ULA calls on ICTU to call a 24 hour general strike

The ULA today called on the Irish Congress of Trades Unions to call a 24 hour general strike to resist the austerity budget.

The next Anglo promissory note is due to be paid in March 2013. The ICTU should call a national stoppage to coincide with that bond payment.

Richard Boyd Barrett TD said,

“This budget will be the sixth austerity budget since the onset of the crisis. With each successive budget social suffering has increased while the economy has deteriorated. The government’s strategy is hurting without working.

“In this worst of all worlds, people must continue to suffer without any sense that the economic crisis will be overcome. Even the IMF has said austerity isn’t working. The strategy of bailing out banks, protecting bondholders and attacking workers has been a disaster. Growth has slowed to a trickle, investment has all but disappeared and the national debt has exploded to €197.5 billion.

“We need to cancel the odious bank debt and instead invest in a sustainable future. Only people power will force this government to change course, that’s why we’re calling on everyone to join the protest this Saturday.”

Joan Collins TD said,

“Once again it’s the most vulnerable in our society – the old, the sick and those on social welfare – that are being targeted in the cuts in this budget. But recent weeks have seen a rising mood of resistance in the country.

“This week thousands of disability rights protestors marched on the Dail. Students have taken to the streets in their thousands as well. Tens of thousands have marched against a government that is out of touch with the country on women’s rights. The pre-budget march on Saturday gives us an opportunity to bring all these issues together.”

Clare Daly TD said,

“The protest on Saturday is a magnificent start but we have to go much further if we are to stop this government’s cuts – one protest is not enough. On the 14th November six countries in Europe – Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta – had co-ordinated general strikes. Sadly Ireland was the only one of the PIIGS not to go on strike that day.

“The Irish unions have been too silent in resisting government cuts. The close links between the tops of the unions and the Labour Party have held back the resistance for too long. I’m calling on ICTU to back the call for a national stoppage on the day of the Anglo promissory note payment.”

Joe Higgins TD said,

“The reality is that far from succeeding, the policy of austerity is causing economic disaster on a huge scale. The past five years we have seen an unimaginable transfusion of resources from the working class of this country to the bondholders, the speculators and the bankers in the financial markets of Europe and further afield.

“The spinelessness of the Labour Party can be seen in their preference to impoverish workers rather than squeeze the rich even a little more. In answer to a parliamentary question from myself to the Minister for Finance on October 23, we learn the following: Three new income tax bands at rates of 50% for earners over €100,000, 60% for earners over €135,000 and 70% for earners over €200,000 would yield extra income ‘of the order of €1.1 billion’ in 2013.

“Another answer on the same day informed me that if corporation tax was raised from 12.5% – one of the lowest rates in the twenty seven EU Member States – to 15%, 17.5% or 21.8% extra amounts of income could be realised respectively, of €675, €1.35 billion or €2.5 billion.

“There is an alternative way out of the crisis but it means implementing real socialist policies that redistribute the wealth in Ireland.”


While the call for a general strike is a good one I think it is a mistake to pose it in this way as a demand on the rotten ICTU leadership. The ICTU leaderhship have shown in word and in deed that they are no friend of working people – they are the agents of the capitalists within our ranks. The demand for a general strike should not be linked to ICTU in this way – it can only confuse those working people looking to the ULA for any kind of leadership by implying that ICTU would carry through on this. Even to the extent ICTU were forced to come on board and give any kind of nominal backing to such a call their real role would be to minimise the impact of the strike and undermine the attempts by militants to make it successful. If there was to be any mention of ICTU in this call for a general strike it should have been to expose their role not to imply they could be on our side.

It is also disappointing, if not unexpected, to see Joe Higinns linking the Keynesianism of increased taxation with “real socialist policies” yet again.


3 Responses to “ULA calls on ICTU to call a 24 hour general strike”

  1. 1 Jim Monaghan
    November 23, 2012 at 10:36

    Surely the point is that the ICTU is the “official” leadership of the organised workingclass. And two they represent TINA (there is no alternative) which alas is accepted by the bulk of the workingclass. So we have to engage in a struggle with those like the ICTU. So asking them to act is in my opinion perfectly acceptable.And if they do not, then hopefully those who are questioning TINA will also question them.I would add that we have nopt won the debate on TINA.

    • November 23, 2012 at 12:00

      It is possible to make demands in general without concretising how they will be brought about.

      But when we start to concretise our demands such as making them directly at a particular group to implement then there is extra political responsibility in regard to our assessment of that group.

      Calling on the ICTU bureaucracy to implement a call for a general strike without placing it in the context of their general social role as misleaders of the working class and how they would consciously disorganise any such general strike can only be to give political confidence in the ICTU bureaucracy.

      The whole point of the general strike call must surely be to attempt to engage with those layers of the working class who are open to that idea. If ICTU oppose that call then they are exposed to that layer but why will the militant worker then look to the ULA who simply called on ICTU to act without putting that in the context of their betrayal and explaining that any real general strike will have to be the work of a new leadership and organisation of the rank-and-file – in large part against the ICTU bureaucracy. I would argue that the likely outcome is that the ULA, or anyone else making this simple call on ICTU to act, will have looked to that militant worker like part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

      What would “engaging in struggle” with those like ICTU look like otherwise?

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