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Interview with Independent Workers Union president

22 April 2006 

The president of the Independent Workers Union, Patricia Campbell, recently returned from a 3 week tour in the USA where she made contact with socialist and trade union radicals. We interview her about her experiences. (At the time of her trip she was vice-president of the union and has only recently been elected president).

Q: What was the background to your trip?

My trip was sponsored by a US socialist group, Solidarity.  Solidarity is a broad socialist alliance interested in Irish affairs and anxious to find out more about the Independent Workers Union. I welcomed the chance to travel there, to explain the work of the union and to find out about struggles in the states.

Q: What was its purpose of the trip?

Its purpose was to forge links with radical activists and to address a wide range of US audiences on the merits of establishing an Independent Workers Union in Ireland and to brief audiences on the state of the political process in Ireland. I started my trip in Philadelphia. I spent most of my time in Detroit and wound up my engagements in New York and Connecticut. 

Q: What did you achieve?

I feel the trip was very successful. It was one of the most exciting and politically satisfying experiences in my many years of political and trade union activism. I met and addressed a wide range of groups, trade union activists, women’s groups, student groups and I was special guest speaker at Eastern Michigan University as part of their programme to celebrate Black History month. I also addressed student audiences in Central Connecticut State University on the Irish question and revolution. I had an inspiring and informative meeting with key leaders of Detroit’s Palestine Office. While in New York I met fellow trade union activists – transit workers who had recently shut down New York before the holidays in a heroic strike for their own and future workers pensions and job security. I gave a talk at the union hall for Broadway musicians that was co-hosted by the important US workers magazine Labour Notes’ to discuss ‘Workers rights in a global economy’.  I have been invited back to the US to attend a Labour notes international conference, which is to take place at the beginning of May.

Q: Do you think there is a role for the traditional Irish-American base or will future solidarity be labour solidarity?

Future solidarity must be from those who are willing to stand up for social and economic rights and against imperialism, not just British imperialism but also American Imperialism.  Support from just about any US politician should not be an option. How can we accept support from those who for example support the invasion and killing in Iraq?. That is hypocrisy at its best. With friends like that who needs enemies?

Q: Where do the US links go from here?

We build on them and internationalise the links. I will be attending the Labour Notes Conference at the beginning of May and I hope to network and forge further International links. We can all learn from each other and build a radical social movement together in this diverse world of struggles. Together workers from different countries can highlight just how similar the difficulties are that we all experience in the face of imperialism and capitalism.


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