The statement below was distributed at the May Day rally in Dublin.
Support the Nurses!
29 April 2007
The Nurses case is very simple. For years their wages, working hours and conditions have been held back and previous promises ignored. As an independent union outside Social Partnership they have the right to take industrial action in pursuit of their claim.
The background is very simple. The health service is in collapse. The government solution is full-scale privatisation. The attack on the health service and the drive for privatisation will go into high gear if the nurses are defeated.
The cutting edge of the attack on the nurses is also very simple. As Bertie Ahern spelt out on the second day of the strike, the weapon to defeat them is – Social Partnership! Bertie argues that he can’t give way because to do so would be to leave the confines of the towards 2016 agreement with the social partners.
In other words, industrial action by the Nurses, or any other union outside social partnership, faces a united opposition by employers, Government and the ICTU bosses.
The Nurses are offered an escape clause – the benchmarking process. Deals done inside this process usually offer zero cost arrangements where more pay or better hours are paid for by cutting the number of jobs and increasing productivity. In the context of the health service this would make bad conditions worse.
Many workers believe that the dispute is inching towards a solution. In fact it is moving towards defeat, with the involvement of the National implementation body and David Begg, the ICTU bureaucrat most committed to partnership.
Working class militants and socialists have a responsibility to offer solidarity and defend the interests of their class. The health dispute is of central importance to us all. There should be solidarity committees in every union, in every branch, in every organisation and community where socialists have a presence.
Defend the Nurses! Defeat Social Partnership!