By Paul Murphy MEP,
The bill which Senator Quinn intends to table is an affront to the right of workers across all industries to strike to protect their pay and conditions. The bill is dressed up as guaranteeing service, but is in effect a ban on the rights of ESB workers to withdraw their labour. While he intends it to be based on electricity and water, it will be quickly seized upon by bosses in all sectors to curtail the rights of their workers.
During the crisis an erosion of people’s democratic rights has taken place through the use of instruments like the Fiscal Treaty, the six and two packs. This bill follows that trend in trying to curtail the rights of workers to oppose neo-liberalism. The bill wuld put Ireland on a par with a dictatorship with workers possibly going to prison for up to 5 years if they dare to take strike action.
Despite what the likes of Senator Quinn, IBEC and ISME think, the fact is that it is workers who hold the power in any company, by removing their labour they can shut anywhere down. Senator Quinn would now like to remove this right from workers. He has taken up the mantle of William Martin Murphy for the 21st Century. The right to withdraw your labour is key in defending terms and conditions of workers. Should this bill become law it would allow an accelaration in the race to the bottom across the economy.
The ESB workers will receive the backing of the majority of people who have seen their own pensions being mismanaged, raided and had their living standards lowered because of the austerity measures being inflicted to finance the bailing out of bankers and bondholders.
The right to strike was won through decades of struggles against exploitation by workers and trade unions. In this city 100 years ago, workers were locked out of their jobs because they demanded the right to join a trade union of their own choosing, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions should organise a protest in opposition to this bill to defend the right of workers to strike.