Saturday, 26 November 2011


On November 30th the Derry Trades Union Council have called on workers to rally in Derry's Guildhall Square at 1pm. 

Many Public Workers will be holding pickets outside their place of employment then marching to the Guildhall Square. 

In the Waterside area, at Altnagelvin Hospital workers there on strike will gather at the enterence in at protest then around 12pm march across the city, meeting many feeder parades en route as it makes its way to the city side in time for the rally at 1pm as organised by the Derry Trades Union Council. 

Derry Anarchists support this call and will be attending the rally.  In a leaflet distributed through out the city by the DTUC it stated:

Support the Public Sector Strikes for Pensions!
Support the Derry Trades Union Council Rally!
Wednesday November 30th Guildhall Square @ 1pm

This one-day strike will be the biggest single work stoppage in the north, EVER! The primary aim is to defend public sector pensions, but the austerity measures we are facing go far wider. Every working class family in Derry as elsewhere, will be hit hard!

Public sector unions and working class communities are in this together. 
We have to fight back if we are to win!

People unite! Resist cuts to Pensions, Jobs and Benefits!

This is your fight too!

Make this a show of working class strength & defiance!!

A general strike requires organisation not just rhetoric

With the first massive union demonstrations against the cuts the WSM argued that only a general strike could force the government to stop targeting workers and the poor to pay for the crisis. Three years on it has become clear that such a strike will not materialize unless we rebuild mass participation at the base of the unions.
The one day public sector strike revealed just how weak our unions have become at the base. Almost none of us had been on strike and a culture had been allowed to develop in most unions where members are not expected to turn up to local meetings or AGM's unless they have a grievance. Although the organisation was often chaotic the public sector strike was just about pulled off but it was a one day symbolic action - to win we would need an indefinite strike that lasted until the government backed down. Could you organize your fellow workers in your branch to agree to, organize for and implement such a strike?
If our answer to this question is No then we must expect the ICTU to not only be willing to organize a real general strike but also to be capable of selling that to a membership who for the most part don't even attend demonstrations. Are any of us that daft?
The left has got good at winning positions in the unions, at getting bums on seats on section & branch committees. But this is no strategy without successfully mobilizing and engaging every union member in a process of organising real resistance to the cuts.
Our argument in brief is that the left needs to worry less about winning posts in unions and passing militant sounding motions and instead focus on the need to organize. Not just in the sense of organising those outside the unions but at least as importantly organising the mass of union members and engaging them in an ongoing series of assemblies in the workplace to discuss, agree and organize real resistance.
This is not an impossible task. There are recent examples of such successful drives in the US and elsewhere and even in Ireland it is very clear that some union branches in hte INTO for instance are very much more successful at consistently engaging and mobilizing their membership then what is average. We need to learn how that is done, modify it for out local circumstances and get to work. The crisis, it appears, is not going to go away anytime soon.

We need to develop a new strategy in the unions

Since the start of the economic crisis the trade union movement have produced excellent analysis of government policy warning that the austerity measures being pursued “could turn Ireland into a social and economic wasteland”[1] But our movement has failed to come up with a strategy to resist the government/EU-IMF attacks. We’ve been marched around Dublin on an annual basis and listened to speeches that are more about letting off steam than planning a fightback. Our union leadership do not have either a vision of how resistance can be built or confidence in the membership to develop an alternative economic strategy.

If a new strategy is to emerge it will not come from the failed politics pursued by the leadership who have sold us social partnership and the Croke Park Agreement. It will have to come from us – the ordinary members of the unions. The unions are our organisations, they are the vehicles by which we can organise to show our collective muscle. The government and the EU-IMF are only able to impose their will on us because we allow them to do so.

There is nothing mysterious about a strategy for resistance. It simply boils down to whether we are going to accept what they impose on us. When they come with a programme of cuts to education services, are those of us who work in education willing to allow them do it? When they try cutting health, do we as health workers let it happen?

As they continue to attack our pay and our working conditions, do we let it happen? Similarly with every single cut. Every time we fail to resist it gives them the green light to come for more. On the other hand, every time they meet resistance it will make them reluctant to tackle us again. The manner in which pensioners resisted the attempts to remove their automatic entitlement to medical cards in October 2008 showed that.
To turn our unions from the slumbering giants they currently are needs more than coming up with the right slogans or replacing the current jaded and conservative leadership.

Those who believe that resistance to government policy is not only desirable but needed must begin to claim ownership of our unions. And if we organise, we can actually win the majority of the membership to the strategy. Small victories such as the INTO membership’s recent forcing the union leadership to say No to JobBridge shows what is possible. That change in union policy came about because ordinary members didn’t just complain about the leadership position. They organised, held meetings, passed motions, signed petitions…they organised to win.

It might be a small victory but small victories point the way forward and give members the belief that larger victories are possible. Those larger victories are possible for our movement if we have the ambition and if we put in the work in organising for them.

Ordinary members – that’s you and your workmates – need to take control of our unions and begin to discuss with each other how we can turn them into organisations capable of stopping the social and economic wasting of our society.