Tomorrow will see Irish trade unions come out in force, across the country, to protest against the Government’s plans to cut wages in both the public and private sector and cuts in the upcoming Budget.
Galway is one of eight centres to stage a major protest which begins when trade union groups in the city such as SIPTU, the INTO, the TWU, Impact, and the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed, assemble at the cathedral at 2.30pm. They will march over the Salmon Weir Bridge, down Francis Street, Eglinton Street, William’s Gate Street, Shop Street, and on to the Spanish Arch. At the Spanish Arch protesters will be addressed by speakers from the SIPTU, Impact, INOU, and community groups.
Pat Keane, president of the Galway Council of Trade Unions, is calling on all private and public sector workers, trade unions, community groups, the unemployed, the marginalised, and all who have fears about their jobs and cuts to their pay to come out in force for major protests which takes place tomorrow afternoon.
He says in an economic downturn, everyone will have to share the pain, but that pain must start at the top. Public and private sector workers, already suffering pay cuts and the threat of high taxes, must not be expected to pay for the greed and recklessness of politicians, the banks, and developers.
“We want to see people come out and respond to this protest,” Mr Keane told the Galway Advertiser. “One of the slogans we will be chanting is that ‘There has to be a better, fairer, way’.”
He said the GCTU is supporting the 10 Point Plan recently put forward by ICTU in relation to protecting incomes, protecting jobs and homes, safeguarding savings, on work place rights, reform of the banking sector, and on how the richest in society should be taxed.
Mr Keane said that in an economic downturn everyone will experience hardship and make sacrifices, but that the Government’s approach appears to be that the ordinary person on the street must endure harsh cuts and high taxes to pay for the greed, excess, and recklessness of politicians, bankers, and developers, and that this is not acceptable.
“You cannot keep expecting the people at the bottom to keep bailing out the ones at the top,” he said. “Protecting social welfare cuts is a major issue for us. The ESRI recently said that 35,000 homes are in danger of being repossessed by the banks. Both public and private sector workers have taken hits in their pay while the bankers have increased theirs. There has to be a better way than this.”
While Mr Keane points out that both private and public sector workers are being hit by the economic crisis, a new line has emerged from politicians and mainstream national media that the public sector is the main drain on our economy.
While many agree that the sector is in need of reform, there is a growing suspicion that this line is being put forward to take the focus of the politicians, bankers, and developers and to divide public and private sector works at a time when they may unite against the Government.
“There are people who take this line and who are trying to divide the public and private sector workers,” said Mr Keane, “but the reality is that all workers are in this together. All are affected, whether you work in the county council, as a nurse, or in the private sector. Everyone will have to share the pain but the pain should start at the top.”