Volume 3, Number 6
18 October 2005
E-Mail Newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
2) RSYM Conference in Wicklow
3) Founding Statement of the Republican Socialist Youth Movement
4) Capitalism Means Working for Low Wages in Dangerous Conditions
5) From the Newspapers
7) What's On
This edition of The Plough carries the foundation statement of the
Republican Socialist Youth Movement. This, at a time when radical
republicanism is in turmoil, is a welcome development. It is good to
see that young people have not been disillusioned by the setbacks that
the republican struggle has suffered. The renewal of radical
republicanism is a mammoth task and the IRSP are determined to play
our part in the revival of progressive radical republicanism firmly
based on the revolutionary politics of James Connolly. That there is a
need for a strong socialist voice in this world is clear from reading
Cde. L O'R's series of articles on the reality of the capitalist
world. Dealing with the facts and figures, he has exposed the reality
of capitalism and the drive for low wages and unhealthy conditions.
His argument is re-enforced by two articles reprinted from the
Guardian. One deals with ASDA, the chain store which is setting up a
number of stores in the North of Ireland in the coming months. The
second article points out what our own experience tells us - that the
poor are six times more likely to suffer murder than the more affluent
RSYM CONFERENCE IN WICKLOW
The Republican Socialist Youth Movement was founded by young
republicans, socialists and members of the two flute bands aligned to
the Irish Republican Socialist Party at a weekend residential at
Glencree Centre for Conflict Resolution from Friday September 30th
until Sunday October 2nd. The participants at the inaugural conference
were largely inexperienced in the field of politics and the level of
politicisation was low. However, all participants left having learned
The day started with a lecture on the history of the movement by
ex-INLA prisoner Gerard McGarrigle. Gerard spoke specifically on the
movement in the period of the late 80s until the middle of the 90s,
mentioning his own personal experiences. Ex-INLA prisoner Willie
Gallagher then spoke on the history of the movement within the
prisons, relying heavily on his own personal experiences also.
Willie's lecture had a profound impact on the audience as he spoke of
his hunger strike, the cages, H-Blocks, dirty protest and so forth.
Willie mentioned the disastrous effects of other organisations
attitudes towards the movement in a historical sense he also pointed
out that numerous events such as escapes from Long Kesh by INLA
prisoners have been effectively removed from written history.
Once Willie had finished, the participants were divided into five
workshop groups. The groups penned their thoughts on the movement, the
direction of the movement, what is needed within the flute bands and
so forth. They submitted their thoughts orally, most of which were
centered on the need for a greater amount of discipline within the
flute bands and the need for those within the flute bands to
understand what and whom they represent.
We are hoping to organise such weekends again focused primarily on
educational seminars. We would like to thank Teach Na Failte for their
assistance and support throughout the weekend.
(Sean Mac Ruadhan, RSYM)
FOUNDING STATEMENT OF THE REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST YOUTH MOVEMENT
13 October 2005
Republican Socialist Youth Movement
Founding Statement of the Republican Socialist Youth Movement
The Republican Socialist Youth Movement was officially formed in
County Wicklow on 1 October 2005 by socialist and republican youth
from throughout Ireland. The RSYM declares its intention to work
towards National Liberation and Socialist Revolution. The Youth
Movement intends to do this by submitting its membership to intensive
political education and activism that will prepare them for their
future role in the struggle of our class for liberation.
The RSYM upholds the analysis of the IRSM on the nature of the six
county state, the current ceasefire and political strategy of the RSM.
The RSYM defend the right of the Irish people to bear arms against
That strategy is to agitate, educate and organise within our class to
mobilise our class towards the objective of removing the Northern
colonial and Southern neo-colonial statelets on this island, thus
ending imperialism and capitalism, and preparing the basic structures
for an Irish Workers' Republic, taking our direct inspiration from
Irish socialist martyrs such as Liam Mellows, Ta Power and Gino
Gallagher and the great theoreticians Karl Marx, Fredrick Engels,
Vladimir Lenin and James Connolly.
The RSYM's intensive education programs, international solidarity work
and active agitation within our class will see our goals realised.
CAPITALISM MEANS WORKING FOR LOW WAGES...
By Liam O'Ruairc
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that 68 percent
of the world's population is economically active.
Current estimates for 2003 show that 1.39 billion people on the world
work but are still unable to lift themselves and their families above
the US $2 a day poverty line. Among them, 550 million cannot even lift
themselves and their families above the extreme US $1 threshold.
Expressed in shares, this means that 49.7 per cent of the world's
workers (and over 58.7 per cent of the developing world's workers) are
not earning enough to lift themselves and their families above the US
$2 a day poverty line and that 19.7 per cent of the employed persons
in the world (and therefore over 23.3 percent of the developing
world's workers) are currently living on less than US $1 a day.
On top of the need to create 1.39 billion decent jobs for those people
who work but still live with their families below the US $2 a day
poverty line, account has to be taken of the number of people who were
looking for work but could not find any employment opportunity to get
an idea of the size of the employment component of the decent work
deficit in the world. In 2003 there were 185.9 million people in the
world who were unemployed, despite the recovery from the economic
slowdown in 2001 and 2002.
International Labour Organisation, World Employment Report 2004/2005,
...IN DANGEROUS CONDITIONS
Production in the global economy has shifted from relatively
well-regulated, high-wage, often unionised plants in the developed
world to very low-wage, unregulated, non-union production facilities
in the developing world.
Workers in these factories are often subjected to uncontrolled
chemical exposures, high noise and temperature levels, unguarded
machinery and other safety hazards, as well as ergonomic hazards from
long hours of intensive manual assembly tasks. Worker training on the
nature of these hazardous exposures and how they can be reduced or
eliminated is virtually unknown.
The ILO estimates that some 2.2 million people around the world
succumb to work related accidents or diseases every year. Worldwide,
there are around 270 million occupational accidents and 160 million
victims of work related illnesses annually. Deaths due to work-related
accidents and illnesses represent 3.9 percent of all deaths and 15
percent of the world's population suffers a minor or major
occupational accident or work related disease in any one year. Up to
30% of unemployed report that they suffer from an injury or disease
dating from the time at which they were employed and is a hindrance to
finding new employment.
Many countries, such as Indonesia and Guatemala, have limited or very
general regulations on occupational safety and health, while other
countries, like Mexico or China, have adequate laws that are simply
not enforced in any meaningful way.
Part of the reason for the non-enforcement of occupational safety and
health laws is the lack of resources – human, financial and technical
– in developing countries. Budget austerity programs imposed by
international financial agencies force governments to slash public
expenditures, including those for the recruitment, training and
equipping of workplace safety inspectors. Corruption at all levels of
regulatory development and enforcement is also a major factor working
against workplace health and safety.
The biggest problem, however, is a lack of political will to enforce
existing rules or to create new ones. Many developing countries, such
as Mexico, are heavily indebted to private banks and institutions like
the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. These countries are
completely dependent on foreign investment to pay the interest, let
alone the principal, on these debts. So any policy that "discourages
foreign investment" – such as enforcement of occupational and
environmental health laws – is economic suicide and a political
Vulnerable workers in the Global Economy, by Garrett Brown,
Occupational Hazards, 04/08/2004
International Labour Organisation, World Day for Safety and Health at
Work 2005: A Background Paper
FROM THE NEWSPAPERS
17 October 2005
ASDA Attacked Over Employees' Rights
By Terry Macalister
ASDA has come under fire from a charity accusing the supermarket group
of planning a "strategic assault" on the working conditions of its staff.
War on Want and the GMB general union fear management proposals for a
major shake-up in staff operations at the Lutterworth distribution
centre in Leicestershire will be rolled out nationwide. They say ASDA
- owned by the US retail group Wal-Mart - has drawn up a "Chip Away
strategy 2005" aimed at reducing costs and increasing productivity at
a time of general falling British retail sales.
According to that strategy, outlined in documents shown to the
Guardian – the company would like to:
· Remove the right of staff to take industrial disputes to the
arbitration service ACAS
· Implement the use of "single man loading" for jobs that involve
lifting, even though Asda's own risk assessment acknowledges the need
for two people to undertake such tasks
· Encourage supervisors to "take the credence out of breaks" by ending
rest times early thereby "leading by example"
· Remove sick pay for the first three days of absence.
The plans were revealed by War on Want alongside the launch of ASDA
Wal-Mart: The Alternative Report, which claims the company keeps costs
low by means of harsh working regimes in its supermarkets and depots
as well as demanding ever reduced prices from suppliers in developing
countries. The report is co-sponsored by the GMB union.
"ASDA Wal-Mart makes a big deal of its low prices, but behind the
bargains exists a trail of exploitation and hardship. ASDA Wal-Mart is
riding roughshod over workers on a global scale. The government must
step in to bring the activities of big business under control," said
Louise Richards, chief executive of War on Want.
The allegations were rejected by ASDA, which argued that its low
prices were essentially based on high volumes and economies of scale
for an ever-expanding and successful company. "We can sell jeans for
£3, for example, because whereas our competitors buy denim by the
yard, we buy it by the mile. And all our factories are independently
audited by Bureau Veritas and all comply with ethical trading
initiative guidelines," said a company spokesman.
He was unaware of any Chip Away strategy and denied an anti-union or
harsher work regime was being planned. "We are fully supportive of the
GMB and generally have very good staff relations, which puts us in the
top 10 companies in surveys by the Financial Times and Fortune 500."
In relation to the specific points raised by the charity, ASDA said it
was not opposed to the GMB taking disputes to ACAS if it were not
possible to sort it out in other ways. There was no desire to cut
breaks that people were entitled to and it would always follow health
and safety rules when it came to lifting or other activities. "We
would not want to be in contravention of such rules which would open
us up to lawsuits and everything," said the official. He stressed
there could be no plan to remove sick pay at Lutterworth or anywhere
else for the first three days of absence as this was already the
policy. "Our colleagues don't get paid for the first three days but
all supermarkets do this. It's not unique and it's not new."
But the document seen by the Guardian suggests ASDA management at
Lutterworth recognise that removal of payments risks "alienating
colleagues" and could face a "negative sales pitch from the GMB".
War on Want points out that Lee Scott, the Wal-Mart president, earned
$17.5m last year while four of the 10 richest people in the world come
from the Walton family - heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune.
Wal-Mart claims to be a good employer and have good labour relations
with the GMB in Britain as well as unions in Brazil and elsewhere, but
it has a history of conflict over staff relations too. This year the
US retail group paid $135,540 (£77,000) to settle charges of 24 child
labour violations in America. In 2004, an internal audit found 1,370
similar problems and in 2000, it paid $206,650 to resolve a case
involving 1,436 similar charges.
In March this year, the Quebec Labour Relations Board found Wal-Mart
guilty of interfering with the formation of a legal union at an outlet
in the Canadian city.
17 October 2005
Poorest Found to be Most at Risk of Being Murdered
By Rosie Cowan
People living in Britain's poorest neighbourhoods are six times more
likely to be murdered than those from the most affluent areas,
according to a report out today. Its authors claim that the
polarisation of a generation caused by mass unemployment in the
recession-hit early 1980s could be to blame.
The Crime and Society Foundation, a justice and social policy
think-tank based at King's College London, examined the 13,140 murders
- an average of almost two a day - committed in England, Scotland and
Wales from January 1981 to December 2000.
The study, titled Criminal Obsessions, found that while the murder
rate has more than doubled from 350 to more than 800 since 1967, the
increase was not spread evenly across social classes. "The rise in
murder in Britain has been concentrated almost exclusively in men of
working age living in the poorest parts of the country," said Danny
Dorling of Sheffield University, who wrote the chapter on the
correlation between murder and poverty.
"The poorer the place you live, the more likely you are to be
murdered. The rate of murder represents the tip of an iceberg of
violence. It can be seen as a marker of social harm. For murder rates
to rise in particular places, and for a particular group of people
living there, life in general has to be made more difficult to live,
people have to be made to feel more worthless. The rate has risen most
for those demographic groups and in those areas, for whom and where
people have become relatively poorer over time."
Contrary to popular belief, gun crime is not the main factor behind
the surge in murder rates in deprived areas. Although the use of
firearms has risen in the poorest wards in the past 20 years, 29% of
murder victims were shot in rich areas as opposed to 11% in the
poorest. Those in poorer areas are more likely to be stabbed with a
knife or broken glass, and in 4% of cases, die in a fight, usually by
being kicked to death.
The vast majority murders were not carefully planned, but were sudden
acts of violence, premeditated for only minutes or seconds, and the
perpetrators were often drunk, Prof Dorling said.
There was also a marked rise in the number of suicides of young men
from these socioeconomic groups, while more than a million had moved
abroad in the 1990s. "These are the same young men who saw many of
their counterparts, brought up in better circumstances and in
different parts of Britain, gain good work, or university education,
or both, and become richer than any similarly sized cohort of such
young ages in British history," said Prof Dorling.
Sixteen-year-olds from poverty-stricken areas would have found it much
harder to get a job in 1981 than any set of school-leavers in the
previous 40 years, he said. "The lives of men born since 1964 have
polarised, and the polarisation, inequality, curtailed opportunities
and hopelessness have bred fear, violence and murder."
Strathclyde University Department of Geography and Sociology bans Coke
At its first meeting of the academic year the Department of Geography
and Sociology at Strathclyde University decided to adopt an ethical
purchase policy with a presumption in favour of fair trade products.
In addition the Department resolved to boycott products made by two of
the worlds most controversial corporations: Coca Cola and Nestle.
The Head of Department, Professor David Miller noted that "Nestle have
repeatedly refused to put their house in order in relation to
marketing baby milk in the developing world, resulting in the needless
deaths of many thousands of babies. Coca Cola continue to refuse to
respond to the issues raised about their involvement in Colombia by
the Colombian Food and Drinks Union SINALTRAINAL. In India, they
continue to ignore the wishes of local communities and operate plants,
which diminish ground water and poison surrounding areas. This
boycott is part of our ethical purchasing policy, but we also hope it
will send a signal that corporations cannot simply ignore their
responsibilities to local communities."
The departmental decision takes place against the background of the
mounting campaign by students in Britain and Ireland to remove Coca
Cola Students Unions. It follows a guest lecture to students in the
Department last year by Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Centre
and Edgar Paez of the International affairs department of SINALTRAINAL
the Colombian food and drinks union.
"I welcome the departmental decision to boycott Coke and Nestle", said
Professor Miller. "I hope that other academic departments will take
similar decisions and that this might contribute towards University
decisions to remove Coca cola from campuses across the UK."
For more information:
Colombia Solidarity Campaign http://www.colombiasolidarity.org.uk/
Killer Coke http://www.killercoke.org/
India Resource Center http://www.indiaresource.org/
Baby Milk Action http://www.babymilkaction.org/
For information on the Department of Geography and Sociology phone
Professor David Miller (w) 0141 548 3794 or (m) 07786 927 551
Maire Ni Seighin from the 'Shell to Sea' campaign (Rossport Five) will
be addressing a public meeting in the Culturlann, Falls Road, Belfast
on Wednesday 19th Oct, 7.30pm. The meeting will be conducted in Irish
and in English and will be chaired by Fergus O'Hare.
Please come along and support Maire and the stand the Rossport Five
have taken for their community.
Maire Ni Seighin is a representative for the Shell to Sea Campaign
which is campaigning on behalf of the Rossport Five, recently
imprisoned because of their stand against Shell Oil's plans to run
pipelines through their community against the wishes of the local people.
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