Socialist Worker received the following report from Cllr Nicky Coules, People Before Profit representative on South Dublin County Council
At the March meeting of South Dublin County Council (SDCC) People Before Profit tabled a motion to express solidarity with the Luas workers and condemn Transdev’s plan to bring in scab labour to undermine the strike on St.Patrick’s Day.
The way an emergency motion works is that it is typed on a page. We sign it, and it is then passed hand to hand around the chamber to be signed or passed on by each member. Our motion read:
That this council condemns the decision by Luas operator Transdev to employ scab Labour to break the strike by its workers and calls for the decision to be rescinded .
We sent it and it was duly signed or not until it reached the first of the Sinn Fein members. He and his fellow were unable to decide what to do and passed it to Labour.
Their leader, failed Dail aspirant Mick Duff, vigorously shook his head (it was essential for us to see this) and passed it to two more SF councillors. . They were as nonplussed as their earlier colleagues and passed it to their leader Cathal King. Cllr. King after a few minutes reflection balked and passed it on.
Meanwhile a Labour member who is quite friendly to me came to me and said she regretted not being able to sign but the mention of scab labour was felt to be too strong. I pointed out that the phrase has been used by the NBRU but to no avail.
In any case she said Labour had its own motion. This insipid concoction called for the Minister to involve himself more to find a solution. Sinn Fein found this more to their taste and happily signed. The result was that our motion failed to get sufficient support and was lost. The motion from Labour was passed.
People Before Profit Councillor for the Lucan area Ruth Nolan said:
“I’m very disappointed that Sinn Fein Cllrs refused to sign the emergency motion because they objected to the term scab labour. The fact that the NBRU used this term seems not to matter to these sensitive souls. This term is applicable to any person who offers their labour which is in breach of a strike. It is a term that is as old as the Trade Union movement and why it would offend other councillors who claim to support the striking workers is baffling.”
In the event Transdev withdrew its threat to use scabs and the strike was also called of as a result of, very limited, concessions by the employers. Nevertheless this failure of solidarity over a very basic issue of principle casts doubt on the radical credentials of a number of Councillors who always claim to be part of the left.