Web Site http://theploughblog.blogspot.com/
Vol 6-No 2
Tuesday March 3rd 2009
E-mail newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
2) 200,000 march against the crisis
3) Sinking ships
4) The Eagle
5) IRSP On The EU
6) The Late Bob Doyle
7) From The Media
a. Pat The Baker
b. Bloody Sunday internement Meeting
9) What’s On
This edition of the Plough deals mainly with the economic crisis. That is as it should be. Too often in the past Irish Republicans while denouncing the evils of imperialism, concentrated only on the physical side of Imperialism in Ireland, ie the British army and the symbols of Imperialist rule. But Imperialism is much more than that. The current crisis of capitalism is an opportunity for the republican left to sink deep roots into the working class and raise the issues relevant to the everyday lives of the workers while pushing to the for always the way the imperialist partition of Ireland has created two reactionary states, divided the working class and stole the wealth that rightly belongs to the vast majority of people on this isle. We also carry two tributes to two dead communist comrades, Rosa Luxemburg and Bob Doyle.
The Starry Plough magazine is the printed organ of the Irish Republican Socialist Party. This latest format carries with it a wide range of articles from ‘Stand By The Republic’, ‘Marx Vindicated?’, ‘Youth Politics in Ireland’, ‘The Growth of Republican Socialism’, ‘Cuban Revolution 50 years on’ and much more.
The aim of this publication is to assist and develop republican socialist ideas as well as to create debate. This is your magazine. We constantly require input from both members and our supporters.
If you can contribute articles, photos, drawings, information on potential bookshops or stockists or anything else that you feel will help this project then please get in touch with us.This magazine is put together by a volunteer collective of activists and is paid for only by donations, subscriptions and sales. We have no corporate backing nor do we want any.We aim to produce the Starry Plough in this format as a quarterly publication to provide a republican socialist perspective that’s not normally covered in other papers. The Starry Plough Magazine can be obtained from your local IRSP Cumann, all decent bookshops and by mail via email:
200,000 march against the crisis
There were spectres haunting Dublin on Saturday Feb 21st, the fear of unemployment and of job cuts but more importantly the spirit of James Connolly and Jim Larkin the founding fathers of the Irish labour movement. It took two hours to get from Parnell Square to the final rally. 200,000 people, workers, their families and their kids, young and old, from all over the country, Cork, Kerry, Sligo, Donegal, the midlands and all over. And they were fed up
“why should we pay the price for these greedy b*******”.
The fact is that the crisis in Ireland has generated a huge movement. Many people pointed out that they’ve never been out on strike or been on a demo in their lives, but then again we’ve never had this sort of situation before. Even members of the PD forra, the soldier’s organisation were present.
It’s not hard to see why. Unemployment is now 326,000 and all over the country jobs are going over like ninepins. It was no surprise that the Waterford workers and the workers from SR technics were at the front of the march. The latter shows the depth of the crisis while the former shows the fighting spirit which has characterised the working class in this crisis.
What is clear as well is that demonstrations like this help to give the workers a sense of their own power. 200,000 is about 1 in 20 of the population. That’s like 15 million marching in the states or 3 million in Britain. The Irish bosses have been wrong footed by the strength of the Irish workers response. The Irish bourgeois is very weak. It’s massively dependant on foreign investments and exports particularly to Britain, so much so that the volatility of sterling against the Euro is creating big problems in and of itself.
But the flip side of this is that the Irish working class has been greatly changed over the past years. Instead of emigrating to Britain or the states for work people have been “coming home” for years now, wages have gone up and to be honest people have more to fight for than ever before. The crisis puts all that at risk and people aren’t prepared to lie down and take it. The problem for the bosses is that to make all this money they’ve strengthened the working class. They’ve created their own grave diggers as Karl Marx would have said.
The scandals over the last few days over the “golden circle” where the Anglo Irish Bank management lent € 451 million to 10 of its top shareholders to buy its own shares, only adds to the anger. Why should the working class pay for the crisis? It’s entirely of the bosses own making.
That anger was reflected in the speeches by the trade union leaders
“ICTU President Patricia McKeown, said it was time for workers to demonstrate their power and if Government did not pledge to act on their behalf they must be prepared to deny them a single vote” RTE
“David Begg of ICTU pointed out that sooner or later – and he believed sooner – the whole banking system would need to be nationalised”. Irish Times
The government is clearly under enormous pressure. But they are on the horns of a dilemma. Someone has to pay for the crisis, and you can be sure that the bosses won’t. So they are trying to appear reasonable, meanwhile everyone can see they are in a tailspin.
“In a statement issued this morning, the Government said there was a considerable amount in ICTU’s Plan for National Recovery that was "entirely consistent" with its own agenda.
"In particular, it reflects the Government’s view that an integrated national response to the current crisis is not only desirable but essential if there is to be a sufficient impetus and coherence of approach to meet the scale of the challenge," the statement said.
"The Government recognise that the measures which it is taking are difficult and, in some cases, painful. The Government is also convinced, however, that they are both necessary and fair," it continued.
The statement described the pension levy as "reasonable" and said it reflected "the reality that we are not in a position to continue to meet the public service pay bill in the circumstances of declining revenue".” Irish Times
Given the strength of the march and given the huge pressure that the trade union leaders are under, we can expect that they will be forced to go further than they perhaps intend. But it would be an absolute disaster to simply rely on the 10 point plan to save jobs and wages.
We should demand of the trade union leaders that they fight for every job and for every cent.
The banks should be nationalised under the democratic control of the working class.
Any company threatening redundancies should be nationalised under workers control.
We need a majority Labour government with a socialist programme. No excuses and no collaboration with the tweedle dee and tweedle dum parties of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
Séamus Loughlin from
The good ship Capitalism is all but sunk and its 2nd and 3rd class passengers are floundering in icy waters looking for something to grab onto to keep themselves afloat. There isn't enough flotsam for everyone so in desperation they begin squabbling and fighting each other for survival. Meanwhile, the 1st class passengers of this ship haven't even got their feet wet and float by on their roomy lifeboats looking over the sinking lower classes and occasionally toss out the straws from their cocktails for the drowning to grasp at.
If only the lower class passengers could realise that their enemies in this hardship are those bloated 1st class passengers floating by; those who guided the ship comfortably to the iceberg and who are comfortably floating away from it.
Wildcat strikes may be the wildest fantasies of the radical left but they can only be deemed as radical as their intent and vision. In the cases of Lindley, Kilroot and other places around Britain, the breadth of vision is summed up by the protest slogan at these sights, "British Jobs For British Workers". The connotations of such a slogan soon caught the eye of the racist BNP who sought to exploit the sentiments of the protesters. Though the BNP were admirably snubbed by the picket organisers, the arguments made could have struck a chord with many of the ordinary workers seeking an outlet for their anger.
It is, in essence, a very reactionary position to take in place of a potentially progressive one. If the placards of the protesters had read Control of British Industry to British Workers, the scope for change would have widened enormously. Workers should never have to turn against worker in order to better their lot but rather turn against the industrialists who make decisions based solely on profit margins that affect the well being of all workers, British or otherwise.
The right to employment is only secured when the workers have greater control in all aspects of industry. The Venezuelan model of "Cogestion" or government/worker control is proving limited success in its early stages and should be explored in future disputes.
In a somewhat differing dispute, workers at the Waterford Crystal plant have occupied their factory at the news that over 400 workers are to lose their jobs after receivers announced plans to close the site. Both of these incidents of industrial unrest are the outer layers of a much deeper problem.
Whilst workers in Britain and Ireland face much harder times in a very uncertain future, BP's annual profits jumped 39% to £18.1bn as last year's soaring oil prices fuelled results. This proves two things. Firstly, there are massive amounts of revenue to be made by nations through their natural resources; revenue that could be used to fund public services and national economic recovery through state funded employment.
Secondly, massive amounts of this revenue is being channeled into fewer hands through various means with the complicity of friendly governments and this is the flank that all workers must unite to attack.
The 26 Counties especially caters more for multinational investors and their desire for profit than it does for the basic needs of its citizens. This is done through a twin policies of opening up Ireland's natural resources to Multinationals at extremely beneficial rates of tax as well as creating a tax haven for multinationals to register their profits; a fact highlighted by US companies doubling their profits in Ireland from $13.4 billion to $26.8 billion between 1999 and 2002. This massive surge in profit is not the reflection of a surge in real investment but rather due to a rise in US companies declaring their profits in Ireland to benefit from its low tax regime. According to Forbes Magazine Ireland boasts one of the lowest corporate taxations in the world, 12.5%. To put this in perspective, one has to look at the US rate of 35% and the UK's 28%.
Moreover, Ireland also offers multinational corporations self-assessment on their tax profits and this obviously results in companies writing off massive amounts of tax from their balance sheets. This has been done in two categories; liquidisation/receivership/bankruptcy and ceased trading which collectively contributed to 60% of total tax write offs between 1997 and 2001. If the Irish government is willing to write off these figures, why can't similar figures be invested in joint government/worker initiatives in cases such as Waterford Crystal?
At the same time, the Comptroller and Auditor General were alarmed at what they called "Phoenix Companies", i.e those that fell only to rise again, abusing the principle of limited liability to the tune of millions of Euros of taxes.
These corporate friendly policies have been lobbied for in a show of unity of Sinn Fein and the DUP when they argued against "unfair competition" from the South by lowering the Northern corporate tax rate from 30% to 12.% This, it was argued would cause a massive rise in capital within Northern Ireland from outside investment. This as as it has been in the South for all the wrong reasons to benefit all the wrong people.
The "All Ireland Economy" envisaged by those in favour of this reduction have apparently learned nothing of the devastation of Irish Society caused by the Celtic Tiger.
Ireland's position as Europes No.1 business friendly tax haven has damaged Irish society in a number of ways. Firstly, massive corporate tax cuts have drastically reduced Ireland's tax base to a mere 29% of GDP, overshadowed by an EU average of 40%. This in turn resulted in less money for public services crucial for human welfare and development of Irish Citizens. Already atrocious health and education services are further underfunded and opened up to free market privatisation.
This caused ever increasing inequality in Irish society as well as crippling indirect or 'stealth taxes' that make up 41% of the overall tax burden in Ireland. Low income families are hit harder by these indirect charges such as GP fees, medicine fees and even bin charges. This is coupled with a grossly unfair universal vat rate of 21% on ordinary goods and services.
Whilst ordinary Irish citizens struggle to make ends meet in their ordinary daily affairs, multinationals are able to use Ireland to both cream revenue from its national reserves as well as to bank its profits with no social responsibilities. Isn't this the enemy that needs to be faced down rather than, "foreign workers"?
Ireland's position as the willing benefactor to US corporations has sparked a dangerous race to the bottom with its European neighbours that has seen Germany, Poland and Austria and the Netherlands cutting their corporation taxes.
As a basic demand, the left should begin a European wide campaign of action, both political and industrial to demand that these tax incentives be removed and replaced with more socially responsible, strongly regulated taxation system of multi-national corporations within All EU nations. Stronger regulation of Workers rights/benefits to a high uniform standard would also close the profit margins of importing cheaper labour.
Whilst falling far short of worker control, these two issue can be strongly argued as a collective step forward and could unite workers on a European wide basis.
Tomas Gorman (Feb 102009)
Who was Rosa Luxemburg?
She was born on March 5th, 1871 in Zanosc, Poland (the Russian occupied part of it at the time). Her father was a Jewish merchant, both of her parents were spoke German as their first language, thus she grew up Polish- and German speaking, unusual at a time when most Jews used Yiddish.
A long illness during childhood left her bed-bound for a year during which she taught herself to read and write and the Russian language.
In 1884, now living in Warsaw, she was admitted to grammar school. An exceptional pupil, the only criticism her teachers had to voice was that of
“a rebellious attitude towards the authorities”.
Jewish kids were an absolute rarity at an upper-class grammar school in Poland during those days. Her school days were the time of first contact to the illegal group “Proletariat II”. One of the organisation’s leaders, Martin Kasprazak, saw the massive potential of the young woman and introduced her to the writings of Marx and Engels.
Proletariat II was uncovered by the security forces in 1888 and most of its leaders – Kasprazak included – were slaughtered. Rosa Luxemburg managed to escape, hidden inside a load of hay. She left Poland and went to Zürich where many revolutionaries from Russia and Poland had taken refugee.
In 1890 she was delegated to the International Socialist Congress in Paris, where she put before the delegates her famous “no money for militarism and war” resolution. Her opposition against the reformist leaders of the movement, especially Eduard Bernstein, sharpened from this time on.
1904 was the year of Rosa’s first imprisonment – many were to follow – when she had to serve 3 months for her anti-monarchist publications. During the Warsaw-uprising in 1905 she became editor of the daily “the red flag”. Back in prison in 1906, her comrades bailed her out but the authorities put a “restriction-on –movements” order on her. She ignored this travel-ban and went to Finland. There she met with Lenin, they tried to analyse the reasons for the failure of the 1905 revolution in Russia. From 1907 to the beginning of World War I Rosa Luxemburg taught at the SPD* party school. Being one of few Social Democrats who saw – and campaigned against – war looming, she kept emphasising on the need to fight militarism and the war- mongering of the German bourgeoisie. This radical attitude along with her numerous publications against the decay of the SPD into a pro-bourgeois reform party led to a leading role within the revolutionary wing of the movement – the split of which became inevitable around that time.
The establishment saw Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, Wilhelm Pieck (the first president of the GDR after World War II) as the most dangerous revolutionaries during the war, whilst Social Democrats like Noske were welcome helpers to hold the working class down, Rosa Luxemburg and her comrades were hardly ever out of jail.
In 1918 the defeat of German imperialism, which came just months after the victorious October Revolution in Russia and the sharpening class-contradictions, led to a revolutionary situation. Rosa Luxemburg, just out of prison, took a leading role in the November – Revolution. The murderous betrayal of the uprising by the SPD, the incapability of the “independent” Social Democrats to take leadership made a new revolutionary party a necessity.
Rosa Luxemburg was one of the delegates at the founding congress of the KPD**, “now we are back with Marx”, was her famous comment after it.
From this point on, prison was no longer good enough; the hunt on Luxemburg, Pieck (who managed to escape) and Liebknecht began. Rosa Luxemburg was beaten to death after her arrest by members of the elite-unit “Kavallerieschützendivision”, just two weeks after the founding of the Communist Party of Germany; Karl Liebknecht was killed on the same day.
One of the complicated questions about Rosa Luxemburg is who can “claim” her of the by various political forces today. Indeed, both Social Democrats and people who are or were close to the “4th International” are, in the one or the other way, influenced by Leo Trotsky’s theories, refer to her.
The answer isn’t an easy one; I think what matters most to Communists:
Despite her disagreements with Lenin and many other revolutionaries of the time – including Trotsky- Rosa Luxemburg was totally clear about the need for a revolutionary avant-garde of the working class. She left the Social Democrats when it had become obvious that the party was lost for revolution and revolutionaries and helped founding the Communist Party. That makes her part of our heritage, not that of people who were and still are trying to doctor the symptoms of a system which is condemned to death.
Lenin on Rosa Luxemburg:
“An eagle can dive lower down than a chicken, never but can the chicken reach the heights the eagle reaches. Rosa Luxemburg was wrong on the question of the independence of Poland. She was wrong in 1903, when judging menshewism, she was wrong on the theory of the accumulation of capital. She was wrong in July 1914, when she supported the unification of Mensheviks and Bolsheviks; she made mistakes in her prison-writings in early 1918, though she corrected many of them later. But despite all these mistakes – she was and she will remain an eagle”
By Marion Baur- From Unity newspaper of the CPI
IRSP ON THE EU
The Irish Republican Socialist Party are opposed to any second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. The people have already voted on this issue last June, 2008, and rejected the advice of the establishment and their parties rejected Lisbon and further Irish integration into the EU's neo-liberal core policy, competition in a free market. This agenda was articulated quite frankly by Baron Daniel Janssen, a member of the most influential EU lobbying group, the European Roundtable of Industrialists. The ERT consists of the chairpersons and CEO's of the continents largest corporations. It's influence was described by Baron Janssen as having achieved
"a double revolution in EU decision making. It had succeeded in reducing the power of the state and of the public sector in general through privatisation and de-regulation and by transferring many of he nations powers to a more modern and internationally minded structure at European level".
We in the IRSP believe that only integration on a socialist basis from which to build links with our European neighbours.
The Lisbon treaty heralds the end for the Irish Constitution with democratic decision making being centralised further. This erosion of Sovereignty is even harder for the Irish people to swallow considering the already existing denial of full democracy caused by the Illegal occupation of the Northern six counties by another EU partner, Great Britain.
Moreover, to quote the CAEUC website,
"The Lisbon Treaty would give the EU new competence (law-making power), or significantly extend existing competence, in at least 32 new areas. And it would broaden current law-making power in 40 other areas.For example, the EU could decide the way public services are financed (Art 14 TFEU)". The Irish people answered quite clearly when last asked to abandon so much democratic decision making power.
Recently our political leaders came back from Brussels with some half baked tale about promises "of legally binding guarantees" which are meaningless. They are not even guarantees but merely "promises of guarantees" which are certainly not the same thing. The Charter of Conditional rights which is being presented by supporters of the treaty as a protector of Social rights smacks of Orwellian "doublethink". The charter espouses basic social rights such as rights to education and adequate health care. This is qualified however with the premise that it "does not establish any new power or task for the union". What this means for us is that welfare deficiencies such as our socially apartheid health care system remains unchanged by this charter.
Other rights proclaimed by the Charter are equally as vague. Whilst the "right to engage in work ... the freedom to seek employment, to work..." is mentioned, the right to employment is not directly stipulated. In a further check, all espoused "rights" are limited "in accordance with ... national laws and practices", giving the Irish government a get out clause if any individual or union tries to enforce the charter.
Irish Neutrality needs to be reinforced and rebuilt after the disgusting episode that saw over a million US troops passing through Irish Airports on the way to Imperialist adventures in Afghanistan and the Middle East. The Lisbon Treaty is a further step towards Irish integration into a EU Army structure. This is diametrically the wrong direction viz a vie neutrality. Moreover it would align the Irish army to colonial and former colonial powers who use the cover of humanitarian intervention in the 3rd world as cover for protecting their interests. As the political motivation for EU integration lies in the Neo-liberal agenda, the actions of its "super army", of which Ireland would be active, would reflect that.
The EU core policy of aggressively pursuing the free market agenda ultimately results in negative environmental impact. Neo-liberal globalisation disregards eco-welfare as much as it ignores social welfare. Even worse, it actively prevents any moves or actions that seek to improve either that effect profit potential of corporations. The Lisbon Treaty pays hollow homage to climate change promising to promote action on environmental degradation without stipulating any real commitment. A homage that rings even more hollow when set in context of the free market ethos of the EU.
Also worrying the EU actively promotes the use of Nuclear Energy as a future resource over that of renewable sources. This is warped emphasis concretised in the Lisbon Treaty through the proposed creation of the European Atomic Energy Commission.
As far as the IRSP are concerned there should be no second referendum as it has already been decided by the people. However given the fact that there is going to be one we, along with our colleagues in the Campaign Against European Union Constitution, will be campaigning for another rejection of the Lisbon Treaty. Lisbon mark one was essentially the ill-fated European Constitution, rejected by the French and Dutch electorate which was why these people were not allowed to vote on acceptance or rejection of the Lisbon Treaty. Just as Lisbon mark one was of no noticeable difference to the European Constitution, so too will Lisbon mark two be of any consequential difference to its doomed predecessor.
The Irish Republican Socialist Party would strongly recommend another rejection, not that there should be a re-run in the first place, of the Lisbon Treaty. Our rejection of this treaty is for the same reasons we rejected it the first time, ie;
· It remains a vehicle to further exploit Irish/European Workers by further denying them avenues of controlling the national economy by stripping existing (albeit weak) rights to employment and the rights to exercise Industrial Action.
· It remains a vehicle to undermine Irish Sovereignty in Law making and regulation.
· It remains a vehicle to pull Ireland further away from Neutrality and towards the NATO sphere of influence and control.
· remains a vehicle of further environmental degradation via its free market ethos and commits Ireland in an EU framework to promote nuclear power over renewables.
THE LATE BOB DOYLE
This short speech by an IRSP member was made at the Connolly monument Dublin after a march on Saturday 14th February 2009 to commemorate the death of Bob Doyle.
The Irish Republican Socialist Party would like to take this opportunity to salute and pay tribute to the late Bob Doyle. Bob was a life long communist and therefore internationalist who fought against the fascists of General Franco during the Spanish Civil War, 1936-39. During the Civil War Bob was interned in the concentration camp at San Pedro De Cardena, where much hardship was endured. Again during the civil war Bob Doyle fought alongside comrades such as Jack Jones, founder of the retired members association of the Unite union (formerly the Transport and General Workers Union) as part of the International Brigades. Other well known Irish Republicans also fought in the struggle against fascism, people such as Frank Ryan and Kit Conway to mention only two. To anybody who has seen the film “Land and Freedom” a picture will develop of the struggle Bob and his comrades were engaged in.
Bob Doyle was a member of the Communist Party in Britain and after the civil war in Spain he returned to his duties as an activist helping guard the party’s headquarters against far right, as he had done in Dublin 1933 helping to defend Connolly House against a siege by right wing elements who, as in London put the building under constant attack. During first years of world war two Bob signed on for service in the British Merchant service, joining the ships company aboard the Empire Sentinal which was instructed initially to go to Dunkirk for the evacuation. This order was altered and it was ordered the ship be sank to block the entrance to Poole harbour thus preventing access to Nazi shipping and U. Boats. This was Bobs way of fighting against fascism in a different way. The second half of the second world war years Bob spent much time fire watching the communist party headquarters in Kings Street London along with other comrades like Harry Pollit, Peter Kerrigan and William Gallagher, everybody had to take their turn fire watching. This was the spirit and commitment of Bob Doyle.
Today as we once again witness the crisis of capitalism and the rise of neo liberalism, now the established political order of the bourgeoisie, we must also be vigilant of more sinister forces waiting in the wings. As capitalism stumbles from crisis to crisis, as we are witnessing in Ireland today with the loss of 1,350 jobs at Dublin airport within SR Techniques, formerly Tool Aer Lingus, the tool of fascism is readily available to the capitalist system. In Britain we are witnessing the rise of the far right and such organisations as the British National Party the likes of which we, as was Bob Doyle, must be ever vigilant of. To the right of the British National Party are a group styling itself Combat 18. This name comes from the first and eighth letter of the alphabet, AH Adolph Hitler. To ignore these groups will be done at our peril.
Just as Bob spent a huge part of his life fighting fascism both through the communist party and, equally importantly, the trade union movement, and in particular the print union SOGAT, we today must prepare for a similar struggle. Far right ideology is probably at its most prevalent today than at any other time since the days when Bob and his comrades faced it head on both in Spain and Cable Street, London. Franco may be long dead but Francoism must certainly is not. In recent years we have seen Jewish graves desecrated by the thugs of groups like Combat 18 with swastikas spray painted over tomb stones, we have witnessed the kicking to death of Robert Hamill, simply because he was a Catholic, by right wing thugs in Portadown in the six counties and in London the brutal murder of Stephen Lawrence simply because of his skin colour. This is the very ideology which Bob Doyle and his comrades were prepared to lay down their lives against and in defence of the Spanish Republic.
The Spanish Republic came into being in 1931 and lasted until its unfortunate demise in 1939. That demise was in no way the fault of people like Bob Doyle and the International Brigades. Almost everything at the disposal of international capitalism was hurled at the republic including the Lufftwaffe, or air force, of Nazi Germany. At the same time Benito Mussolini, the Italian fascist dictator, sent Italian crack fascist troops against the Spanish republic. These attacks were aimed at various economic areas and in particular Guaddalajara, North of Madrid. Sea ports were blocked preventing, or limiting, any form of aid from the Soviet Union to the republic, and in these respects with hindsight it could be argued that the republics fait was sealed from the outset of the civil war. The British Royal Family went to great lengths to salute General Franco, including sending the late Queen Mother to publicly insult the prisoners of the International Brigades, telling Franco “do what you wish”. This should tell you whose side they were on, what a surprise.
Bob Doyle dedicated his life to fighting fascism and in defence of democracy, socialism and republicanism.
To finish needles to say, as I began, Bob Doyle and your comrades we in the IRSP and trade union movement we salute your memory.
From the Media
pean single market is undermining labour
February 5, 2009 9:23 | by Brian Denny As strikers rage at the use of foreign workers at an oil refinery, Brian Denny lays the blame at the door of the EU. THE use of Italian contract workers at Lindsey oil refinery in Lincolnshire is the latest example of employers across Europe going on the offensive and undermining organised labour. Refinery owner French oil giant Total gave the £200 million contract to Italian company IREM as it was the cheapest tender. More than 300 of its employees are today being kept on barges berthed at the docks in nearby Grimsby and are being ferried to the refinery to work. The company claims that the Italian workers are on the same wages as their British counterparts, but, even if this was true, sleeping on containers in the freezing seas on the Humber estuary constitutes a lower social wage for these workers. The fact that British energy workers do not know the conditions that these contractors are employed on is enough in itself to set alarm bells ringing. This process undermines the very idea of collective bargaining, a concept which is under attack in a number of ways by employers and the European Union. Total is exploiting EU law which demands the free movement of capital, goods, services and labour, a neoliberal model which facilitates a race to the bottom in wages and conditions. This process began back in 1987 with Margaret Thatcher's Single European Act, which Tory MP John Bercow later boasted was about imposing a single market to achieve the "Thatcherisation of Europe." This internal market was designed to slowly remove barriers to the free movement of capital, goods, services and labour, the so-called "four freedoms," until capital could move anywhere and any time regardless of the consequences. Rather than liberate workers, it has enslaved them by turning people into commodities, with very few collective rights, to be exploited and dumped without regard to social models built up over generations in the member states. We saw this process at work in the Irish Ferries dispute in 2006, when Irish seafarers were displaced by sweated Latvian and Polish labour being paid a third of the wages. The Gate Gourmet strike of 2005 also saw low-paid Polish workers displace local staff, mainly British Asian women. Four recent judgements by the European Court of Justice, known as Laval, Viking, Ruffert and Luxembourg, have also enshrined this race to the bottom in ECJ case law and gives huge new powers to employers to bring in contract labour anywhere within the EU. The ECJ and the European Commission are effectively implementing a programme to narrow the scope for member states to preside over their different social models and labour markets in the context of foreign companies posting workers to their territory. In the Luxembourg case, the ECJ does not even recognise Luxembourg's right to decide which national public policy provisions should apply to both national and foreign service providers on an equal footing. This process is also being played out at Staythorpe power station near Newark, where employers in the energy sector are also refusing to employ local unionised labour. French engineering group Alstom has been contracted by energy privateer RWE to build the power station and two companies, Montpressa and FMM, have since been subcontracted to carry out construction work. It is clear that the the employers' response to the growing economic crisis is to exploit neoliberal EU rules on "free movement" and drive down wages, exclude organised labour and maintain their profits. A stark illustration of this is the fact that the spontaneous strike action came a day after Shell reported the biggest annual profit in British corporate history of £21.9 billion, leading to renewed calls for a windfall tax on energy companies. But the use of cheap foreign workers as a battering ram against organised labour is not a new concept. In 1934, as European countries followed the United States into the Great Depression, French writer Antoine de St Exupéry described Polish miners expelled from French coalfields once they had fulfilled their usefulness as "half-human shadows, shunted from one end of Europe to the other by economic forces." This is the European reality for more and more workers as Brussels imposes its increasingly discredited neoliberal economic model that treats labour like a tin of beans. Even Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has said that angry energy workers were "entitled to an answer." Yet while new Labour remains wedded to the creation of a pseudo-state called Europe, where democracy and workers' right only exist in the past tense, then more and more workers will be asking the same questions. Brian Denny is secretary of Trade Unionists Against the EU Constitution. This article first appeared in the Morning Star,
850 Mini workers sacked on the spot
(Monday 16 February 2009)FROM Morning Star
by industrial reporter Paul Haste
VULNERABLE agency workers became the latest victims on Monday of bosses' attempts to protect their profits from recession.
Hundreds of workers contracted by local employment agencies and used by BMW to make the Mini at its huge Cowley plant near Oxford were thrown out of their jobs in a bid to cut costs.
The livelihoods of 850 people, many of whom had worked at Cowley for years, came to a sudden end when workers were herded into a mass meeting with BMW bosses near the end of their nightshift and told not to return.
Adding insult to injury, the stunned workers were then each handed a letter ordering them to return their uniform to the company or be charged £35.
BMW executives recently announced a colossal £47.6 billion in revenues in 2008.
They have assured shareholders - pointing to an increase in Mini sales last year - that profits will be "clearly positive" when the company's accounts are released next month.
But BMW's disdain for workers deliberately employed on precarious agency contracts was savaged by Unite joint leader Tony Woodley, who stormed: "Sacking an entire shift like this and targeting workers who have no rights to redundancy pay is blatant opportunism on BMW's part and nothing short of scandalous."
Referring to the government's reluctance to implement the European Agency Workers Directive, which would have allowed the Cowley workers equal rights alongside the directly employed BMW workers, Mr Woodley said: "BMW couldn't attempt this in Germany because it would be illegal to do so.
"It is a disgrace that workers in this country can be so casually thrown to the dole," he added.
Mr Woodley's fellow joint general secretary Derek Simpson added: "This disgraceful mass sacking shows just how vulnerable these workers are to the current economic downturn, as employers treat them as second-class citizens."
As the agency workers left the plant, where 3,500 directly employed BMW workers will continue to produce Minis, production line operative John Cunningham declared furiously that they had been "betrayed."
He said: "They've planned this for months and we've only just been told. I don't know what's going to happen to me and my family."
Colleague Silvia Fernandes added: "I've never been sick, I've never missed work and they tell me with one hour's notice that I have been sacked."
Fellow worker Javid Najibi revealed that all the agency staff were likely to get "no payout, no redundancy pay, nothing."
A Business Ministry spokesman claimed that the government wanted to "provide protections for working people," but he insisted that ministers would do this "without removing the important flexibility that agency work can offer employers."
But the government's attitude was shredded by Mr Simpson, who pointed out: "There is nothing to stop ministers acting now to protect agency workers.
"Agency workers have family commitments - they have to find money every month to put food on the table and pay the mortgage just like full-time workers. The current inequalities between agency workers and full-time employees must end," he demanded.
Canadian Book “Labourers On The Rideau Canal”
We are proud to let you know that the landmark and definitive history of the Rideau Canal Labourers (1826-1832), "mainly Irish" is now published. Please order from Borealis Press (www.borealispress.com
Copies are also available @ $20 from Kevin Dooley.
This book is the result of many years of work by the Rideau Canal Celtic Cross Committee, all of it initiated by Kevin Dooley and family.
on behalf of The Dooley Family
Kevin Dooley has been a supporter of the IRSP for many years,
I’m calling on Irish republican socialist groups, trade unions and workers solidarity movements to lend your support to a campaign of boycotting Pat The Baker goods and services. This company has been at the forefront of a campaign of slave labour, exploitation of workers, refusing the right of an employee to join a trade union without fear of being victimised, bullied, beaten, discriminated against and eventually dismissed from their employment.
This company has setup a farce of a works committee who exclusively negotiate on your behalf without your knowledge to themselves under the strict control of Pat The Baker directors and human resources managers. As in 1993 this farce was established as not more than a lynch mob lead by paid bully boys and under the strict control of Pat The Baker management.
Recently just like 1993 when workers decided they had enough of being treated as second class citizens being paid lousy pay from a tin pot company, management yet again refused to allow an employee to join a union in the faint hope of getting better pay and conditions for himself and other workers.
Recently an employee was at the receiving end of a campaign of intimidation and victimisation after he approached management regarding rates of pay, working conditions and hours/days worked.
As set out in Pat The Baker employee contract an employee receives €338.71 for 40 hours 5 out of 7 days. This works out as €8.47 per hour. But the reality is that the employee was working 60 to 80 hours which would result in the employee only being paid €5.64 per hour for 60 hours work and €4.23 per hour for 80 hours work which as stated out in the The National Minimum Wage Act 2000 the national minimum wage for an adult worker is €8.65 an hour not any of the above. The company states that your rate of pay has been fixed to compensate you for having to working on such days as Saturdays and Sundays but in reality it is far from it.
On a normal working day your day begins at 3:30am and finishes 3 to 4pm. Clearly set out in the National wage agreement any person or persons working at least three hours between the period of 12 midnight and 7am in the morning that employee is classed as a night worker and an employer is subjected to pay a night time premium. Which Pat the Baker has failed so miserably to do.
In November of 2008 an employee requested time off as his wife was 11 days overdue expecting their first baby. Pat The Baker management decided to put the employee on the furtherest route away from the hospital where his wife was expecting their baby and refused to give time off to attended the birth, after the employee requested to cover a local run to be near the hospital. Previously to this he was refused a day off to attend his wife’s final hospital appointment due to ”another employee’s personal problems”.
As the campaign of intimidation against the employee intensified, Pat The Baker management began to attempt to disrupt this employees family life by ringing his home phone at unsociable hours, and at one stage the employee saw a Pat the Baker manager driving around his estate searching for his house when it was clearly stated not to do so as prior arranges were made for a meeting. On the employee’s mobile phone he was receiving threatening and abusive phone calls from an administrator of Pat The Baker. The employee was forced to change his mobile phone number.
The Pat The Baker management ordered the employee to drive a mechanically dis-repaired van for over three days with no regard for the employee’s safely or life, when the employee clearly stated the mechanical failures in the van to Pat The Baker management.
The employee was forced by management of Pat The Baker to leave the company due to the employee right to proper pay and conditions and working in a safe environment under health and safety law. Pat The Baker has refused to pay the employee for bank holidays and overtime due.
End the backstreet sweatshops in Ireland
Show your support sign our petition
Subject: Bloody Sunday Event
Date: Wed, 4 Feb 2009 17:06:53 +0000
On behalf of the REPUBLICAN NETWORK for UNITY I would like to thank all those who took part in and contributed to an honest, open and informative debate on the issue of internment in the Gasyard as part of the Bloody Sunday calendar of events. A special thanks must go to the panellists Gary Donnelly (32CSM),Gerry Ruddy (IRSM) Tony Catney (RNU) and Thomas Mc Fadden (Chairperson) for their contributions to this very well attended discussion.
Invitations were also sent to the SDLP and Sinn Fein but they declined,Sinn Fein citing their position that the debate lacked merit and would descend into a Sinn Fein "bashing" exercise.
For us in RNU the existence of draconian legislation in Ireland today, which facilitates the iniquity of internment, is a Justice issue and we make no apologies at highlighting this crime. Even if it does prove to be uncomfortable for various established constitutional parties.We in RNU wish to make it clear that "bashing" Sinn Fein was neither the aim nor the motivation for such a debate, as all those who attended will have witnessed an objective, constructive and informative analysis of internment from 1971 to 2009.
Six weeks ago an Irish Republican, who had just been released from a British prison three weeks beforehand, was detained at Belfast airport. He was subsequently informed by stint of an order signed by the British Secretary of State,that he would be re-imprisoned without any recourse to legal process or legal representation. No charge was levelled against him. No opportunity was given to him to conduct a defence and no court procedure was applied .In short,Terry Mc Cafferty was arbitrarily detained and imprisoned at the whim of a British minister, sound familiar? Yes,Terry Mc Cafferty was and still is interned without trial.
The REPUBLICAN NETWORK for UNITY call for the immediate release of Terry Mc Cafferty and an end to internment in the North and South of our country.
Is mise le meas
Danny mc Brearty RNU
Ashanti Alston was a member of the Black Panther Party in the 1960's and early 1970's. As a political prisoner he spent over a decade in US prisons. Ashanti has since become an anarchist while still drawing on many of his experiences and ideas that spurred him on as a Black Panther activist.
Related Link:: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/90924
Venue: An Culturlann (Gallery room), 216 Falls Road, West Belfast
When: Tuesday 3rd March
Contact Belfast WSM: