SIPTU betrays Aer Rianta workers

The cancellation of the 18 March transport strike by the SIPTU officers over the heads of the Aer Rianta strike committee was a disgusting betrayal of those workers and a blow to all in that semi-state attempting to organise against the Fianna Fail/PD privatisation juggernaut.

By Councillor Clare Daly

The SIPTU leadership blocked the Aer Rianta action in a desperate attempt to avoid the application by Ryanair for a High Court injunction. The justification was that had Ryanair won the application it would have derailed the struggle. So instead of going to court and fighting the injunction, SIPTU derailed the action themselves. It was obvious from Jack O'Connor that had Ryanair been granted the injunction there was no way that the union would defy it!

Union baulks at battle

When the political establishment mowed in to ruthlessly crush the Anti-Bin Tax Campaign, with the use of the courts, gardai, and the media, we warned that a similar approach would be adopted against workers in struggle. That they too would be faced with the same choice - hold firm and take the struggle forward, or bow their heads and wait for them to be chopped off. SIPTU chose the later route.

The so-called letter of comfort from Bertie Ahern that "saved the day" is worthless. It restates the government's determination to break up the company but postpones the implementation of legislation to that effect until after Easter, letting the union have a look at the figures first. This is a joke. Meanwhile, speculation is rife that they will move to sell a significant shareholding in Aer Lingus within the next quarter. The barbaric attack on jobs and conditions borne by workers at that company, which has yielded record profits is now being used to sell it off.

While a ballot is being organised by SIPTU in Aer Lingus to put the workforce in a position to take on management's increased attacks on jobs and conditions, particularly with the slashing of half the workforce in Shannon, that ballot has been weakened by the Aer Rianta betrayal. Many workers are questioning what is the point in voting to take industrial action as the union will probably stop us from exercising it.

The government is hell-bent on pushing through their agenda at our expense. Ably backed up by the media, the courts, and the wealthy vested interests waiting in the wings to get their hands on the spoils. However, despite their arrogance, this government is weak in the sense that it has earned the hatred of whole sections of workers throughout the country. They are the ones holding the country to ransom.

Campaign for united strike action needed

A serious campaign, across the transport sector to expose what is going on could win massive support. Only militant action can force a U-turn. We cannot rely on the union leaders to deliver this. There must be serious efforts made to bring together activists and shop-stewards across the airports to discuss a co-ordinated response. If the union is not prepared to back action, then unofficial action must be prepared for.

Unless determined action is taken, then privatisation will take place, and with it the jobs and conditions that were fought for over the years will be lost, along with valuable state assets.