SIPTU General President, Jack O’Connor, has urged all union members to participate in a national “Day of Action against Austerity” on Saturday, 9th February, which is being organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. In a letter to all SIPTU members, Jack O’Connor, said: “It is now five years since we were promised ‘long term gain for short term pain’. Since then the one sided austerity strategy has inflicted a great deal of misery but resulted in little progress. This failed policy should have been abandoned long ago. We must adopt a ‘New Course’. Reducing unemployment rather than jobs, pay and welfare, is the way forward. “A deal to restructure the crippling burden of banking debt is absolutely critical to progress. Otherwise we will have to seek another ‘Bailout’. This must be avoided at all costs. It would condemn us to another long period of one sided austerity with the EU/ECB/IMF Troika dictating the dismantlement of the remainder of our social infrastructure to pay off banking debts that should never have been incurred.” The letter goes on to call for action on Ireland’s bank debt burden during the country’s presidency of the EU over the next six months and a major domestic stimulus initiative by the Government to promote jobs and growth. Jack O’Connor concluded: “Simultaneously, we must also insist on a proper contribution from the better off. A start could be made by implementing this year the abolition of tax relief on pension contributions for high earners, which was announced in the budget, instead of in 2014. Making it effective from 1st July 2013 the Government would generate €125m which could be used to alleviate the impact of cuts on lower to middle income families. There is a better, fairer way to restore our economy and protect our communities.” The ICTU ‘Day of Action’ protest will be held on Saturday, 9th February with marches taking place in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Sligo and Waterford. Further details to follow.