SIPTU’s Labour shame

Socialist Worker 388

SIPTU’s Labour shame

Many SIPTU members will have been outraged by Jack O’Connor’s call to vote Labour after five years of cuts and betrayals. O’Connor was reiterating his old theme of how bad things would have been without the moderating influence of Labour on their Fine Gael coalition partners.

To SIPTU members this is a familiar song; every privatisation, every attack on an existing right, every step away from fighting any issue is justified with a shrug of shoulders and an “it would be worse if it was FG on their own”.

SIPTU officials have justified deals that have seen the privatisation of the remaining state holdings in Aer Lingus, allowed for up to 10% of semi state bus companies to be privatised and urged moderation on workers facing unscrupulous attacks by greedy employers – all by telling them how much worse it could be if Labour weren’t in the corridors of power.

O’Connor told us to vote for Joan Burton because Fine Gael are so terrible, while Burton told us to vote for Fine Gael for stability – this was the logic of O’Connor’s defeatism.

Cheap labour

SIPTU officials welcomed cheap and slave labour schemes like JobBridge and Gateway, that are often used to replace unionised and pensionable public sector jobs with forced labour from unemployed youth.

SIPTU is committed to holding a review of its connection and financial links with Labour in a special 2017 conference. Members should not wait until then to voice their opposition to O’Connor’s call to vote for Labour and his shameful cover for their policy on water charges and property taxes. All members should be encouraged to fill in the opt-out form to insure their fees do not make their way to the party of Burton and Kelly.

Claims and reality

 Jack O’Connor “They underplayed their achievements in government, they achieved more than any other social democratic party in the same period against worst odds”

“There are 1.3 million people experiencing deprivation in Ireland, an increase of 215,000 since this Government came to office in 2011. There are 755,570 living in poverty in Ireland. This is a rise of 55,000 since this Government came into office. Over 230,000 of these are children”. Social Justice Ireland.2015.

Of the €21 billion in extra cash from the  so called recovery about €12 billion, more than half, has gone to the top 10% of earners…Two thirds of it – €14 billion – has gone to people who earn more than €70,000, despite the fact that they make up less than 15% of Revenue’s income tax cases. From 2011 to 2016 the Top 1% went from having 9% of all income to having 11% of all income – a gain of more than 20%.” TASC 2016 Budget analysis

Jack O’Connor “Joan Burton’s record is enormous in social welfare… I commend Burton for strengthening workers’ rights; and protecting core welfare payments.”

Among Joan’s proud achievements are;

Child benefits cut (2012), further €10 cut in 2013; more cuts to child benefit for third and fourth child (2014).

Disability allowance for new claimants cut by €88 per week;  respite care grant cut (2013); bereavement grant cut.

Minimum contribution from single tenants goes from €6 to €30  per week; winter fuel allowance cut by six weeks,

Huge cuts in back to school allowance.

Duration of job seekers benefit cut by three months (2013).

Changes in qualification criteria for contributory pensions making them inaccessible for future generations.

Increase in the age of retirement to 66, and eventually 68. Many pensioners will have to apply for jobseekers allowance and face a cut in income from the pension they should have got of €230 to the allowance of €188 .

Cuts to maternity benefit so that with other cuts, mothers of newborns see income fall from €7,000 to €3.500.

A reduced €100 jobseekers rate to those aged up to 24 and a reduced €144 rate to 25-year-olds.

It’s time to cut the union link to Labour.

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