International Trade Union Conference hears Workers Party condemn use of Agency Workers to Break Strikes

Yet a further erosion of workers right is being planned by the Conservative government.

The current restriction on employers hiring agency staff to replace striking staff is being considered by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps ahead of industrial action to be taken by rail staff, but would apply to all sectors.

The move has drawn strong opposition from trade unions including the RMT Union which represents transport and other workers.

It has also been criticised at an international trade union seminar organised by PAME in Athens this week to coincide with its Congress.

Addressing the seminar on behalf of the Workers Party trade union group, Lily Kerr, a lifelong trade unionist, said,” The British Government has stated that it is considering using agency workers to break strikes. This comes against a background where companies are refusing to honour collective bargaining agreements, governments do nothing to support the workers, and in many cases threaten anti-trade union legislation to support the monopolies”.

In the past number of months, we have seen P&O Ferries sack 800 workers without warning by Zoom, and employ agency staff at £1.80 an hour to replace them. University Staff are currently taking industrial action against cuts to staff, pay and pensions. Many public sector workers are taking industrial action because pay increases are not keeping pace with unprecedented levels of inflation”, she said.

“Every gain and achievement, every piece of legislation that granted even limited or modest forms of progress, social or economic rights, was fought for and won by workers themselves through vigorous struggle.

“We know that it is socialism which provides an alternative, a new social order which will bring about the emancipation of the working class and the peoples of the world. 

However, comrades, that does not mean that we can afford to, or indeed should, wait until the overthrow of this corrupt system, before we demand meaningful rights and social progress in the workplace and in wider society.”, added Lily.

Every gain and achievement has been fought for and won by workers themselves through vigorous struggle.

See Lily Kerr’s full speech here

Solidarity with Cuba

The Workers Party has expressed its deep condolences to the Communist Party of Cuba, the Cuban people and the friends and family of Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada who died at the end of April, aged 84.

Ricardo Alarcón was a heroic figure in revolutionary Cuba who took part in the 26 July Movement and was a former leader of the University Student Federation and the Union of Young Communists.

He also had a distinguished diplomatic and political career serving Cuba as
Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Minister of
Foreign Relations and as President of the National Assembly.

Ricardo Alarcón was also a leading figure in the fight to free the Five Cuban
heroes unjustly imprisoned in the US and to secure their return to their
homeland.

The passing of Ricardo Alarcón will be a great loss to socialist Cuba and its people and he will be remembered with respect and affection in Cuba and abroad.

The Workers Party has also taken this opportunity to convey our sympathy and condolences to the families and friends of those killed and injured following the gas explosion at the Saratoga Hotel, Havana, on Friday, 6 May.

We offer our solidarity to the Cuban people and to those workers dealing with
the consequences of this tragedy.

Joint letter spells out the harsh realities

The Workers Party’s six Assembly candidates have written a joint letter to the editors of Northern Ireland’s three daily newspapers questioning how the election results will change, for the better, the lives of working class people, the young, the old and the vulnerable.

Dear Editor,

The major parties and most of the media have hailed the outcome of the Assembly elections as one of major change. How have they come to that conclusion?

Exactly the same parties that were elected the last time have been returned this time. The same parties that, when they weren’t collapsing the Executive, were responsible for growing waiting lists, a lack of public housing, economic stagnation and pay cuts to public sector workers.

Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O’Neill even went as far as claiming that the election results were “…  a defining moment for our politics and for our people. Really?

Throughout the election campaign we made the point that, when the polls closed, the priorities for working class people would remain the cost of living, health, education and low pay. That certainly hasn’t changed.

Given the re-election of the same parties, and in most cases the same people, there seems little chance that it will.

The hype, the self-congratulations and the media circus will fade and the realities of the outcome will kick in. Twenty-four years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement we still have no Bill of Rights, we continue to educate our children separately, we have developed a low wage, part time, zero hours economy, our public services are run down, underfunded and fragmented and we are living with a mental health crisis.

The task of socialists and progressives must to continue to present the alternatives, stay on the backs of the new Executive, if one is ever formed, and hold them to account at every turn.

Eoin MacNeill, Nicola Grant, Hugh Scullion, Patrick Lynn, Patrick Crossan and Lily Kerr

Assembly now needs major reform

Later today the votes will be counted and the election results declared: but that doesn’t mean that we’ll have a working Assembly.

In the past four years we have seen the Executive collapsed twice, once by Sinn Fein for a period of three years and a few months ago by the DUP.

The structures established by the Good Friday Agreement have long since reached their sell by date. They are no longer fit for purpose and now stand in the way of effective develoved government.

The Assembly structures urgently need root and branch reform.

The starting point has to be getting rid of the sectarian and inoperable structures that the two main parties in particular continue to use, abuse and hide behind.

At a minimum, we need to move from mandatory to voluntary coalition, community designation requirements should be abolished and the Petition of Concern reformed to ensure that it can never again be used to veto social or equality legislation.

We cannot endure another five years of stop / start government. Immediate and far reaching reform is the only way in which a new Assembly can function effectively.

Make change tomorrow… Friday will be too late

In a joint eve of poll statement, Workers Party candidates in six constituencies have urged voters to focus on what is important to them, not what the main parties try to tell them is important.

“When we all wake up on Friday morning the issues that will be affecting our lives won’t be a Border Poll, the Protocol, Flags, Culture Wars or who the First Minister is.

It will be the Cost of Living, the Health Service, Housing, Education, Low Pay and the Environment.”, they said.

“What difference will it make to a family facing a daily dilemma of heat or eat, who the First Minster is?

What difference will it make to people living in chronic poverty, poor housing, or even no housing?

What difference will it make to young mothers desperately wanting to work but not being able to find or afford child care?”, they asked.

What difference will a Border Poll make – win, lose or draw –  to a young student unable to go to university, a teenager unable to secure an apprenticeship or a family with no heat and little food? Absolutely none”, they said

“Thursday is the day that change can be made. Friday will be too late. 

Only the Workers Party offers the socialist alternative to dysfunctional government, sectarianism and self interest and offers real hope for radical change in this society.”, they said 

May Day 2022

Ever since 1868, the 1st of May has been recognised and celebrated as International Workers Day. 

Never has it been more important to re-assert that declaration. Today working people’s quality of life is being eroded, their access to services is reduced, secure, well-paid employment is unavailable for many, employment rights are being torn up and pay and conditions are under attack.

Now, more than ever, working people need a Workers Party to represent them, defend them and help radically change the system which exploits them.

Yesterday, the Workers Party had the biggest representation of any political party at Belfast’s May Day parade. That was a statement of intent and a public commitment to the struggle for class politics.

There was no formal presence at the May Day parade from any of the ‘big five’ Executive parties. Less than a week before an election that will shape the lives of thousands of working people, pensioners and children they demonstrated that their priorities are not with the working class, with the trade union movement or with anything other than the sectarian carve up and the division of this society in their own interests. 

On Thursday May 5th, the ballot box gives working class people an opportunity to pass judgement on them and to vote for a socialist alternative.

Workers Party Candidates Launch Socialist Manifesto

The Workers Party is standing candidates in six constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections

The standout headline in the Workers Party Assembly Election (NI) Manifesto is that, on the morning after polling day, the priorities for people across Northern Ireland will be the Cost of Living, the Health Service, Housing. Education, Low Pay and the Environment – NOT a Border Poll, the Protocol, Flags, Culture Wars or who the First Minister is.

The Party’s uncompromisingly socialist manifesto sets out the political, social and economic priorities for working class people and highlights the repeated failures of successive Stormont Executives and of the five main parties.

The manifesto calls for a root and branch reform of the Assembly structures including a move away from mandatory co-alition, the abolition of community designation and the reform of the Petition of Concern, as pre-requisites for the start of the new Assembly.

The Party also calls for the introduction of a a range of measures deliberately ignored since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, including a Bill of Rights, an Integrated and Secular Education system, an Anti-Poverty Strategy, a viable Economic Plan and a Job Creation Strategy.  

In a joint statement marking the manifesto launch the Party’s six Assembly candidates said ,

“What difference will it make to a family facing a daily dilemma of heat or eat, who the First Minster is? What difference will it make to people living in chronic poverty, poor housing, or even no housing?

What difference will it make to young mothers desperately wanting to work but not being able to find or afford childcare?

What difference will a Border Poll make – win, lose or draw –   to a young student unable to go to university, a teenager unable to secure an apprenticeship or a family with no heat and little food? Absolutely none!

Thousands of people – many of them with jobs– are  living on or below the poverty line.

Low-pay and precarious employment, the dismantling of work-place rights, the privatisation of public assets and restrictions on trade union freedom, compound and intensify those problems. Children go hungry, homes go unheated.

The other parties want this election to be a sectarian headcount. They want it to be about the Protocol and a Border Poll. Of course they do, because it shifts attention away from what really matters in our lives.

In this election the Workers Party is prioritising, unapologetically, these issues and presenting the socialist alternative to misery, poverty, social exclusion and second class citizenship.

WORKERS PARTY ASSEMBLY ELECTION MANIFESTO 2022

Click below for the full Workers Party Assembly Election Manifesto 2022

Workers Party stands candidates in six constituencies

The Workers Party will be standing candidates in six constituencies in next month’s Assembly elections

The election campaign is being fought in the face of the worst cost of living crisis in decades, and all that that means for working class people and their families.

That crisis has been made worse, and contributed to, by the dysfunctional Stormont Executive. A Stormont Executive that has failed, failed and is set to fail again.

With families, the vulnerable and the elderly particularly affected, the main political parties have, yet again, put their own interests ahead of the community and working people.

Only the Workers Party candidates will be presenting a radical socialist alternative to the electorate

On Friday the 6th of May – the day after polling day – we will all be confronted by a number of issues that will fundamentally affect all our lives, the lives of our families our children our neighbours and our friends:

And they won’t be: A Border Poll, the Protocol, Flags, Culture Wars or Community Identity

The issues facing the vast majority of people and particularly working class families will be the Cost of Living, the Health ServiceHousingEducationLow Pay and the Environment

If golf clubs can receive cash subsidies and businesses be supported to the tune of over £22 billion then working-class people, families, single parents, the elderly and the vulnerable can also be provided for.

This election gives the opportunity to re-write the political script in favour of working-class people and their needs.

The Workers Party, the party for working class people, provides that platform

The Party’s Candidates

North Belfast Lily Kerr

South Belfast Patrick Lynn

East Belfast Eoin MacNeill

West Belfast Patrick Crossan

Mid Ulster Hugh Scullion

Newry & Armagh Nicola Grant

‘The Class Politics of Poverty’: Workers Party’s Northern Ireland Conference

Criticism of the Stormont Executive, and its repeated failure to deliver for working class people, was a recurring theme at the Workers Party’s annual Northern Ireland conference .

Conference discussed the worst cost of living crisis in decades, the impact it is having on working class people and their families and how that has been made worse by a dysfunctional Stormont Executive. which has failed, failed and is set to fail again.

“With families, the vulnerable and the elderly particularly affected, the main political parties have, yet again, put their own sectional and sectarian interests ahead of the community”.

CONFERENCE QUOTE

Confernece presentations included papers on Poverty Facts and FiguresWomen and Poverty, Mental Helath and Poverty, Child Poverty the Class Nature of Poverty, Food Banks and Poverty and The Failures of the Stormont Executive .

The conference was also addressed by guest speaker Pastor Tony Meehan of the West Belfast Food Bank and by the Workers Party President Cllr Ted Ted Tynan.

Members also discussed the recent sackings of P&O ferry workers by parent company Dubai Port World and extened solidarity to Unite the Union workers currently engaged in industrial action in pursuit of a just pay settlemernt and to staff at Ulster and Queens Universities in dispute over pensions and terms and conditions.

The conference in pictures and quotes:

Commemorating the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement

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A commemorative plaque marking the achievements and the founding of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights movement has been unveiled in Belfast. The event also coincided with the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday ( see below).

The history of the struggle for civil rights has been re-written, distorted and deliberately misrepresented almost since it began.

The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) set out to reform and democratise Northern Ireland – not to overthrow it. In doing so its programme was also revolutionary in that it would fundamentally change the nature of the state.

NICRA’s five basic demands were

  • To defend the basic freedoms of all citizens
  • To protect the rights of the individual
  • To highlight all possible abuses of power
  • To demand guarantees for freedom of speech, assembly and association
  • To inform the public of their lawful rights.

Despite the often medieval responses and oppressive reactions to the the civil rights campaign by the then Stormont government many of thr early demands had been conceded by the early 1970’s.

Among the civil rights demands that were introduced were the establishment of the Housing Executive and the fair allocation of public housing, universal franchise – ‘One Man One Vote’ – and the end of multiple votes for business owners, the disbanding of the Special Constabulary (B Specials) and the disarming of the police.

Had the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, and other progressive forces, been allowed to pursue their legitimate demands, then those who engaged in the bloody and unnecessary carnage inflicted over three decades could never have hijacked the issue of civil rights as a pretext to justify their despicable and unjustifiable campaign of terror.

Thousands of lives were lost as was the opportunity for a united approach to tackling the social injustices of our society.

NICRA won many reforms but the fundamental change required to bring about real equality has yet to be realised.

That can only come with the creation of a new future, based on a united working class, a bill of rights that rejects sectarianism and racism and that builds a democratic, secular and socialist society.

The commemorative plaque is located at Commercial Court off Lr. Donegal Street in Belfast city centre

Picture: Professor Patrick Murphy and Deirdre O’Doherty unveil the commemorative plaque at Commercial Court, Donegall Street, Belfast. Looking on is Marian Donnelly, former President of the Workers Party and Secretary of the South Derry Civil Rights Association in the late 1960s

50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday

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Today marks the 50th anniversary of the deaths of 13 people at a civil rights march in Derry.

The events of that day are now well known. 13 people were murdered in cold blood by members of the Parachute Regiment, a 14th person died later from his injuries. Many were wounded and others arrested. This was a brutal military effort to repress a peaceful campaign for civil and democratic rights.

It was no accident. It was planned and deliberate. The government could deal with violence but it could not countenance peaceful and united mass democratic action. 

50 years on the Workers Party remembers the massacre at Derry and all those innocent people who were murdered and injured. They have waited a long time for justice but their names will stand as a memorial to the struggle for civil and democratic rights.

Marian Donnelly, a Workers Party stalwart and veteran of the civil rights movement, who was present at the Derry march that terrible day, believes that the struggle for civil rights was a mass struggle and that its legacy continues in those whose ongoing fight for social progress and peace is based on the unity of the working class, free from the taint of sectarianism and confident in their own future.  That remains the political goal of our times.

Our thoughts today are with the families and friends of those who were murdered and with all those across the world who continue to struggle for civil and democratic rights.

The background and the context to Bloody Sunday: