Unions divided as Jack O'Connor backs Labour for Europe
Published 12/05/2014 | 02:30
SIPTU leader Jack O'Connor has backed a Labour election candidate, even as another union urged members to vote against the "anti-worker" party.
In a ringing endorsement, the general president of the country's largest union warned that the workers of Dublin should vote for Emer Costello, in order to have a say in European policy.
But Mr O'Connor's comments came as the National Bus and Railworkers Union condemned Labour as it launched a campaign against coalition plans to privatise 10pc of bus routes.
Speaking at the James Connolly Commemoration in Dublin, Mr O'Connor said it was only possible to influence European parliamentary policy by participating in the Socialist and Democratic Group.
"Therefore, unless we elect Emer Costello, who is a lifelong trade unionist, the workers of Dublin will not be represented at a level that actually influences the agenda," he said.
Mr O'Connor said voting Left was "the alternative to barbarism".
SIPTU has strong links with Labour. An official of the union and Labour Party chairwoman, Lorraine Mulligan, is its Dublin West by-election candidate.
Mr O'Connor previously defended Labour by saying it was outnumbered, and "battling at the gates of hell" against the backdrop of the "straitjacket of the troika agreement".
Meanwhile, the NBRU is launching a campaign tomorrow targeting local election candidates who refuse to condemn cuts to bus services.
General Secretary Dermot O'Leary warned that members in Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus would use industrial action if necessary to protect their jobs.
He is inviting candidates in the local elections to public meetings to give their position on this "anti-worker" policy.
UNITE, which has 60,000 members, has also advised members not to vote Labour. It disaffiliated from the party last year after criticising policies.