SIPTU members brief Joint Oireachtas Committee on threat to community schemes

SIPTU members attended a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands on Wednesday (11th May) to brief it on the growing threat to the operation of community schemes across the country.

Rural Social Scheme (RSS) supervisor and member of the SIPTU RSS National Committee, Liz MacDonald, told the Committee that the programmes she operates provide financial support to low-income farmers and fishermen in return for them providing 19.5 hours of work each week supporting services in their local communities. 

She said: “The work carried out by RSS is far reaching and includes tidy town projects, maintenance of community centres, sporting facilities, churches, cemeteries and Meals on Wheels. The range of projects supported also extends from research, cultural and heritage projects, such as graveyard mapping and historical book writing to retail support in charity shops. Furthermore, RSS participants play a key role in promoting and preserving biodiversity through cultivating and maintaining parks, walkways and woodlands.”

McDonald called for an increase to the payment received by participants to reflect the quality work carried out and to lessen the impact of the cost of living crisis. The need for the Government to live up to its commitment to establish a forum to discuss the issues facing the community sector was also highlighted.

Tús (community work placement scheme) Scheme Supervisor, Martin Corcoran, said: “Workers in this sector are very proud of what they do. However, it is important that we have an ongoing dialogue between all the stakeholders to ensure the provision of services to the community and participants.” 

SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Adrian Kane, said: “I welcome the unanimous recognition and support from members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee for the critical work that our members in RSS and Tús perform across the country. It is time for Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, to engage with workers’ representatives across the community sector to address the very serious industrial relations issues which they are facing.”

XVIII Congress of WFTU: Rome declaration

We publish today the “Rome Declaration” which was adopted by the 18th World Trade Union Congress on May 8th, 2022 in Rome, Italy, and constitutes the main guidelines of the WFTU for the next 5 years.


WFTU statement on the 74th anniversary of Nakba Day

The international class-oriented trade union movement commemorates the 74th anniversary of Nakba Day and the killing of 15.000 Palestinians on May 15, 1948, and the displacement of 750.000 others during that period, by the state of Israel.  The World Federation of Trade Unions on behalf of its 105 million workers who work, live, and struggle in 133 countries on the 5 continents firmly stands on the side of the heroic Palestinian people and strongly condemns the constant crime of the Israeli occupation and its barbaric consequences.

We denounce the hypocrisy and the dirty role of the USA, EU, and NATO who declare an equal distance policy among the victim and the perpetrators, while supporting the Israeli state with all means and waging plans for the perpetuation and intensification of occupation.  We congratulate the class-oriented trade unions for their undivided solidarity with Palestine and their contribution to the WFTU solidarity campaign for the material support of the Palestinian people.

The WFTU, based on its founding principles and the decisions and resolutions of the 18th Congress, reiterates its unconditional solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Palestine and intensifies its struggle for the recognition of the independent Palestinian state in the borders of 1967, with Eastern Jerusalem as its capital. We fully support the inalienable right of the Palestinian refugees to return to Palestine and we demand the liberation of all Palestinian political prisoners.

AIB need to restore the 35 hour week.

The Financial Services Union (FSU) have launched a campaign to restore the 35-hour working week in AIB. The Union state that during the years of austerity the working week in AIB was extended from 35 hours to 37 hours.


Speaking at the Triennial Conference of the FSU, Billy Barrett, Senior Industrial Relations Officer with responsibility for members in AIB commented:

“In a judgment a couple of years ago the Labour Court stated that “employees who cooperated with adjustments to pay and conditions of employment during the crisis are entitled to have those progressively reversed as circumstances improve

“AIB has reported profits of €274 million in the first half of 2021 and its CEO, Colin Hunt is on the record as stating that the economic outlook for the Bank is positive.

It is time that staff share in the upturn in the Banks fortunes.

It is also a case of fairness and equality in the workplace. At present if you work in Bank of Ireland, you work a 35-hour week. Any staff member who will transfer in the future from Ulster Bank to AIB will remain on their current 35-hour week contract.

This means that staff will be working side by side with some on a 35-hour week and some on a 37-hour week.

The FSU surveyed our members on this issue and the support for the campaign was clear and unambiguous.

As a first phase of the campaign, we have launched a petition of our members seeking their support.

It is time for AIB to reverse the decision to increase the working week from 35 hours to 37 hours, recognise the work done by members in returning the Bank to profitability and restore the 35-hour week as is common in other Banks.”


Trade Union Left Forum. May Day Statement:

Trade Union Left Forum  

Mayday Statement:

Trade union left forum wish to extend our solidarity greetings to workers their families unions and communities in Ireland and beyond on this International Workers Day.

We take this opportunity to announce that the TULF have completed drafting a bill for legislation to replace many of the workers’ rights lost as a result of decades of anti-worker legislation dating back to the 1940s. The TULF  have been campaigning for the last 4 years against anti-worker legislation, many unions along with the next generation of workers in the form of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) have adopted policies against anti-union legislation particularly the 1990 industrial relations act. 

At the recent biennial delegates conference of the Irish Congress of trade unions (ICTU) the Dublin council of trade unions (DCTU) moved a motion calling for legislation to restore workers’ rights lost as a result of the 1990 industrial relations act. This motion was unanimously passed by all the delegates and is now the policy of the Ictu. 

Since then, there has been done to advance this motion by the Ictu or any of the affiliated unions despite it’s overwhelming support.

The TULF will not let this very necessary motion gather dust on a shelf in the ICTU head office. We have stepped into the void and done what the Ictu and or the affiliated unions should have been doing since the Congress in October. We have drafted the necessary legislation and this will be launched on the 2nd of June at 6 p.m. at the Unite the Union Hall in middle Abbey Street Dublin.

The Trade Union Left Forum by launching this bill is calling for the ICTU to begin a national campaign in conjunction with all affiliated trade unions and trades councils to seek the support of government, political parties, Dáil deputies, local authorities and wider society to amend  the existing legislation and introduce the Fair Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2022 as drafted by the Tulf, which will be the first step to start the process to tip the balance of power back to workers in Ireland and in line with policy as adopted unanimously at congress.

Trade Unions must be Radical or they will become Redundant.

Up the Workers

Mandate President Denise Curran’s Speech to 1916 Commemoration in Sligo

Thursday 28 April 2022


I’m honoured and delighted to address this important gathering today, as we not only commemorate those great Irish women and men who fought so gallantly against the odds and for so long in delivering to some extent our country’s independence from a cruel colonial power, but equally importantly to reaffirm our ongoing struggle for a true republic in which the focus is firmly on its citizens, families and communities.

I’m also very humbled that as Mandate President we remember in our commemoration two true Irish men in that struggle for independence- Patrick Moran from Roscommon and our own Martin Savage from Ballysodare. Both these men like myself worked in the retail industry and were active trade unionists in a union that eventually became Mandate. Their struggle wasn’t confined to their military escapades for independence, but equally in their union activities to better their terms and conditions and rates of pay. That struggle more than ever remains a constant today.

As Irish politics hurtles towards potential watershed and historic moments, Irish workers across the island of Ireland whether Catholic, Protestant or Dissenter, are facing into the economic unknowns. Our employer and landlord class aided by its political equivalent and supporters, will use these so-called economic unknowns to attack workers employment rights, their hard won terms and conditions and pay rates. Their relentless drive for more and more profit, for delivering increasing shareholder dividend, for protecting their business case models over workers’ interests, the ongoing marketisation of anything that is of vital importance to Irelands citizens and communities makes a lie of any mealy mouthed words by the same class that they have social conscience and responsibility policy positions.

We have seen this in Mandate with Arnotts, Clerys and only recently Debenhams where so-called reputable employers used the prevailing legal systems to exercise their rights to siphon away and out of the country valuable assets and money from those businesses, without any legal recourse to honouring negotiated commitments to their workers and under the watchful eye of our political rulers who have promised legal change on this behaviour but delivered so far nothing.

Spare a thought for the Debenhams workers who had to picket their empty workplaces through the ravages if a Covid pandemic, the harshest of Irish weather and suffer physical attention by state forces for 406 days.

They like the Dunnes anti-apartheid strikers in the 80s are like Savage and Moran part of our struggle in delivering an Ireland for the people run by the people…not in the interests of a few of the wealthy and their political cronies. That struggle continues today.

And it’s a struggle that takes place in a climate of people challenges, both local and global. We’ve yet to deal with the full threat of Brexit, the Ukrainian and other war situations, the ongoing narrative of our country’s invaluable neutrality position, the economic and sovereign restrictions of our EU membership, the serious threat of climate change and so on and on. The challenges are varied and endless, but in each and every one of them there’s an obvious constant threaded through them. And it’s not us …the workers who are at fault despite what some in the media will tell you.

It’s the pursuit of resources in the interests of capital, the protection of capital interests ahead of the ordinary people and the very obvious and accepted universal inequalities of wealth distribution. All of these have and will continue to threaten our very existence.

As we commemorate our heroic dead today – such as the Patrick Morans and Martin Savages and so many more, their struggle and fight against their imperialist oppressors now becomes ours. Like those I’ve mentioned we must commit and affirm our responsibility as workers to struggle and fight our deserved rewards from the capitalist classes, many of which are imperialist in nature and outlook.

There’s a clear local, national and international dimension in this struggle and fight. Those that believe it cannot be achieved here should look at what was managed and done through the recent Right2Water and Right2Change campaigns of which Mandate Trade Union had no small part in. The Mandate Dunnes strike of 2015 delivered employment legislation that provided better protection for flexible contracted workers not only in bar and retail but across all Irish employment. This was the Banded Hours legislation which is the envy of workers and their unions across the globe.

The Dunnes anti-apartheid strike of the 80s which I’ve already referenced and was by a small group of 9 women and one man strikers from only one store, Henry Street, contributed to an Irish government position change on importing goods from the apartheid South African state.

Simple worker and community led campaigns and actions can have meaningful effect for those that we represent and fight for. As American Margaret Mead said when describing those Dunnes anti-apartheid strikers ‘never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’

Irish workers should not be reticent in asking for more, nor apologise for demanding their fair share on everything. And I mean everything. Workers across the world shouldn’t shy away from exercising their collective will and, if necessary, their muscle for the same. It’s our world and as I said during my Mandate President election campaign, we have the means…all we need is the will. Those that we commemorate had less means but clearly had more will.

To finish sisters and brothers, as the song goes if we continue to ‘tolerate this, then our kids will be next’.

Thank you.


Dublin Council Of Trade Unions Invites ALL Workers and others to their May Day Rally this coming Sunday 1st May. The slogan will be A Decent Public Health Service! End the Housing Crisis now! Assemble: Garden of Remembrance. Parnell Square. Dublin at 1.30 PM.  Followed by march to Liberty Hall for Public meeting outside. Support your Trade Union. Come along and bring family and friends.

The Amazon Labor Union Victory Lessons for All Workers

In one of the most remarkable labor organizing victories in decades, the Amazon workers in Staten Island voted to unionize with the independent Amazon Labor Union (ALU). This is the first organizing victory for any union at any of Amazon’s 110 warehouses across the USA, the nation’s second largest employer with over a million employees.

This was a real bottom-up organizing effort potentially highlighting an effective way forward for the rest of labor – a victory that gives momentum to workers not only in the other Amazon warehouses but in all industries. It demonstrates how and why rank and file workers are the essential elements of not only a successful organizing drive but critical to a revitalized labor movement based on struggle.

In a remarkable moment of candor, the Financial Times, which always speaks for big business, admits Amazon workers took great inspiration from none other than legendary communist William Z. Foster.

Amazon’s warehouse in Staten Island is a thoroughly 21st-century workplace where human “pickers” select items from shelves brought to them by a fleet of robots. Yet when the leaders of the newly formed Amazon Labor Union wanted to unionize the place, they turned to a manual called ‘Organizing Methods in the Steel Industry’ from 1936. The pamphlet recommends among other things a “chain system” whereby workers recruit other workers.

That Amazon workers should look back to the history of the steel industry is not as strange as it might sound. Steel was a vital sector of the American economy a century ago, as is ecommerce today.

Justine Medina, Amazon organizer, described Foster’s Organizing Methods in the Steel Industry in Labor Notes as a “must-read”.

Why Follow William Z Foster? And Why Now?

While written in the 1930s, the short but informative pamphlet illustrated and combined the necessary ideological foundation, strategic outlook and practical tasks needed to take on the biggest Steel corporations and win. And it remains relevant today.

Unfortunately the strategy and victory for the ALU is an exception to the norm in today’s labor movement. A combination of red baiting, de-industrialization, and lack of desire to actually fight has seen the broader labor movement completely abandon any semblance of class struggle for class collaboration since Foster’s time.

Not only have traditional unions been largely unable to organize large militant units like the ALU just did in Staten Island, but the same losing class-collaborationist approach was most apparent when unions were unable to protect workers who were already organized. In the late 1970’s and onward, the de-industrialization of the USA was in full swing. Steel, coal, auto, rubber, transportation were just a few of the basic industries that were offshored, downsized or dis-invested by capital. Hundreds of thousands lost their jobs, communities were devastated, as infrastructure and public services took a major blow.

The causes of this man-made disaster were pictured and portrayed by politicians, business, the media, and labor as inevitable results of living under the magic of the capitalist market. The mayor of Pittsburgh, Richard Caliguiri remarked that workers should leave the city for greener pastures, essentially defending the bosses’ shut down of the steel mills in western Pennsylvania. Rather than use their existing political and organizational muscle to mobilize the tens of thousands into a grand coalition to put up a fight, unions simply folded into a charity-based approach, reducing their credibility and giving credence to the bosses’ arguments that the unions caused the offshoring because they “asked for too much”. Given that all these industries were unionized yet collapsed without a mass struggle is crucial for workers today.

Labor’s efforts today, with the exception of a few unions in particular sectors, largely mirror this defeatist approach.Tied to the bosses and the twin corrupt mainstream political parties, labor’s efforts are reduced to lobbying, email campaigns, media releases, and excessive legalistic strategies. For years, rather than attempt to unionize many low-wage sectors, labor lobbied for a federal minimum wage bill, something still yet to come to fruition.

This is what makes the Amazon victory so exciting, and one can see the incredible relevance today that is exhibited by the Foster pamphlet used to organize the Steel Industry decades ago. The parallels for the labor movement today and in the late 1920s and early 1930s are remarkable:

The organization campaign must be a fighting movement. It must realize that if the steel workers are to be organized they can only rely upon themselves and the support they get from other workers. While every advantage should be taken of all political institutions and individuals to defend the steel workers’ civil rights and to advance their interests generally, it would be the worst folly to rely upon Roosevelt, Earle or other capitalist politicians to adopt measures to organize the steel workers. There is every probability that only through a great strike can the steel workers establish their union and secure their demands, and this perspective must be constantly borne in mind.

Although the steel workers must not place their faith in capitalist politicians, they should utilize every means to develop working class political activity and organization in the steel areas. Especially there should be organized local Labor parties in the steel towns and thus foundations laid for an eventual Farmer-Labor Party.

Christian Smalls, leader of the ALU, in an interview on Fox News commented on being ignored by politicians in the runup to the NLRB election, “Whether they showed up or not, they didn’t make or break our election. We just had to continue to organize.” Like Foster, Smalls is setting an example in which unions chart an independent course, focusing on confidence and mass support of the rank and file over tacit support from politicians – worrying about whether AOC or Bernie Sanders attends a photo op rally is not a priority.

Democracy Defined as Rank and File Control and Involvement

For both Foster and now the ALU, mass participation among the rank and file and a captivating positive attitude among the organizing committee were crucial.

The necessary discipline cannot be attained by issuing drastic orders, but must be based upon wide education work among the rank and file and the development of confidence among them in the cause and ultimate victory of the movement.

A central aim must always be to draw the largest possible masses into direct participation in all the vital activities of the union; membership recruitment, formulation of demands, union elections, petitions, pledge votes, strike votes, strike organization, etc. This gives them a feeling that the union is actually their movement.

This critical strategy to draw in the workers to participate in the drive was necessary to destroy management’s attempt to picture the union organizers as “outsiders” that can confuse employees and reduce the union‘s credibility. Unfortunately, Amazon was successful in defeating the first Alabama organizing drive by the RWDSU by constantly highlighting the out-of-town supporters who would pass flyers or visit workers instead of rank-and-file workers at the sites. Solidarity support and professional staff are critical but only work when following a worker-led movement.

What Kind of Union Do Workers Need Today?

Can we learn from our past mistakes? Unions are essential for protecting the workers on the job and that’s why the capitalist class is relentless in opposition to workers organizing. But the Amazon Labor Union model can not exist in a vacuum. Its approach is a guide and for the working class to move to the offensive its principles must be extended far and wide.

The ALU and other new leaders in labor must shift the broader labor movement away from the strategy of class collaboration in order to be strong enough to withstand the ongoing attacks by capital. Workers can only actually go on the offensive once campaigns are moved beyond individual bargaining units to a class-level fight.

The ALU has shown the working class in simple and practical terms that it’s more important to build bottom-up solidarity among all workers than building an identity with your boss. This is something we should understand and help to nurture and grow.


Unions dismayed at Department of Social Protection handling of employment services

SIPTU and Fórsa members employed in local employment services (LES) and Job Clubs are losing confidence in the ability of the Department of Social Protection to manage these vital social services following a further change in the contracts for their provision.

SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Adrian Kane, said: “The Department of Social Protection has, without consultation, extended the contract of the current providers of LES and Job Clubs until August. This is yet another example of times for the deadlines concerning the operation of these services being unilaterally changed by the Department.
“This reactive and last minute approach shown by the Department is incredibly unfair to our members, many of whom will lose their jobs as a result of the planned tendering process for the provision of these services.”
He added: “Our members need to plan for their futures. They need definitive timelines. At the very least there should be an extension of these contracts until the end of the year. This would allow time for a proper stakeholder process to be established and to agree a way forward for the provision of these vital social services.”
Fórsa Assistant General Secretary, Lynn Coffey, said: “SIPTU and Fórsa have been steadfast in their opposition to the marketisation of the current services. We have called for a minimum extension of the current contracts until the end of the year in light of the Ukrainian refugee crisis. To continue with the marketisation of these critical services as we enter into a very unpredictable economic period goes against all logic.
“The approach of privatising these services, adopted by Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, has no political support apart from among a handful of hard-line ideologues within Fine Geal. It is clearly not in the interest of the most vulnerable within our society to have these services cease at this time.”
She added: “What the Minister should be doing is seeking to implement the nine recommendations from the Report on the Examination of Employment Services in November 2021 published by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands.”

The WFTU International Campaign in Solidarity and Relief of the Palestinian People ended with success.

On April 10th, 2022 a solidarity event with massive participation was organized by NAKLIYAT-IS in Istanbul Turkey to mark the successful end of the WFTU – GUPW Palestine campaign.

The materials were collected by 45 countries of the world. The huge participation in the campaign proves once more the solidarity of WFTU and its members with the Palestinian people.

In the event participated the WFTU General Secretary George Mavrikos, Ali Riza Küçükosmanoğlu, member of WFTU Presidential Council and General Secretary of TUI Transport and the ambassador of Palestine in Turkey.

Our next step is the arrival and distribution of the material to Palestine.