Join a Union, Why Bother?
It is not surprising that many people no longer see the relevance of joining a trade union, and that a lot of workers see those 'leading' the trade union movement as part of the problem rather than the solution
Anarchists and the trade
unions - Be active - be involved
Trade Unions are important organs of the working-class. Gregor Kerr - a member of the Irish National Teachers Organisation who has been involved in campaigns against "social partnership" and in many strike support groups - argues that trade union involvement should form a central part of the political activity of all anarchists.
The anarchist origins of May Day
Not many people know why May Day became International Workers Day and why we should still celebrate it. It all began over a century ago when the American Federation of Labour adopted an historic resolution which asserted that "eight hours shall constitute a legal day's labour from and after May 1st, 1886". In Italian as Le origine anarchiche del Primo Maggio
The Price of Being
There were fewer strike days last year than in any year since the 1920s. At the same time the number of disputes referred to the Labour Court was up 21%. Does this mean that 'going through the procedures' and being 'reasonable' is paying dividends of workers?
Solidarity - The Working
In reality, sympathy strikes are a workers' best weapon as individually we have little power compared to the boss. Standing together, however, we can defend our rights. The bosses know this, hence the attack on even the barest form of solidarity by workers
Low pay = Jobs? A global
A low paid job is better than no job. At least that's what those supporting corporate Globalisation argue. Big companies like Nike and Gap pay workers badly, expect them to work long hours in appalling conditions, buy off or exclude their trade-unions but at least at the end of the day, these workers take home a pay packet.
Anarchists and the Trade
Trade unions were founded to defend the interests of workers, but today have become more and more dominated by an unaccountable, and often unelected, bureaucracy
WSM position paper on The Trade Unions
Unions - how can the 'democratic
deficit' be tackled?
The leaderships see themselves as a protected elite, and many union members feel powerless to do anything about it. Rulebooks are often written in such a way as to make it as difficult as possible for ordinary members to influence how decisions are arrived at.
Syndicalism : Its strengths &
The main organisational form in libertarian politics today is syndicalism. Alan MacSimon, a delegate to Dublin Council of Trade Unions who has also attended a European gathering of revolutionary unions looks at the potential, and limits, of syndicalism.
The two souls of the trade
Union activists are facing new management attacks but the trade union leadership speaks only of partnership with the bosses. Des Derwin, member of the Executive of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions and of the Dublin Private Sector Regional Executive Committee of SIPTU gives his personal view on the two souls of the unions.
They Call It The Law
If anybody was under any illusions that the 'law' treated trade unionists fairly, or was in some way neutral when it came to trade disputes, the events of a few weeks in late May/early June should have been enough to rid them of such silly notions.
Break this law Industrial
Relations Act 
A ban on strikes in 'essential services'. That was the call from the bosses and conservative politicians in the wake of the ESB workers dispute. The PDs and the Greens made reference to treating the ESB workers 'like the army', TDs from the main parties talked of a ban on strikes in 'essential services'
How much change can we achieve
within the unions 
There is a great potential power in the trade union movement. According to the Department of Industrial Relations in University College Dublin (DUES Data Series on Trade Unions in Ireland) 54.6% of employees in Ireland are trade union members.
Workers fight for
Jobs are under threat all over the place. It is not just ones that are useful to us; that are chopped. There are also workers in plants producing weapons, nuclear power, and so on whose futures are far from secure
What the Lucas plan
Over a period of two years a series of proposals that later became known as the Lucas Plan were drawn together through the active involvement of most of the workers in the 15 different Lucas factories. Its aim was to shift Lucas Aerospace, away from the production of military goods and towards the production of socially useful goods
Review : The Labour Movement and
The internet - viewed by some as the highway to the future, dismissed by others as an over - hyped toy with little practical value. Conor Mc Loughlin reviews a new book on the internet and its use by the labour movement.
Thinking about anarchism -
Unequal power, unequal pay
During the year a spate of reports have 'discovered' what a lot of workers already know - that equal pay for equal work just doesn't exist.
Accidents will happen?
Workplace accidents rarely happen. They are caused. It is equally the case that workers end up taking more than their fair share of blame when things do go wrong
World Unemployment 
Nearly one out of three workers in the world's labour force either has no job or is earning too little to live decently, the International Labour Organisation reports
37% illegally underpaid 
Can we take on the
How do we deal with powerful multinational firms who often have an international income greater than the Irish government? If we end up having to strike they can often pack their bags and move to another country; where they will receive another round of tax breaks, free workforce training and preferential treatment.
Employment Equality Bill
The Employment Equality Bill effectively gives schools and hospitals which are controlled by either of the churches the right to discriminate on the basis of marital status, family/parental status, sexual orientation, race, religion or membership of the Traveller Community
Looking after the rich and looking
down on the workers [Autumn 1999]
How comes the bosses can claim tax back on their membership subscriptions but we can't?
Irish Workers Worth Double Their
Wages Says Employers' Study [Autumn 1999]
IRISH WORKERS are undervalued by 50% according to an international study published earlier this year.
Workers copy TDs and demand an
extra £250 a week 
These three motions were passed in January at the annual general meeting of Public Service Executive Union
Confessions of a store
There are approximately 236,400 people working in the wholesale and retail trade. Most of us working in this sector are badly paid, as unskilled labour usually is
Surviving on the Minimum Wage in
The amount of money you earn is one of the most important factors that influence your quality of life.
Irish Glass Bottle workers
Workers at the Irish Glass Bottle plant in Ringsend have been in occupation of the plant for the last couple of months. The plant is closing, making some 375 workers redundant.
Democracy for our
Do we just want to change the people at the top of our unions or do we want to change our unions? Text of a leaflet distributed at 'Rank and File Conference - Social partnership: Claiming Back Our Unions', Sat. 10th Feb., Teachers' Club in Dublin
To break or not to break? -
new union to be set up?
An idea has been floated among sections of the left and among activists in the ATGWU that a new union - independent of the ICTU (Irish Congress of Trade Unions) and strongly anti -'partnership' - be formed
Why Mick O'Reilly was
He has been a thorn in the side of the Irish government and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) bosses, being the only member of the ICTU executive to consistently oppose the 'social partnership' deals.
SIPTU's Dirty Deal
SIPTU has signed its first ever no-strike deal with Connex, who run Dublin's LUAS trams
March 16 04 - SIPTU section
supports Columbian Coca-Cola
SIPTU members in Trinity College have called for no investment in Coca-Cola by the Trinity College pension fund
SIPTU General Secretary election results
The counting is over, SIPTU has a new General Secretary. Joe O'Flynn (the current regional secretary for the south west) has been voted into the post. He succeeds John Mc Donnell who is retiring.
SIPTU election changes nothing
The big lesson from this contest is how weak the opposition in SIPTU is. 6.7% is not a good vote! There is no opposition network, simply a number of individuals who are fairly isolated from each other.
Factory worker takes on SIPTU top brass
A radical shopfloor worker has put himself forward in the election for general secretary of Ireland's biggest union, SIPTU. Des Derwin, an assembly operative at the Mouldpro plastics factory in Dublin, is a long-time union activist and independent socialist
SIPTU General Secretary elections
Readers of Workers Solidarity may recognise the name of Des Derwin, one of the candidates for the General Secretary of Ireland largest trade union, SIPTU
Trade Union news 
Rank and file opposition continues in SIPTU
Did you hear about democracy in
SIPTU? Neither did we!
Democracy in SIPTU? A nice idea but one we will have to fight for.
October 7th 2001 - SIPTU's
Dublin Public Sector Regional conference
SIPTU's Dublin Public Sector Regional conference (SIPTU is the biggest single union in the 26 counties public sector) took place at the beginning of October in Jury's Hotel. Friday night saw the conference kick off with a speech by Bertie Ahern* and an spontaneous walkout by seven delegates
by Alan MacSimoin
Northern workers paid less
Workers in northern Ireland are paid less then workers in Britain or the rest of Ireland.
Strikes increase 
The state is pleading with the union leaders to put a lid on the recent increase in strikes. Will the rank and file workers be able to stop this happening.
Dunboyne Sacking - Union Failed
This dismissal raises many questions for teachers about the role of religion in Irish primary education. Even further it raises serious issues for INTO members about the failure of the union to defend its members from bullying and intimidation by the unaccountable 'owners' of the schools in which we work
ASTI: teachers show the way
but we need solidarity, not 'special cases'!
The secondary teachers took more than a few politicians by surprise. Regarded as the most conservative of the three teachers' unions, they were not expected to be leading a movement to break the PPF wage limits. Yet, that is exactly what they have done.
Malcontents and 'cliques'
?? [May 2002]
The ASTI dispute as seen through the eyes of ICTU
Spy Cameras and pensions that give you no money were on the agenda when the SIPTU members in Trinity College met for their annual general meeting in March.
We all want early retirement
On Tuesday May 23rd, approximately 15,000 teachers marched through Dublin as part of their campaign for early retirement.
April 17th 2001 - Tackling the
An article by WSM member Gregor Kerr originally written for 'Teachers United Bulletin' which is being distributed at the Teachers trade union conferences this week
What happened in the An Post
The An Post dispute which ended in June should be seen in the context of a fight against casualisation by a well organised workforce. The resignation of the left from the Outdoor branch committee demonstrates that even at the lowest levels of the union a relatively strong left presence can be muzzled by the rule book.
The Bank strike: What went
BANK WORKERS went back to work on April 27th. After three weeks on strike they voted narrowly to accept a revised offer from the big four banks.
An Post strike 
An interview with a striker during the recent An Post dispute
The Pay-Rise is in the Post
Dishonest newsroom bosses told us about the "strike" in An Post. There was no strike by workers, but there were hundreds of workers suspended in what was effectively a lock-out by management.
Postal Workers Under Fire
Interview: An Post and the Threat of Privatisation I hope things will come around and that at the end of the day we will manage to save An Post from privatisation. You don't want to think the opposite, because it is your job. But the truth is that all the signs, everything is pointing the other way around.
Irish Building workers ripped off
in Germany 
Thousands of Irish building workers have gone to work in Germany over the last few years. As European integration proceeds, German contractors are increasingly turning to foreign workers. They want foreign workers because they are cheaper, unorganised and easier to push around
Building workers win
... SIPTU and Ryanair
TWO HUGE STRUGGLES broke out earlier this year. One was for union recognition at Ryanair, the other was against the black economy on building sites. Both showed that ordinary workers are prepared to fight. The biggest union in the country, SIPTU, seems to have done its best to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Members of a small union, BATU, defeated one of the biggest construction firms.
Strikes free bricklayers from jail [Spring 1999]
On October 21st William Rogers was arrested. Dave McMahon had been arrested at dawn the same morning. Word spread and bricklayers from other sites began walking off the job
Strike victory at Dublin store
On Friday February 17th, following a 3-week strike in defence of a colleague who had been unfairly dismissed, eight MANDATE members at Knightingales store in Dublin's ILAC Centre returned to work victorious.
Cork Workers Strike Against Low
Workers at the Early Learning Centre Toy Shop, in Cork, have been on strike since early December. Management at the Cork store, have refused to recognise the workers' union, Mandate, or to negotiate on pay and conditions.
Cork strikers need support 
The Early Learning Centre strike continues, what can be done to help it win.
Early Learning Strike won 
After a long and bitter strike the Early Learning Strikes have defeated the bosses in Cork. We report on this victory.
Aldi strike [September
The strike at the Aldi supermarket on Dublin's Parnell Street came to an end on Friday August 18th. It marked the end of a bitter three month struggle for union recognition
Tescos Exploits Foreign
During July and August, major Polish newspapers, TV and radio stations carried a story about two Polish workers, who were dismissed from TESCO in Dublin, because of their fight for workers' rights.. One of sacked warehouse attendants, Radek Sawicki tells us about the struggle against TESCO and its consequences.
Irish Ferries: Time to break
The dispute at Irish Ferries is about greedy bosses, very greedy bosses who want to replace their staff with modern day galley slaves.
The consequences of
More cars on the road means more road building, more road repairs, more traffic jams and more air pollution
working conditions under attack
Reduce wage costs, increase fares, cut back on less used routes. That's the plan for the bus service. Airport workers are also looking at worsening conditions with the threatened break up of Aer Rianta
Dublin Bus Drivers Suspended for
Are You or Have You Ever Been a Member of the Independent Workers Union
Report from Dublin Busworkers
Anti privatisation Public Forum
This is one of a series of meetings where the workers are out to try and explain their side of the story with the upcoming threat of privatisation being faced by them.
The militant couriers decided to act collectively when agitating for the pay rise as one to one bargaining with an employer always leaves the worker negotiating from a position of weakness
Keeping the blackleg truckers
Workers at Nolan Transport in New Ross joined SIPTU in January 1993. Working hours averaged 15 per day, six days a week. Pay was £2.00 - £2.50 per hour. It was six years since their last wage increase.
Wexford strike declared illegal
WORKERS AT Nolans Transport in New Ross have been told their strike is illegal. They have been in dispute since February 1993 for better pay, better conditions and union recognition
Letter - Rail strike averted
One minute to mid-night on Friday 15th April and the rail strike is averted
The Dublin lock-out of
The formation of the syndicalist ITGWU and the lock out of 1913 that followed it.
Sacked Belfast Airport security
workers speak out
24 "randomly selected" workers were handed suspension letters and after a disciplinary hearing three days after that were sacked.
Why all the fuss about Aer
The state company which runs Cork, Dublin and Shannon airports is to be broken up if the government get their way.
TEAM workers told not to expect a
decent job 
The causes of the job cuts and attacks on workers conditions in TEAM are international. They come about as a result of European integration and the drive for the various European airlines to be merged into a few super airlines.
Lets get together 
THE ATTACKS on jobs, wages & working conditions at TEAM and Irish Steel are only the beginning
Turn the anger into action
The Cahill Plan is a devastating attack on workers' conditions in Aer Lingus and its subsidiaries. Unlike Digital, where £4 million was promised to try and save 800 jobs, the government are offering Aer Lingus £175 million in return for 1,500 redundancies
Do We Tolerate
Corks Home Helps, members of the Independent Workers Union, took to the streets on Saturday in a march against the health cuts.This is the text of a leaflet distributed by Cork WSM members on the march
1913 Lockout replayed at Pat the
LAST MARCH twenty five workers at Pat the Baker's Cherry Orchard plant in west Dublin joined SIPTU. They wanted to improve their lousy pay and conditions. The company, owned by Pat Higgins and based in the Longford town of Granard, responded by sacking them.
Interview with a Pat the Baker striker
Review: Remembering the
The 1913 Dublin lockout happened when the bosses got together to try and smash the ITGWU, workers who were members of this union were locked out. The workers held out for a year, fighting the combined forces of the bosses, the church and the cops. In the course of which they set up one of the first armed workers defense forces, the Citizen army.
Explosion in Cork Harbour
The explosion and fire at the Hickson chemical plant in Ringaskiddy, Cork, last August, has gone down as one of the most serious industrial accidents in Ireland to date.
Hicksons chemical spill
The company at the centre of last year's explosion and fire in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork, pleaded guilty in July to three charges of negligence and improper handling of hazardous chemical substances.
Social Welfare Bill 1999:
Hassling people into very low paid jobs [Summer 1999]
The Scheme Workers Alliance organises people on employment schemes to combat cutbacks and win the extension of part-time workers rights. We speak to the SWA about the upcoming Social Welfare bill.
Make your boss rich and lose your
job [Autumn 1999]
BECTU has accused the owners of Ulster Television of casualisation after they announced 35 redundancies at the start of the summer.
As we go to press, workers are still occupying Peerless Rugs in Athy. The plant had closed on July 4th
David Begg: Bertie's new
ICTU general secretary David Begg condemned the anti-bin tax campaign. He did this at the same time that the state was jailing protesters and refusing to collect rubbish from thousands of households in Dublin.
Mating Season in the Industrial Relations Jungle!
CPSU rejects PPF revision
Civil and Public Service Union has voted by three to one to reject the PPF revision to compensate for inflation
Mind your own Business:
Economics at Work 
Workers today face a sustained barrage of economic arguments and terminology which goes way beyond the old 'industry-speak' language of classical collective bargaining. Our bosses speak constantly of partnership and want to set up participation councils
If TDs can get a £10,000 pay
rise, why can't the rest of us? 
Secondary teachers, rail signal workers and Aer Lingus cabin crew are just some of the workers who have taken on both their own bosses and the government. They aren't buying into the nonsense that we are all equal partners with our bosses and are all getting a fair share of the booming economy. Suddenly there is a chorus of very rich employers and their paid economists telling us that the great Tiger economy won't stretch to a wage rise that you might actually notice in your pay packet.
Laughing all the way to the bank
ALTHOUGH workers have been getting a bad deal out of the PNR and now the PESP in terms of pay the same can hardly be said for Irish bosses. In 1989-90 many executives got increases of 20% according to a recent Irish Management Institute survey.
Solutions to the the jobs
For the past five years the main plan touted to combat unemployment in the 26 counties has been the PESP (Programme for Economic and Social Progress) It involves the unions restricting pay demands and industrial action. This strategy has not worked. Uunemployment has risen. At the same time Ireland's Gross National Product has broken all records.
You need another PESP like a hole in
the head 
THE IRISH Congress of Trade Unions is to hold a special delegate conference on September 30th. It will decide whether or not to enter into talks on a further agreement to replace the Programme for Economic and Social Development.
Lessons of Trade Union
Following the vote on the Programme for Competitiveness and Work at the end of March, the Trade Union Fightback (TUF) campaign was wound up. Here Gregor Kerr, an INTO member who was secretary of TUF, looks at the history and lessons of the campaign.
More con trick than Concession
Top Trade Union leaders like Phil Flynn, Billy Attley and Peter Cassells have been working flat out to get the employers and government to agree another national deal for pay restraint.
Significant minority say NO to
union leaders 
The PCW is about pay restraint, job losses and promotion of a fictitious 'partnership' between workers, bosses and government.
Competition or con 
Ireland is the 19th most competitive country in the world
Some people are doing all
IRISH WORKERS enjoy fewer holidays than anyone else in the European Union, work longer hours than workers anywhere else apart from Britain, and suffer the highest rate of long term unemployment in the countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD)
Review: Trade unionism's dark
The trade union movement has two souls. The first derives from the activities of members to improve their lot and control their unions. The second is the dark soul consisting of the activities of leaders whose only concern is to maintain industrial peace and harmony, often at the expense of 'their' members.
SIPTU Fight-back and
National Partnership 
For over a decade the unions have been in a partnership with the bosses and state. This partnership means promising not to strike on a wide range of issues while accepting low pay rises. The problems with partnership are obvious and at least 1/3 of the unionised workforce has voted against previous deals. However partnership has severely eroded 'shopfloor' organisation as little is left to local meetings except individual cases.
Some lessons from the 'Campaign
Against A New Partnership Deal' 
THE WORKERS Solidarity Movement have, since their inception with the Programme for National Recovery in 1987, identified 'social partnership' agreements as a major problem.
Partnership fight provides
real opportunity for return to activism in teachers' unions
Activists in all three unions - INTO, TUI and ASTI - have united in "Teachers Against Partnership"
Coca Cola Boycotted for
(complicity in) Murder 
Members of the Latin America Solidarity Centre and other individuals are working to promote the boycott and to raise awareness of this issue in Ireland
Vampires in America
The old Eastern European legend says that a vampire must be willingly invited into the house of its victim, and once invited in has its victim in its power. Members of the Teamsters Union (America's largest general trade union) might well ponder this legend.
Aer France Workers show the
Workers in both France and Ireland were told they would have to accept redundancies and worsening working conditions for the sake of the company. In Ireland it's called the Cahill plan, in France it was the Attali plan.
General strike in Spain
Spain was closed down by a general strike in January. An Irish worker in Barcelona, and activist in the anarchist National Confederation of Labour (CNT-AIT) union, sent us this report.
French show how to fight... and
Edouard Balladur and his government have been in retreat over the last six months as the people of France take to the streets to demonstrate their anger at new policies.
This is not SIPTU 
The Central Organisation of Swedish Workers (SAC) is a union which describes itself as syndicalist and libertarian socialist.
Swedish trade union stays
A recent discussion in the SAC saw the union reaffirm its libertarian politics
Interview with the SAC
Kevin Doyle of the Workers Solidarity Movement interview's Lars Hammarberg, an organiser with the Swedish syndicalist union the Central Organisation of Swedish Workers (SAC)
Review: The Spanish CNT and the
struggle in Puerto Real 
This pamphlet is based on a talk by Pepe Gomez of the CNT's Puerto Real/Cadiz section given in London in October 1993. It is based on the long running battle between the CNT and the shipyard bosses.
French Workers Take on their
The strike wave that rocked France in the closing month of 1995 is yet another example of the great fighting spirit of the French working class. Yet when we look at the causes of the strike and the relative weakness of French workplace organisation the question that emerges is 'if they can do it, why can't we'?
Bengali workers fight 7-day week
The National Garment Workers Federation which has links with anarcho-syndicalists unions is fighting against a 7 day week.
Liverpool dockers strike
The Liverpool dockers are now coming up to one year on strike in their heroic struggle against the logic of capitalism.
The Liverpool dockers fight on 
After over 18 months the Liverpool dockers are still fighting for their jobs, January 20 saw an international day of action in support of them
children forced to work 
Nearly twice as many children are working full time in developing countries as previously thought, according to the International Labour Organization.
Disney & McDonalds linked to $0.06 per hour sweatshop in Vietnam 
Australian union bans
Indonesian ships 
Australia's powerful Maritime Trade Union launched rolling bans on Indonesian shipping to protest against the arrest of Indonesian trade union activists
The unemployed are on the
A European March against Unemployment, Job Insecurity and Exclusion has been called by a wide coalition of unions, unemployed and political groups. Eleven separate legs of the march will arrive in the centre of Amsterdam on the afternoon of June 14th, to coincide with a European Union Inter-governmental Conference
Massive strike shakes
The end of April and the start of May saw a massive strike wave in Denmark. Almost half a million workers went on strike, including almost all industrial workers and most workers in transport and building.
Liverpool passes the baton to
Australia - Dockers are fighting back internationally 
The Liverpool dockers were forced to end their dispute after 28 months in January of this year. Throughout their struggle the dockers had identified the attack on them as part of an international attack on dockworkers and on workers in general. On April 7th the main docks company in Australia (Patricks) sacked its entire workforce of 1,400.
Russian workers beat off armed
attack on occupied factory 
On July 9th 1999, eighty masked, uniformed gunmen accompanied by the local prosecutor and other officials tried to storm the Vyborg Pulp and Paper Mill, under occupation by its workers for the past eighteen months
Syndicalist unions in
Recently we received details of one of the newer syndicalist unions, the Siberian Confederation of Labour (SKT).
demonstrate in Madrid
A figure of twenty to twenty-five thousand demonstrated on December 2nd in what is the largest so far of a series of mainly 'black-and-red' demonstrations carried out in Madrid and other Spanish towns over the last few years.