Socialist Worker

Demonstrations across Ireland support Irish Ferries occupation

by Unjum Mirza, London RMT Political Officer (pc)
Issue No. 1980

I was one of a delegation of trade unionists that joined up to 100,000 people marching in Dublin on Friday of last week in support of the workers occupying two Irish Ferries ships in Welsh ports.

Demonstrations took place in every major Irish city to oppose the company's plans to make its entire workforce redundant and replace them with immigrant workers from Estonia and Latvia paid at rates below the minimum wage in Ireland.

Many workers in Dublin took strike action for half a day to demonstrate, under the slogan “Irish Ferries — Irish Pay” — campaigning for all workers, whatever their origin, to be paid a living wage.

There was a real sense of unity of purpose on the day — and significant delegations from every section of the Irish trade union movement. Construction workers, lorry drivers, printers, council workers and teachers were there in their thousands, despite pressure from the government not to take strike action.

Activist after activist told us that if Irish Ferries got away with registering their business in a different country and paying immigrant workers at a lower rate, what’s to stop other bosses doing the same?

Dublin is nearly seven times smaller than London. Just think what the reverberations must be across Irish society of a strike and demonstration the equivalent of over half a million on a weekday.

There will be a full report in the new Socialist Worker, online from Tuesday evening.

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Sat 10 Dec 2005, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1980
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