Once again Irish workers, faced with redundancy have been forced to take action to fight for what is due to them. HMV staff in Limerick, Cork and Dublin occupied their workplaces in an effort to ensure that they receive pay owed to them by the company. These are but the latest example of workers with their backs to the wall taking sit in action. After discussions with the Administrators the occupations in Limerick have now ended and the workers will receive their back pay. Why? Because they disobeyed their master's voice.
Deloitte, the company’s administrator announced the closure of all 16 HMV’s stores in the Republic of Ireland leaving workers with 5 weeks unpaid wages as well as overtime, payment in lieu of notice and the redundancy payments owed to them.
The occupations reflect the ongoing crisis in the state, but they reflect also the change in consciousness that has taken place in the last few years. The occupations at Waterford Crystal and Vita Cortex have generated enormous support from workers in Waterford and in Cork and across the whole of the state and beyond. Others such as Thomas Cook, GAME, La Senza and others illustrate that small groups of workers even in individual shops can take militant action, when they see no other option. This should be a lesson to the leaders of the trade union movement.
It is more than likely that this won’t be the last time that workers in the state occupy factories in defensive actions. After almost 5 years of economic crisis many high street stores and Irish household names have disappeared or stand at risk of collapse. NAMA; which is still selling off the bones and whiskers of the late Celtic Tiger is never out of the news.
A militant policy for the trade union movement would demand the nationalisation of every company threatening redundancy. It would seek to organise every factory and every shop, to draw the maximum number of workers into the movement and to arm them with a sense of their own organised power. It would fight also to guarantee immunity against prosecution.
Trade union organisation and workers rights didn’t drop from the sky, this year especially when we commemorate the Dublin Lockout of 1913 it is all the more important that we fight for the ideas of Connolly and Larkin, whose sacrifices and struggles founded our movement.