By Socialist Party reporter
“Does the evidence out-rule the possibility that she was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone? You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front.”
These comments from defence barrister Elizabeth O’Connell in a Cork rape trial have sparked outrage throughout the island of Ireland and internationally. Made about a 17-year-old woman, and without any objection from the judge, the remarks were a clear example of victim-blaming and rape myths being used in open court. This is in a state where the majority of rapes and sexual assault are unreported, and only 10% of reports end in a conviction.
Protests across Ireland
Under the hashtag #ThisIsNotConsent, women have been posting photos of their underwear. Angry protests have now taken place in cities across Ireland at very short notice and during work hours. In Cork, 500 marched to the courthouse where the comments were made, many leaving underwear on the steps and railings of the building. 500 also protested in central Dublin, 250 in Belfast, 50 in Limerick and 40 in Galway. Most of these protests were called on the initiative of ROSA – the Socialist Feminist Movement, of which the Socialist Party is a central part.
This explosion of anger reflects the fact that, increasingly, women and young people are not willing to accept victim-blaming and misogyny in society. In March/April this year, thousands took to the streets after the acquittals of Ulster rugby players in a rape trial in Belfast where similar victim-blaming tactics were used. Huge numbers got active in the referendum campaign to achieve repeal and abortion rights.
Two weeks ago, Google workers in Dublin walked out of work as part of a global action against sexual harassment. The latter example shows the potential for workers to get organised in their workplaces against such manifestations of sexism, an issue that the trade union movement must take up in a serious way.
Thong in the Dáil
Solidarity TD and Socialist Party member Ruth Coppinger reflected the mood when she questioned Leo Varadkar in the Dáil, demanding action from the government on victim-blaming in the courts and holding up a thong in the chamber. This is probably a first in Dáil history, and cameras quickly panned away from the “offending item”. However, as Ruth pointed out, if this is incongruous in the national parliament, it’s even more so for underwear to be used in a court as evidence against a woman.
Ruth’s bold intervention has garnered huge attention from the national media, along with the protests that have taken place. Significantly, it has also gotten coverage in media outlets in countries as diverse as New Zealand, Australia, India, Turkey, Canada, the US (including the New York Times, Newsweek and CNN) and in many countries across Europe.
International Women’s Day walkouts
There is potential for a new movement around the issue of victim-blaming and gender-based violence. ROSA are calling for mass protests and walkouts on International Women’s Day 2019, drawing inspiration from the Spanish example, where a ‘feminist strike’ brought millions out of work and onto the streets this year.
This movement must absolutely demand and fight for changes such as compulsory training for judges and juries in cases of sexual violence and education about consent in schools. However, the case in Cork is not an isolated example. Victim-blaming and misogyny are endemic in the court system, the state and in society generally under a capitalist system which has sexism and inequality at its core. We need to build a movement of women, young and LGBTQ people and all sections of the working class around an anti-capitalist and socialist-feminist programme which challenges this system and all the injustices it perpetuates.
The post #ThisIsNotConsent: Victim-blaming in rape trial provokes mass anger appeared first on Socialist Party (Ireland).
Following a special meeting today (Thursday, 15th Nov.) of its National Executive Committee NEC) the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) is to ballot its members for industrial action, up to and including strike, The NEC is recommending in favour of industrial action in the ballot which will commence next Wednesday (21st Nov.)
Peter Hughes , PNA General Secretary , said today's NEC outcome reflected the disappointment by mental health nurses that the recent Public Service Pay Commission Report had failed completely to understand the scale of the recruitment and retention crisis in the mental health services and their frustration at the continued lack of realistic proposals to address nurse recruitment and retention.
Proposals for school bus drivers to use commercial forecourts in Lisnaskea are unacceptable corner cutting
Cost-cutting plans will force reliance on Enniskillen school bus depot to cover entirety of Fermanagh and threaten to impact children attending schools
November 15th: Unite the union Regional Officer with responsibility for school bus drivers in the west, Gareth Scott, has blasted plans by the Education Authority to close the school bus depot in Lisnaskea.
“Unite has raised our fears repeatedly with the Education Authority that their plans to close down Lisnaskea school bus depot will impact the safety of school children travelling to school from rural parts of east Fermanagh.
“School bus drivers have been concerned by Education Authority suggestions that they can simply fuel up at commercial forecourts. The reality is that there are no suitable facilities in Lisnaskea to facilitate safe turning space for school buses. Our drivers are highly concerned that they might run the risk of knocking down someone, in particular children, who might emerge quickly from a filling station. School buses are simply too big to bring onto commercial forecourts safely.
“In the absence of local facilities to replace the depot in Lisnaskea, the additional cost of bus drivers travelling to Enniskillen to refuel makes any savings from closing the depot redundant. The extra running costs associated with this ‘cutback’ really makes us wonder whether this closure decision is being driven by EA management eyeing the cash value of the depot grounds if it was sold off. If that were true, it would be completely unacceptable.
Unite stand-down officer and school bus driver himself, Ciaran McCallion, added his voice of condemnation for the EA proposal.
“Aside from issues about using commercial forecourts, the drivers in Lisnaskea have concerns that shutting down the Lisnaskea depot will leave them entirely reliant on replacement buses coming all the way from Enniskillen in the case of an early morning breakdown.
“Given that there won’t be anyone on duty in Enniskillen first thing, the large distances involved, and the poor road system in Fermanagh, this will mean that should a bus fail to start in Rosslea or Newtownbutler children could be left to wait up to an hour in icy-cold conditions. In such circumstances, parents who rely on school bus transport in order to get away themselves to work will face unforeseen care responsibilities and potentially costs. There’s also the risk of children who might have public exams being severely delayed getting into their schools and all the anxiety caused by such occurrences
“While the bosses are hiding behind the excuse that breakdowns are not all that common, every bus driver knows that they are an unavoidable reality especially in Winter months. As ever, the cost of austerity cutbacks will fall on the most vulnerable – in this case the children and families of rural Fermanagh. For our part, Unite is strongly opposed to this proposal and will continue to engage with our members on our response.
“We are calling on the local elected representatives, who have so far been entirely silent on this issue, to make their objections publicly and engage with the Education Authority bosses to encourage them to reverse this closure plan”, Mr McCallion said.
By James McCabe
Whistleblower Maurice McCabe’s efforts to expose corruption in the local Garda force in Cavan was met with vicious reprisals from the national leadership of An Garda Síochána.
Misconduct and corruption are nothing new for the police force of this state, but even so, many were shocked to discover that the top echelons of the Gardaí conducted a widespread smear campaign of false accusations of child sexual abuse against McCabe. The findings of the Disclosures Tribunal, released in October, vindicated McCabe and heavily criticised the former Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan.
Wall of silence
Evidence was presented that Callinan had told at least four people, including RTE’s Philip Boucher-Hayes, that McCabe was a sex-abuser. The tribunal was met with a wall of silence from the ranks of the Gardaí, however. The tribunal sent letters to 430 individuals of different ranks to gather evidence and received only two replies.
Many pundits in the media have spoken about how justice has been served by this Tribunal and that it will work to “restore faith in the Gardaí”. There’s a constant rewriting of history by the corporate and state sponsored media in Ireland. In the mid-1970s, Amnesty International demanded an independent inquiry into sections of the Gardaí due to the regular use of beatings and torture methods by members of the force to extract confessions from suspects.
In recent years, we’ve seen a litany of Garda scandals, from the spying on water protestors through Operation Mizen, the bugging of GSOC, the secret taping of phone calls between arrested persons and their solicitors and of course the Jobstown frame-up. Apart from the scandals and corruption, the establishment would have us believe that the Gardaí and other state institutions, despite their defects, generally exist and act to serve the best interests of the public and “stand above” politics.
Role of Gardaí
The mask of political and class neutrality slipped in Frederick Street, Dublin back in September. Here we witnessed masked Gardaí protecting balaclava-wearing private security guards as they forcibly removed peaceful protestors occupying a vacant apartment which was owned by a major landlord who owns over forty commercial properties.
The police watched on as the injured housing activists were dragged out of the property by the private security, who left in a van which had been illegally parked and had no tax or insurance certs displayed on it. This example highlights the reality that in the last analysis, the Gardaí, the courts, the judges and the unaccountable, highly-paid top civil servants of this state all represent the interests of the capitalist system.
To much fanfare, the media have trumpeted the Disclosures Tribunal’s view that former Garda Commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan, apparently had nothing to do with the smear campaign against McCabe. O’Sullivan has been absolved on this issue, but her tenure as Garda Commissioner was anything but a model of political and economic impartiality. O’Sullivan is alleged to have asked an interviewee for the position of Deputy Commissioner in 2015 as to their opinion on “left-wing political extremism in Ireland.”
The major problem with the Gardaí isn’t confined to a bad ‘management culture’ or certain immoral individuals in the leadership. In many ways these problems stem from the fact that the Gardaí are a force that exist to defend the super-rich and corporations. To transform the role of policing, we must fight for the creation of a community-controlled policing organisation that is genuinely run, controlled and accountable to working-class communities.
IAC out of step with archaeological community in Ireland
November 13th: Unite, which organises commercial archaeologists in Ireland, today accused the Irish Archaeological Consultancy of what it termed a “union-busting agenda”. Unite is in dispute with IAC on foot of the company’s refusal to engage collectively with workers regarding a pay claim, either directly or under the auspices of the WRC. Workers at the company have held three 24-hour stoppages, most recently in Portmarnock last week. Responding to a statement issued today by IAC’s CEO Rob Lynch, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer Richie Browne said it was now quite clear that the company’s aim is to prevent its workers organising collectively to improve their terms and conditions:
“IAC and their CEO Rob Lynch have treated their employees, and the state’s industrial relations machinery, with breath-taking contempt.
“By claiming today that they are not in dispute with their workers, but with Unite as the union representing those workers, Mr Lynch has not only revealed his union-busting agenda, but has also chosen to ignore an inconvenient truth: there is no difference between the workers and the union representing them. The workers are the union – and our members in IAC are determined that their right to negotiate collectively will be recognised.
“Our members voted to take industrial action as a last resort, and they will continue to ‘Dig4Decency’ until IAC treats its workers with respect and sits down with the union of their choice, Unite, to talk about the workers’ pay claim”.
Jean O’Dowd is chair of Unite’s Archaeological Branch and added:
“Mr Lynch’s blatant union-busting tactics have put him, and IAC, out of step with the entire archaeological community in Ireland. Last week the Institute of Archaeologists in Ireland called for the use of the state’s industrial relations mechanisms to resolve this dispute, pointing out that the WRC-facilitated agreement between Unite and Rubicon Heritage demonstrates that discussions can lead to positive outcomes for both employers and employees. That call has been echoed by Departments and Schools of Archaeology in University College Dublin, University College Cork, Queen’s University Belfast and Sligo Institute of Technology.
“It is unfortunate that Mr Lynch’s distaste for trade unions apparently outweighs the interests of his company and of the sector as a whole. IAC’s determination to go it alone is bad for the company, and bad for archaeology in Ireland”, Ms O’Dowd concluded.
Translink management must adopt a no tolerance approach to better support staff attacked in the workplace
Figures confirm Translink employees continue to be on the receiving end of verbal and physical assaults
November 12th: Davy Thompson, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer responded to revelations that confirmed the high incidence of verbal, physical and sexual assaults on public transport are not abating.
“Today’s figures revealed by the BBC confirm that there continues to be a high number of verbal and physical assaults, including sexual, on public transport staff. Bus and rail drivers, inspectors and other public transport workers are entitled to go about their day’s work in peace and to be shown basic respect. There should be no tolerance for such anti-social behaviour towards workers.
“Translink management must ensure the safety of their staff and whilst we acknowledge that the company has improved the level of support offered to affected workers; unfortunately in way too many cases staff end up out of pocket due to the long-term impact of such assaults on their health. Unite continues to work with management to bring forward policies to help our members affected by these incidents.
“All too often the travelling public end up paying the price for these assaults, in recent months a number of public transport services have had to be withdrawn after repeated attacks on drivers. These attacks can be quite serious and threaten lives.
“Given we are entering the festive season, we ask the wider travelling public to consider the workers who provide public transport throughout the holiday period”, Mr Thompson.
Taryn Trainor, Unite Regional Women’s & Equalities Officer spoke on the need for a more robust approach to this specific threat to female workers by management.
“It is imperative that women be provided with a safe and protective working environment. They shouldn’t have to go into work worrying about their personal safety. Translink management needs to take a zero tolerance approach to this issue similar to that taken in A&E and other emergency services so as to protect their employees. Body cameras and alarms are of little use to prevent an attacker intent on assault.
“It has long been true that women are much safer travelling on public transport than other modes, management must now work collectively with the unions to ensure the same is true for their staff”, Ms Trainor said.
In absence of trade union recognition, workers being made redundant are receiving statutory redundancy payments only
Individual members of union encouraged to contact Unite officials to secure their rights, non-union workers should join Unite to protect themselves going forward
November 12th: Confirming that Unite the union is willing to engage with management at window frame maker, Camden Group in Antrim, in mitigating the impact of eighty job losses, Unite Regional Officer, George Brash said:
“We understand from management at the Camden group in Antrim that they will be making up to eighty workers redundant as a result of a sudden loss of a supply contract. This represents a very substantial proportion of the approximately five hundred strong workforce in the company and will be a severe blow to the workers affected.
“Unfortunately Unite does not hold formal union recognition at the company and so our ability to robustly defend workers’ interests is curtailed; however, we are willing to engage with management to ensure that the number of compulsory redundancies required is minimised through relocation to alternative sites within the group.
“Any members of Unite who have been affected by this situation are asked to contact the union if they are in doubt of their rights. More widely we are encouraging non-union members to join Unite in order to protect themselves going forwards. Workers in the group are being offered the bare legal minimum statutory redundancy payments by management and pay is low. The best way for workers to defend themselves is through joining a fightback union like Unite”, Mr Brash finished.
35,000 Irish men died in the horrific slaughter that was the First World War. Some enlisted in the British Army because they had no work and needed an income. Others listened to the Irish politician, John Redmond, who told them that they needed to show loyalty to the British empire and to support Catholic Belgium.
In all a staggering 17 million people died as a result of this terrible conflict.
Instead of seeing this horror as a reminder for why we should never support any imperial war again, elements of Fine Gael have been encouraging the population to wear a poppy.
However the poppy is intimately linked to support for the British armed forces.
The Royal British Legion puts it plainly that poppies are “worn to commemorate the sacrifices of our armed forces and to show support to those still serving today”.
Wearing the poppy is clearly not incompatible with organising a rerun of the slaughter.
Among the sights to be seen already in the lead up to Remembrance Week was Theresa May – the PM who refuses to halt arms deals with the Saudi Arabian government and who recently deployed British military advisers to assist the Saudis in their war criminality in Yemen – assisting the Royal British Legion in launching this years’ appeal from the doorstep of 10 Downing Street.
One way to honour the men who died in such slaughter is to remember how this war was stopped – by an uprising of German workers and sailors who refused to join ‘the last offensive’.
Another is to stop Shannon being used as a base for US troops to stage armed actions in other countries.
Fine Gael are pushing the poppy because they want to erode Irish neutrality. They- and their friends in Fianna Fail- have voted to join PESCO which will require a four fold increase in Ireland’s military budget.
So, no, we did not wear a poppy– but we remember those who fell by opposing all future imperialist wars.
Glen Dimplex founder challenged on failure to pay Living Wage
Unite announces strike action in Portadown following talks breakdown
November 11th: Noted philanthropist Martin Naughton, founder of consumer appliance giant Glen Dimplex, has been challenged on the company’s failure to pay the Living Wage. The Dundalk native is chair of the company’s supervisory board, while his son acts as CEO. Trade union Unite, which represents workers in Glen Dimplex’s Portadown facility, has announced a further two days of strike action on November 16th and 19th following the breakdown of mediated talks. Low-paid workers are seeking a 27 pence (31 cent) hourly pay increase to bring them up to the UK Living Wage.
Commenting, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer Susan Fitzgerald said:
“Unite had hoped to resolve this dispute at the Northern Ireland Labour Relations Agency yesterday, but Glen Dimplex bosses apparently entered those talks with no intention of meeting the workers’ legitimate expectation of £8.75 an hour. That is the bare minimum for subsistence as calculated by the independent, UK-based Living Wage Foundation last year.
“Management is refusing to bridge the 27 pence an hour gap despite an offer made by workers to contribute from the small bonus they’re paid for exceeding 100% targets. Their approach has left our members with no alternative but to escalate their strike action in the run-up to Christmas. We have confirmed two twenty-four hour stoppages on Friday November 16th and Monday November 19th.
“Unite is appealing to Glen Dimplex founder and supervisory board chair Martin Naughton – named Philanthropist of the Year in 2016 by the Community Foundation of Ireland – to intervene and ensure that no Glen Dimplex worker is paid below the Living Wage.
“As a noted philanthropist, we would ask Mr Naughton to remember that charity begins at home”, Ms Fitzgerald concluded.
Friday, November 9 th : The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) said today (Friday, 9 th. Nov) that there has been significant disruption to ambulance services throughout the country since the implementation of an overtime ban by its 500 ambulance personnel members on Wednesday last (Nov. 7 th ) .
The overtime ban in part of the Phase 2 of industrial action (which began on Oct.10 th ) in protest at continued refusal of the HSE to engage in negotiations with the PNA when representing their interests, or to make payroll deductions of union subscriptions for PNA ambulance personnel members.
The PNA said its members are reporting that ambulance services are being stretched to the limit as the HSE has struggled to fill rosters and maintain crews in the absence of overtime from PNA members.
PNA General Secretary, Mr Peter Hughes said this escalating dispute which was brought on by the intransigent and reckless decision by the HSE to not allow ambulance personnel to join the union of their choice, is now putting the national ambulance services under serious and potentially dangerous strain.
“The HSE has been putting a patchwork of vehicles and crews together to cover major gaps in rosters as a result of the overtime ban. It is time for this to stop, and for the Minister for Health, Simon Harris T.D. to instruct the HSE to get back to running our health services and stop trying to undermine the rights of ambulance personnel to be part of the PNA union.'
Mr Hughes said there have been examples all this week of ambulance services having to be cut back and curtailed because of the overtime ban. Examples include:
• Redeployment of EMT crew to Cork on Wednesday to bring ambulance numbers up;
• ICV ambulances put on Delta calls in Cork, although they are not equipped for these calls;
• Thurles ambulance in Cork to give cover;
• No Rapid Response Vehicles (RRV) in Nenagh on Wednesday night;
• No ambulance in Mallow on Wednesday night;
• No RRV in Middleton on Wednesday night
Decision confirms up to 80 AES redundancies and approximately 60 direct, full-time contractors to lose their positions as Ballylumford B will shut down early
Need for state intervention to bring forward managed transition to renewable energy with training and guarantees for affected workers
November 9th: Davy Thompson, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer welcomed the news that Kilroot power station would be offered a one year System Support Services contract by SONI that would mean the jobs of more than 170 AES workers and more than 100 direct, full-time contractors would be safeguarded.
“This is a welcome announcement. Unite has fought hard for this commitment for many months now and it will bring some assurance to the more than 170 AES employees and the more than one hundred full-time onsite contractors whose positions will be safeguarded as a result. Our objective is now to ensure that this contract rolls-over for another year after the lapse period of this contract.
“At the same time, this is bittersweet news, as it confirms that up to eighty AES positions will be lost as Ballylumford B power station is closed. We are hopeful that the bulk of these losses will be achieved through voluntary redundancies across the sites but the fact remains that this is a potential eighty more jobs going from the Northern Ireland economy that won’t be there for the next generation of workers.
“It has to be said that the handling of the integrated single electricity market by the Electricity Regulator and the System Operator for Northern Ireland has been shambolic from start to finish. There have been multiple delays, computer system failures and now this u-turn. The concept of an energy market is not working and will not work – it has been driven by right-wing ideology as opposed to common sense economics.
“Workers are being asked to pay the price for the failure to invest in a managed transition to renewables, where they could be upskilled to fill jobs in the new modes of generation. Meanwhile our economy has been left reliant on last generation generating capacity for our security of supply. What is needed is a state-led approach predicated on the nationalisation of this industry and large-scale public investment to create the energy jobs of the future”, Mr Thompson said.
Twenty-four hour strike actions confirmed to run from 7am on Friday November 16th and Monday November 19th
Billionaire owner Martin Naughton challenged on his group’s refusal to meet workers’ £8.75 Living wage pay claim
November 11th: Regional Coordinating Officer Susan Fitzgerald confirmed that two twenty-four hour strike actions would proceed at the Glen Dimplex group site in Portadown (GDC) on the Friday and Monday bracketing next weekend [Friday, November 16th and Monday, November 19th].
“Unite had hoped to resolve this dispute at the Labour Relations Agency yesterday but the Glen Dimplex bosses entered those talks with apparently no intention whatsoever of meeting the workers’ legitimate expectation for £8.75 an hour; which let us remember was the bare minimum for subsistence as calculated by the independent, UK-based Living Wage Foundation last year.
“Bosses are refusing to bridge the 27 pence an hour gap, despite an offer made by workers to make a contribution from the small bonus they’re paid for exceeding 100% targets. Management’s approach has left workers with no alternative but to escalate their strike action in the mouth of Christmas. We have today confirmed two, twenty-four hour stoppages next Friday [November 16th] and Monday [November 19th].
“Glen Dimplex group, of which the Portadown GDC site is a part, last year reported more than €38 million in profits and provided a payment of almost €13 million to their owners through a holding company. Martin Naughton who is reported to be the ultimate owner of this highly profitable company is a billionaire who has received public accolades for his philanthropic activities while his workers have to live with the day-to-day consequences of in-work poverty.
“GDC’s greed is forcing skilled and experienced production workers, with families, with young babies at home, to stand hours on ice-cold picket lines in the fight for pay justice and to end their poverty pay predicament. The obstinate refusal of the company to meet the legitimate expectations of this workforce for a living wage is entirely unjustifiable.
“The workers need our support in this brave fight for pay decency. The challenge is now for the trade union movement and working-class people to rally behind them and ensure their success”, Ms Fitzgerald said.
By Kevin Henry
The trade union movement, which claims 800,000 members north and south have a responsibility to oppose any aspect of a Brexit deal which is not in the interests of their members. For example, the Central Bank has warned of potential of 20,000 job losses in the South.
In the North, various figures point toward a serious recession. Big business is preparing to use a Tory Brexit to implement “shock and awe” style attacks on workers’ rights, particularly on sectors such as Agri-business that are reliant on exports to Britain.
The nature of the EU
Trade unionists should have no trust in any capitalist politicians at the negotiating table, whether from the North, South, Britain or the EU. Unfortunately, the approach of many trade union leaders is to perpetuate the myth that important workers’ rights were handed down by a benevolent EU. This turns reality on its head.
The European Union has been central to waging a war on workers, particularly given its role in Troika austerity programmes. The truth is that workers fought for these rights. For example, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Ford workers’ strike in Dagenham, which was central to forcing the then British government to concede equal pay.
In Britain, some trade union leaders have attempted to align the TUC with the idea of a “peoples’ vote”. A principled approach from the trade unions would instead be to demand and organise mass mobilisation for a general election – in order to take down the Tories and elect a Corbyn led-government.
Make the bosses pay
In Ireland, trade unions should now put the bosses on warning that they will resist attacks on their members. A starting point would be to organise a conference of workers’ representatives from Britain and Ireland to discuss what coordinated action can be taken and built for against attacks on pay and conditions or shedding of jobs flowing from Brexit. If someone has to take a hit- it, should be the profits of the capitalists.
The movement must also be clear in taking up the other central issues linked with Brexit. That means a clear stand of defending immigrants. Trade unions as force that unites workers in Northern Ireland has a role to play in resisting any hardening of the border or any border on the Irish Sea. It also has a key role to play in opposing those political forces who will use Brexit in order to push their sectarian agenda.
The post Project fear and Brexit: How should trade unions should respond? appeared first on Socialist Party (Ireland).
Union announces forty-eight hour strike action to be held in coming days as workforce escalates industrial action
Glen Dimplex management refuse to move to end in-work poverty despite group profits of more than €38 million
November 8th: Production workers who manufacture ‘Quantum’ intelligent storage heaters for Glen Dimplex in Portadown will be forced to take another strike action after pay talks at the Labour Relations Agency broke down without making any progress. Unite Regional Coordinating Officer Susan Fitzgerald confirmed that the union would be confirming a second strike action this time for forty-eight hours at the Portadown site.
“The Glen Dimplex bosses entered LRA-mediated talks with the clear intention of offering nothing meaningful to their workers, who continue to earn a bare £8.48 an hour; despite the fact that this company last year made €38 million in profits and provided a payment of almost €13 million to their owners through a holding company.
“The failure of management to meet the modest demand of their workforce for a minimum £8.75 an hour, the bare minimum for workers’ subsistence as determined by the independent, UK-based Living Wage Foundation, has now forced the union to call a second strike action for pay justice. The timing of the next action will be agreed with shop stewards but it is already agreed that this should escalate the previous twenty-four hour stoppage to a forty-eight hour strike action.
“These are skilled and experienced production workers who manufacture high end storage heaters but they receive less than casual workers in fast food outlets. This is completely unacceptable.
“Unite is calling on the trade movement as a whole to get behind the Glen Dimplex workers and to show their stand for pay decency is one we all share. We must send the owner of this company, who according to the press is a billionaire, the message that in-work poverty will not be tolerated in Northern Ireland. It is unconscionable that a billionaire would force working people, with families, to take strike action in the mouth of Christmas in an effort to lift themselves out of in-work poverty. We need the community in the Portadown area to rally behind these workers who are on the frontline of the fight to secure pay decency for all in that area.
“Tonight we have organised a meeting with local politicians to ask them what they are going to do in support of these workers’ legitimate pay expectations. The meeting will be held at the Seagoe Hotel in Portadown at 6.30pm, our members at the site will be present and will make their voices heard”, Ms Fitzgerald said.
Latest redundancy plans come despite mounting profits as company attempts ‘fire-sale’ to meet financial market demands
Unite will engage with unions representing workers under threat in other countries to coordinate global trade union response
November 8th: This afternoon, Bombardier announced plans to cut a further five thousand jobs globally across all sections of the corporation. Unite Regional Coordinating Officer, Susan Fitzgerald, issued Unite’s response to this jobs threat.
“Today’s announcement by Bombardier that they are going to slash up to five thousand workers jobs is a brutal blow to their global workforce and will affect workers in both aerospace and transport divisions. Unite has sought assurances that none of these jobs will be going at any of the five sites here in Northern Ireland – as yet, we have no confirmation of what it this latest announcement will mean locally. Bombardier’s corporate management have also announced plans to sell off its turboprop programme and its business aircraft flight and training activities.
“These jobs are to go despite the fact that the company is making even more profits than they were a year ago; this fire sale of assets and jobs is being driven by meet the expectations of the financial markets and Bombardier’s workers are expected to pay the price. Unite will be engaging with our colleagues representing Bombardier workers under threat in other countries in order to coordinate a global trade union response to this latest announcement.
“This announcement comes only two years since seven thousand jobs were cut globally. In the recent period in Northern Ireland we have witnessed the sell-off of the Tubing & Systems function, the outsourcing of IT, finance, plant engineering, canteens, facilities and security functions. The workers want to know just when will this company be satisfied?
“Aerospace manufacturing is among the most significant sectors of our economy. It is estimated in the UK that for every £1 million pounds of output from the sector, 2.5 million pounds is generated in the economy while for every job in transport manufacturing a further one and a half jobs are sustained.
“In the last weeks, a majority of Bombardier’s workers in Northern Ireland signed a collective grievance against this death by a thousand cuts. We cannot accept any further losses of functions from Northern Ireland, they are undermining the long-term sustainability of the company’s presence here”, Ms Fitzgerald said.
Unite formally notified of more than 20 redundancies by AES but job-loss figure expected to rise sharply
Energy Regulator must intervene to allow SONI to offer ‘capacity contract’ quickly to avoid all 250 AES jobs being lost
November 8th: Despite being included in the 2018 All-island Generation Capacity Statement published last month by the System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI), AES management have brought forward planned redundancies across Kilroot and Ballylumford B power stations as a result of the exclusion of generators at both sites from supply contracts under the current Integrated Single Electricity Market.
The exclusion from the contracts to supply has come about as a result of rules set by the Electricity Regulator and enforced by Irish-government owned SONI, which has responsibility for the management and operation of the transmission grid across the island of Ireland. The decision threatens to shut down 36 percent of Northern Ireland’s generating capacity and has been widely criticised as leaving the region dependent on imported electricity and vulnerable to blackouts post-Brexit.
Davy Thompson, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer spoke on the union’s fears for further job-losses at Kilroot and Ballylumford:
“Last week Unite was notified of the likelihood of just over twenty job-losses across Kilroot and Ballylumford; however we are preparing ourselves for that number to rise substantially. We understand that approximately eighty AES employees are likely to be made redundant in the near future. Unfortunately they won’t be the only ones affected, we are estimating the knock-on impact in terms of job-losses on that scale could include an additional 60 direct, full-time contractors who work on-site. These redundancies will come as devastating news for those workers’ families at this time of year.
“We fail to understand the logic of a decision to cut 36 percent of Northern Ireland’s generating capacity at a time when UK government briefings are warning of the possibility of black-outs post-Brexit. This decision will leave Northern Ireland dependent on electricity imported from the Republic when the our ability to do so is in question. Not only does these policies threaten the livelihoods of hundreds of workers but damaging brown and blackouts for industry in Northern Ireland.
“In the absence of a ‘contract to supply’ under the current ISEM, it is now vital that the Energy Regulator intervenes to provide a ‘contract for capacity’ as quickly as possible. All 250 AES positions and a further 120 direct, full-time contractors working at Kilroot and Ballylumford B face the prospect of redundancy if that is not forthcoming”, said Mr Thompson.
Dispute is on foot of IAC’s refusal to engage collectively with workers
Union welcomes Institute of Archaeologists in Ireland statement urging use of state’s industrial relations mechanisms
November 8th: Unite, which represents commercial archaeologists in Ireland, today again urged the Irish Archaeological Consultancy to attend the Workplace Relations Commission and negotiate collectively with its employees regarding an outstanding pay claim. The call came as Unite members working for the company at a site in Portmarnock engaged in a 24-hour stoppage. The Portmarnock action follows two earlier stoppages at IAC sites in Macroom and Dublin’s Aungier Street.
Commenting, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer Richie Browne said that resolution of the dispute was in the hands of IAC and the company’s CEO Rob Lynch: “Unite has repeatedly sought to engage with the Irish Archaeological Consultancy, both directly and under the auspices of the WRC. All approaches from ourselves and from the WRC have been rebuffed. Our members have been left with no option but to take industrial action in pursuit of a very simple demand: that IAC negotiate collectively with its workers through the union of their choice.
Unite Archaeology Branch chair Jean O’Dowd added:
“While our members are frustrated at IAC’s persistent refusal to engage, we have been heartened by the overwhelming support we have received from the archaeological community throughout Ireland as well as the trade union movement.
“We were particularly encouraged by the statement issued this week by the Institute of Archaeologists in Ireland calling for the use of the state’s industrial relations mechanisms to resolve this dispute, and pointing out that the WRC-facilitated agreement between Unite and Rubicon Heritage demonstrates that discussions can lead to positive outcomes for both employers and employees. We would urge IAC to heed the Institute’s call and engage collectively with their workers”, Ms O’Dowd concluded.
Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump
By Asad Haider
Published by Verso Books, 2018
Reviewed by Laura Fitzgerald
…. when the liberal language of rights is used to defend a concrete identity group from injury, physical or verbal, that group ends up defined by its victimhood and individuals end up reduced to their victimized belonging.
Asad Haider’s insightful critique of Identity Politics focuses on the question of racial division in US capitalism. Haider’s central thesis is that identity politics fails to recognise the historical roots of racial division – a division that is entirely socially constructed and has no biological basis. From this it limits its anti-racism to seeking recognition and inclusion on an individual basis and ends up reinforcing the structures that serve to perpetuate that very racism.
Of course, recognition and inclusion for oppressed groupings is very important, but an approach that seeks to achieve this on an individual basis fundamentally eschews collective struggle, the only way in which a structural challenge to the roots of oppression can be mounted. Haider contends that if the “victimized belonging” of an oppressed grouping is to an identity that is the creation of capitalism, then the reinforcing of a solely identitarian consciousness serves to perpetuate the oppression itself, as the capitalist framework that created the oppressed identity is reinforced.
Haider deems Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676, in which European indentured servants and African slaves rose up together against the elite planters, as a “watershed moment” in US history. One from which the ruling class consciously ‘invented’ the white identity, or ‘whiteness’, including by legally codifying this divide and rule policy – with those of African descent always the most marginalised and oppressed. Haider sees this as the root of what developed into a central tenet of US capitalism: namely the state sponsored, structural oppression of African Americans. In many ways this is a basic point from the perspective of class politics – every ruling class needs to foster division amongst the exploited classes in an effort to maintain its supremacy. Haider’s identifying of this ‘divide and rule’ strategy on behalf of the capitalist establishment is very important nonetheless, precisely because it’s something that does not tend to be recognised in an Identity Politics framework.
Nancy Fraser, author of Fortunes of Feminism, has made the point that the radical and mass struggles of second wave feminism achieved very important legal and cultural advances for women. However, because the framework of the capitalist system remained intact, these reforms resulted in women from the elite class being able to advance to top positions of power (as CEOs, as head of the IMF etc.), but that the reality for working class and poor women under the ravages of neoliberal capitalism has been quite the opposite.
Haider makes a similar point in relation to the black freedom movement in the US. Essentially, off the back of the radical black civil rights mass struggles of the past, there is now at least a section of the African American population represented in positions of authority and power, while the majority of African Americans experience disproportionate levels of poverty, low pay, police brutality, lack of access to healthcare and incarceration. For Haider, the ideas of Identity Politics are perpetuated by a section of middle and elite class African Americans, essentially to maintain their positions.
Haider cites the desperately cynical, ahistorical and backward ideas of “Afro-pessimism” (the notion that white people’s enjoyment of black people’s suffering is the prime mover in history and society) in order to illustrate this. Haider contends that “Afro-pessimism has served as an ideological ballast for the emergent bureaucracies in Ferguson and beyond.” This relates to where important struggles against racist state violence have occurred and is an implicit critique of some of the more conservative elements that emerged in leadership positions that tended to funnel the movement into the orbit of the establishment, pro-capitalist Democratic Party – in other words away from the path of struggle.
The other side of this reality, however, is that precisely because ‘representation’ in some positions of power has not changed things for the majority of African Americans, there is a real opening for revolutionary politics. To indicate this potential, Haider quotes Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor about the murder of Freddie Gray by police in Baltimore:
When a Black mayor, governing a largely Black city, aids in the mobilisation of a military unit led by a Black woman to suppress a Black rebellion, we are in a new period of the Black freedom struggle.
Haider looks to the civil rights movement in the US of the 1950s and 1960s as an example of the approach of mass struggle that challenged the oppression of African Americans and increasingly, the economic injustices of capitalism as a system. Haider also references the role of black Marxists in the Communist Party in the US in the 1920s who pushed for the working-class movement to challenge racist ideas, while building solidarity and struggle within the working class. He also seeks inspiration from the Black Panther Party that resolutely put solidarity of all the oppressed and exploited, as well as implacable opposition to the capitalist system, at the heart of their programme.
Haider’s critique of Identity Politics is rooted in support for mass struggles against oppression, and an optimism about the potential for solidarity that can overcome divisions within the working class that exist on the basis of race, gender identity, sexual orientation etc. This is significant because it means it’s a critique that can have an impact on a new generation of workers and young people who wish to fight oppression and exploitation in all its forms, who in many cases have themselves come up against the problems of a strategy that boils down to inclusion on an individual basis within the framework of the status quo, rather than a collective struggle for a structural challenge to the status quo.
However, Mistaken Identity would have been considerably strengthened by more references to the role of organised labour in US history that the, albeit short, book underplays. Furthermore, while it’s completely correct to emanate the fighting spirit of the Combahee River Collective (a group of African American lesbian women in Boston in the 1960s, who were anti-capitalist and socialist and showed solidarity with many labour and social struggles in the city at the time), the quote from their manifesto that Haider references positively is problematic, namely:
We believe that the most profound and potentially most radical politics come directly out of our own identity, as opposed to working to end somebody else’s oppression.
While the fighting spirit and solidarity that these women showed is a million miles away from the liberal Identity Politics that cuts across struggle, that Haider eloquently exposes in his book, it’s also the case that this aspect of the Combahee statement is certainly used today to reinforce some of those very same liberal Identity Politics methods. Of course, what we have to remember is the context in which this statement was drafted – i.e. the sexist and racist marginalising and dismissal that the Combahee women themselves had experienced within the New Left that they were reacting against.
Finally, while referencing the need to challenge capitalism, Mistaken Identity does not give a sense of the potential power of the multi-racial, all gendered etc. working class as a whole – if it’s organised and conscious – to play the key role alongside radicalised oppressed groupings, to challenge that system, given that capitalism’s profits emanate from the unpaid labour of the working class. In the words of James Connolly, “none so fitted to break the chains as they who wear them, none so well equipped to decide what is a fetter… But whosoever carries the outworks of the citadel of oppression, the working class alone can raze it to the ground.”
The post Review: Mistaken Identity – Race and Class in the Age of Trump appeared first on Socialist Party (Ireland).
November 6 th 2018 – Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) ambulance personnel members will from tomorrow (Weds. November 7 th ) refuse to work additional shifts (overtime) in protest at continued refusal of the HSE to engage in negotiations with the PNA when representing their interests, or to make payroll deductions of union subscriptions for PNA ambulance personnel members.
The refusal of additional shifts by up to 500 PNA ambulance personnel members (including paramedics, advanced paramedics and emergency medical technicians) will take effect from 7 a.m. (Weds. Nov. 7 th ) when Phase 2 of the mandated industrial action commences.
PNA General Secretary, Mr Peter Hughes said the move to Phase 2 of their industrial action by ambulance personnel represented a significant escalation in the dispute that is entirely of the HSE's making.
He said: “For highly skilled, professional and dedicated ambulance personnel to be forced by the intransigence of the HSE to embark on this overtime ban is totally unacceptable and confirms that the HSE sees no limits to the extent to which it will attempt to deny ambulance personnel their rights to join the union of their choice while also trying to force them to be part of a union that they do not want to be part of.”
The debate on the reality of human-caused climate change is over, now is the time to act. The recent report issued by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) showed that dramatic change is required before 2030 to prevent a catastrophic climate scenario.
The study outlined the extremely dangerous consequences for the Earth’s climate and ecosystem unless drastic measures are taken to prevent the global temperature exceeding the 1.5°C increase threshold, with the study stating that the planet “is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it [emission output] continues to increase at the current rate“.
Recent findings by climate scientists, including those outlined in the IPCC report, have shown that if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change, we need to halt the temperature rise at 1.5°C rather than the previously thought 2°C threshold which was the target agreed at the Paris Climate Summit.
The IPCC report actually met with criticism from some climate scientists claiming the projections were too conservative! (Because it failed to fully realise how far along the planet is in this heating process). Nevertheless there is clear agreement by all on the urgency of action required to prevent this impending global disaster.
We have seen a shocking increase in the intensity and occurence of hurricanes, droughts, wildfires and flash floods across the world. In the US, the 2017 hurricane season was the most expensive on record, with more than 200 billion dollars worth of damage from 17 named storms, including Hurricane Maria which devastated Puerto Rico with winds exceeding 155mph.
The changes that are occuring in our environment are already causing the complete destruction of ecosystems across the planet and leading to rampant species extinction. The spillage and dumping of toxic chemicals as a result of fracking, oil drilling and other such endeavours, and the colossal amount of plastic dumping in our oceans (which have literally formed plastic islands) are all causing untold damage to life on Earth.
Biologists now believe we are living in the sixth mass extinction event of this planet’s 4.5 billion year life cycle, and the cause is not a matter of debate – it is the capitalist system, which puts profits for businesses ahead of all other concerns, including the environment.
But we can change this course, if we act decisively. The fact that 90 companies have caused two-thirds of all human-made emissions, and currently only 150 companies are responsible for 70% of CO2 emissions, demonstrates who is responsible for this crisis.
The IPCC report is clear that fundamental aspects of our society need to change to achieve the 1.5°C target. These fundamental changes can only be achieved through wholesale system change. Capitalism has to go. Only by ripping the power of the economy away from the oil barons, vulture funds, arms dealers etc. can we transition away from a carbon-based economy to a green renewable economy.
This can only be achieved through the building of a mass environmental movement with socialism at its heart and by bringing these polluting companies into public ownership as part of a democratically planned economy.
The post Devastating IPCC report on climate change: Capitalism must be challenged! appeared first on Socialist Party (Ireland).