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Defending the interests of working people

The caption under a photograph on page seven of yesterday’s edition (Dec 2) described me as having “defended Labour’s role in cuts”. Any reading of the accompanying article by Juno McEnroe would demonstrate that I did exactly the opposite.

Rather than defending cuts, I was arguing that “until the day that Labour, perhaps along with others on the Left can become the majority in a government, we believe that it and, if the circumstances arise, others on the serious Left must be prepared to go into government with the Centre Right parties to defend the interests of working people and civil society as far as possible”.

Your report quoted directly from the script which was circulated to the media and which stated that “on any reading of the Fine Gael party’s election manifesto the cuts imposed would now be somewhere between €1.6bn and €2bn more than those which have been inflicted to date.

“Moreover, the legal mechanisms which underpin the threshold of decency on pay and conditions for tens of thousands of our most vulnerable workers would have been dismantled and we would now be well on the way to the wholesale sell-off of our most critically important public enterprises.”

I also pointed out that “this party would now be immensely more popular if it had chosen to stand aside leaving the levers of power completely in the hands of the Centre Right. But the price of that popularity would have been paid by working people and by those in our society who depend most on public services.”

While we as trade unionists insist on the right to aspire to a better, fairer, future we cannot afford the luxury of standing aside and failing to influence the agenda on behalf of working people simply in order to preserve electoral popularity.

At the end of the day, it comes down to the distinction between making noise and making a difference.

Jack O’Connor
SIPTU General President
Liberty Hall
Dublin 1


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