Mortgage strikes get ICTU backing

DELEGATES at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions biennial conference have backed calls for a “mortgage strike” by at least 100,000 people unless mortgages on primary residences are reduced to reflect current value.

Dave Hughes of the Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation told the conference in Killarney that people’s fear over losing their homes due to inability to meet their repayments could be turned into a powerful bargaining tool for workers and mortgage payers in this country.

“I am not talking about individuals failing to pay their mortgage,” he said.

“We are proposing a collective web-based action which would not commence until 100,000 people have signed up and are prepared to go along with the action.”

He said the key to the campaign he was proposing was that people would separate their income stream and savings from their mortgage account “so you have freedom over your ability to pay or not to pay your debt”.

Those who signed up to the campaign would engage in what he described as a series of incremental actions which would allow them to “move in unity with financial transactions”.

“If that does not shock them enough and cause them enough reason to renegotiate then we would go to a mortgage strike.

“Our demand should be relief for those people who were fooled into paying enormous prices for over-valued houses and for whom the banks funded those loans. Their principle residences should be reduced to reflect their actual value not that inflated value.”

Mr Hughes said the state was paying €3.1 billion of taxpayers’ money to Anglo Irish Bank, “a dead bank”, and had committed €9.5bn towards stress testing mortgages in AIB and Bank of Ireland.

“They will cost us not the banks if those mortgages fail. What do we get? No sign of relief for mortgage payers but an increase in interest rates.

“Workers were not born with saddles on their backs and bankers were not born with boots and whips to ride them to hell either.”

With delegates backing the motion, albeit following an attempt to have it remitted, it will now be brought before ICTU’s incoming executive which will decide how the campaign should be enacted.

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