Politics, Policy and Organising in the Windy City: Lessons from 2015 Chicago for Irish Trade Unionism

Two important events happened in Chicago in February 2015, which hold lessons for the Irish trade union movement. Firstly, a major report was released by the Chicago Teachers Union, the highly politicised and organised 2012 strike winners and enemies of the Chicago establishment. It was entitled A Just Chicago: Fighting for the City Our Students Deserve (full report available at http://www.ctunet.com/quest-center/research/position-papers/a-just-chicago ). It proposed wide ranging solutions to a crisis in city education, which went far beyond base union issues such as pay and conditions. Situating school as the heart of communities, it also proposed substantive solutions to a range […]

The strike is the key to union renewal and working class power

Reviving the strike – How working people can regain power and transform America By Joe Burns Available on pdf at http://www.tuleftforum.com/discussion-papers/ and for purchase at http://www.revivingthestrike.org/ Striking to stop production This is a must-read book for trade unionists and left activists. Though it deals mainly with the American labour movement and conditions there, its main points and recommendations easily apply in Ireland. The author, Joe Burns, is a union lawyer, negotiator and activist for many decades, most recently involved in the airline industry and health services. He is adamant that the movement needs to return to the strike as the […]

It’s time for a radically new Congress

Ireland: the greatest small country in the world to do business in. Unfortunately, it’s not the greatest small country in the world to live or work in. Ultimately that’s the success of the business class (the actual capitalist class of owners and speculators, the big farmer class and the layer of ‘management’ that run capitalism here for their masters) and the failure of the trade union and workers’ movement. Low corporation tax, low income tax for high earners, tax avoidance schemes that are ultimately compensated for by workers, indirect taxes that go to bondholders, low investment in public infrastructure, public […]

Class-consciousness is increasing

The Right2Water campaign and communities from all over the country last week held their third massive national mobilisation within a few months, and the message was clear: people won’t be bullied or bribed, and they see through government lies and propaganda. The recent retreat by the government is not enough, and is not accepted by the people. The government has lost the Irish Water issue and has no popular mandate. The view of hundreds of thousands of people and families is irrefutable; the government does not have our support to govern. Last week’s protest followed an intensification of violence, supervision […]

New Briefing Document: Public Enterprise versus Private Inefficiency

The Trade Union Left Forum has put this brief guide, available at http://www.tuleftforum.com/discussion-papers/, for union activists to use in combating commonly used arguments in favour of privatisation and against public ownership. There is mounting evidence of the value of public-sector investment, compared with the inefficiency and waste of private-led investment; yet this is silenced by the privately owned media, just as they call into question the right of communities to peacefully resist the imposition of water charges. We have all had arguments with a friend or colleague where the claim of the efficiency of the market is made, that competition is […]

Rejecting the slurs and seizing the moment

In recent weeks we have seen a concerted and co-ordinated effort by the Government, the Gardaí and the media to paint protesters as dangerous and violent, with an agenda of manipulating communities into confrontation for the sake of confrontation. This is a deliberate and outrageous misrepresentation of protesters and communities that are opposing Irish Water, the installation of meters, and water charges more generally. It is insulting to our class and shows the contempt in which the establishment hold us. Reports of violence against Irish Water employees and gardaí are spun and widely commented on without a shred of evidence. […]

Water charges the EU and TTIP!

The origin of the planned water charges lies in the EU’s Water Framework Directive (2000), which provided for full cost recovery for water use and whose Article 9 states; ‘Member States shall take account of the principle of recovery of the costs of water services …’ It also required Member States to have in place water-pricing policies by 2010. The Directive was transposed into Irish Law in 2003. The Water Framework Directive, which seeks to commodify water provision through the establishment of the principle of recovery of the costs of water services. The EU took advantage of the ‘bailout’ to […]

Resisting the Water Charges and Defending Our Right to Protest

We are residents of a number of communities in Dublin North East. Over the last number of months we have come together to resist the installation of water meters in our areas, and to oppose this unfair double taxation that the government calls water charges. For most of us, this is the first time in our lives that we have engaged in any sort of protest and have only done so because we simply cannot take any more of this government’s austerity agenda. At all times we have sought to resist the installation of these meters in a peaceful, dignified […]

Real trade unionism in action – right2water

The type of class-conscious and politically active trade unionism that the Trade Union Left Forum has advocated at many of its meetings, and in its publications, is truly on display and being built in the Right2Water campaign. The 1st November saw the second national protest against the water charges and the potential privatisation of what should be a guaranteed, universally available public resource. It is estimated that between 150,000 and 200,000 people took part. This follows the 100,000 who marched on 11th October as well as the daily militant class struggle being fought in communities throughout the country, led in […]

A new kind of trade unionism emerging

A new kind of trade unionism is emerging and consolidating itself within the right2water campaign, led by Mandate and Unite and supported by OPATSI, the CPSU, and the CWU. These unions are bringing the broader social and economic interests of their members to the fore and committing resources, time and effort to support mobilisation not only of members, but also the working class and communities more generally. By viewing their members as workers (as opposed to people paying a subscription for work-place representation services) these unions are placing the workers’ immediate social demands alongside, and equal to, their immediate work-place […]