Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

Eirígí banner: “No freedom without the freedom of women; Cat Inglis is on right

In 2015 the south of Ireland became the first state in which the people voted for gay marriage.  In a referendum in May that year a decisive majority voted in favour of the right of same-sex couples to marry.

The next big battle for social progress was inevitably going to be abortion, as the reactionaries had got in early, securing a victory in a 1983 referendum that added a ban on abortion to the constitution of the state (the 8th amendment).

On Friday this week (Irish time), voters in the south will go to the polls to vote on whether to repeal the 8th amendment,

Recently Philip Ferguson of Redline interviewed Cat Inglis, a long-time left-wing activist and a member of the socialist-republican organisation Éirígí about the issues.

Philip Ferguson: Could you tell us a bit about the role of religion, especially the Catholic Church as an institution, in the life of southern Irish society and in terms of the state, public services etc?

Cat Inglis:  Since the inception of the state the church has had a firm grip on many aspects of Irish life, schools are still run mainly by the diocese and are mostly catholic although in recent years there has been an upsurge in educate together style model among others.  Until about 20 years ago hospitals were run by sisters from various orders.  Overall there was a large religous presence in daily life; in recent years it has been greatly reduced.

PF: How did the 8th amendment come about and what was its practical, legal effect?

CI: Abortion was already (more…)

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The following is taken from the site of the Irish revolutionary current Socialist Democracy (here), thus the reference to workers’ battles in Ireland.

In France the Macron Government has set in motion plans for the destruction of the terms and conditions of approximately 150,000 workers in the national rail network, the Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer (SNCF). The level of workers’ anger has produced an impressive response. The major unions involved have been forced into putting forward plans for industrial action and in a show of unity 13 organisations on the left have presented a joint statement of solidarity.

Huge protests took place on March 22nd in many cities and towns which mobilised almost half a million public service workers, not just railway workers but other services under threat, regional public transport employees, hospital and care home workers, Air traffic controllers and Air France employees. These were not token protests but were intended as a prelude to, rather than as a substitute for, the  campaign of industrial action which commenced on April 3rd  with a further 34 days of strike action planned over the next three months. Each Strike will last two days with a return to work for three days on a rolling basis with suggestions by one of the unions involved, SUD-Rail, of the need for an all out strike at that point.

Their plans for the defence of jobs and services has provoked a furious onslaught. Attempts to turn private sector workers against public sector workers are (more…)

Capitalism Derails (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Every week, the French revolutionary workers’ current Lutte Ouvriere produces workplace bulletins at hundreds of job sites all around the country.  Below is a slightly abridged version of the editorial from the latest round of bulletins, issued February 19.  LO’s site is here

The so-called Spinetta report recommends transforming SNCF (France’s state-run national railway) into a limited liability company, closing down “secondary” lines, opening up to competitors, doing away with the current working conditions of railroad employees and slashing five thousand jobs. In other words, this report is laying the groundwork for the accelerated privatization of SNCF and the destruction of railroad employees’ rights.

This is an outright declaration of war, to which the CGT (France’s major union confederation) replied by calling for a day of protest on March 22.

Railroad employees have every reason to fight back and so do all French workers. Given that the government is proudly boasting about the economic recovery and the return of prosperity, no worker should accept to see his working and living conditions get worse. No worker should accept to be treated as a chip in some casino game.

Many commentators and government officials get all worked up when (more…)

Employees of John Deere Europe and members of German industrial metal workers union IG Metall (IGM) protest at the John Deere factory in Mannheim, Germany, January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

by Bastian Schmidt (Feb 8, 2018)

Last Tuesday night, employers in the German metal sector and the IG Metall union announced new labour contract. As part of the agreement, workers will be able to reduce their workweek to 28 hours for a limited period of time. However, this gain came at the cost of several other givebacks. Let’s examine this agreement more closely.

It has been quite a while since IG Metall mobilized this many workers: almost 1.5 million workers throughout the state of Baden-Wurttemberg participated in the strikes over the past weeks. The workers’ tremendous will to fight not only surprised the bosses but attracted the attention of the whole world. This is because, in the context of the current economic situation, the metalworkers’ union not only put forward demands for increased wages but also called for the shortening of the workday.

On Monday night, the negotiations ended with an agreement. Although the deal applies only to Baden-Wurttemberg currently, it will likely be adopted in other states soon. But is the agreement really as groundbreaking as the workers hoped?

More money, but with caveats. . .

The new collective bargaining agreement will be valid until the end of March 2020 — a period of 27 months. Thus, there will be a labour peace in this key sector of the German economy for at least the first two years of the new “Grand Coalition” to be launched between the Social Democratic Party and the Christian Democratic Union. This is a clear signal the the leadership of IG Metall intends to play a (more…)

Rosa Luxemburg, rallying workers for struggle

by Don Franks

In a February 13th interview in The Listener, Public Service Association national secretary Erin Polaczuk makes a valid point: by going on strike, workers may get hurt.

“I remember some strikes. . . and dad losing his job. In the ’90s he was made redundant and survived on his redundancy pay. It terrifies me to think that some people don’t have that backup, so have no way of feeding their families if they lose their jobs. I don’t think we’ll ever go back to the way things were. Maybe we are in the mature era and the feminisation of the union movement has changed things. We are not guys coming in and having a punch up any more.”

In New Zealand industrial punch ups have sometimes got quite heated, but not to the extent of some overseas confrontations. For example: “During the night two delegates of the railwaymen were arrested. The strikers immediately demanded their release, and as this was not conceded, they decided not to allow trains leave the town. At the station all the strikers with their wives and families sat down on the railway track-a sea of human beings. They were threatened with rifle salvoes. The workers (more…)

Constance de Markievicz, in Irish Citizen Army uniform

by Philip Ferguson

Today (Feb 4) marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the first woman elected to the British parliament! This was in the general election of December 1918, at the end of WW1. And no, she was not a Tory reactionary, but an Irish revolutionary – Constance Markievicz.

She was in jail at the time in London.

She had been second-in-command lof the insurrectionary forces at Stephen’s Green during the 1916 Rebellion in Dublin and, among other things, performed valuable sniper duties; after the surrender she was tried by court-martial and sentenced to death, commuted to penal servitidue for life on account of her being a woman.

The British were subsequently forced to release the prisoners, from the end of 1916 to mid-1917. Considered one of the hardest of the hard-core, she was in the very last group of prisoners to be released, returning to an ecstatic welcome in Dublin.

In May 1918 she was arrested for sedition and again imprisoned in England. It was here that she ran for parliament.

She stood on a platform of independence and radical social change in Ireland and not taking her seat at Westminster if elected.

In that election, 73 seats were won by people who said they wouldn’t take their seat at Westminster if elected.  A majority of them were in prison or ‘on the run’.

(These people won a majority of the seats in (more…)