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From: The Socialist issue 970, 8 November 2017: 'Paradise' for billionaires, austerity for us

Search site for keywords: Ireland - Workers - Rail - Pay - Government - Transport - Strikes - Strike - Public transport - Railworkers

Ireland: rail workers demand share of 'recovery'

Ruth Coppiner, Solidarity TD (MP) and Socialist Party member, on the Connolly Station picket line, 7.11.17, photo by Socialist Party (CWI Ireland)

Ruth Coppiner, Solidarity TD (MP) and Socialist Party member, on the Connolly Station picket line, 7.11.17, photo by Socialist Party (CWI Ireland)   (Click to enlarge)

Rail workers in the Irish Republic walked out on 7 November for 24 hours, the second stoppage in their demand for a 3.75% pay rise.

More and longer strikes are planned (14 and 23 November, 8 December) in the run-up to Christmas by unions representing members in Irish Rail. Many workers say they have not received a pay increase in the last ten years and that the pay demand is in line with settlements won by transport workers in Luas (tram) and Dublin Bus.

Irish Rail management proposals effectively propose a wage cut of 60 or more a week for many workers. They are also demanding increases in 'flexibility' and attacks on the workers' pension scheme. In total, there are no less than 18 conditions attached to its derisory 1.5% wage increase proposal.

Strikers are angry over the recent dismissive comments of Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar who said the strike will end in a deal that "will be no different than if there'd be no strike at all".

Irish Rail has shed up to 5,000 staff in the last ten years. The yearly state grant is still 90 million below what it was in 2008. Yet passenger numbers are going up year by year - from 2.3% in intercity services to as much as 7% in Dublin Area Rapid Transit services in 2015 alone.

Irish Rail management and this right-wing government continue to drive home an agenda of underfunding, outsourcing and privatisation.

A bold industrial strategy by the unions should be linked to the demand for government investment to develop a public transport system that respects its workers and delivers an integrated service for people.

From Socialist Party Ireland material with additional reporting

Support from Solidarity/Socialist Party TDs (MPs)

"Government to blame for rail strikes. No pay increase for railworkers in ten years. Support their stand for pay justice."

Mick Barry TD

"I was on the picket lines this morning at Connolly Station supporting workers who are against the race to the bottom and wage restraint... We are meant to be in recovery, so it's time for a recovery for workers and not just the billionaires."

Ruth Coppinger TD

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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Article dated 8 November 2017

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