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Marching behind Jack:  Not the road to resistance

The organization of the 24th November Dublin march in protest at the coming budget is a triumph of diplomacy. It brings together the Dublin Council of Trade Unions, ICTU and the component parts of the socialist movement around a common programme negotiated by DCTU. 

No to Austerity! Stop the cuts! No to home taxes! Tax the greedy not the needy! For investment and jobs! 

There are some questions. How is this to be implemented? Does it involve bringing down the coalition or simply persuading them to change direction? Does this run alongside paying the banks or does it involve tearing up the bank guarantees. How do we progress the building of a working class resistance? How will the socialists advance workers opposition to the budget?
These questions were not the focus of the launch. That focus was Jack O'Connor of SIPTU who, having led the collaboration with the government in the implementation of the last budget, had now emerged as the leader of the opposition to the coming budget! Speaking at the launch of the new campaign he said; 

“We will be encouraging members to come out on the 24th to prioritise an agenda of growth within the narrow parameters of the TROIKA program” He acknowledged that the Government had “very limited space to manoeuvre” but that; “We’re urging that the remaining burden over the next few budgets would be shifted from the shoulders of working people and on to the shoulders of those who were best able to contribute.” 

There is nothing ambiguous about this. Jack accepts the budget – he has little choice, having helped implement the last budget and having been locked in advance negotiation with government to agree this budget. He wants a greater fairness in the constant draining of the Irish economy to pay the banks, but the banks come first. 

What of the left union leaders? Standing beside Jack on the platform, General Secretary of the CPSU Eoin Ronayne said that the campaign; “would come from a united trade union movement”. But the only way to remain united is to unite behind Jack, who in any case is spelling out before the protest on the 24th the ICTU policy of surrender. The socialist movement organize around a Communities Against Cuts alliance that is also based on special pleading within the budget framework.

We should note the mechanism of the march. It is organized by the Dublin Trades Council, a relatively minor element of the trade union structure. Major demonstrations are headed by ICTU, but this ceased following the conclusion of the Croke Park Agreement and the arrival of the Troika. On the one hand the workers booed Begg and O'Connor off the platform on the other hand ICTU became so deeply involved in implementing the austerity that it became impossible to directly organise the opposition to it. 
However it is not the job of socialists to help resolve the dilemmas of the bureaucracy. Our task is to aid working class resistance to the budget. 

One self-evident call is for Labour out of government. They have clearly betrayed their supporters and even some elements of the Labour party itself are expressing disquiet. 

We must call on the union leaders to get out of the Croke Park deal and the implementation bodies that enforce the austerity. 

We should call for the expulsion of the Troika and for Irish workers to unite with the European workers resistance. Irish workers can have no hope while European bankers rule the country. 

For the same reason we must call for the repudiation of the debt. 

We should call for a boycott of all charges and taxes levied to meet the debt and for solidarity across Europe of those who repudiate the debt. 

We must face up to the crisis of the workers movement and begin the organising of a grassroots movement organized across the unions and uniting the workforce with the community. This the only way that a solution favourable to workers can be achieved. 

By the benchmark of these demands the DCTU campaign falls far short of the task of organizing a resistance. What they are doing is organizing a protest alongside the union leadership for a Better Fairer Way, calling on the government to change its mind. This is exactly the “popular Front” strategy around which DCTU organized last year’s ineffective protest 

The socialists signed up for the popular front in 2011. The result was disaster and demobilization. They should advance a programme of resistance in 2012.


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