Union leader went on 'solo run' with strike call
Published 26/11/2012 | 05:00
TRADE union leaders have attempted to play down claims that a prominent official had called for a general strike over the Government's austerity measures.
Senior trade unions suggested ICTU president Eugene McGlone had gone on a 'solo run' following reports that he called for a general strike at an anti-austerity protest in Dublin at the weekend.
Dublin Council of Trade Unions' (DCTU) president Michael O'Reilly denied that Mr McGlone had called for a general strike, while Siptu general president Jack O'Connor said he was now satisfied he "didn't specifically call" for such a demonstration of trade union muscle.
Dismissing the legality of a general strike, trade union sources pointed out that a dispute with an employer had to be in place before workers could even ballot for a work stoppage.
"This is not a case where you can call for a general strike if you feel like it and there would be no question of such an event," commented one official.
During the weekend protest, Mr McGlone was heckled by a small minority in the crowd, and the Dublin Council of Trade Unions (DCTU), which helped organise the demonstration, said it would be seeking to ensure future events were not "marred" by similar incidents.
Denying Mr McGlone had called for a general strike, Mr O'Reilly said what he had suggested was that if a general strike was wanted, people would first have to join a union and then convince it and other trade unions that such a demonstration should be held.
"Members of the trade union movement have worked tirelessly to highlight the harm being done by the austerity policies adopted by the current and previous governments," said Mr O'Reilly.
"We were extremely disappointed that a small minority of protesters saw fit to disrupt the address by Congress president, Eugene McGlone."
They would be seeking a meeting with groups involved in organising the march to ensure similar incidents did not occur in the future.
Mr O'Connor said that having looked at TV news coverage and speaking to other trade union officials he was satisfied Mr McGlone hadn't called for a general strike.
"I don't believe a general strike in Ireland would have any influence whatsoever on the troika," he said.
While public protests were an essential part of convicting the government to do things differently, he said he felt the union movement was some way off convincing the population in taking part in protests "of a significant scale".
Mr McGlone was unavailable for comment last night.