Ireland: Widespread resistance as public servants strike

December 4, 2009

The article below is abridged from An Phoblacht, the newspaper of Irish republican party Sinn Fein.

A quarter of a million public sector workers in the 26 counties that make up the Irish Republic staged a one-day strike on November 24. Strikers demanded an alternative to government plans to cut 1.3 billion euros in public expenditure through slash and burn policies that attack workers' wages and conditions.

Council staff, teachers and nurses placed pickets on workplaces, including the Dail (parliament), where Sinn Fein TDs (members of parliament) and support staff demonstrated solidarity with public sector workers by refusing to cross the picket lines. Sinn Fein TDs and staff gave up the day's pay as part of their action.

Speaking at the picket line at Leinster House (where the Dail is) picket line, Sinn Fein Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caoláin said: "Workers in the public service have been left with no choice but to resort to industrial action given the intransigence of the Fianna Fail/Green government in its determination to impose across-the-board pay cuts, on top of the pay cuts and redundancies already imposed.

"Two-thirds of workers in the public service are paid below €50,000 a year and four out of 10 are paid less than €40,000 a year. Contrast this with the 1447 people, 0.06% of all earners, who received approximately €3.459 billion between them in 2008.

"More than 25% of the top 400 earners paid tax at a rate of less than 20%."

Chairperson of the Irish Council of Trade Union's public services committee Peter McLoone said workers had "the resolve and the strength to resist the government if it pursues an unfair and counter-productive course of further pay cuts".

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