After Croke Park: Defeating austerity - prepare to Strike to Win


Public service workers proved in the Croke Park vote that we are capable of getting organised to defeat the careful plans of the government to make us swallow yet another round of cuts.  This despite the fact that the leadership of the two biggest public sector unions were working with the government in trying to get us to accept that plan.  And now they are in a panic because the No vote to Croke Park represents a massive refusal of their claim that austerity is the solution to the crisis.  Almost 300,000 workers have declared that Enough is Enough, add in our immediate families and this is probably quarter of the population.

This doesn't mean the fight is over, the No vote is only the start of defeating austerity.  Public Service Workers are not alone, 400,000 households have not registered for the Property Tax.  Across society ordinary working people are saying Enough, that is one of strengths.  We think we can beat any attempt to unilaterally oppose pay cuts around the points that follow

1. NO Means NO
There must be no talk of a return to negotiations on the basis of accepting that one billion euro needs to be cut out of the public sector. There isn't a better alternative to Croke Park to be negotiated on that basis and entering talks would only serve to pit the interests of one group of public sector workers against another.

2 . Build for a sustained strike.
If the government go ahead and try and impose pay cuts then a sustained strike is the only way to defeat them.  We must not be tempted by the apparent easy way out of one day 'general strikes' or work to rules even if both these can also be seen to prepare for a sustained strike.  They can survive token strikes, they cannot survive us bringing the country to a halt for a week or more.

3. Visibly prepare to Strike to Win.
We need to be visibly preparing to Strike to Win in this manner to frighten the government away from any attempt to impose cuts.  We are not interested in token protests to 'make our voices heard'. The huge vote against Croke Park has scared them, we must be careful to always send out the message that we intend to stand by that result and fight them if need be.  Any sign of timidity on our part will make the need for a sustained strike more rather than less likely - our message to them must be that they are about to start a fight they cannot win.

4. We are defending public services
Croke Park I resulted in the deterioration & loss of services to the public. Croke Park II would only have made this worse. We need to get that message out to working people all over Ireland, that our interests are not opposed but are the same because all of us need the services the public sector provides.  We must also explain that cuts in public sector pay and conditions make it possible for private sector employers to demand similar cuts.  And job losses in the public sector mean fewer opportunities for the unemployed to find work.

5. This fight is a fight for all workers
This isn't just the fight of Public Service Workers, it is the fight of all workers.  PSW's are in the front line because they are the best organised, ironic though that may be.  They should look to other groups targeted by austerity including students and the unemployed for solidarity.  If PSW's have to enter a sustained strike large scale mass civil disobedience should be carried out alongside such a strike to maximise disruption to transport in particular.  They should start building links with other sectors to encourage such support.

6. We need to focus on the union base and not the leadership
In this context the calls for resignations of top union leaders is a distraction from what we need to do.  We need to build from the base of the unions, if anything after the Croke Park vote workers are now in a position to tell the union leaders what to do.

7. Unite workers across the unions through special meetings
We need to talk with work colleagues and work towards establishing workplace committees to plan out how to respond to any attacks.  We should call for special meetings in the unions at what ever levels are relevant to prepare this fight, including local meetings in workplaces across unions that include everyone working there and special unions conferences at the national and regional level.

Dublin meeting - May 8th at 7.30 in Teachers Club Parnell square - FB event

After Croke Park - Winning the Fight - Organising Together
The massive vote by union members to reject the 'Croke Park Extension' proposals was a clear and unambiguous rejection of government attempts to impose yet another 1billion of austerity cuts on public service workers.  It was also a clear statement of opposition to the trade union leadership's decision to enter talks on the basis of these cuts in the first place.

What the No to Croke Park means for radicals & why you should get stuck in
300,000 public service workers may shortly be forced to strike, something that may very well transform the potential for radical politics in Ireland.  The purpose of this Open Letter is to provide information for activists who are not working in Public Services in order to explain the importance of the No vote to Croke Park. It is important in terms of the general struggle against austerity and we want to suggest some ways you can help make sure this fight is won, in particular by coming to a discussion of just that on Wednesday 8th May at 7.30 in the Teachers Club. (RSVP on Facebook)

Useful reading

The Human Cost of Cuts to Public Services - Thoughts of a Public Service Worker
Life in a social welfare office can be heartbreaking sometimes. Sitting there, behind the glass, you have a very limited range of available responses available to a broad expanse of problems. As the crisis deepens, people’s problems become more serious and varied and our responses and the time available to respond narrow. 

General strike - Protest or process?
Elsewhere along the periphery of Europe, in the countries where mass workers movements are re-emerging, the general strike is commonplace. In Greece and Spain, there is a real tradition of worker militancy, so memory of events of the recent past informs the action of today. Even there, where there have been multiple general strikes, with a strong element of grassroots activity, austerity has not been defeated. In Greece and Spain however, these strikes are not singular events, they are part of a process of resistance that entails many other elements, they are the generalised expression of a wave of strikes that have gripped those countries.

Voting NO to Croke Park - what happens next?
The government says if we Vote no to Croke Park they will impose it anyway.  Many of the union leadership try and scare us into voting Yes with this threat and by saying the only alternative is strike action.  Both are right.  If we just vote no than the government will attack us. And when they do the only way we can win is if we are willing to fight back - that will mean industrial action.  It will almost certainly mean at least the credible threat of an indefinite strike.

Croke Park proposal shows why we have to take our unions back & organise to win
It is quite incredible that the majority of the union leadership had the nerve to stay in the Croke Park talks and return to us, the members, asking us to vote for such a terrible deal. We have to ask ourselves how we have found ourselves in unions where the leadership was allowed take such an approach.  And we have to work out how we create unions that we control and which will help us organise together to defend our common interests.

Articles following the No Vote

Croke Park 2 voted down - Conflict with government now looming
Government efforts to bully public sector workers into accepting further wage cuts and harsher working conditions have been decisively rejected today.  SIPTU, INMO and the INTO all announced that they had rejected the deal in votes today. The rejection by SIPTU members was the final nail in the coffin of the deal, the members voting against it despite the efforts of the leadership to force it through, the margin was narrow only a few percent but the INMO recorded a 95.5% rejection and in the INTO almost 70% voted against the agreement.

Teachers unions showing the way - ‘No’ vote only the start – build now for industrial action
The decision of the 3 teacher unions to conduct a ballot for industrial action ups the ante in the battle against government attempts to impose a new round of paycuts on public sector workers.  The unions have announced a decision to “conduct a ballot of members for industrial action, up to and including strike action”, and that industrial action “will be triggered in the event of government proceeding unilaterally to impose salary cuts or to worsen working conditions.



Exploring the Lessons of the 1913 Lockout and its Legacy for Today - DABF 2013 by Workers Solidarity on Mixcloud

The campaign against Croke Park

Archive of our articles arguing for a No Vote
These are the articles we published during our Vote No camapign

Was Croke Park “the best deal available?” And more importantly why?
INTO (Irish National Teachers Organisation) general secretary Sheila Nunan and other union leaders have said that the Croke Park extension deal is “the best deal available through negotiation” and that the negotiators “left nothing at the table”.  And they are probably right.  But saying that this is the best deal available through negotiation is not quite the same as saying that it is the best deal achievable.

The first last time - the Nov 24 2009 strike

Reflections on the 24th of November
On the 24th of November something extraordinary happened. Some 250,000 workers acted together in a day-long strike against the public sector wage cuts planned by the government. The vast majority of these workers had never gone on strike before, yet across almost all workplaces the strike involved 90% or more of those working.

Archive of articles on November 24th national public sector strike

March 30th strike called off - Employers retreat but ICTU talks are not a victory
That the very threat of a national strike was enough to force government and IBEC to change their position demonstrates the power the working class holds when we threaten to withdraw our labour. For all the media attempts to convince us we are powerless and that class struggle is a thing of the past when faced with the reality of the organised working class standing up both bosses and state were keen to avoid any confrontation that could illustrate and encourage our collective power.

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