OPINION: The Trade Union Movement must seize this opportunity!

Belfast IRSP member Joe Matthews gives a short article as to why following recent developments the TUM must take the opportunity we have now to fight back against Welfare Reform.


Last Saturday, workers from the leisure centres on the Lower Falls and Shankill held simultaneous protests against the continuing privatisation of these facilities that is inevitably leading to job losses, attack on workers conditions and higher costs for the public.  Following this a true show of working class solidarity was witnessed as both protests marched to the Northumberland Street ‘peace wall’ and together held a joint protest.  While this protest was organised with a specific issue at its heart, we must now ask questions of the Trade Union Movement, where is your fight against Welfare Reform?


With the Stormont circus now on intermission for whatever time they feel necessary, a break from the post Good Friday Agreement institutionalised sectarian politics gives the trade union movement the most opportune time to organise a mass opposition against Welfare Reform.


When it comes to Welfare Reform, the self-serving calculating politics of Stormont sometimes makes it confusing for many people to identify who the real enemy is. The ‘one for me-one for you’ political ethos and back room deals that are engaged by the mainstream Stormont parties combined with the ‘Sectarian Card’ that they are not afraid to use to divide both communities when it serves their selfish political purpose, makes it impossibly at times for the workers to manoeuvre around.


We have recently witnessed the real and destructive aspects of welfare reform. Only last week the IRSP were dealing with an attempted eviction of a young single mother in Divis, and sadly the HE successfully carried out an eviction in the Shankill under similar circumstances the week before. The economic attack on the working class has only just begun; the social and economic deprivation that blights are communities is only going to get worse.


The Trade Union Movement are now in the perfect position to organise against this economic terror on the working class without having to plot a course around the sectarian obstacles that surrounds institutionalised politics in the North. What was witnessed on Saturday is a clear example of what our class is capable of under the right guidance. The Tory government in Westminster are now directly implementing what Stormont was doing before, now we have a clear vision of whom and what the enemy is. The Trade Union Movement must now step it up a gear, seize the occasion, unite the workers and fight back!