TULF submission to right2water

The Trade Union Left Forum submitted our thoughts to right2water on the proposals for a policy document for a progressive Irish Government, as did many other groups. The number of submissions is a good indication of both the breadth of the right2water movement and the depth of the politics of those individuals and groups involved. Both are clear strengths of the movement and unity amongst all these people and groups should be maintained. There is strength in unity and weakness comes from division.

The full TULF submission is available on the website here http://www.tuleftforum.com/resources/discussion-papers/

“The reference to the Democratic Programme is important. This programme represented a brave and radical social, political and economic vision for Ireland that had the support of working people and the mostadvanced elements of both the republican and the trade union movement. However, we must keep in mind the fact the Free State and subsequent governments of Ireland have never sought to implement such a programme, because it is not in their class interests to do so. This state is a compromise with imperialism, and it will not help deliver any meaningful change for working people.

Today, the fact that five unions have been central to the biggest mass mobilisation and social movement in decades is in itself a progressive turn, constituting an important step forward for the trade union movement and for workers more generally. For too long, unions have been formally on the sidelines of important political and social struggles.

It is crucial to the future of the union movement, and to working people generally, that we in the movement develop a coherent and concrete programme, with workers and communities, that challenges the power of capital and big business in Ireland. If we are to secure lasting gains and increase our collective power, the movement must have a political agenda and a vision that empower working people and shift the balance of power in the country towards working people.

We have seen how easy it is in a crisis for companies and the government to do away with gains that took decades of struggle by working people to win. In a short number of years,  defined-benefit pension schemes have been virtually wiped out, the working week lengthened, pay cut, unemployment greatly increased, contracts made more flexible for capital, and much more. While unions are now beginning to win difficult pay increases again, these are wiped out through increased taxes and the monetisation or privatisation of social services. Unions need to push for a coherent programme that sees wins in the work-place, complemented and enhanced by legislation and the provision of quality public services.

Politicians and political institutions must be held to account; and unions, as a vital democratic institution with more than 650,000 members in Ireland as a whole, constituting the largest worker-led and worker-controlled structure in the country, can do that.”