Unions to lead protest against deficit plans

THE Irish Congress of Trade Unions is planning street protests across the country over the Government’s “nonsensical and unachievable objective” of reducing the deficit to 3% of GDP by 2014.

Almost exactly a year ago, tens of thousands of workers took to the streets in eight locations across the country for a “national day of protest” against Government budgetary policy.

Now ICTU is planning similar protests to voice their opposition to the current economic plans.

The Government has said it needs a budgetary adjustment of €15 billion over the next four years and the bulk of the adjustment must be taken in the December budget.

In a joint statement issued by ICTU and SIPTU president Jack O’Connor and ICTU general secretary David Begg last night, the two union leaders said reducing the deficit by so much so quickly would be “totally counterproductive”.

“It would actually have the effect of expanding rather than reducing the deficit as has been the experience with the policy so far,” they said. “This is a most dangerous strategy which could plunge our country into a prolonged depression with profound consequences for virtually everyone who lives in Ireland.”

They said the move would also be directly contrary to the stated objective of enhancing confidence in the bond markets because investors need reassurance as to the capacity to grow the economy so that they can get their money back.

“In a best case scenario, any short-term boost to bond market confidence generated by draconian ‘frontloading’ would be reversed when the analysts realised the implications for economic growth,” they said. “We do not underestimate the difficulty of persuading Government and those at the top of the establishment to abandon this nonsensical and unachievable objective. Nevertheless, we believe we can be effective in seeking to reduce its destructive effect by minimising the extent to which it is ‘frontloaded’ and persuading Government to offset the damage as much as possible through public investment in infrastructure and commercial projects thus addressing the key requirements of job creation and job protection.”

The two union leaders also said they believe it is “very much possible” to ensure that the wealthy in society carry a fair share of the burden, thus reducing the effect on middle and lower income families.

“Congress will be approaching other civil society organisations and individuals who are also concerned at the enormous gamble the Government is taking with all our futures, with a view to building an alliance for a better, fairer way,” they said.

They said further details of what action they are planning to take will be outlined next week.


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