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19 October 2000 Edition

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Workers demand their due

Aer Lingus received a barrage of blows from its employees this week, the latest in a growing list of Irish companies to receive wake up calls from their workforces.

Flights ground to a halt following a 24-hour strike by cabin crew members, but this was just the beginning. Baggage handlers yesterday refused to work, while catering staff resumed after stoppages, but only temporarily. Clerical staff at the company have also served strike notice and are set to take strike action next week, if their demands for a wage increase are not met. Pilots have voted to resume their ban on working rest days and, while union officials are set to meet with company management today, they are not optimistic that there will be a positive outcome.

There is added significance here when we consider that Aer Lingus employees work for a semi-state company and, as with ESB and CIÉ workers, the teachers, the nurses and the junior doctors, their strike action is a direct and damning indictment of the failures of that state. And there's more to come.

On Tuesday night it emerged that the inflation rate has remained at 6.2% for the month of September. Even Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy has admitted that this rate is likely to increase in October. As the costs of food, clothing, housing, transport, health and education will continue to rise in tandem, there will naturally be demands for wage increases. According to certain elements of the political establishment, however, the modest demands of workers are the greatest threat to our `glowing economy'.

While those same elements, including disgraced former Taoiseach Charles Haughey, called on the workforce to `tighten their belts' during the hard times of the 1980s, they are now calling on that workforce to `tighten their belts' as the ecomomy booms at an unprecedented high. The logic of this seems that economic growth is dependant on the subsistence of those at the lower end of the economic scale, but they cannot be allowed to reap the benefits of this growth, because to do so would cause the downfall of that very economy.

This ludicrous logic is becoming increasingly apparent to the people who keep this economy going. And, as a fresh budget is around the corner, it would also be ludicrous for McCreevy to expect a few tax cuts will placate these workers.

People want more. People are rightly concerned about health care, education, the rural/urban divide, the gap between rich and poor and all the problems that flow from it.

The 26-County government needs to realise thatb it is not just the workers that should work tfor the econpomy; the economy must also work for them.

An Phoblacht Magazine

AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:

  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

Buy An Phoblacht magazine here

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