Union leader and the patriotic scabs, Doctors say no to becoming migration officials


IMAGINE A connection between a former president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, and union busting by republican paramilitaries. Sounds dubious? Read on...

The union leader and the patriotic scabs

This Spring bricklayers won an important victory at the site owned by Harcourt Developments on Clondalkin's Nangor Road in west Dublin. Mass pickets in early March forced management to recognise the Building and Allied Trades Union, to ensure that only unionised brickies are employed, and that they will be directly employed by the main contractor - with PRSI and pension contributions paid.

Earlier this year, when BATU tried to organise the brickies and end black economy practices, threats and intimidation of union members were the order of the day. The bricklaying sub-contractor was Colm Murphy, who made it very clear that he didn't want any unions cramping his style.

A radio hobbyist, using his scanner, recorded a call to site manager Aidan Dunne letting him know that there would be no more trouble from a named BATU official, that two people were going to visit his home and "sort him out". Last year Murphy sacked three brickies on a Cramptons site because they insisted on being paid legally and "on the books". And when the workers placed pickets, Cramptons were granted a High Court injunction against the strike. At the same time there was an unsuccessful attempt to burn down the BATU head office.

Two of the directors of Harcourt are former ICTU leader Phil Flynn and RTE broadcaster Mike Murphy. Flynn is now a boss in a firm that gave a contract to Colm Murphy (no relation to Mike) who has a record of tax dodging, intimidation and union bashing. All those years of urging us to be 'social partners' co-operating with our bosses may not have convinced us but we can't accuse Phil of not practicing what he preaches!

Colm Murphy is associated with 'dissident republicans'. Whether he is affiliated with the 'Real IRA' or the Continuity IRA is still unclear, neither group has been prepared to say anything about this matter. Whichever outfit he is currently linked with is obviously prepared to pay lip service to James Connolly while copying the actions of William Martin Murphy.

Doctors say no to racist law

At its annual conference in Killarney the Irish Medical Organisation (the doctors' trade union) voted to oppose Government plans to introduce identity checks on asylum-seekers and immigrants as a condition of treatment at hospitals and GP surgeries.

The motion, proposed by the GPs Joint Cork branch, states that "the IMO rejects any attempts by Government to introduce legislation which will oblige workers in the public sector (including doctors) to notify the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform when they encounter asylum-seekers who do not have appropriate documentation with regard to citizenship and residency".

In proposing the motion, Cork GP Dr Mary Favier pointed out that the government's plan, if enacted, would turn doctors and other public service workers into quasi-immigration officials. Dr Favier drew attention to the Government's "hypocritical and racist" attitude. "The Irish government went out of its way to secure beneficial treatment for Irish illegals in the USA in the mid-1980s. Concern was expressed about how these illegals would manage if they fell sick or were injured at work. Now the shoe is on the other foot but the government's attitude shows no compassion. Asylum-seekers are to be hounded even when they are sick and in need of help."

If a very conservative organisation like the IMO can be won to this position, it should boost the morale of anti-racists in other public sector unions (IMPACT, teachers, etc.) who are making similar cases for non-compliance with any proposals to turn workers into spies and informers for the government.

The thrust of government policy is to criminalise and deport. This was outlined in a reply that Minister John O'Donoghue gave to the Dail in January when asked about the Interdepartmental Committee Report on Non-Nationals. The Minister has already said (before even looking at their cases) that 90% of asylum-seeker applications are "bogus". The likelihood is that we will soon see a lot of asylum-seekers being declared illegal and subject to deportation.

That is why the IMO resolution is important - it shows there are Irish people prepared to resist. As was done successfully last Christmas, anti-racists do not have to merely protest against deportations - we can stop them.

This article is from Workers Solidarity No 57 published in March 1999