March - April 2011 Edition of the Workers Solidarity freesheet.
Interview: Cork Social Welfare Defenders
Gasolinazo in Bolivia Thinking About Anarchism: Policing and the Law
Democracy Delivers? Broken promises and unstated policies
Bertie, Coillte and the Enclosure of the Public Forest
The Workings of Anti-Union Legislation at the Clarion & Davenport Hotels
Signs of Resistance to the crisis from the unions
With almost all political organisations focusing on the general election, we in the WSM spent most of January and February exploring alternative strategies for bringing about societal change in Ireland. To that end, we had a successful internal education weekend in Cork in February, where topics discussed included trade union activity, communications and mobilisations. Our Cork branch also hosted an open meeting in their Solidarity Books premises in January where an anarchist activist recently returned from Afghanistan gave an overview of the situation there.
WSM members remained active in a number of other areas at the beginning of 2011. We were represented at the annual Bloody Sunday commemoration in Derry in January. Elsewhere in the North, guest delegates from the WSM attended the Eirigí Árd Fheis in Belfast.
In the South, members assisted in Shell to Sea’s distribution of €540 billion commemorative bank notes to members of the public in eight different towns and cities symbolising the cost to the exchequer of the giveaway of Ireland’s oil and gas reserves. According to Caoimhe Kerins of Dublin Shell to Sea, “the general election campaign is being fought against the backdrop of the greatest economic crisis to face the people of this state since its foundation. Tens of billions of euro have been poured into private banks and the government is imposing savage public spending cuts. Yet voters have been told that there is no alternative to this austerity programme as the state lacks resources. However, the government’s own figures, published by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, indicate that Ireland’s Atlantic Margin contains ten billion barrels of oil equivalent. The value of this substantial reserve is estimated to be in excess of €500 billion. … Proper management of our substantial oil and gas reserves would provide a long-term revenue stream for the state and substantial resources to invest in our public services.”
Our student members supported the FEE (Free Education for Everyone) picket of Fine Gael HQ in protest at their plans to implement a graduate tax (see http://free-education.info for more). As Lorcan Myles of FEE put it, “electing Fine Gael to implement the same cuts we’ve endured under a Fianna Fail/Green government is not a solution. A vote for Fine Gael will amount to a vote for more savage IMF cuts to public services, and a graduate tax will only result in more young people being forced to emigrate. Fine Gael are just more of the same.” Back in Cork, our members remain active in the anarchist forum and social welfare defenders in the city, both of which aim to take actions against government cutbacks. In Castlebar, the WSM was represented at an INMO protest at Mayo General Hospital against the proposed cuts in student nurses pay.
Whatever the make up of the new government, ongoing austerity will be the name of the day. Successful resistance will only come about though activity on the streets, in our workplaces and in our communities. WSM members will be involved and if you would like to be also, then get in touch!
In This Issue
Workers Solidarity spoke to Dave Higgins of the recently formed Cork Social Welfare Defenders.
The day after Christmas 2010, Vice-President García Linera, in the absence of President Evo Morales, who was on a tour of Venezuela, announced that the state subsidies of some fuels were to be removed. He also spoke of raising taxes on some of them such as gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel. As a result, petrol rose by 72%, diesel by 84% and aviation fuel by 99%.
Many people don’t see eye to eye with the police, Anarchists much included. While this opposition can manifest itself physically when the police employ repressive tactics, it must be stressed that it has far more to do with ideology and the harsh realities of disaster-capitalism than it does with being beaten off the streets.
It’s great to live in a democracy, right? From the moment we are old enough to grasp the concept, the idea that we live in the freest of all possible worlds is drummed into us. From the pages of our school history books to the celluloid magic of our favourite movies, our way of life is portrayed as the ideal, one which we must preserve at all costs and, if possible, export to the less fortunate.
There is an increasing likelihood that the state owned forestry firm, Coillte, will be part of a rushed fire sale of semi-state companies. Last year, the government asked “An Bord Snip Nua” economist Colm McCarthy to head a semi-state privatisation group and produce a new report, which is believed to be almost complete. The original 2009 McCarthy report recommended the selling of Coillte “with a view to realising optimal return through rationalisation, asset disposal and, possibly, privatisation”. Thus, the prospect of a sell-off of Ireland’s entire public forest estate is now on the cards.
The Clarion describes itself as one of “Cork’s premier 4 Star City Centre Hotel”. Although it’s well able to charge for its rooms it cannot find its way to granting its workers a 29 cent per hour pay rise.
Amidst the myriad of austerity measures, in both the public and private sectors, there are some signs of resistance.