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Ireland - Government attacks workers through hiring freeze in public sector

category ireland / britain | workplace struggles | news report author Thursday April 02, 2009 19:04author by Andrew Report this post to the editors

In the latest round of attacks on ordinary workers in order to force us to pay for the crisis in capitalism the government had "declared a moratorium on Recruitment and Promotions in the Public Service with effect from 27th March". This is both yet another direct attack on public sector workers and an indirect attack on all workers as it means our access to health, education and other essential services will be further reduced.

As usual the government is spinning this attack to sow division between workers. So for instance it is implied that the freeze in the health sector will not target 'front line' staff but only administrative posts. In fact the plan is to allow a very limited number of front line posts to be protected by further slashing of administration grades. Does the government really expect us to believe that a modern health service can be run without all the background processing of medical information that falls under administration. Or that a hospital can function without someone ordering everything from medical supplies to toilet paper. Over the last decade we have already seen large numbers of superbug deaths in the hospitals due to the decision to outsource 'non essential' cleaning services, is this latest scam not more of the same? Are we really going to fall for it?

This latest attack illustrates the huge mistake ICTU made in calling off the March 30th strike in return for talks which promise nothing. As long as Irish workers fail to organise to resist the cost of the crisis in capitalism being place on our shoulders the government will keep coming back for more. ICTU's language of 'sharing the pain' is a further mistake, the employers did not share the wealth while the took billions during the boom, why exactly are our union leaders telling us we must share the paid. Indeed as the Anglo Irish Bank nationalisation showed the rich are not at all willing to take a share of the pain, within days of the public sector 'pension levy' pay cut being announced the 400 of the 900 million 'saved' by cutting the wages of tens of thousands of workers was handed over to 10 of the richest people in the country who had borrowed to make a risky bet on AIB shares and were not willing to accept they had lost that bet. Instead we bailed them out.

We are only days away from the next round of attack's which will be announced in the April 7th emergency budget. And we can be sure that these attacks will be followed by other rounds - all targeted at the working class and not at the bankers and property developers who made billions. There are counter examples, the workers who occupied Waterford Crystal to win some jobs back, the workers from SR Technics who today blockaded the airport and the workers in Visteon who right now are occupying their plant in Belfast. But these workers are being left by ICTU to fight it alone and perhaps to be picked off and defeated one by one. This is a disgrace.

ICTU have shown they can't be trusted to lead the fight, that they will cave in at the slightest offer. Perhaps many of us are guilty of heaving a sigh of relief at not having to go on strike and lose a days paybon March 30 but if so this is foolishly short sighted of us. Unless we organise to network across the workplaces and unions and lead the fight when ICTU is unwilling we will lose far more than a days pay in the months and years ahead.
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