Unions threaten nationwide strikes
UNION leaders yesterday threatened to bring the country to a halt with a sustained campaign of national strikes.
They are drawing up plans for action across the public and private sector because, they claim, workers are being "battered into the ground".
Following a meeting of the executive council of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, union leaders representing 650,000 workers said they will be as aggressive as employers to prevent further pay cuts and job losses.
The move comes as the biggest public sector union IMPACT said it will ballot for industrial action before the end of the month.
IMPACT told its 60,000 members it was vital they overwhelmingly back industrial action if the Government tries to impose compulsory redundancies or further cuts in public service pay and pensions.
Unions representing state employees are gearing up to battle any Government attempt to implement proposals outlined in the An Bord Snip Nua report.
The Department of Finance may prefer a simpler approach of across-the-board pay cuts rather than implementing the numerous proposals put forward in the McCarthy report.
SIPTU General President Jack O'Connor said three rounds of social partnership talks with Government had "got us nowhere".
"We're going to have to develop a campaign of resistance which is equal to the aggression that is being waged against working people and I don't see that anything will be ruled out at this point in time, whatsoever," he said.
"Talking doesn't seem to be getting us anywhere. We have to do what we have to do to address the attack that working people are being subjected to while other people are off looking after shareholders and bondholders."
He said his union has a mandate from members earlier in the year to take action against employers who did not pay the national wage agreement.
He attacked Coca Cola, Marine Terminals, Mr Binman, Green Isle Foods and bosses at Our Lady's Manor Nursing Home in Longford for trying to grind workers into the ground.
ICTU General Secretary David Begg said the new campaign, which will be announced on September 30, would be a sustained campaign of action "because any one event will not change the Government's mind".
"We have decided to initiate a campaign to try and deal with the situation where, despite all the time we've given it, nothing has happened on the question of employment really," he said.
"The Government talks didn't come to anything and we're confronted with a situation where in at least five different disputes in the private sector, people are being treated in a way which is redolent of the earlier part of the last century."