Labour given Siptu backing
The country’s largest trade union has called on its members to vote for Labour and parties “that support principles of social solidarity” in the forthcoming general election.
Siptu said the commitment by Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore to legislate for the right of all workers to collective bargaining if involved in the next government and the importance for working people of a strong left wing component in any future Coalition strongly influenced its national executive council to make this recommendation.
The union has about 200,000 members. Mr Gilmore is a former Siptu official.
Earlier this week, the president of Siptu and of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Jack O’Connor as well as Congress general secretary David Begg urged union members to use the general election “to elect a Government that cares more about the citizens of the country than about bond markets and big business”.
They said the key issue for workers, the unemployed and those who depend on public services was “who is going into Government not who is going to be in opposition”.
“The bottom line is that we need people, not just in Dáil Éireann but actually in Government, who care about workers and who will strive to protect our interests in the difficult times which most certainly lie ahead,” they said.
Socialist Party MEP Joe Higgins criticised Siptu's decision. He said the Labour leadership were clearly intent on going into government with Fine Gael and that both were committed to further cuts and tax hikes.
"They are at best silent on the key industrial disputes that have taken place or pose themselves as neither on the side of workers or employers which is no position for a party that calls itself ‘Labour’ to take," he said.
Fianna Fáil TD for Laois-Offaly Seán Fleming said he was surprised by Siptu's call for support. ""This endorsement clearly ignores the Fine Gael commitment, Labour's self-expressed only potential coalition partner, to cut the cost of the public sector by 10 per cent by cutting 30,000 jobs."