Tadhg Barry Film – Saturday, 4th May – Triskel Arts Centre, Cork City

Saturday, 4th May at 2.00 p.m. in the Triskel Arts Centre, Cork City.

Using British Pathe film, historical photgraphs and documents an hour long documentary on the life of Cork trade union leader, socialist and republican fighter, Tadhg Barry, will be shown in Cork on 4th May.

Tadhg Barry Film - Saturday, 4th May - Triskel Arts Centre, Cork CityThe film covers his life from his birth place on the north side of Cork City, to his early years in the work force and his initial leap into journalism, and from there to his political enlightenment and work with the ITGWU, James Connolly and James Larkin to re-build the union in Cork and to fight for Irish Freedom.

Barry was active in the 1916 Rising and the film covers his transformation from military to political activist when he became an Alderman of the First Republican Council in Cork and Secretary of the ITGWU James Connolly memorial branch.

Jailed on several occasions, the film of Barry’s life also incorporates the burning of Cork and his final arrest and transfer without trial to Ballykinlar internment camp in county Down where he started the first ever Trades Council in a prison environment.

He was shot through the heart while waving good bye to fellow prisons sent out on release just three weeks before a general amnesty in 1921.

Footage in the film shows how Michael Collins left the ‘Treaty’ talks to attend his funeral.

Among the contributors to the to the film are SIPTU General Secretary, Joe O’Flynn, Tadhg Barry Galvin, great grandnephew of the late Tadhg Barry, Brenda Corcoran and other family members, Gerry White, Quarter Master and Historian with the Southern Command in Collins Barracks Cork and his biographer Dr. Donal O’Driscoill, the School of History, UCC.

The film is a joint production between the Cork Council of Trade Unions and Framework Films produced by SIPTU organiser, Trevor Quinn, Eddie Noonan and Emma Bowell.

Mobilise against sacrifice!

Trade Union Left Forum
Statement on Croke Park II

The Trade Union Left Forum commends the unions that fought for a No vote on the proposed new agreement and the members in SIPTU who passionately campaigned and delivered a No vote against both their leadership’s and the Labour Party’s instructions. The proposed agreement, which in its current form is dead, does not protect workers but would have facilitated a further undermining of terms and conditions of employment, hours of work and the incomes of working families throughout this country. This agreement was clearly designed to further sacrifice workers to pay off the billions in corporate and private debt that was socialised by the previous government and is being honoured by this one.

But this agreement is not over yet and it is likely that the Government will seek to impose broadly its content if not worse via legislation. And so, the No campaign must continue to resist and organise its members to fight any potential imposition of the rejected Croke Park II terms.

The content of the proposals is not just about the public sector: it is also designed to give the green light to private-sector employers to continue to cut benefits and pay, attack pensions, impose redundancies, and increase working hours. In essence it is for continuing the flexibilisation of labour in Ireland, particularly to benefit transnational exporters.

Whether the trade union leadership supporting the proposals is aware of this or not, they are in fact participating in a restructuring of the Irish economy to the benefit of global capital and the detriment of labour. These effects will be seen in the long run, but the fight must be fought now if it is to be prevented.

Be sure to come along to the TULF’s forthcoming discussion on “The Political Economy of Croke Park,” being introduced by Colin Whitston, in the TEEU offices (6 Gardiner Row) on Thursday 9 May at 6 p.m.

And for regular updates on the campaign against Croke Park see Unite’s blog at http://crokeparkreport.wordpress.com.

Campaign to Defend Trade Union Rights

A major campaign to defend trade union rights will be launched at the weekend with a rally in central London. Twenty-five national trade unions will unite on Friday to launch the Campaign For Trade Union Freedom (CTUF) organisation.

Thatcher-era anti-trade union legislation has left trade unions with their hands tied while the coalition launches unprecedented assaults on workers’ pay, conditions and rights with fierce cuts to health and safety and public services.

Labour failed to repeal the draconian legislation and in some cases actively tightened the laws.

Recent years have seen bosses exploit the law to prevent unions from taking effective industrial action in support of their members.

At the same time as workers’ protections are being eroded the coalition has also passed legislation which means that claimants at employment tribunals are forced to pay their own costs and restricted access to legal aid.

The new campaign aims to bring together workers from across all services and industries in both a head-on challenge to those politicians advocating further legal restrictions on union rights and in a mobilisation to roll back the anti-union laws.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said that for more than 30 years trade union rights have been cut away by successive governments “determined to silence the voice of ordinary workers.”
He warned that this had caused a growing gap between rich and poor and a dramatic decline in the wealth that goes into the pockets of working people.
He said: “The right to organise, strike and take solidarity action are fundamental tools needed for working people to attain a fair portion of the wealth they create.
“Only by winning back our freedoms can we win a fair settlement for working people. We support this important and timely campaign.”

CTUF director John Usher said that the campaign would fight for the introduction proper laws to give trade unions the right to protect their members and also seek to repeal the Thatcher-era anti-union laws.

John Hendy QC, a leading advocate for workers’ rights, said: “As the government slashes and burns everything that makes Britain a civilised country the trade unions have a vital role to play in Britain’s resistance. But legislation has tied them in red tape.

“The founding of the CTUF marks the next phase in the struggle to restore trade union rights and their freedom to lead the fight for working-class people.”

CTUF president and RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “After 30 years of Labour, Tory and Liberal governments taking the axe to trade union rights, and using mass unemployment as a weapon to shackle working people, the CTUF is about turning the tide and putting the right to take solidarity action back on the agenda.”

21 March 2013 by Paddy McGuffin Home Affairs Reporter, Morning Star

With no increase in the base wages, Japan won’t get out of deflation

Major auto and electronics makers in this year’s spring labor offensive have offered an increase in annual income, as requested by corporate unions, but no increase in the base wage because these Rengo-affiliated unions shelved a request for an increase in the base wage for four consecutive years.

To their corporate unions, carmakers, including Toyota and Nissan, on March 13 answered that they will grant an increase in seasonal bonuses. Leading electronics manufactures also answered on the same day that they will increase bonuses, though less than the amount their corporate unions requested, and will maintain automatic pay increases.

The need to get out of the deflation is, however, to guarantee an increase in the base wage since it does not go up or down in tandem with corporate performance unlike seasonal bonuses.

It is also important to upgrade wages of non-regular workers such as part-timers and temps in order to boost the economy driven by domestic demand. Despite comprising more than 30% of Japan’s workforce, many of them receive neither bonuses nor periodic pay hikes.

Meanwhile, workers’ unions under the Zenroren banner simultaneously went on strike across the nation on March 14 calling for higher wages and job security, following the outcome of the day before.

More than 70 unions under the Japan Federation of Medical Workers’ Union (Iroren) went on strike, and more than 200 unions took actions demanding wage increases. So far, 19 unions have won an increase in the base wage.

Members of the Telecommunication Industry Workers’ Union (Tsushin-roso) walked off their jobs at 131 offices of the NTT Group throughout the country in protest against the group’s response totally ignoring the union’s demand. The union demanded an increase in the base wage and an increase in the hourly wages of non-regular workers who constitute 30% of the group’s employees.

The All Japan Construction, Transport and General Workers’ Union (Kenkoro) on strike demanded that JR East Group increase wages and secure the safety of transportation. The union criticized JR East for worsening the working conditions by terminating contracts with contingent workers after a period of years and rehiring them to the group’s subcontractors.

Japan Press Weekly – March 14th & 15th 2013

Statement by the Belfast and District Trades Union Council On the sad death of the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez

Hugo ChávezThe Belfast & District Trades Union Council expresses its condolences and solidarity with the family and comrades of President Hugo Chávez, and with the people of Venezuela.

A leader of great courage, Hugo Chávez defied the rich and powerful across the globe by choosing to dedicate his life and the policies of his government to the working people and the poor. Where cowards flinched, Hugo Chávez stood proudly declaring himself a socialist, a man of the people, standing for real democracy, equality and justice.

Taking this position earned President Chávez the wrath of the world’s wealthiest, their crony governments’ and their toady media who propagated lies and venom against Hugo Chávez and the revolution. He challenged their hegemony, and exposed to the world that there is an alternative to the greed and avarice of neoliberalism.

President Chávez challenged imperialism’s cruel and barbaric domination by asserting national sovereignty, while working for unity in Latin America, and providing support to and solidarity with the disadvantaged across the planet. Through this model Hugo Chávez has provided an example for others to follow.

Progressive people across the island of Ireland and the rest of the world are mourning the passing of Hugo Chávez. We hope that his legacy grows and flourishes.

Standing on the shoulders of other giants, Hugo Chávez has carried the rekindled torch for the liberation of the humanity. It is now for others to spread the flame that will finally destroy exploitation, inequality and injustice for ever.

Kevin Doherty
Paddy Mackel
Kerry Fleck
Vice President

Anti-Austerity Protest – Be Angry But Get Active!

Be angry but get active

Anti-Austerity Protest - Sat 9th FebThe Trade Union Left Forum calls on all workers to join the Irish Congress of Trade Unions organised protests on Saturday, 9th February, and make clear their opposition to the corporate debt imposed on Irish people and the ongoing attacks on the working class being perpetrated by Irish and European governing elites.

Protests have been organised in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford and Sligo, to commence at 1.30 p.m. It is vital that workers, students and their families make their voices heard at these events. The clear demand of workers’ should be for the repudiation of the illegitimate debt hoisted on Irish society by the banks and their political allies and for a change in economic direction by the Irish Government.

While it would have been preferable for the Irish trade unions to form a united front with workers’ organisations in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, the other European states who are on the frontline of the elite attack on working class living standards, the decision by the ICTU to call its members onto the streets is welcomed.

However, the Trade Union Left Forum believes workers must make clear that they oppose not only the neo-liberal agenda of the European Union but also the anti-working class policies of the Irish Government. In this centenary of the 1913 Lockout the protests on Saturday, 9th February, follows the recent Trades Council demonstrations and should be seen as part of the growing resistance in the tradition of James Connolly, Jim Larkin and the militant working class.

For further information on the protests visit www.ictu.ie

Inez McCormack, Trade Unionist and Human Rights Activist, Born Derry 1946, Died 21st January Derry 2013

Inez McCormackInez McCormack was the first woman president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions from 2000 to 2002, Born into a Protestant working class family in Derry, she left school aged 16 and studied social work at Queen’s University Belfast and Trinity College Dublin. As a student she took part in the early Civil Rights demonstrations and was at Burntollet when they were attacked by B Specials and Loyalists. It was there she met her future husband, Vinney, a catholic from Belfast – on the barricade so to speak.

As the first female trade union official for the National Union of Public Employees she championed low paid workers not only by leading negotiations but in her strategy of getting them to publically campaign. Facilitating the outsiders and the marginalised to claim their legitimise space was the hall mark of her life’s work. In those days in the North, even in the trade union movement, it was not an easy job to push feminism, equal rights and promote the cause of low paid unskilled workers. Inez had tenacity and became the regional secretary of Unison and later was elected the first female president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

She was one of the sponsors of the MacBride Principles in the mid-1980s. This was an affirmative campaign which successfully harnessed the political and financial clout of the Irish-American lobby to pressure Westminster into toughening laws against religious discrimination. She also played an important behind the scenes in the run up to the Belfast Peace Agreement of 1998.

She was a founder member of the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Fair Employment Commission in Northern Ireland in 1976. Most recently, in 2006 she founded the Belfast-based Participation and Practice of Rights in 2010.

Her career was featured in a documentary play on Broadway, Seven, when seven award-winning playwrights were commissioned to tell the personal stories of women who had worked for change in countries around the world. She was portrayed in an ensemble reading of the play in New York by Meryl Streep.

In 2011 Newsweek magazine named her as one of “150 women who shake the world,” the only one to come from Northern Ireland. Her international Human Rights work was done in conjunction with her friend and colleague Mary Robinson. Tributes were paid to her by ICTU, The National Women’s Council and President Michael D Higgins.

The best tribute we can pay to Inez is to try and renew the trade union movement with her vision, depth of commitment and campaigning spirit.

HMV Workers

The Trade Union Left Forum extends its support and solidarity to the workers at HMV who are facing unemployment, loss of wages, and reduced redundancy pay. The TULF supports these workers, who are occupying their buildings in anger at the way they have been treated, and the union members trying to achieve a better outcome for all involved.

But these last-minute occupations, which we have seen before, are not enough to challenge the fundamental injustices of the system today. We can no longer afford to leave struggle to the last minute, otherwise we will continue to merely have these heroic defeats. Workers all over Ireland must join a union and organise workers’ power in their employment.

A year after the La Senza sit-ins, and 100 years after the great Lock-Out, the economic and political system shows no signs of having any more concern for workers than it had in Larkin and Connolly’s time. The lesson to be learnt is that it is only through workers struggling for an economic and political system that meets our needs that rights can be gained or defended. Nothing is handed to us on a plate.

As we build towards the 9th of February, these workers should remind us all to stand up up for each other, for our families, and for our future, to unionise our work-places and say No to job losses, No to pay cuts, No to social welfare cuts, and Yes to an Ireland democratically owned and controlled by the people, for the people.

Death of Joe Deasy, Socialist, Trade Unionist and Historian

Joe Deasy was born on 12th July 1922 opposite the Railway works in Inchicore, Dublin. His father was an active Labour and Union man and influenced the subsequent career of Joe. He began his working life as a railway clerk in 1941 and in those poverty stricken war years saw the need for strong trade unionism and for spreading socialist ideas. He held elected positions in what are now the TSSA and the Trades Council.

Active in the Labour Party Joe was elected a Counsellor in 1945 and at the age of 22 the youngest one in the country. He served on Dublin Council with Big Jim Larkin and has written of this association memorably as they raised issues of slum clearances and health services. The Labour Party participation in the inter party Government of 1948 with Fine Gael and Clann na Poblachta disillusioned many in the Labour Movement.

Joe joined the newly formed Irish Worker League (a forerunner to the Communist Part of Ireland) in 1951. In the cold war hysteria of those days this was a difficult and demanding choice. He was blacklisted from all union positions and with the rest of its members faced hostility at public meetings and selling papers. An infamous saga was the closure of the Ballyfermot Grocery Co-operative stores by clerical abuse and boycotts. Joe and some IWL colleagues had been on the management committee. Both a thinker and a writer he wrote Fiery Cross – the story of Jim Larkin and later the Teaching of James Connolly in the mid-sixties, before labour movement studies became fashionable. Joe returned to the Labour Party in 1977 but remained a commitment to the socialist ideas of his youth. This also allowed him return to the trade union activism of his branch and Trades Council. On retirement he allowed more time to elected positions in the Labour History Society and writing for its journal Saothar.

Joe enjoyed life and had a repertoire of labour songs and enjoyed singing them. His other passion was the theatre which stemmed from his own involvement as a youngster in the New Theatre as actor and budding writer. A complete man we pay respects to his family.

Death of Sean Redmond, Former Connolly Association General Secretary, Irish Trade Union Official and Historian

Sean Redmond, former General Secretary of the Connolly Association, died on Saturday 15 December at his home in Drumcondra, Dublin, at the age of 76, having been ill for some time.

Sean Redmond

© Victor Patterson

Sean and his brother Tom grew up in Dublin and they emigrated to London in 1956, where their parents also lived for some years. Both became very active in the Connolly Association, which around that time had launched its campaign to expose the iniquities of the Stormont Unionist regime in British labour, trade union and liberal circles. This campaign was based on the concept that the movement to end Partition in Ireland and bring about Irish national unity in independence needed allies in the British labour movement and the support of progressive public opinion in this country.

In the early 1960s Sean became General Secretary of the Connolly Association and for the rest of that decade he did outstanding work in highlighting the deplorable civil liberties situation under Unionist majority rule in the Six Counties. During that period he represented the Association on the executives of the National Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty) and the Movement for Colonial Freedom and played a key role in inducing those bodies, which were very influential in British labour circles at the time, to take up the issue of discrimination against Northern Nationalists and Catholics.

As Connolly Association General Secretary he worked closely with the late Desmond Greaves, who edited the Association’s monthly paper “The Irish Democrat”. He edited some issues of that paper himself when Greaves was in Ireland undertaking research for his biographies of James Connolly and Liam Mellows. Sean became widely known and respected in the Irish community and in labour circles across Britain in those years and was much admired as a public speaker. He organised numerous lobbies of MPs in the House of Commons on Six County discrimination issues.

As one example from that campaign, in May 1966 Sean Redmond wrote on behalf of the Connolly Association to Northern Premier Captain Terence O’Neill pointing out that the 1949 Ireland Act offered Stormont no protection “if the British Parliament decides in its wisdom to abolish your government altogether”. To which O Neill replied denying the existence of gerrymandering, discrimination and police repression in the North and saying “I was entertained to read your complex and ingenious version of our constitutional status”, but the constitutional position of Northern Ireland “has a conventional as well as legislative basis.” The following years would show O’Neill that the North’s constitutional position was indeed an illusion and that what Redmond had intimated was right.

Because of his work in those years Sean Redmond may validly be considered one of the progenitors of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement which destroyed Unionist hegemony in that part of the world. He later wrote the pamphlet “Desmond Greaves and the origins of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland” describing the solidarity work in Britain in which he had played a leading part from the late 1950s until the mid-1970s.

That work was important in generating an anti-Unionist climate in British labour circles which impelled the Wilson-led Labour Government that took office in 1964 to put pressure in turn on the Terence O’Neill-led Stormont administration to end discriminatory practices affecting the Nationalist/Catholic population in the Six Counties. This pressure from progressive British public opinion paralleled the pressure that came from within the North itself when the Civil Rights Movement got going there in the 1968-70 period.

On returning to Ireland Sean worked as a trade union official with the Irish Municipal Employees Trade Union, now IMPACT. He was one of the most influential organisers of that union and became greatly respected in Dublin labour and trade union circles for his political shrewdness, good sense and political and industrial experience. He wrote the official history of his union under the title, “The Irish Municipal Employees Trade Union 1883-1983”. He also described the public-spirited action of some of his fellow union members in the union publication, “Belfast is Burning 1941: the story of the assistance given by the emergency services from Eire following the German bombing of Belfast” .

In the 1980s along with some colleagues in other Irish trade unions he helped establish the group, Trade Unionists for Irish Unity and Independence, to lobby for a stronger stand by Irish and British trade unions for those democratic objectives as being in the best interests of the labour movements and peoples of the two islands.

Sean was a lifelong student of the history of the Irish and British labour and national movements. He was a member of the Irish Labour History Society. His experience working in both countries and his political commitment to the classical leftwing position that the labour movement, socialists and radicals should be the foremost advocates of national independence and democracy, led him to embark on a study of successive solidarity movements with the Irish national cause in Britain, going back to the days of the United Irishmen. He had virtually completed this before illness struck him.

In the 1970s and 1980s he was an active member of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement and in the 1990s he was a committee member of the annual Desmond Greaves Weekend Summer School in Dublin.

He met his wife Susan while working in the Connolly Association in London and they have one son, Sean Og. The Connolly Association Executive sends its commiserations to his wife, his son and other relatives. The many friends and political acquaintances he made while working in Britain will mourn the passing of an outstanding socialist republican, a committed trade union activist and a fine and much-loved human being.

Personal commiserations should be sent to Mrs Susan Redmond at 33 Lindsay Road, Dublin 9.


Photo of Sean Redmond by kind permission of Victor Patterson

Funeral Arrangements

Sean’s funeral will take place at Glasnevin Cemetery on Friday 28th December 2012 at 1:00 pm.