Union leaders in rallying call for mass protest
TRADE union leaders yesterday warned the Government it "has no mandate" to sign off on the four-year plan as it urged people to take to the streets tomorrow.
Gathered just yards from where 'Big' Jim Larkin gave his great speech during the Dublin lockout in 1913, leaders of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) spoke of the importance of a mass demonstration it has organised in Dublin city centre from noon.
This was the people's last chance to have their voices heard ahead of the €6bn Budget, they said at press conference -- held against a backdrop image of the GPO during the 1916 Rising -- inside the Gresham Hotel, Dublin.
"They rallied against injustice, inequality and servitude," it said in bold letters at the top of the picture. "Now is your chance to speak out.
"The greed of a few has got us into the mess we're in and ordinary citizens are paying the price. But history can repeat itself."
After lambasting the cuts in the minimum wage cuts and dole, the union leaders faced questioning about their own earnings.
Only SIPTU general president Jack O'Connor answered, saying he was on around €112,000 following a 10pc pay cut and a 20pc cut in his pension. Mr O'Connor backed calls for a general election, claiming it was "abundantly clear" the Government had no right to sign off on a plan as controversial as Wednesday's blueprint for recovery.
ICTU general secretary David Begg predicted that around 90,000 jobs would be lost as a result of the cutbacks in the plan.
Mr Begg added that he did not believe the march would be violent and emphasised that 200 stewards would oversee the "family-friendly" event that would also have entertainment and music.
Mr Begg also said a campaign of civil disobedience which had been threatened by the engineering union TEEU would not necessarily mean "rioting on the streets". It could take the more passive form of people refusing to pay their bills, he said.