Socialist Worker

Irish ‘pensions levy’: ‘The people that caused this crisis should take the pain’

Issue No. 2139

As the economic crisis grows by the day, bosses and the government are agreed on one thing – that it is workers who must pay for the mess that those at the top have presided over.

The result has been an unprecedented wave of anger sweeping Ireland.

The government is pushing through austerity measures, the latest of which has been dubbed the “pension levy”.

Social insurance payments are being ramped up and could cost some public sector workers £1,770 a year.

A groundswell of resistance is rising with low paid civil service workers, teachers and nurses outraged and building towards strike action.

It started with a consultative conference of Impact, the traditionally moderate union which organises local authority clerical workers and health workers.

Last week delegates told their leadership that they wanted a mass demonstration during working hours and mandated them to hold a ballot for industrial action.

Other workers were also moving quickly with a series of emergency meetings called in major public sector workplaces, including hospitals across Dublin.

The meetings overwhelmingly endorsed proposals for a one-day national strike.

Teachers held a protest against the levy outside the headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank in Dublin. At the weekend workers from Impact protested outside politicians’ offices.

The ICTU, the equivalent of the British TUC, has called a demonstration against the government’s attack for this Saturday.

The union for lower grade civil service workers, the CPSU, has called a one‑day strike for Thursday 26 February.

There is a growing momentum behind calls to make this a national one-day public sector strike.

Around 300 people attended a cross union meeting in Dublin last Saturday to discuss escalating the action.

Joe Duffy of the Irish Nurses’ Organisation said a strike was needed – not to make a point, but to win.

“Every time we hear a trade union leader saying we all have to share the pain, we should be saying no we don’t. We didn’t cause the crisis,” he said.

“The people that caused the crisis should take the pain.”

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Tue 17 Feb 2009, 18:16 GMT
Issue No. 2139
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