lessons to be learned form vita cortex occupation victory

By Adam Ford

Cheers! But tough times lie ahead for the sacked workers…

Jubilant ex-Vita Cortex foam packers finally left their factory last Thursday, bringing their marathon five month workplace occupation to an end. The occupiers declared victory when their former employer – entrepreneur Jack Ronan – finally coughed up an undisclosed sum as compensation for the redundancy he had announced before Christmas. Continue reading “lessons to be learned form vita cortex occupation victory”

unhappy economies: greek debt, PIIGS and the eurozone crisis

Oisín Mac Giollamóir explains the meaning of the current European crisis, and the relationship between debt and class struggle

Happy economies are all alike; every unhappy economy is unhappy in its own way. The well-worn acronym PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) conceals more than it reveals. The PIIGS are not all alike.

Consider the difference between Ireland and Italy. Pre-crisis Ireland had a debt/GDP ratio of 25%, one of the lowest in Europe. Today it’s over 100% and is projected to rise to over 120%. Ireland’s crisis is not due to an over-expanded public sector, unsustainable spending, persistent budget deficits or anything like that. It is due to the bubble in the property market and the ongoing mismanagement, largely at the European level, of its collapse . Over the last four years Ireland’s economy has been wrecked by the crisis.  In contrast Italy has had major problems for sometime. Italy’s debt, which has already reached 120% of GDP, does not reflect the kind of rapid shift that has happened in Ireland. Rather Italy has had a long run budget problem. Italy’s debt has not been below 100% of GDP since the early 90s. Italy’s debt problem cannot be blamed exclusively on the crisis in the same  that Ireland’s can.

It is therefore important not to conflate the differing problems faced by the PIIGS. When we talk about the Greek crisis we need to be aware of the particular nature of Greece’s problems. Continue reading “unhappy economies: greek debt, PIIGS and the eurozone crisis”

the beautiful game in ireland: a story of neglect

Donal O’Falluin writes on Irish working-class football culture

On the northside of Dublin, there is a football stadium. Only a short walk from the 82,000 seater capacity Croke Park, home of the Gaelic Athletic Association, a small stadium with a capacity of about 8,000 sits. Pele, Zidane and many other greats have run out onto the pitch of Dalymount Park. It is considered by many ‘the home of Irish football’. It is symbolic of where the game is today that this historically important stadium, once home to the Irish international side, today crumbles. Like Dalymount Park herself, football in Ireland has endured a fall from grace.

On paper, the football experience in Ireland is something which greatly excites the English football faithful, from an outsiders perspective. With standing in stadiums commonplace, and terraces still the order of the day for many, not to mention a ticket cost averaging €15, it’s an almost romantic throwback to a time before the topflight game in the United Kingdom passed into the hands of speculators, becoming a sort of ’22 men on a pitch’ version of Monopoly among the world’s wealthy. On the ground though it’s evident the game in Ireland is in a seriously troubled state. Continue reading “the beautiful game in ireland: a story of neglect”

the 1% network

John O’Neill is a member of the Irish Socialist Network and active in the 1% Network.

Ireland is undergoing neo-liberal shock therapy as a result of the Government decision to guarantee the debts run up by speculators in our hyper-inflated housing market that went down the proverbial tubes. The Fianna Fail government, now in its death throes, embarked on pay cuts and reductions in the public sector as its principal strategy for getting out of the mess. It has cut the pay of the 300,000-strong public sector workforce, reduced the minimum wage by €1 per hour and reduced all social welfare payments, pandering to their pals from the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) who demand a 10 percent reduction in pay for all workers (except themselves!), and the retention of our low corporation tax rate, their ‘holy grail’ of economic recovery. Continue reading “the 1% network”

ireland after the election

Dara McHugh reflects on last week’s Irish election. The piece was written before the Labour leadership announced plans to accept a Fine Gael coalition offer

The election campaign and its aftermath have witnessed strident declarations that all has changed, changed utterly. Most prominent is the decimation of support for Fianna Fail, the party that has ruled for 60 of the last 79 years. Both Fine Gael and Labour have experienced remarkable success in the polls, unparallelled for the latter. These are not insignificant, but the context of continued economic crisis renders the changes in parliament relatively minor.

Whatever government is formed, it will share the titanic debt burden of the previous administration. Although Fine Gael made suitably statesman-like noises about ‘renegotiation’ of the interest rate on the ECB bailout, their timid overtures won only tolerant obfuscation from Frankfurt during the campaign and categorical refusals since. Continue reading “ireland after the election”

from celtic tiger to death by a thousand cuts

Ronan McAoidh reports on the crisis engulfing the Irish economy and politics

On Tuesday 7th December, the Irish government were barricaded inside the parliament in Dublin. They were there to vote on a Budget implementing the cutbacks and austerity measures demanded of them by the IMF and ECB. The budget comes in a year of ever deepening crisis, as the debt of what was once Europe’s fastest growing economy, spiralled out of control. The obvious question one is faced with is “What went wrong? What happened to this economic miracle?” Continue reading “from celtic tiger to death by a thousand cuts”

community unionism: from the workplace to the streets

by Brian Garvey

“We have been the victims of so many acts of corruption… But the workers have supported us in forming a new trade union, because they want change – a radical change – so that we are the new administration of the collective contract, because the union we have is useless” Luis Flugo, Aseven soft drinks company, Venezuela

“I looked at the Mater hospital – this new, ‘state of the art facility’, and there wasn’t even changing rooms for the domestics. Not even a changing room. And I wondered, how did the unions allow that?” Domestic health worker, Belfast

It is recognised that unions need to change. Union membership in the 26 counties has fallen by 14% (currently 32% of workforce) between 1994-2008. Writing on the situation in UK where membership levels have fallen continuously since 1979 (currently only 28% of workforce) and employers have been ‘emboldened by neoliberal policies’ Jane Willis of University of London writes that ‘trade unions cannot simply wait until economic and political conditions become more favourable’ for their recovery. Continue reading “community unionism: from the workplace to the streets”