Trade Union Left Forum May Day Statement.

Trade Union Left Forum May Day Statement.

The Trade Union Left Forum would like to to express solidarity to all workers in struggle in Ireland and around the world today on this International Workers’ Day. We remember all those who have died at work in the front line fighting the coronavirus. We remember our fallen brothers and sisters and pledge to fight like hell for the Living to build a just world where all humanity can reach their full potential.


We express our solidarity with hundreds of millions of workers across the world suffering restrictions on their rights under lockdown condition. We support all those who struggle under blockade or sanctions by the western powers.

The coronavirus did not cause the crisis we now see in our health system, housing, or employment  but it has exposed the failures and highlights the urgent need for change.

The coronavirus has exposed the amount of precarious work in Ireland. As shareholders and top managers receive dividends and payouts workers are laid off with the state,  that is you and I the taxpayer, taking up the slack. Many of the front line workers keeping the country going during the pandemic are of the low pay category and their labour is grossly undervalued and goes without notice normally. There should be no going back to this normality, minimum hour, part-time contracts, precarious work, bogus self employment, the gig economy should all be abolished along with anti trade union legislation such as the 1990 Industrial Relations Act. We need to provide permanent secure well-paid jobs for our people. The 1990 IRA  must be replaced  with a fair Employment Act guaranteeing at a minimum;

  1. The right to Union recognition
  2. The right to Union access
  3. Full collective bargaining rights
  4. Maximum 35 hour working week

The two tier two jurisdiction Healthcare systems in Ireland have been exposed as not fit for purpose. The one tier health temporally rented in the south is the backbone of breaking this pandemic. It must remain post virus. Instead of renting the private hospitals they must be fully integrated into to our health service along with childcare and residential care for senior citizens. This can also be the backbone of our struggle against cardiac disease, cancer, mental health illnesses and all the health concerns of the entire population. The two separate health strategies north and south have been an abject failure as seen with the high incidence of the pandemic now in County Cavan which borders Fermanagh and Tyrone. This is due to the British herd mentality strategy which has led to much higher rates of infection. Trade  unions must demand  for all workers a one All Ireland fully funded Public Health Service. There must be no going back to normal of  the failed two tier two jurisdiction health systems.

The pandemic has exposed the  crisis in  Housing. Private rented accommodation is the main form of tenure in our cities and towns, overcrowding has increased for the first time in 50 years according to the 2016 census. We also have over 10, 000 citizens homeless, 4000 of these are children. People have received rent breaks and mortgage holidays this just kicks the ball down the road. These bills will have to be paid with interest when the crisis over. These rent demands and mortgage repayments should be written off and cancelled for the duration of the pandemic. There should be a ban on all Air B&B until sufficient public housing is provided. There should be no financial evictions until the state can offer a suitable alternative.

If this puts landlords or property owners in financial difficulty the property should be taken into public ownership. The property should then be rented back to the occupiers with income linked rents. For far too long landlords and property speculators have being subsidised to the tune of over 1 billion euro a year as they make excessive rent demands on our people. There should be no going back to normal in housing this parasitic gravy train of subsidies, grants and tax breaks should be firmly stopped.

There should be a comprehensive public building programme of universally accessible public housing. There should be a right to housing enshrined in the constitution. Rents should be linked to income. Cost rental model puts the entire cost of public housing on those who live in it. This is gross opportunism and is not what is needed to solve the crisis. Income linked rents, differential rents are the key to affordability. Public housing is of universal societal benefit to the state, similar to healthcare and education. It should be funded by the entire population.

A universally accessible public housing system, available as a right to all citizens, with rents linked to income will end the crisis in housing whether there is a pandemic or not.

Finally we would like to point out that social partnership is not what is required at this time. We need strong trade union leadership to lead our demands as outlined above to tip power back towards workers and away from employers. The pandemic has exposed the failures in the system there will be no going back to normal when it is over. Social partnership is a vehicle for the establishment to lessen the demands and expectations of the working class. They will use it to impose austerity on workers and make them pay for the cost of the bailout of capital. We paid for the last crisis in a €42 billion bank bailout we will not pay for this one. If big businesses run into financial difficulty they should be nationalised instead of bailing them out for private capital to reap the benefits.

The virus highlighted the crisis in the capitalist system.

Capitalism is the Virus.