No more retreats

Step up the fight to save public transport

The decision by the leadership of SIPTU to call off the 18 March public transport strikes has enraged workers in Aer Rianta and CIE. The 18 March was a lost opportunity to stop the Government in its tracks and setback their privatisation agenda.

The strikes were called off not because the workers weren't willing to fight. They were called off at the eleventh hour because the union leaders as usual did everything in their power to save the Government's neck and social partnership. The debacle of the 18 March shows that we need union leaders that are not in the pockets of management and the Government.

By Stephen Boyd

The Government are committed to privatising Dublin Bus, Bus Eireann, Aer Rianta and Aer Lingus. In the case of Aer Lingus they intend to sell off a large chunk of the company in the next three months. In Aer Rianta the break up of that company has only been stalled until after Easter.

In Dublin Bus Brennan has re-iterated that he won't deviate from his plans to bring in private bus operators on to the streets of Dublin as soon as feasible.

The Government and management are planning to strip the workforces in these companies of their working conditions - to bring in a younger generation on "yellow pack" working conditions in an attempt to duplicate the conditions that Michael O'Leary has imposed on Ryanair workers. And why? Because it will mean bigger profits for the new shareholders who buy up our public services.

We urgently need a real campaign to save our public transport system before it's handed over to the profiteers such as anti-union Ryanair and the billionaires who have robbed Eircom from the Irish public. There is massive anger against this Government, if we had union leaders who were prepared to stand up to the Government they would receive massive support from the working class.

Not only would it be possible to stop the sell off of our public transport system but workers could also be mobilised to fight the "savage 16 social welfare cuts", the bin tax would have already been beaten, and the creeping stealth taxes and plans for water charges would not go unchallenged.

The Socialist Party are campaigning to transform our unions. Workers deserve better than the pro-business union leaders who rule ICTU. The Socialist Party is calling for a one day public transport strike. Union activists in CIE, Aer Rianta and Aer Lingus should unite and organise together to force their unions to name the date for this strike. A one day public transport strike would be a huge step forward in the battle to stop privatisation and would receive support from the working class.

The Socialist Party is campaigning to establish rank and file trade union organisations to challenge and remove the pro-business union bureaucrats who "lead" our unions. Join us in the struggle to stop privatisation and to build fighting democratic unions.

This article is from the April 2004 edition of Socialist Voice.

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