Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999 01:06:46 -0400
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YorkU.CA>
P. K. Murphy <bi008@FREENET.TORONTO.ON.CA>
Subject: The Unemployed Workers' Group Ireland (Dublin and Wicklow)
(The Unemployed Workers Group here is a small group of people linked through our areas into a struggling anti-poverty social movement.)
Ireland, launching pad for multinational entry into European markets, has seen its economy grow phenomenally over the last 7 years. Budget surpluses in the last 2/3 years amount to over £ billion (Irish pounds). Expected budget surplus 1999 in the region of £5/6 billion.
At the same time, and in keeping with neo-liberal practice world-wide, we have witnessed continued cuts in social expenditure.(See 1998/99 UNDP Human Development Report: Ireland, bottom of poverty list with the exception of United States of North America) Since 1996 the welfare state has been targeted.
Under media camoflage of massive fraud (whereas in reality the state prosecutes approx 150 cases per year) The Welfare State is being pared-back. Simultaneously we have experienced a growth in low waged jobs - in recent years 174,000 jobs created pay only marginal tax relief. Meaning wages are so low little tax can be/is paid.
Now in recent months the Government programme of work mostly in areas not served by the Market has been targeted with cuts, and possibly, eventual elimination. Business organisations, not content with profits have been lobbying for both welfare cuts and cuts in social economy work so that their demand for cheap labour be met. In our areas, here in south Dublin, we experience significant poverty within close proximity of affluence and the lifestyles that go with it.
Presently trade unionists are arguing for more of our wealth to be paid to workers. Slowly community people, ‘grassroots’ people, anti-poverty people, struggling on the ground are fighting back against the direction the government and dominant interest are taking us. Community Employment cuts is one of these campaigns. We need the resources in our areas. We need these workers. Without the resources and the workers we would have little in terms of services.
What message do we have for those that wish to express solidarity for those expelled from a society where a decent life is not a dream?
Since, our health services began to be cut back in 1987 (and of course long before as our history, the history of working people, the history of poor people) we have experienced one message here: life is for the competitive, profit seeking, enterprising sector of humanity. We hear few other messages. Those who receive low pay for hard work or those in poverty or those condemned to live in the government ‘maintained’ ghettoes are seen as suffering some indefinable flaw that prevents us from acquiring wealth.
Our message is really a question, now that we are exploring this new medium: is there any other message out there, is there another way of living, is there a life and a society where welfare, justice and solidarity as opposed to profit, power and exploitation rule?