The Blanket

Death Walks Our Streets Again

Davy Carlin

As I pen this article I hear again of yet another murder of an innocent young man, a Catholic slaughtered at the dawn of his life by vicious sectarian scum. This after a series of events with both a Protestant and other Catholics targeted in a seemingly tit for tat scenario. Whatever the reasoning of those differing attacks all were wrong and offer nothing for working class people. The intensification of attacks in recent times in the North Belfast area have been reminiscent of past decades with the increase both in attacks and defensive actions by those wishing to defend their areas. This plays not only into the hands of their opposing tradition but will also continually cause ever increasing tensions between differing organizations in the areas which they occupy between them. Whatever the case as always the same economically deprived areas and their people will feel the brunt of it as once again death stalks their streets.

The article I set out to write was about the trade unions and in a way draws them into the debate on what can be done. Just before Xmas a series of strikes took place by bus workers in Belfast against nightly attacks on them. Several weeks later the Communications Workers Union (CWU) took action at the murder of their colleague Daniel McColgan which lead to mass action by working class people which for a while put those sectarian scum on the back foot. This has been followed by smaller almost largely unreported workers' actions in recent times resulting in the combined unions actions against low pay.

Whatever one thinks about trade unions and their past inactivity over fundamental issues, they can in fact be moved if the rank and file are prepared to put pressure in that direction. The fact that several unions in Britain having elected in recent times 'left wing' leaders is a reflection of growing discontent. Similarly the actions taken in the last several months in the North over various issues has shown that many can cut across the sectarian divide and stand together to attempt to bring gains for both working class communities.

Such recent actions has begun to re-vitalize many within the trade union movement not only in the North but around Britain and indeed Europe. Another factors of interest is the development of differing groups of workers lending solidarity and at time both co-ordination and co-operation of struggles. For example the airport workers picket had both the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) and the Northern Ireland Fire Brigades Union (FBU) banners amongst others in attendance to lend support to ATGWU members. We have also seen other workers in preparation for actions who are or have been balloted, such as the Belfast Telegraph workers with both the NUJ and the GPMU recently working closer together in various workplaces in the interest of their combined memberships. On top of this both the FBU and the ATGWU are working to firm up potential campaigns with other groups of workers working to rule or again preparing for further actions.

Many of these actions are over the issue of low pay and fairer conditions. These groups of workers are not asking for the earth just a decent pay rise which their relevant management have so far refused to do. The recent public workers strike has had huge public support as wider society understands the vital services they provide at miserable levels of pay. Management though in many of these disputes often argue that there is not enough money to grant a rise, yet for example while the Belfast Telegraph put a pay freeze on their workforce the owner of the Telegraph group made within it twenty one million pounds profit last year! Similarly those who employed the airport workers increased their profits by forty four per cent while refusing to give workers a decent wage. In the months ahead we shall see further actions in the North, Britain and in Europe for working peoples rights and what power they could hold for their reasonable demands if co-operation and co-ordination was Europe wide.

While working people take up the demand for fairer pay they are the make up of our society and should push for a society that reflects their wishes. Within the North in recent times homelessness has risen by twenty three percent with the gap between the rich and poor widening and sectarianism now increasing with it now bringing this recent murder. The trade union movement while fighting for workers' rights should intensify its fight for working class rights. That means taking on in practice that what it voices in ideas, it means dealing with the economic struggles but firming up the stance against sectarianism.

While politicians and community representatives will work to attempt to put a lid on this escalation in violent sectarianism, working people and the trade union movement should concretize their stance on sectarianism. Many concrete proposals have been forward on this issue so the trade union leaderships need to listen to the rank and file, to their members and not only implement measures but come to the forefront and condemn such murder. Let the trade union movement give a lead in such situations as for to long the working class are the people who have and do pay the price for those sectarian scum who walk our streets but kill in their own name.

 

 

 

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We can chart our future clearly and wisely only when we know the path which has led to the present.
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Index: Current Articles

25 July 2002

 

Other Articles From This Issue:

 

How the Peace Process Divided Ireland

Brendan O'Neill

 

Sisyphus

Anthony McIntyre

 

Death Walks Our Streets Again

Davy Carlin

 

Uninvited Guests Become Neighbours
Sam Bahour

 

Two Notices from Anti-Fascist Action, Ireland

 

Moving Along
Brian Mór

 

The Belleek Solution
Brian Mór

 

Moving Statue

Brian Mór

 

22 July 2002

 

Systemic Breakdown

Anthony McIntyre

 

Opportunity Knocks, or Not?

Davy Carlin

 

Nothing Left
Eoghan O'Suilleabhain

 

On Behalf of the Republican Peace Movement...
Brian Mór

 

Once Upon A Time

Brian Mór


Sorry, Shergar
Brian Mór

 

So Sorry It Hurts

Panopticon

 

 

 

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