Vol. 1-No I
Tuesday November 8th 2009
1) The Political Road
3) Public-sector unions to hold ballot on strike action
4) INTO ballots members on strike action
5) Strike at Fujitsu
6) From The Newspapers
a. Peace Walls
b. Worst ever slowdown
c. Nama is dead:
8) What’s On
The Political Road
The recent decision by the INLA to renounce armed struggle and encourage all its members and supporters to engage in politics is welcome. It is an historic decision and all those involved in reaching that decision deserve the thanks and gratitude of all who are serious about challenging capitalism. It is the end of one chapter in the history of republican socialism. But it should not be the end of republican socialism.
Almost from the introduction of republicanism into Irish political life 220 years ago there has always been a leftist element within republicanism that saw the centrality of the working class or the “men of no property” as the critical factor for the success of republicanism. That leftist trend was woven from Jamie Hope through the Fenians, encompassing James Connolly, Liam Mellows, the Republican Congress of the 1930’s, the left turn of the Republican movement in the 1960’s the emergence of the IRSP in the seventies and the emergence of differing republican groupings all claiming in some way to be republican socialists. Even Adams leader of Provisional Sinn Fein tried to claim he and his organisation were republican socialists in the tradition of Seamus Costello!
On a more serious level there has been the emergence of Eirigi, and the attempt by Eoin O’Broin to give a leftist ideological depth to debates within Provisional Sinn Fein in his book,
“Sinn Fein and the Politics of Left Republicanism”
and encourage its move towards a form of democratic socialism based on European social democracy.
Furthermore the recent publication of the history of the Workers party/Official IRA in the “Lost Revolution” adds an important addition to our understanding of the evolution of republican socialism and warns of the dangers that can occur when Republicans lose sight of the original reasons why they became republicans in the first place. The book should be compulsory reading for any serious republican.
For far too long many simply used the term “sticky” as a form of abuse rather than seriously try to deal with the intellectual arguments and positions that organisation put forward in its evolution into a sect that ended up as cheer leaders for British policy in Ireland.
Indeed abuse has been the stable form of political analysis for some republicans. “Sell out” “traitors” and other forms of abuse have routinely been applied to any republicans that sought to develop their republicanism from the simple slogans of “Brits Out” or the “armed struggle”.
Indeed there was along period during the seventies and eighties when it was almost considered profane to question the tactic of armed struggle. References to 1916 heroism and the brave guerrilla fighters were enough to end debate.
So it has been a welcome development that after a period of intense debate and arguments the leadership and volunteers of the INLA have reached the decision they did. Perhaps it was always inevitable. The INLA had been plagued over the years with internal bickering, external physical attacks, infiltration from pro-British agents and sometimes-apolitical leaders. When the membership took back control of the organisation from the Torney faction in the mid-nineties a slow process of politicisation took place.
Recognising the changing political situation the organisation in April1996 adopted the position of defence and retaliation and promoted the idea of a Non Aggression Pact to lessen sectarian tensions. The decision to call a ceasefire in August 1998 was another step in moving away from a military strategy. Now the 2009 decision is the culmination of a process that began back in that period 1994/1995.
In the intervening years the IRSP has been almost rebuilt from scratch. It is now in as strong a position has it has ever been despite many teething problems. During all those year of rebuilding it kept its’ commitment to the centrality of the working class in the struggle and reaffirmed it Marxist orientation in all the Ard-Feis since1997.
Indeed it is fair to say that the continued existence of the Republican Socialist movement is as a result of its commitment to a specific form of socialism and a specific form of Republicanism. It rejected nationalism and pointed out the dangers of sectarianism. It placed itself firmly in the camp of internationalism rejecting Imperialism and committing itself to a socialist world.
It is in a long line of Irish revolutionary movement that despite many mistakes were able to rise above petty nationalism and see beyond our own shores. The original ideas of Irish Republicanism arose from the most progressive ideas of the late 18th century and which inspired both he American and French revolutions of that century. These ideas were developed and refined by subsequent generations to include socialist ideas. In the mid 19th century the Fenian brotherhood were influence by the socialist ideas then beginning to take hold in the industrial working classes. James Connolly at the beginning of the 20th century firmly place socialist ideas within the mainstream of republican thought. When the IRSP began to debate moving towards Marxism in the 1980's the then Chair of the Party, Jim Lane in arguing for the adoption of Marxism as fundamental to the development of the party, pointed out then, as it is now, that Marxism is the most progressive thought of the day.
But of course there were other influences on Irish republicanism. During the 19th century there was a flowering of nationalism among many oppressed peoples. One major influence was that of Italian nationalism and the struggles of Garibaldi to unify Italy. Incidentally because he curtailed the powers of the Papal States Garibaldi and his red shirts were much admired by the northern Protestants!
Nationalism began to influence Irish republicanism. Myths began to be developed by romantic Irish nationalists about a golden past and nationalist symbols began to take hold on peoples’ consciousness. Needless to say the emergence of nationalism in a country under foreign rule is not unexpected nor does it necessarily make it reactionary. Since the mid 18fifties until today there has always been two dominant trends in republicanism, one heavily influenced by nationalism and the other heavily influenced by the most progressive views of the day.
Today with some small sections of the northern nationalist population we see the worst attributes of nationalism as sectarian hatreds take hold. That some sections of republican thought actually use this sectarian hatred, rather than oppose it, is disgraceful.
Some so-called internationalists equate any form of nationalism as reactionary and lump it in with the extreme nationalism of the fascists and Nazis. They do no service to socialism with this approach. Many nationalist struggles can be progressive and the struggle of the Irish for the removal of Britain from interfering in our internal affairs was and is progressive.
But beware of the word struggle! Too many republicans think that struggle equates with the use of arms against the British. What kind of serious revolutionary restricts him/her self to only one form of struggle? The almost exclusive use of armed struggle by republicans in the twenties, the thirties, the forties, the fifties and so on up to today resulted in almost total failure. Some republicans have been reduced to believing that the maintenance of armed struggle is a success in itself without regard to the goals that republican actually have.
(See The Pensive Quill Hatred of War by former IRA Volunteer Anthony McIntyre http://thepensivequill.am/2009/10/hatred-of-war.html
The sum total success of the use of armed struggle by republicans has been the legitimisation of the 26 county state in the eyes of its inhabitants and the stabilisation and consolidation of the Northern state under British hegemony. Some return for the generations of republicans killed jailed and demonised over the past ninety years.
On the other hand those who adopted an almost exclusively parliamentary road also failed. Fianna Fail in the Twenties, Clann Na Poblachta, in the Fifties, The Workers Party, Democratic Left in the Eighties and Nineties, and now Provisional Sinn Fein in the Noughties, all succumbed to the lure of constitutional politics and forsook their revolutionary past becoming integrate in to the ruling class and administering capitalist rule in Ireland.
Two major attempts to build a mass anti-imperialist front in the thirties with the Republican Congress and in 1976/77 to build a Broad Front also ended in failure. Seamus Costello a founder of the IRSP advocated the broad front strategy in the mid 1970’s. However his death stymied the broad front approach and subsequent attempts by the IRSP during the 1981 hunger strikes and in the recent past few years to build some republican left unity in action came to nothing.
These three approaches, armed struggle, parliamentarism and broad fronts are not the only actions available to revolutionaries.
Traditionally Marxist groups have worked within the trade unions seeking to win advanced sections of workers to the ideas of socialism supporting workers in defence of hard won rights and seeking to influence significant sections of the trade union bureaucracy to make a left turn and /or establish rank and file groups to mobilise the working class. Some ultra leftists reject such an approach claiming that the trade unions are indeed a reactionary force with their leadership well integrated into the capitalist system. But to adopt such an approach is to leave thousands of trade unionists without a lead to combat the betrayals of the trade union bureaucracy. Surely it is better to fight to win workers within the organised working class to Marxist ideas. For a period the Workers Party had a consistent approach towards the trade unions and established a strong base within some sections particularly within RTE. However they used that base in a politically sectarian way. The Communist Party has always had some influence among trade unionists and both the SWP and the SP have done much work trying to win workers over to their political views.
Others argue that given the strict segregation that operates within the northern state that the best method is to operate at a community level working within the sectarian parameters of the state trying to reach across sectarian divides using community groups and ex political prisoners organisations to build up contacts. Essentially that means operating within one so called community and hope to open up avenues of communication with class-conscious community workers within the “other community. This later approach leaves one open to the charge of gas and water socialism with its echoes of the Walker Connolly dispute a hundred years ago or the accusations thrown against the “sticks” of ring road socialism. It also leaves one open to the charge of pandering to reactionary loyalism by giving credence to former loyalist combatants. Certainly if it means hiding one’s politics or aims, such a charge is justified.
But Left republicans need to ask themselves how do we reach out to the mass of workers with illusions either in British or Irish nationalism? One thing is for certain it will not be easy or quick. Given the strong entrenched hold that sectarian views have over many it is not surprising that many seek short cuts or else give up the struggle al together, but revolutionaries should, rather than see the difficulties, see the opportunities.
There can be no better time to win workers to the ideas of socialism in Ireland. The crisis within the world banking system has seen the Governments pouring money into the banks to maintain the system while at the same time exhorting workers to do the patriotic thing and accept savage cuts in wages salaries and living conditions. North or South or in Britain all workers are under attack regardless of ethnic background nationality religion or colour.
In the South of Ireland the economic crisis means that it is the working class who are bearing the worst of the cuts and there is much scope for intervention by socialists. Fianna Fail has its lowest support for years and the public front line service unions are in militant mood over proposed cuts in wages.
In the North it is imperative that efforts are now directed towards the defence of not only the public services but of the rights of all workers. It would be a bad mistake for the IRSP to shadow Provisional Sinn Fein by echoing the mantras of equality and human rights.
It needs to be clearly stated that there is no such thing as equality under capitalism. Sloganising about equality in the current context of the North simply means the re -distribution of resources away from the mainly Protestant population and towards the mainly Catholic population. Then it becomes a sectarian dogfight over resources. Indeed that was precisely the intent of the British when they negotiated the Good Friday Agreement and the subsequent St Andrews Agreement. It has always been in Britain’s imperial interests to nurture maintain and feed sectarianism in Ireland
Of course revolutionaries should support reforms but need to be very clear that they argue that reforms are not enough to solve the many problems facing the working class. Reformism is the great danger facing revolutionary organisations coming out of one form of conflict. World history is littered with the examples of former revolutionaries who succumbed to reformist illusions once power beckoned or a few crumbs were thrown from the table of the capitalist classes-look at the degeneration of the ANC in South Africa to give just one example.
It is inconceivable that the IRSP particularly with the examples of Seamus Costello and Ta Power before them could go down that path. Certainly the IRSP should re-educate itself in the classic writing s of Marxism and Republicanism. It needs to organise agitate and work with the broad working class movement. It should certainly consider fighting elections, should work within the trade union movements work with other republicans Marxists socialists etc and work to build a mass party of the working class that encompasses all nationalities.
N o doubt the usual macho talk will surface on the Internet and in the pubs that the Erps lost their nerves. Despite the confused nature of the October 11th the decision to stand down the INLA is to be welcomed.
The decision was not taken by ceasefire soldiers. It was taken by comrades whose republican involvement sometimes predated the establishment of the IRSP in 1974 and was the collective decision of many comrades who believed in the armed struggle, participated in that struggle and were shot and or jailed for their involvement in the struggle against British Imperialism. It was absolutely the right decision.
Our class enemies are in the habit of complaining about our terrorism. What they mean by this is rather unclear. They would like to label all the activities of the proletariat directed against the class enemy s interests as terrorism. The strike, in their eyes, is the principal method of terrorism. The threat of a strike, the organisation of strike pickets, an economic boycott of a slave driving boss, a moral boycott of a traitor from our own ranks – all this and much more they call terrorism.
If terrorism is understood in this way as any action inspiring fear in, or doing harm to, the enemy. Then of course the entire class struggle is nothing but terrorism. And the only question remaining is whether the bourgeois politicians have the right to pour out their floods of moral indignation about proletarian terrorism when their entire state apparatus with its laws, police, and army is nothing but an apparatus for capitalist terror!
However, it must be said that when they reproach us with terrorism, they are trying – although not always consciously – to give this word a narrower, less indirect meaning. The damaging of machines by workers, for example, is terrorism in this strict sense of the word. The killing of an employer, a threat to set fire to a factory or a death threat to its owner, an assassination attempt, with revolver in hand, against a government minister – all these are terrorist acts in the full and authentic sense. However, anyone who has an idea of the true nature of international social democracy ought to know that it has always opposed this kind of terrorism, and done so in the most irreconcilable way.
Why? “Terrorising” with the threat of a strike, or actually conducting a strike, is something only industrial or agricultural workers can do. The social insignificance of a strike depends directly upon, first, the size of the enterprise or the branch of industry that it affects; and second, the degree to which the workers taking part in it are organised, disciplined, and ready for action. This is just as true of a political strike as it is of an economic one.
In order to develop, the capitalist system heeds a parliamentary superstructure. But because it cannot confine the modern proletariat to a political ghetto, it must sooner or later allow the workers to participate in parliament. In elections, the class character of the proletariat and its level of political development – qualities, which, again, are determined by its social role, i.e., above its entire productive role – find their expression.
Only the workers can conduct a strike. Artisans ruined by the factory, peasants whose water the factory is poisoning, or lumpen proletarians, in search of plunder, can smash machines, set fire to a factory, or murder its owner.
Only the conscious and organised working class can send-a strong representation into the halls of parliament to look out for proletarian interests. However, in order to murder a prominent official you need not have the organised masses behind you. The recipe for explosives is accessible to all, and a Browning can be obtained anywhere.
In the first case, there is a social struggle, whose methods and means flow necessarily from the nature of the prevailing social order; in the second, a purely mechanical reaction identical everywhere – in China as in France – very striking is its outward form (murder, explosions, and so forth) but absolutely harmless as far as the social system goes.
A strike, even of modest size, has social consequences: strengthening of the workers’ self-confidence, growth of the trade union, and not infrequently, even an improvement in production technology. The murder of a factory owner produces effects of a police nature only, or a change of proprietors devoid of any social significance.
Whether a terrorist attempt, even a “successful” one, throws the ruling class into confusion depends on the concrete political circumstances. In any case the confusion can only be short-lived; the capitalist state does not base itself on government ministers and cannot be eliminated with them. The classes it serves will always find new people; the mechanism remains intact and continues to function.
But the disarray introduced into the ranks of the working masses themselves by a terrorist attempt is much deeper. If it is enough to arm oneself with a pistol in order to achieve one’s goal, why the efforts of the class struggle? If a thimbleful of gunpowder and a little chunk of lead is enough to shoot the enemy through the neck, what need is there for a class organisation? If it makes sense to terrify highly placed personages with the roar of explosions, where is the need for a party? Why meetings, mass agitation, and elections if one can so easily take aim at the ministerial bench from the gallery of parliament?
In our eyes, individual terror is inadmissible precisely because it belittles the role of the masses in their own conciousness, reconciles them to their powerlessness, and turns their eyes and hopes toward a great avenger and liberator who some day will come and accomplish his mission. The anarchist prophets of “the propaganda of the deed” can argue all they want about the elevating and stimulating influence of terrorist acts on the masses. Theoretical considerations and political experience prove otherwise. The more “effective” the terrorist acts, the greater their impact, the more they reduce the interest of the masses in self-organisation and self-education.
But the smoke from the explosion clears away, the panic disappears, the successor of the murdered minister makes his appearance, life again settles into the old rut, the wheel of capitalist exploitation turns as before; only police repression grows more savage and brazen. And as a result, in place of the kindled hopes and artificially aroused excitement come disillusion and apathy.
The efforts of reaction to put an end to strikes and to the mass workers’ movement in general have always, everywhere, ended in failure. Capitalist society needs an active, mobile, and intelligent proletariat; it cannot, therefore, bind the proletariat hand and foot for very long. On the other hand the anarchist “propaganda of the deed” has shown every time that the state is much richer in the means of physical destruction and mechanical repression than are the terrorist groups.
If that is so, where does it leave the revolution? Is it negated or rendered impossible by this state of affairs! Not at all. For the revolution is not a simple aggregate of mechanical means. The revolution can arise only out of the sharpening of the class struggle, and it can find a guarantee of victory only in the social functions of the proletariat. The mass political strike, the armed insurrection, the conquest of state power – all this is determined by the degree to which production has been developed, the alignment of class forces, the proletariat’s social weight, and finally, by the social composition of the army, since the armed forces are the factor that in time of revolution determines the fate of state power.
Social democracy is realistic enough not to try to avoid the revolution that is developing out of the existing historical conditions; on the contrary, it is moving to meet the revolution with eyes wide open. But – contrary to the anarchists and in direct struggle against them – social democracy rejects all methods and means that have as their goal to artificially force the development of society and to substitute chemical preparations for the insufficient revolutionary strength of the proletariat.
Before it is elevated to the level of a method of political struggles, terrorism makes its appearance in the form of individual acts of revenge. So it was in Russia, the classic land of terrorism. The flogging of political prisoners impelled Vera Zasulich to give expression to the general feeling of indignation by an assassination attempt on General Trepov. Her example was imitated in the circles of the revolutionary intelligentsia, who lacked any mass support. What began as an act of unthinking revenge was developed into an entire system in 1879-81.
There is no need to belabour the point that social democracy has nothing in common with those bought-and-paid-for moralists who, in response to any terrorist act, make solemn declamations about the “absolute value” of human life. These are the same people who, on other occasions, in the name of other absolute values – for example, the nation’s honour or the monarch’s prestige – are ready to shove millions of people into the hell of war. Today their national hero is the minister who gives the order for unarmed workers to be fired on – in the name of the most sacred right of private property; and tomorrow, when the desperate hand of the unemployed worker is clenched into a fist or picks up a weapon, they will start in with all sorts of nonsense about the inadmissability of violence in any form.
Whatever the eunuchs and Pharisees of morality may say, the feeling of revenge has its rights. It does the working class the greatest moral credit that it does not look with vacant indifference upon what is going on in this best of all possible worlds. Not to extinguish the proletariat’s unfulfilled feeling of revenge, but on the contrary to stir it up again and again, to deepen it, and to direct it against the real causes of all injustice and human baseness – that is the task of social democracy.
If we oppose terrorist acts, it is only because individual revenge does not satisfy us. The account we have to settle with the capitalist system is too great to be presented to some functionary called a minister. To learn to see all the crimes against humanity, all the indignities to which the human body and spirit are subjected, as the twisted outgrowths and expressions of the existing social system, in order to direct all our energies into a collective struggle against this system – that is the direction in which the burning desire for revenge can find its highest moral satisfaction.
Leon Trotsky 1911
(Note. The term social democracy used above was the common term used before the First World War to refer to the ideas of the Second International. When war broke out few resisted the patriotic appeals of the Imperialists and only a few genuine Marxists and revolutionaries resisted this betrayal of the working class including Lenin, Trotsky, Rosa Luxembourg and James Connolly. Suffice to say the 2nd International still exists and both the British and Irish Labour Party are affiliated to it and its illusions in the capitalist system.)
Belfast Rally of Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions
As part of a National day of protest against attacks on the public services marches and rallies were held throughout the north on Friday 6th of November organised by the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions with its 36 affiliated trade unions representing over 250,000 working people and their families. While the politicians up at Stormont were squabbling about the transfer of policing to the Administration at Stormont workers and their families took to the streets to defend the public service and call for the protection and creation of jobs in the private and public sectors. Speaking a the Belfast rally ICTU assistant general Secretary Peter Bunting attacked the inaction of the politicians
“ We have in this region an Executive which is no longer fit for purpose.
They squabble over the devolution of policing and justice.
They prevaricate over education.
They cannot agree on a Bill of Rights
They have no clear shared method to tackle sectarianism and racism.
-50,000 jobs have gone in the past year. Why is this economic crisis not the number one priority? The construction industry has been demolished, the retail sector is in a permanent closing down sale and manufacturing is covered in rust.
-The public sector spends more money on supporting the private sector than it does on paying public servants. All the suppliers who depend on contracts to the schools and public offices,
-the service providers to the police and the health service,
-the builders of roads and museums,
-the profiteers of the Private Finance Initiative,
-even the consultants so beloved by Northern Ireland Water,
-the take a bigger slice of the public budget than the health workers -and the fire fighters and the police officers and the social workers and the teachers and the university scientists and all the other public servants put together”
Such sentiments did not go down to well with at least one of the politicians attending the rally. Alex Maskey of Sinn Fein tried to tackle Bunting after the speeches protesting about the “not fit for purpose” comment. He was told where to go.
There is a growing frustration among ordinary working people about the failure of the Stormont regime to recognise the dire straits workers are in. Attempts by the business and media world to divide public and private sector workers against each other need to be resisted. It is imperative that the left actively defends the public sector and win workers over to socialist ideas.
Among the political parties who attended the rally were Provisional Sinn Fein, The Workers Party, the IRSP, Eirigi, the Socialist Party and The Socialist Workers Party.
There was a similar turn out of the political parties in Dublin only this time there were tens of thousands of people: public sector and private sector workers and their families, unemployed workers, pensioners and students thronging the streets.
The public sector in Southern Ireland employs over 300,000 workers. With their families, that makes up probably 25% of the population at the least. That’s the reason that the struggle of the public sector workers is so important. If these workers can defeat Cowen and Lenihan’s plans then it would represent a big victory. That’s the best way to win over the private sector workers, or rather to win over the ones who don’t support the public sector workers already.
The demonstrations throughout Ireland on the one day brought the masses into political action despite terrible weather. Although there will many trade union bureaucrats who simply wish to confine the protests to purely economic or economist demands the protests were essentially political.
When the masses enter the stage of history then history can be radically changed. That is one fundamental lesson that Marxism teaches. North or South it is essential that the left politicises these struggles. Already it is clear that the workers are ready to defend their interests despite the short sighted perspective of that section of the trade union leadership who are prepared to settle for less than enough.
Vicious attacks by the independent newspapers of Tony O’ Reilly on individual trade union leaders is an attempt by the media to force the leadership of the unions to bow down to “public opinion”.
But it must be remembered that the crisis is not of the workers making. It is the responsibility of the capitalist classes North or South. It is they who should pay not the working class.
With acknowledgment to Fighback at
Public-sector unions to hold ballot on strike action
Public-sector trade unions are set to ballot their members on a one-day stoppage next month if the Government persists with its plan to impose further cuts in their pay. If the ballot is passed, the vast majority of Ireland's 300,000 public servants, including teachers and nurses, will hold a 24-hour strike on November 24.
The decision to press ahead with the ballot comes as the public-sector unions continue talks with Government officials about ways to reduce the public-sector pay bill. The Government has said it plans to cut the overall bill by 6.5% in this December's budget.
The unions have warned that they will not accept any cuts to core pay rates, but it is unclear if they are willing to support alternatives such as redundancies, reduced overtime and cuts in special allowances.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen has also softened his stance in recent days, saying he will consider reform rather than pay cuts if the 6.5% savings can be achieved through this method.
INTO ballots members on strike action
Teachers are the latest group to threaten industrial action in response to possible further cuts on pay and service. The INTO is balloting its members on strike action. The union is asking teachers to support its call for up to three days industrial action. In March of this year, they voted for industrial action. However, strike action was deferred to facilitate further talks with government. The INTO said "no meaningful engagement" had taken place in the intervening months.
Strike at Fujitsu
Unite announced first ever national strike in a UK IT company over jobs, pay and pensions Unite, the largest union in the UK, has t served notice of a three day strike on IT services company Fujitsu to take place on12, 13 and 16 November. This follows the vote of Unite members in the company by a majority of 75% voting for industrial action and 92% voting for action short of a strike in a ballot announced earlier this week.
According to the union, this would be the first ever national strike in the IT sector in the UK. Members of the PCS union will also be taking part in strike action. The strike is over proposals for 1200 redundancies in the UK with the first commencing in December, a pay freeze imposed earlier this year, and plans by the company’s to close the final salary pension scheme to future accrual, reducing the total pay package of each affected employee by typically around 20 per cent.
Peter Skyte, Unite National Officer, said:
“We wrote to the Fujitsu UK Chief Executive on Monday following the industrial action ballot announcement with the aim of attempting to resolve the issues on jobs, pay and pensions. So far we have yet to receive any formal response from the company. Our members are saying enough is enough, and employee representatives on the company’s consultative forum have tendered their resignations over the way they are being treated.
We recognise the effect any industrial action will have on key private and public sector customers and clients of Fujitsu, but the responsibility for this rests squarely with the company for failing to talk to us or address the issues.”
Fujitsu Services continues to make substantial profits, with a £200m profit before taxation last year, while the parent company is cash rich, having raised over $900m from a share sale. Announcing the latest results on 28 October, the Fujitsu President highlighted that for the first half of the year, the company beat its earnings target despite a very challenging business environment. Fujitsu employs around 12,000 people in the UK. Fujitsu’s main sites are at Bracknell, Stevenage, Manchester, Crewe, Belfast, Staines, Basingstoke, Wakefield, Sheffield, Solihull, Slough, Lewes, Warrington, Cardiff, Bristol, Newcastle and London.
Tony Dowling Tyneside secretary, NESSN www.nessn.org.uk
From The Newspapers
-“Paradoxically, the number of so-called peace walls separating communities in Greater Belfast has trebled since the IRA and loyalist ceasefires, according to a report by the Community Relations Council (CRC).
In 1994 there were 26. Now there are 80.”
(Claire McNeilly BELFAST TELEGRAPH Tuesday, 10 November 2009)
Worst ever slowdown
NI enduring "worst ever" slowdown
A report on the economy indicates that Northern Ireland is in the midst of its worst ever slowdown.
The report, by accountants Ernst and Young, claims the all-island economy will shrink by 7% this year.
It adds that Northern Ireland and the Republic could still be twelve months to two years away from economic growth.
One of the report's authors says that while there are some signs of recovery, there is a possibility of a "double-dip" recession.
A "double-dip" recession occurs when the economy contracts after a quarter or two of economic growth.
If that does happen, it is sometimes a sign of a deeper and more prolonged recession.
Oxford Economic's Neil Gibson, who contributed to the report, said that while there has been a slowdown in the rate of job losses, that has to be viewed in the context of a significant reduction in public spending.
"The economic conditions have improved somewhat in the past few months and the all-island economy is starting to look a little more positive," he said.
"That said, the challenges are still quite significant going forward and we would characterise the mood on the island as one of fragile optimism.
"Looking better for the major corporates as world economic conditions improve but remaining very difficult for the public sector and for consumers."
Story from BBC NEWS:
Nama is dead: we’re on a special purpose vehicle
(Sunday Business Post November 01, 2009 By Vincent Browne)
That is the word for it, though perhaps it is naive to find anything done by this government believable. What Brian Lenihan, Minister for Finance, has done these last few days on Nama, the bank rescue agency, is almost unbelievable.
It is certainly unbelievable that other members of the cabinet knew what he was doing - or if they did, that they understood it. There is no way the Green Party ministers could have approved of what happened if they knew. (Fianna Fáil backbenchers never know what the government is up to, so what’s new there?) But did Brian Cowen know? Or was it just a frolic by Lenihan?
Nama, the agency that we have been debating for months now, on which the Dáil has spent hours of its unprecious time (until nearly 6 o’clock on Friday morning), has now been sidelined by a casual sleight of hand - without warning, without prior explanation, without subsequent intelligible explanation. Nama is of no consequence now. It is to be a special purpose vehicle, an SPV.
The justification for this sudden, unannounced change is that the government - or, rather, Brian Lenihan - doesn’t want the indebtedness (€54 billion) arising from Nama to appear in the state’s accounts.
Instead, through a ruse that someone in the EU and/or the Department of Finance thought up, nobody considering lending Ireland a few billion will be a bit concerned that, on top of its other debts, the Irish state is also exposed to the tune of €54 billion over the bank rescue - because the €54 billion exposure won’t appear in the official accounts.
This seems precisely like the accounting ‘‘creativity’’ that caused the financial collapse here and elsewhere. But who cares?
It is not the accountancy bit that is of primary concern, however. This SPV- not Nama - is now going to takeover all the bad loans and their accompanying assets from the banks.
The SPV will dispose of the assets in time and recover as much of the loans as it can. That’s precisely what we were told Nama was going to do.
The big difference is that, while Nama was entirely a state agency, this SPV will have a majority of private owners.
Private investors will have 51 per cent of the equity of the SPV, while the state, via the hapless Nama, will have just 49 per cent. The 51 per cent owners will call the shots and decide what is to be done with the assets for which we, the citizens of Ireland, are paying a harrowing €54 billion.
The minority state directors will be able to veto decisions by the SPV board that they don’t like, but otherwise will have no control at all. The head of Nama will be the head of the SPV, but he will have to do what the majority of the SPV board tells him to do.
And as for accountability?
All sorts of guarantees were given about how Nama would be accountable to a committee of the Dáil and otherwise. But how can a privately-controlled company be accountable to anybody other than its shareholders, the majority of whom will be private investors?
Why did they bother with Nama at all? Why the tortuous hours of debate in the Dáil over the massive 231-section bill?
How come there was no mention of this SPV in the accompanying explanatory memorandum? How come there is no mention of the SPV in the bill itself?
Maybe there was some point to the Nama Bill, for it told us a bit about what is to happen. For starters, solicitors, barristers, bankers, accountants, estate agents and liquidators are to be paid €240 million a year over 11 years. That’s €2.64 billion.
And they want to cut public service pay, while giving €2.64 billion to solicitors, barristers, bankers, accountants, estate agents and liquidators?
This Nama Bill is astonishing in many other respects as well, although you continue to wonder what the point of it is. Apparently, the SPV will be established under section 12 of this bill, which begins: ‘‘Nama has all powers necessary or expedient for, or incidental to, the achievement of its purposes and performance of its functions.”
It goes on: ‘‘Without prejudice to the generality [of the above bit], Nama may ...” It then lists 31 things which Nama specifically may do (but remember, this is without prejudice to other matters Nama might think up). And item16 (it is called ‘‘sub-subsection n’’) states innocently: [Nama may] ‘‘form a Nama group entity for the purpose of performing any of its functions’’.
Incidentally, nowhere in the definitions section of the bill is ‘‘group entity’’ defined. And, as far as I can see, nowhere in the bill is it stated that Nama can offload all or most of its functions to an entity that it does not itself control.
Section 5, however, might come to the rescue here - and I have never heard of any piece of legislation giving a minister or an agency the kind of powers its bestows. It states:
‘‘Where any provision of this act requires or authorises the Minister [for Finance] or Nama to make regulations, such regulations (a) may make different provision for different circumstances or cases, classes or types; and may contain such incidental, consequential or transitional provisions as the Minister or Nama, as the case may be, considers necessary or expedient for the purposes of this act.”
How this could be constitutional is beyond me.
And then there is, in section 56, an exquisite gagging clause. No criticism of government policy or of ministers will be permitted by officials of Nama.
Euripides used to be assigned authorship of the quotation:
‘‘Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.” But perhaps it wasn’t he. Perhaps it was Brian Lenihan.
In a drive to destroy the independent union at the giant Haft Tapeh plantation/refining sugar complex in southern Iran, a court on October 12 sentenced six union leaders to prison on charges of "endangering
national security." Their only crime was to lead a strike.
Haft Tapeh workers have repeatedly had to resort to strikes and other actions to claim huge wage arrears and protest deteriorating working conditions.
"The regime is clearly determined to crush the union by putting its entire leadership behind bars," writes the IUF, the global union federation for food workers.
They've launched an online campaign of protest. Please take a moment and send off your messages:
To learn more about the case, read this:
There's full coverage of Iranian labour news on LabourStart, here:
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