A Bankrupt Leadership
The trade union movement in the North of Ireland has been operating a very simple model. Local democracy, as exemplified by the comic opera Stormont executive, represents a mechanism through which trade unions can lobby the local parties and achieve gains for their members.
That model crashed and burned when Stormont voted through a massive austerity package - a package that could have been blocked if any of the local parties had exercised a veto!
So at last year's May Day saw the unveiling of plan B - go back and lobby some more!
Nothing has changed since then, other than the DUP and Sinn Fein have lobbied to transfer hundreds of millions from the poor to the rich in the form of a cut in corporation tax.
We have also seen a very consistent attack on democratic rights and expressions of sectarian supremacy from Unionism. The trade union movement hid under the bed! The "socialist" wing of loyalism dressed up in funny clothes to celebrate a time when the empire ruled and workers knew their place!
Now we face into the bedroom tax, welfare cuts, the dismantling of the housing executive and a new sectarian division of housing that will inevitably weaken workers rights and increase the patronage and power of the capitalist parties.
How do we break out of this cycle of defeat? We need a movement that is unremittingly opposed to all aspects of austerity and the bail out of the banks and speculators and counters with the vision of a socialist society. We need a movement that stands for the independent action of the working class and struggles to unite workers in the unions, across the unions and in the community.
Above all we need to assert the common
identity and tradition of the Irish working class against the sectarian
and clientelist prison that the six county state represents.