They Didn’t Share the Wealth Why Should we Share the Pain

There is no money left in Ireland. At least that’s what you might think after listening to Brian Cowen, Enda Kenny, IBEC and the parade of capitalist economists and pundits who parrot this nonsense. Yes, we are heading into a deep recession but guess who is expected to pay the cost?
The Government has no problem finding money to bail out bankers and speculators, it’s only when cash is needed for special-needs teachers, the sick, or to improve run-down schools and hospitals that nothing can be found. The attack on pay & pensions is class struggle by employers and the government against working people.

It may sound old-fashioned to talk of class struggle, but what else do you call it when one class wants to preserve its wealth at the expense of the other class? When private sector workers see 90% of pension funds they paid into for years going down the tube, Brian Goggin of Bank of Ireland thinks he is hard done by because he will “take home less than €2 million” this year.

We had a financial regulator, Patrick Neary, who waltzed off with a golden handshake of €600,000 and a pension of €140,000 per year. That pension alone is the equivalent of what four workers and their families on the average industrial wage live on. And what did Neary do to deserve this, apart from turning a blind eye to massive financial ‘irregularities’ in the banking industry?



Workers in the public service are told to suffer a €1.4 billion cut in wages, those on €35,000 will see their pay cut by €43 a week. Yet the wealthiest 1%, with €87 billion in assets, pay nothing at all. To add insult to injury the government has torn up the Public Sector Pay Agreement, denying 260,000 workers their small but agreed pay increases.

At the same time billionaire businessman Sean Quinn can lose €1 billion and say it’s no problem “you win some, you lose some”. When you have an annual income of €500 million that’s very true!

IBEC’s aim is to reduce Irish wage rates and to make us think that a reasonable pension in old age is a privilege rather than a right. The attack on the public sector is just the start. Private sector wages are being driven down too. Even the Minimum Wage of €8.65 an hour is criticised as too high by Fianna Fail ministers like Billy Kelleher, who ‘earns’ a cool €139,266 before expenses (and that’s after his 10% cut).

Their goal is to subject working people to a Thatcher-style defeat. They want wholesale wage cuts across the economy. If we don’t fight back they will keep coming back to take more out of our pay packets, close down more of our services and give our children a lower standard of living than we had. The rich are good at looking after their class interests – we should take the same attitude. They didn’t share the wealth in the Celtic Tiger years, why should we share the pain today?


This article is from Workers Solidarity 108 published in March 2009

The rest of WS108 can be read online or downloaded as a PDF file

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