who still uses fax machines on a regular basis! To add insult to injury, next we had to make

a non-verbal Christmas card. So here I am, instead of filling up beakers or struggling to grasp the complexity of genetics, they have me drawing pictures of Santa! We need a well-funded education system where courses and curriculum are evaluated regularly and democratically decided by teachers and students. In reality, most of my class mates won’t get a place in college this year either because their families can’t afford it, or with the lack of jobs, everyone will try to get into college this year which

will hike up the points. Why should we have to compete for places in college? Young people who want to go on to third level should have a guaranteed place on a quality course. These type of PLC courses are blatantly about blurring the unemployment figures and offer no real way out of the dole queues for the majority of young people. We need quality education and training and young people must fight for this, as well as the basic right to a quality job on course completion, that allows us to utilise our talents and skills.

Young people’s right to vote at 16 By Sarah Hughes, Waterford Socialist Youth

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T 16 you can leave school and pay taxes and at 17, you can join the army. But these young people do not have the right to vote. Young people should be able to have a say in decisions which affect them. We are affected by the education cuts and youth dole cuts, as well as by government policies that have increased unemployment and government threats to cut the minimum wage. Other decisions made by the government are or will affect young people in the long term. With the introduction of NAMA that could bankrupt the country, many young people will be forced to emigrate. The main argument against reducing the age is that at 16, we are not mature enough to make decisions. However, in other

We can fight wars, but we can’t vote!

countries which have reduced the voting age, more 16-20 year olds vote then 21-25 year olds. The vast majority of political parties claim to support the National Youth Council’s campaign to lower the voting age to

16. The Socialist Party and Socialist Youth, not only support the campaign, but also believe that young people should be able to vote in general elections, as well as European and locals.

Despite claiming to support the Campaign no political party has tried to bring about change, probably because the political establishment feels that many young people would rightly oppose the main parties. For this campaign to be effective, a strong campaign needs to be built in schools. School students who get active in the campaign throughout the country could build a real basis for the campaign and put pressure on the government to hear the demands of young people. It is important that young people obtain the vote. Whether it be local or national elections or whatever elections, we should have the right to have a say in the decisions that affect us. For more information on the National Youth Council’s campaign to lower the voting age to 16, go to voteat16.ie or join the Facebook campaign.

Join SOCIALIST YOUTH Today: 087 3141986

T’S NOT easy being an aristocrat, at least according to Sir Charles Colthurst, the owner of Blarney Castle. Not content with private fishing rights, tax breaks and a stable full of horses, Sir Charles has also called for the minimum wage to be cut, claiming the castle can’t remain profitable without it. This is despite the fact that at one point, Blarney Castle attracted over 300,000 visitors a year. Blue-blooded and coldblooded, Colthurst attracted notoriety in 2004 when he attempted to evict a couple whose family had lived on the estate for over a hundred years. Perhaps Blarney could “profit” from having Charlie’s Castle and fishing rights taken into public ownership.

Penneys stoop to new lows

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ENNEYS HAVE been forced to withdraw padded bikini tops for children aged seven to 10 following widespread condemnation. While some so-called “feminists” have defended the bra as “empowering”, the reality is that products like these contribute to the exploitation of women by convincing young girls that they are not defined by ability or achievement but by how they look. This despicable sexualisation of children leads to problems with self-esteem, while the sexual objectification of women and girls contributes to a culture of violence and disrespect towards women at a time when domestic abuse is on the rise.

Sexism’s not Hunky Dory

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EORGE ORWELL once described the capitalist advertising industry as “the rattling of a stick inside a swill-bucket”. That statement rings particularly true when you look at Hunky Dory’s new ad campaign. The ads depicts scantily clad women playing rugby, accompanied by text consisting of cheap, sleazy innuendo and the claim that the company is the “proud sponsor of Irish rugby”. Raymond Coyle, the chief executive of Largo Foods (producers of Hunky Dorys) showed just how little he cares about the exploitation of women by dismissing the ads as a “bit of humour and fun”. Meanwhile, the Irish Rugby Football Union has condemned the ad, stating that its “blatant exploitation of women is tasteless and base, and quite simply unacceptable”. We couldn’t agree more.


9

June 2010

THE SOCIALIST

Tory/Lib Dem declare war on public services

By Ciaran Mulholland

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Will the Coalition last?

A Government of Cuts A Tory-Lib Dem coalition government has now been established. This is a right-wing, antiworking class, government of cuts. The Lib Dems will be absolutely complicit in the cuts. Vince Cable has become Business Secretary. David Laws, a millionaire and exmanaging director of JP Morgan, has taken on the job of Chief Secretary of the Treasury. Clegg and the group of Lib Dems organised around the so-called “Orange Book” have successfully moved the party to the right on a whole number of issues, particularly on economic questions. The Lib Dems have agreed to the substance of the Tories’ position of immediate savage cuts. There will an emergency budget on 22 June and an extra £6 billion of cuts this year (on top of the cuts already ordered by Gordon Brown) was announced on 27 May. A full “spending review” in the autumn will pile on more misery. The measures planned by the government are very likely to lead to a “double-dip” recession. As David Blanchflower, ex-member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee, put it on 12 May: "Anybody who is going to start cutting in [the current economic position] is basically going to push us into that death spiral. That's what we've avoided until this date. We need to be stimulat-

Public sector workers face massive attacks on wages and conditions.

Brian Caton of the Prison Officers Association & SP Cllr Dave Nellist.

ing growth, not withdrawing multiple billions out of the system."

Can New Labour be “reclaimed”? Since the election, some have argued that there is a possibility of shifting New Labour to the left now that it is out of power. However, to stand a chance of reclaiming New Labour for the working class, it would take a mass influx into the party - of trade unionists and young people - determined to rebuild the democratic structures which have long been destroyed. A serious campaign to reclaim New Labour by affiliated trade unions would have to demand that Labour adopts a programme

including the repeal of all the antitrade union laws and opposition to all cuts in public services, not just in words but in action. The Socialist Party does not think that a campaign to reclaim New Labour could succeed. The only genuinely left-wing potential candidate, John McDonnell, is unlikely to win sufficient support within the parliamentary party to get on the ballot paper, let alone win the leadership contest. The quickest and most direct route to developing political representation for workers and trade unionists would be for the unions to decisively break from Labour and establish a new mass party committed to opposing the cuts agenda of all the parties at national and

The coalition has a very clear parliamentary majority. The capitalist class want “strong government” and will back it through the media. Cameron has made enough concessions to keep the Lib Dems onside and Clegg is desperate to see it work. But despite all the efforts of Clegg and Cameron to create a stable government the coalition could shatter under the pressure of events at a certain point, probably in response to mass movements of the working class. According to the Financial Times (13 May 2010): “Mr Osborne will have to announce public spending cuts of £57 billion a year from a non-protected budget of about £260 billion - cuts of about 22%. It goes without saying that this will prove a sharp test of political will... Britain's public sector will face similar austerity measures to those seen in Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Spain” The working class will be forced to fight back to defend itself and over time will draw political conclusions out of its experience in those struggles. Only a militant, determined struggle against all cuts will be successful. The first step needs to be a campaign for a massive national trade union led demonstration against all cuts in public services. This needs to be linked to the development of local anti-cuts committees to bring together the different campaigns. And at a certain stage the need for general strike action, probably initially across the public sector, will be posed.

www.socialistworld.net

There was a modest socialist alternative offered in this election. The Socialist Party in England and Wales helped to found the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

local level. TUSC represents an important preparatory step towards such a formation - which could come into being very quickly under the impact of the stormy events that lie ahead.

cwi@worldsoc.co.uk

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Nick Clegg and David Cameron - modern day Thatcherites.

COMMITTEE FOR A WORKERS’ INTERNATIONAL

HE GENERAL Election in Britain was an election that no party won. Despite their expectations, the Tories failed to win sufficient support to form a majority government - they gained 36% of the vote and 306 seats. Labour, in spite of the polls which predicted that it could come in third, came second with 258 seats and 29% of the vote. The Liberal Democrats won 57 seats, five fewer than in 2005, with 23% of the vote. There was a last minute swing back to New Labour in the working class areas as a desperate reaction to the prospect of the return of the hated Tories. The swing back to Labour was reflected in the increased turnout over 2005, up from 60% to 65%. The anti-Tory surge lead to some unexpected results. In Scotland, there was actually a swing to Labour compared to 2005, in part because of the dramatic fall in the vote for the Scottish Socialist Party. Labour won control of 14 new councils, including the key cities of Sheffield and Liverpool and increased its number of councillors nationally by nearly 400. The Conservatives gained around 1.9 million more votes compared to 2005, but their share of the vote continued a long term trend of a declining vote for the Tories since the 1950s. The share of the vote won by Labour has also been in decline for some years. Indeed the share of the vote won by parties other than Labour and the Conservatives was the highest since 1918 at 35%. The British National Party (BNP) had a bad election. It lost all its twelve council seats in Barking and Dagenham, where it hoped to seize control of the council, and was beaten into third place in Stoke. Across the country, they lost 24 seats and managed to hold on to 19. This should not disguise the fact that right wing parties gained significant votes. The UK Independence Party’s vote went up by a third, from around 600,000 in 2005 to 900,000, while the BNP’s more than doubled from around 200,000 to 550,000. These votes are a clear warning for the future. If a viable and credible socialist alternative is not built, the attacks on the living conditions and rights of working people, which are an immediate prospect, will drive some into the arms of the far right.

(TUSC) which stood in 41 general election seats across Britain. Although TUSC candidates got some credible votes - notably Dave Nellist's 1,592 votes in Coventry North East, 1,057 for Jenny Sutton in Tottenham and 931 for Tommy Sheridan in Glasgow South West – TUSC votes in general were low. In part, this was because of the media's virtual blackout of TUSC. This made it difficult to establish a national profile in the short time between it being founded and the election being called. However, the major factor was that many workers who were considering a vote for TUSC felt they had no choice but to vote New Labour in order to stop the Tories. The general trend was for smaller parties to be squeezed by New Labour and the Tories. This, combined with the higher turnout created by the general election taking place on the same day as the locals, meant that the four Socialist Party councillors who were up for re-election all lost their seats, despite maintaining or even increasing their votes. In Coventry St Michaels ward for example, where Socialist Party councillor, Rob Windsor, was defending his seat, Rob got the highest ever vote for the Socialist Party in the ward, with 1,783 votes - 580 more than the last time he stood - but still lost.

britain

Worse than Thatcher


10

June 2010

THE SOCIALIST

news north

Prepare for non-payment

Water charges on the way By Daniel Waldron N A Daily Politics discussion on the economy in the run up to the election, Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, of the DUP made it crystal clear that, in his opinion, the Assembly Executive will introduce water charges. He admitted that the charges have only been deferred, not scrapped, and went on to say that “when they are introduced”, it must be on the basis of “fairness”. With huge public opposition to water charges, you might have expected the other politicians to round on Wilson to score some political points. But instead Mitchell McLaughlin of Sinn Fein and the representatives of the other main parties also categorically refused to rule out the charges, while of course echoing Wilson’s mantra that they must be

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“fair”. This is a far cry from their election manifestos of 2007, when

all the main parties posed as opponents of the double tax,

Fight the Public Assemblies Bill

despite having already signed up to them in principle. The Alliance Party’s David Ford has perhaps been the most forthright in pushing for water charges to be introduced, stating that they are “inevitable” and that continued deferral is “not financially sustainable.” Alliance claim that holding the charges off is costing £200 million per year. Interestingly, this is the same amount that their proposed cut in corporation tax - a policy also supported by the other main parties - would remove from Northern Ireland’s block grant from Westminster. In other words, they want to squeeze more money from ordinary people - pushing many to the wire - so they can give even more handouts to big business. In reality, Alliance are just saying what all the other parties mean in a more “honest” way. It is now obvious that the Assembly Executive intend to introduce water charges in the near future. This will not be to pro-

vide funds for investment in the infrastructure of the water service. This could easily be found by removing corporate rates exemptions, subsidies to big business which cost hundreds of millions every year. Working-class people have been paying for the water service through their rates for decades. Water charges are aimed at making NI Water profitable and handing it fully over to the private sector vultures who already have a huge stake in it. Working-class communities must now begin to get organised through the We Won’t Pay Campaign to refuse to pay the charges whenever they are introduced. It was the threat of nonpayment which scared the politicians into deferring the charges for 4 years, and this tactic can defeat the charges and deliver the right-wing Executive a bloody nose. Contact the We Won’t Pay Campaign on 90311778

Education under attack

Defend the Right to Protest By Paddy Meehan By Kevin Henry HE ASSEMBLY Executive is preparing an act that will criminalise the right to protest. The “Public Assemblies Bill” proposed by the working group on parades after the Hillsborough Agreement will mean all protests of 50 or more people will be illegal acts unless they ask permission 37 days before hand! Protests organised at short notice, such as those organised by the Socialist Party and Lisburn Road residents in Belfast against racist attacks on Romanians will be deemed illegal if this legislation is passed. Emergency protests will have to give three days notice.

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Racist thugs are not going to give notice, so why should those organising against them? The Bill shows the politicians recognise that the cuts they are planning will be met with resistance and they want to take away people’s right to protest. It even gives the example of a group protesting against the closure of local sports facility. Not content with stripping communities of facilities, the Stormont Executive wants to criminalise those communities that resist. The Bill also specifically targets the trade union movement. Recently, there have been a series of attacks by the courts on workers engaged in industrial struggle, be it the BA workers, railway signal workers in Britain or the Thomas

Protest like those against racist attacks in Belfast could be made illegal.

Cook workers in Dublin, who occupied their workplace in defence of jobs and were met with a brutal police raid. However, recent industrial struggles such as Visteon Occupation and the Lindsey Oil Refinery strike have also shown that repressive legislation is powerless when faced with mass action. Democratic rights were won by working class people in the same way better living conditions were won – through mass struggle. It is important an effective campaign, based on the trade unions and workers organisations, is democratically organised to defeat this undemocratic Bill. If this legislation passes, then it will be necessary to organise mass protests to defy the Bill.

EVEN CAMPUSES of the Northern Regional College are set to close as a result of the Assembly Executives cuts. They are located at Portrush, Ballymoney, Ballymena, Larne, Antrim and Newtownabbey. This is a serious attack on the people of the North East, especially for young people who will be deprived of local access to education. It will mean only four campuses stretching from Coleraine, Magherafelt, Ballymena and Newtownabbey will remain to cater for 15,000 students, with fewer staff as a result of job cuts. Courses for special needs, engineering, motor vehicle training will be cut back as well as opening hours. Significantly, full-time Alevel and AS-level courses are to go from September. The consultation period is a complete farce as it ends on the 23 August – seven days before the start of the academic year. The same diet of cuts can be seen throughout the further & higher education system in Northern Ireland. In February, a report carried on behalf of Belfast Metropolitan College recommended slashing jobs and cutting community courses that don't have a qualification associated with them. A-level and AS-level courses have been slowly suffocated. The intention is to eventually scrap them altogether. These cuts are a direct result of the Assemblies 3% “efficiency savings” and January’s announcement of additional cuts of £19.7million to the Department of Employment and Learning which were unanimously agreed by the politicians in the Executive. Meanwhile, the elitist Russell Group of Universities, which

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includes Queen’s University Belfast, has proposed hiking interest rates on student loans. This is just another way of increasing tuition fees. This in effect will cut out even more working class people from attending university. With no access to education, growing numbers of young people have nowhere to go but join the growing dole queues. Officially, youth unemployment now stands at 16%. However this doesn’t take into account 105,000 young people labelled as “economically inactive”. Real youth unemployment is actually closer to 23%! The UCU (lecturers and teachers union) and NIPSA (union representing non-teaching staff) have condemned the cuts. However, this is not enough. A real fight back is needed that links up school, college and university students with teachers and staff under threat in the colleges. A one-day strike of school and colleges involving both workers and students would lay the basis for a real defence of our education system. With nearly a quarter of young people out of work, the Assembly’s cuts in education and training is preparing the ground for a revolt. Young people must get organised to defend their education and fight for decent jobs and a future. Young people have taken to the streets in mass demonstrations and occupations recently in Greece, Germany, Austria, France and Spain and have shown that youth are not powerless if organised. It is also necessary to link the attacks on education to the attacks on the rest of the working class and build a mass movement against the capitalist system which is ultimately responsible for mass unemployment. The fight for a real future is a fight for a socialist world.


11

June 2010

THE SOCIALIST

Support the Connolly Shoes 4 HE STRIKING workers at the Connolly Shoes store in Dun Laoghaire are now entering the sixth week of their strike. They have taken strike action against drastic attacks on their pay, working conditions and a campaign of management harassment culminating in the sacking of two members of staff. The workers have been put on a three day week, had their pay cut and yet are expected to fulfil an increased work load since the store came under the management of the previous owner’s son. The two sacked workers each had over 30 years service to the company. Management have implemented a new roster and work duties without any discussion. CCTV has been installed in the shop for “insurance reasons”, but instead the owner uses it to watch the workers on his laptop, regularly ringing the store to ask why a customer didn’t buy a pair of shoes. Finally, two workers were sacked for failing to comply with the new conditions and management are trying to drive the Mandate union from the store.

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Striking workers at Connolly Shoes have received magnificent support from the local community.

Since the strike began, the public have been firmly behind the workers. Management have gone on the offensive against the workers: refusing any negotiation. The boss has threatened to have one member of staff arrested. He has even rang the local County Council to get them to stop council workers driving-by from beeping their

horns as it is a “nuisance”. Needless to say that this has been met with even more beeping in support of the strikers. The longer the strike continues, the more effort needs to be made to get the workers from the other Connolly stores in Bray, Arklow and Camden Street out on strike in support of their fellow employees

to bring this to a quicker and successful conclusion. ● The Socialist Party demands the immediate re-instatement of the two sacked workers. ● The full and immediate payment of all monies due to the workers under the L.R.C ruling. Any changes to work practises

PIC PAULA GERAGHTY

must be decided in consultation with and the full agreement of the workers and their union. ● A nationwide campaign by the trade unions to unionise the staff in all small and medium size businesses, to protect workers in these businesses from attacks on pay and conditions as has happened in Connolly shoes.

Campaigning against the Croke Park deal

SIPTU leaders censor anti-deal campaigner

By Michael O’Brien HE SOCIALIST Party produced tens of thousands of leaflets making the case for a No vote in the Croke Park deal ballot. The leaflet detailed the various attacks on conditions this rotten deal represented and put forward a fighting alternative strategy for the union movement that would provide the best chance of reversing the pay cuts and protecting jobs and conditions. Party members around the country visited local authority offices and depots, water works, libraries, Social Welfare offices, government departments, hospitals and fire stations to hand out leaflets and discuss the deal with workers.

T By Michael O’Brien

JOHN KIDD, the convener of the Fire Brigade section of SIPTU, has stood out as a vociferous opponent of the Croke Park pay deal. Witnessing firsthand the effect of the public service cut backs on the fire service, John has been spurred to lead the campaign against the deal within SIPTU. John spoke at a workers forum hosted by Joe Higgins MEP organised in opposition to the Croke Park deal. “Already the Fire Service here represents only 6% of local authority budgets whereas the average in London is 16% and more cuts are on the way on top of the non filling of vacancies that have occurred in the past year.” In order to give the No arguments the widest possible airing within SIPTU, John decided to contest the Vice Presidential vacancy in the union using the opportunity to present an alternative strategy to the members. “Because of undemocratic rule changes the wider membership for the first time would not get a vote in this election but instead (because the vacancy arose before elections were due) there was meant to be a consultation process between the two senior officers General President, Jack O’Connor and General Secretary, Joe O’Flynn and the branches before they selected a candidate to fill the vacancy!” Regardless of this stitch up, John submitted his campaign literature to Liberty Hall for circulation to the branches only to find out that references to his opposition to the Croke Park deal were to be censored. Rather than proceeding with this sham process, John reluctantly withdrew from the contest. As he said in a letter to Joe O’Flynn: “You claim that this was not a form of censorship but I can find no other word to describe a deliberate removal of my policies I submitted to the union for circulation to branch activists. “I believe that these actions are a deliberate attempt to stifle discussion in SIPTU on a key issue facing public sector workers. I note that no special conference has been called to discuss the proposed deal and no facility has been offered to opponents to put their case to the wider membership. Instead, we are witnessing a form of top down control from a union leadership that is frightened to engage in real debate.” So pro-leadership candidate and current SIPTU Dublin Regional Secretary, Patricia King, will be selected for Vice President uncontested. John alongside other activists are continuing with their campaign against the deal despite these manoeuvrings by the leadership.

Leaflets were also given out at members meetings hosted by the INTO, CPSU and INMO. Many workers were anxious to read the arguments against the deal in anticipation of the arguments being presented by some union leaders in favour of the deal at upcoming meetings. In a number of instances, including the Department of Social Welfare, Enterprise Ireland and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council, workers took a bunches of leaflets off us to circulate among their workmates. Some workers we spoke to who had already made up their minds to vote no felt the arguments in the leaflet better equipped them to go on and convince their workmates to also reject the deal. At some workplaces, including the Departments of Enterprise

Trade and Employment and Art Heritage and the Gaeltacht, some senior managers, despite being affected themselves by the cuts, took it on themselves to harass party members for giving out the leaflets and in the latter case, call the Gardai but we carried on undeterred. Beyond the deal itself, the leaflet argued for the need for rank and file activist opposition groups to be established within the unions to fight for a complete change in the union leadership as the current leaders have demonstrated themselves totally unwilling and incapable of leading a fight. If you are interested in getting involved in a campaigning activist group within your union then please phone or text 085 7132937 for more information.

DCTU conference report

Is there an alternative? By Fionn Ryder N MAY, the Dublin Council of Trade Unions (DCTU) convened a meeting of 27 groups ranging from political parties to Trades Councils and representatives of unions. Speakers included Mick O’Reilly, former General Secretary of Unite, Michael Taft, an economist from Unite and the journalist, Vincent Browne. This was supposed to be a gathering together of the “left” to discuss cooperation, specifically the DCTU proposal of a seven point action plan on social justice issues.

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The Labour Party and Sinn Fein came in for particular criticism over their refusal to publically reject any coalition deal with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael or to reject neo liberal policies. As Vincent Browne pointed out, inequality and in particular, infant mortality in the “lower socio economic groups” increased when Labour was in government. Another speaker criticised Sinn Fein showing a left face in the South while implementing cutbacks and privatisations in the North. Several speakers raised objections to the Croke Park deal and how it would lead to a watering down of the terms and conditions

of public sector workers and did nothing to reverse the pay cuts imposed since the recent crisis began. The only people defending the deal were union officials who tried to raise a smoke screen, claiming politics should be separate from unions. The Socialist Party, while supporting the idea of genuine left cooperation, would oppose the idea put forward by some at the meeting that Sinn Fein and Labour are part of the Left. Sinn Fein and Labour have pursued neo liberal policies of cuts and privatisation when in government and now openly support the idea that the working class should be made pay for the capitalist crisis.

workplace news

By Dave Murphy


WHAT WE STAND FOR Workers’ rights

PAPER OF THE SOCIALIST PARTY

ISSUE 54

JUNE 2010

YOUNG PEOPLE UNITE & FIGHT

n A guaranteed right to a job or training with decent wages and full workers’ rights. n For a minimum wage of €12 an hour tax free with no exemptions. n For a 35 hour week without loss of pay. n For a decent social welfare payment, linked to average earnings. n Free childcare for all.

Reclaim the trade unions n For democratic trade unions to fight in the interests of their members on pay, conditions and job security. n Full time union officials should be regularly elected and receive the average wage of those they represent. n Scrap the anti-union laws. An end to "social partnership".

Health n For a free public national health service. No to private health care.

Education n Free, quality education for all from primary to university, with a living grant.

NO to racism & division

YES to jobs & education for all! By Laura Fitzgerald HE HORRIFIC killing of a 15 year old Nigerian, Toyosi Shitta-bey in West Dublin has highlighted the issue of racism as well as the central role that young people in particular must play in combating it. After the tragic death of Toyosi Shitta-bey, it’s time to draw a line in the sand and ensure such a senseless incident never happens again. Black and white school student friends and peers of Toyosi helped to organise and participated in a 3,000 strong demonstration in memory of the deceased school student, illustrating the sense of friendship, camaraderie and solidarity that the majority of working class young people who go to school in racially diverse and integrated schools, feel.

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Nonetheless, racial abuse and bullying are both still a grave problem in schools. A TUI survey in April found that 46% of teachers had reported a racist incident in their schools in the previous month. The government, who have cut support for students with English as a second language, can certainly shoulder a significant burden of guilt for this recent increase in racism in schools. This increase needs to be solidly cut across and marginalised. The majority of school students, who themselves are anti-racist, hold the key. The silent majority of anti-racist school students needs to come together to become a

vocal and organised group in each school, as part of a national antiracist school student network. If antiracist sentiment is organised on a school-wide basis, a campaign could be launched to make each school a racism-free zone. With an active group of school students consciously explaining to their peers why this campaign is important, the majority of school students could gain the confidence to speak out against racism in their school. There’s nothing natural or inevitable about racism or division based on ethnic, religious or racial background. Despite the tremendous wealth and resources that exist, the capitalist system creates a scenario whereby an unnecessary struggle for scarce resources is manufactured. Unable to make massive profits due to the economic crash, the market system has created a scenario of mass unemployment. The privatisation policies of the establishment over years means that housing waiting lists are long and health and education services are inadequate and overcrowded. As well as creating the

conditions for competition between people, the state drums up racism on purpose. For example, millions of euro are regularly spent deporting African immigrants in particular. This is an example of state racism whereby the government wants to detract attention away from its bank bailouts and savage cutbacks, despicably attempting to place blame on often penniless black immigrants instead. A strong anti-racism campaign of school students could also protest against deportations and other forms of state racism that attempt to sow division. Young people should reject the capitalist system that has offered them a miserable future of education cuts, unemployment, low pay and competition for scarce college places. Fighting racism means fighting for the right to a decent education and a quality job for everyone. Fundamentally this will mean a challenge to the system as a whole based on socialist policies of solidarity and democratic working class control, management, ownership and planning of the economy according to the needs of people.

YOUTH AGAINST RACISM Socialist Youth is in the process of establishing a broad anti-racist campaign of young people in schools, colleges and workplaces. Youth Against Racism (YAR) is open to any young person who wants to get active against racism – contact Eddie for more information - 0873141986

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Housing n Nationalise the developers’ empty residential properties and use them to eliminate the housing waiting lists.

Privatisation n No to privatisation, public private partnerships and private finance initiatives. n All publicly owned services and companies to be run under democratic working class control.

Equality n An end to discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability and to all forms of prejudice. n For the right to asylum and the scrapping of racist anti-asylum and immigration laws. For the right to work, with full protection, for immigrant workers.

Local taxation n Scrap the bin charges - no to double taxation in any form. Local authorities to receive proper funding from central government funds.

Waste management n For major investment into a publicly owned recycling service to combat the waste crisis. No to waste incinerators.

International n Oppose the big business dominated European Union. No to the militarisation of Europe and to a European Army. n For solidarity of the European working class. For a socialist Europe. n No to imperialist wars. End the occupation of Iraq. For a socialist Iraq.

Northern Ireland n Build a real peace process based on uniting the working class communities, not on bringing discredited sectarian politicians together. n Joint trade union and community action to counter all forms of sectarianism. n An end to all activity by all paramilitaries, loyalist and republican. Complete demilitarisation.

Socialism n Capitalism is the cause of poverty, inequality, environmental destruction and war. We need an international struggle against this system and its effects. The working class can build a socialist world in which the resources of the planet are used to satisfy the needs of the mass of the people not the thirst for profit of a tiny minority of super rich. n Take all major industry, banks and financial institutions into public ownership and place them under the democratic control and management of working class people. n For the working class to democratically plan the economy to provide for the needs of all, and to protect our environment. n For the building of a mass political party capable of uniting the working class in the struggle for socialism in Ireland. n For a socialist Ireland as part of a free and voluntary socialist federation of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

June 2010 Edition of the Socialist  

June 2010 Edition of the Socialist, newspaper of the Socialist Party

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