Finance Minister Brian Lenihan and the Fianna Fáil led coalition have set out their stall. This was a bosses’ budget that takes €837 out of the economy for every man, woman and child in Ireland. Worse still, if you happen to be an unemployed school leaver under the age of 20 your dole is being cut in half. RTÉ’s headline states that the “most severe budget in decades is revealed”.
If anyone had suggested a few years ago, that Ireland would be in a deep recession, that Waterford Crystal would be occupied, that Labour would be ahead of Fianna Fáil in the polls and that we would be more or less on the brink of a one day general strike, they would have been told to go and put some water in the glass to help wash down the whiskey. The whole place was booming, houses popping up everywhere, more motorways than spaghetti junction and thousands of people returning home from abroad to join the boom.
This is how the Irish Times summed up the forthcoming negotiations between ICTU (The Irish Confederation of Trade Unions), the Government and Ibec (the employers). The talks follow an invitation from the Taoiseach Brian Cowen to the ICTU leaders, who have deferred the strike action planned for Monday 30th pending the outcome of the negotiating. The decision to call off the action reflects the fact that the trade union leaders have been very keen to pull off a deal, and are confident that they have a big mandate from the members.
After seven weeks of occupation UNITE, the union representing the Waterford Crystal workers, has done a deal with KPS, the American company that has bought out part of the company’s assets. The decision is a bitter blow to the workers, many of whom feel that the company was holding a gun to their heads - the issue being the threat to withdraw €10 million of pension payments.
Editorial statement of Socialist Appeal
Sectarianism only serves to divide the working class. When in reality the conditions that Catholic and Protestant workers face mean that they have far more in common with each other than they could ever have with the bosses.