17 March 2009
At its recent meeting the National Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Ireland discussed the deepening economic crisis and the response needed from the labour movement.
The growing economic crisis now being experienced in the Republic is both a crisis of the Irish banking system and a part of the global crisis of capitalism. The economic strategy pursued by all previous Governments made up of various combinations of establishment parties has come unstuck. The loss of more than a thousand jobs a day is clearly unsustainable and has exposed the failed strategy of reliance on transnational capital for building and sustaining an industrial base.
The Irish establishment has no answers to the growing and deepening crisis other than to continue with the failed economic and social policies by making workers, the poor, the sick, the older generation and youth pay. While the top echelons of the Irish banking system must carry a heavy responsibility for what is taking place, they were only acting according to the inherent rules of capitalism. It is the very nature of the system that is at the heart of the crisis. The establishment is now attempting to make a few leading bankers—venal and corrupt like their fellows—and the politicians who serve their interests the fall guys for a bankrupt and historically doomed system.
The strategy underlying the forthcoming budget, like last year’s budget, delivered by an incompetent Minister for Finance, will be to attack even more deeply the living standard of working people. The many social and state benefits that working people have won over the decades from hard and bitter struggles will come under sustained attack.
In an effort to bail out the banks and parasitic property speculators and to prop up the establishment, the National Pension Fund is being raided and squandered. The Irish ruling class have put their own survival first and will attempt to make not only the present generation but the next generation pay for that survival by putting the country in pawn to international bankers and finance houses.
It is clear that significant and important leading elements within the trade union movement have learnt little or nothing from the previous thirty years of “social partnership” and are anxious to get into some new arrangement with the Government in finding a way out of the crisis. They are clinging to the concept of “social partnership” at a time when the employers’ organisations and the Government have abandoned it as no longer serving their interests and have torn up the existing agreement. The Government has so far turned a deaf ear to their appeals.
No economic strategy is being presented or considered either by the Government or the European Union that does not mean savage attacks on workers’ pay and conditions. The power and interests of capital are to be protected at all costs.
As we have stated before and expressed through our opposition to the many EU treaties foisted upon the people of the member-states, they could and would lead only to the present impasse, not just in Ireland but in all the member-states. The “one shoe fits all” approach is clearly unworkable.
The Irish state has been left with only two options: raise taxes, or control public spending. The situation is now so serious that the labour movement must either become radical or be redundant.
The major protest that took place in Dublin on 21 February, organised by the ICTU, bringing more than 120,000 workers onto the streets, was a welcome step forward. That protest followed the many protests by pensioners and also by the teachers’ unions in late 2008, pointing to the fact that working people are demanding leadership from their trade unions. We share the anger of all working people at the cuts and levies that have already been introduced and the new one planned in the forthcoming emergency budget.
There is no other way forward but to resist. We call on all workers to support the national day of action on 30 March called by the ICTU. Working people, the old, young people, women and men need to be mobilised. We either stand and resist or watch everything that the labour movement has fought for being butchered in the interests of a small ruling elite.