Gregor Kerr

Public Service 'deal' under huge pressure. Vote at SIPTU executive crucial

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Following the vote by the Central Executive Committee of the country's largest public sector union, IMPACT, that they cannot recommend acceptance of the public sector deal in the forthcoming ballot of members, the deal is under huge pressure.  IMPACT's outgoing general secretary Peter McLoone has been one of the principal advocates of the deal and the failure of his union's executive to back the deal will have serious ramifications not alone within IMPACT but in other public sector unions as well.

MANDATE members at Connolly Shoes Dun Laoghaire on strike

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For the second time in six months, workers at Connolly Shoes Dun Laoghaire Co. Dublin, members of the Mandate trade union, have taken to the picket line.  The strike began on Tuesday 6th April following the dismissal of two workers.

The dispute has its origin in attempts by management last September to introduce short-time working. 

The workers on strike are getting great support and solidarity from members of the public.  The leaflet being handed out by the strikers reads as follows:

The March That Never Happened - Action needed to build a proper campaign on class size

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In June of this year the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) wrote to its members in all primary schools in the Republic announcing that a National Rally on the issue of class size would take place on Saturday 4th October. Posters were included for display in schools and staff reps were urged to begin the process of building a delegation of teachers and parents to represent their school at the rally.

Last week another communication arrived in schools from INTO head office. This informed members that the 4th October rally “will not proceed… as previously indicated.” Here Gregor Kerr, a member of the Dublin City North Branch of the INTO (writing in a personal capacity) analyses why the union leadership have backed off from the rally, asks whether they really have the bottle for a fight on this issue, and urges a grassroots campaign to deliver victory on the issue.

Book Review: Sweatshop Warriors: Immigrant Women Workers Take On The Global Factory

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The book seamlessly alternates between the direct testimony of the ‘Sweatshop Warriors’ themselves and analysis of the growth and spread of globalised capitalism. This book was published in 2001 but 7 years later its strength still lies in its simplicity.

It gives voice to “immigrant women workers who are barred from rooms where deals get cut…who get punished for telling the truth; who are asked to speak only as victims…” And by giving a platform to these too often unheard voices, the book demonstrates that self-organisation is the key to successfully fighting back against the exploitation and abuse faced by those at the bottom of the economic ladder.

Public Private Plundering - McNamara abandons social housing

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So building social housing is "not viable" for the profiteers at construction firm Michael McNamara & Co. What they really mean is that they've got themselves in a bit of a sticky situation by riddling the country with overpriced and unsustainable housing developments and the profits from the "Public Private Partnership" aren't sufficient to get them out of it.

Solidarity and Betrayal - Two sides of the NI classroom assistants dispute

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In early December classroom assistants in the North returned to work after a series of strike actions which had gone on since September. This action by the classroom assistants showed in stark form the two faces of the trade union movement. On the one hand there was the tremendous bravery and solidarity shown by the workers themselves in standing up to attempts to bully and harass them back to work. On the other hand was the duplicitousness and skulduggery of some trade union bureaucrats who not alone did their best to undermine the dispute but actively worked with management and politicians to betray the workers.

Commercialism in Irish schools

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Anyone who has had a child in primary school over the past couple of years has no doubt heard of the ‘Tesco Computers for Schools’ scheme whereby in return for vouchers collected when you do your shopping, Tesco give ‘free’ computer equipment to schools. You’ve probably also heard about Tesco’s ‘Sport For Schools and Clubs’ and SuperValu’s ‘Kids in Action’ schemes. If you’ve seen the TV ads for the SuperValu version, you’ll probably associate SuperValu with healthy, happy kids.

State authority - Thinking about Anarchism

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Mary Harney has banned the sale of magic mushrooms!! In a decision taken in record-quick time, Harney and her government colleagues decided that they couldn’t have us all going around sampling mind-altering fungi and maybe even enjoying them. More importantly the decision was made that we couldn’t be trusted to decide for ourselves what was safe/unsafe for each of us to try. We need such decisions to be made for us because apparently we are incapable of deciding for ourselves.

Dublin Bin Charges - Blockade the trucks - Don't fall for council scams

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As we go to print, the bin charges battle has started in earnest in Dublin with Fingal Council's attempt not to collect non-payer's bins. Trucks have been blockaded across Fingal forcing the council to cancel all collection services. Elsewhere campaigns are gearing up to blockade trucks in solidarity with Fingal or when the other Dublin councils attempt to implement non-collection. In our next issue we hope to report in full on how the councils were defeated. In the meantime you can follow events on our web page. Below we report on South Dublin's council attempts to con households into paying.

Councils to get power to refuse to collect the bins of non-payers but we can force collection

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The campaign against the bin tax is set to enter a new phase before the summer as the government brings forward new legislation to give the Councils the power to refuse to collect the bins of non-payers. The politicians are obviously rocked by the huge level of opposition to their attempts to impose this double tax - in South Dublin, for example, where the bills for the second year of the tax will arrive through people's letterboxes shortly, up to 70% of households are refusing to be bullied into paying.

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