Mass action can win real pay-rises!
After three years of political impasse, the Northern Ireland Executive has been restored. The misnamed “New Decade, New Approach” agreement promises a return to the approach of kicking the can down the road on many “contentious issues” while politicians unite around a common agenda of austerity and neo-liberal politics.
While being forced to address the strikes in health, politicians chose to ignore the serious campaign of industrial action being taken by civil servants. In fact, “New Decade, New Approach” proposes further “reform” in the civil service, which of course means further attempt to destroy jobs in the public sector in order to “rebalance” the economy. At the same time, politicians are to get a £1,000 pay rise!
But some things have changed in this new decade. The fact health workers have forced concessions, albeit limited, out of the politicians illustrates that victories can be won. The restoration of the Northern Ireland Executive means that, in regard to this industrial dispute, the buck stops with the new Finance Minister Conor Murphy and his Executive colleagues.
The action on friday is the first strike action taken against the new Executive but can’t be the last. Civil servants have shown determination to fight, including with service-wide strikes and sectional action, including during the Christmas period. Now, a campaign of further action is necessary to force Conor Murphy and the Northern Ireland Executive to provide a pay-rise for all public servants.
Agency workers: Organise to fight precarious conditions!
Importantly, the strikes, walkouts and protests in this campaign have involved agency workers. This has already had an effect and demonstrates the potential for agency workers to get organised. Workers in precarious conditions have also been to the fore in the university strikes. Meanwhile, Socialist Party members – along with other activists – have been campaigning to unionise workers in hospitality. Socialist Party members in NIPSA believe the union must develop an audacious plan to organise agency workers with a view to winning permanent posts on equal terms and conditions.
Join the socialists!
Socialist Party members in NIPSA have played an active role in organising for the strike action, as well as in other recent industrial disputes, from the shipyard to the hospitals. We were active in the successful campaigns for marriage equality and abortion rights, while our young members are central to organising protests and walkouts against climate change.
We believe the problems of low pay, casualisation in the workplace, inequality, sectarianism and much else besides are rooted in a system that puts profit before all else – capitalism. We want to see a united movement of working-class people to fight for socialist change: for a society run by and for the working class. If you agree, join us!