Address by Jack O’Connor, General President SIPTU To The SIPTU Biennial Delegate Conference Monday 7th October 2013  Vice President, Distinguished Guests, Delegates, Comrades and Friends, Welcome to this historic room for Biennial Delegate Conference 2013, which marks the Centenary of the seminal moment in the story of the working class in this City and on this Island – which appropriately coincides with the World Day of Decent Work. In the streets hereabouts, one hundred years ago, the Employers of Dublin, aided by the Police, the Media, the Political Elite and the established Churches, tried to batter their fellow citizens, the working people, into submission over six cruel and excruciating months. They set out to deny them any say in the shape of the Ireland that was to follow Home Rule, by suppressing their fundamental right to Freedom of Association, which they chose to exercise by organising into Jim Larkin’s incipient Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union. Both sides correctly saw in this new Union a vehicle by means of which the working people of this beleaguered Island, the most detested downtrodden in all the British Empire, would challenge the hegemony of those at the top of society and would articulate a vision of an egalitarian equal Ireland. But the fumblers in the greasy tills were determined to extinguish that and they ruthlessly employed every weapon at their disposal to do it even to the extent of starving thousands of innocent little children to the point of death, while at the same time paying homage to their God. Despite it all, despite the absolute superiority they enjoyed from every possible perspective they failed. They failed to smash the Union, and by your presence here tonight, as the democratically appointed representatives of almost 200,000 workers and their families, you are bearing witness to their failure. I want to thank you all and through you all the members of our Union who have stood together throughout the last five terrible years. In particular I want to thank all those who have served as Shop Stewards, Workplace Representatives and Organisers in one role or another during this very difficult period. I want to thank all who are employed in our Organisation who have worked hard throughout. I also want to acknowledge all those down the years through whose efforts our Union has remained a force for Fairness at Work and Justice in our society. The resistance in 1913 was indeed heroic, in every street, in every tenement in virtually every miserably overcrowded room. Remarkably not only did union members defy the demand to sign William Martin Murphy’s pledge, that they would not organise in the ITGWU, but tens of thousands of others who were not members at all refused to sign – insisting on reserving their fundament alright toFreedom of Association. It was a splendid  demonstration of working class solidarity exemplifying all that is best in the human spirit. Over the intervening years it became fashionable to depict that heroic resistance, insofar as it was acknowledged a tall, as some kind of opening salvo in a decade of rebellion which resulted in Nationalist Ireland finally evicting the British oppressor from this jurisdiction at least. And yes, that great struggle did go on to inform and perhaps even shape the character of the1916 Rebellion, through the role of Connolly and the Irish Citizen Army, but it was about something far, far greater. It was part of a wider egalitarian Movement which saw the mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of workers across the UK and the developed world in the years between 1910 and 1914. It was a period, for example, which saw the number of workers involved in strikes in Britain soar to 515,000 in 1910, 962,000 in 1911 and 1.5 million in 1912. This was not simply an intensification of industrial battles around pay and conditions of employment -although it certainly was that. It was also informed by a grander aspiration, enlightened by the new Unionists of the 1880s, whichextended to notions of a decent life, access to education, to healthcare, to proper housing and even a say in the architecture of the future. It was characterised by the participation for the first time, although not exclusively, of unskilled workers such as Carters, Dockers, Servants and others. Far from the classic simplistic Irish versus the British oppressor portrayal, the entire project in all its barbaric brutality was entirely conceived, planned and executed by Irishmen against their fellow citizens. Indeed it was only thanks to the solidarity of British workers organised under the banner of the TUC who contributed the equivalent of £16m in today’s money, that the workers of Dublin managed to survive as long as they did. It was not a General Strike either as some insist on representing it. It was a Lockout. A savage, unbridled onslaught, on the poor of the City, by the Employers and the rich. Padraig Yeates in his excellent book “A City in Wartime” captured it perfectly thus: “The Great Lockout of 1913 had been far more than an industrial dispute: it had been a political contest, a public debate played out as street theatre –much of it bloody – about the tyre of society people wanted under home rule. On one side had been the new Irish ruling class in waiting, Catholic, conservative and grasping; on the other had been a loose coalition of socialists, suffragists, trade unionists and radical nationalists who had varying visions of a more democratic, outward-looking and secular society”. So there it is. The onslaught was not really about an industrial dispute at all. What William Martin Murphy and his contemporaries were really about was ensuring that what they referred to as “the rabble” would have no vehicle by means of which to articulate a say in the future of Home Rule Ireland. That’s why they deliberately and ruthlessly set out to crush the working people’s Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union. Indeed they revealed their real agenda two years earlier in 1911 when Murphy and the Irish Parliamentary Party which held the balance of power in Westminster successfully secured the exclusion of Ireland from the Health and Unemployment benefit aspects of Lloyd George’s National Insurance Act. The great battle which unfolded in the streets hereabouts exactly 100 years ago was a confrontation between irreconcilable visions of the future of the world. It was fought out during an extraordinary moment in human history in the long shadow of the Great Depression of 1873 to 1896 and during the countdown to the First World War. We too are living through one such extraordinary moment – one which will determine the shape of things for years and decades to come. More than five years since the most dramatic and systemic collapse of the capitalist economic system since the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and despite some recent indications of nascent recovery, the future remains far from certain. These days it is popular to represent that collapse in terms of the result of the actions of a handful of greedy bankers who grossly overstretched themselves aided and abetted by some corruptor incompetent Politicians. This is to limit the blame to the misdemeanours of a few, thus exonerating the system itself so that it can trundle on regardless. The roots of the crisis lay in the systemic outsourcing of ever increasing proportions of productive capacity in the USA and elsewhere in the Developed World in pursuit of lower labour costs. This saw the collapse of the real purchasing power of the American Middle Class through the suppression of Trade Unions and the demise of Collective Bargaining which was camouflaged by what ultimately became the credit bubble. It was followed by the development of financial alchemy through the Financial Services Industry which accounted for ever growing proportions of GDP in Western Economies without actually making anything. All of it was underpinned by blind faith in the myth of the Market. There are indeed people who should serve long terms in jail for what they did, but jailing them will not fix the fundamental contradictions of the free reign of unbridled free market capitalism. The response dictated by those same players at the top of the Global Financial system has been exclusively designed in the image of their interests. It has been especially so in Europe where the Authorities in Germany and the other creditor nations have engaged in a complex and deadly juggling act designed to ensure that their own pivotal Banks avoid crystallising the massive losses incurred as a result of reckless lending to the peripheral Countries (including our own) during the bubble years. This would impose the dramatic burden of recapitalisation on their own domestic populations, with awesome political consequences for the elite, (if it didn’t torpedo the financial system altogether). Consequently we in this Country and others were bullied (or conned) into socialising private debt and embracing servicing costs on a scale which will drain economic and social potential for decades to come. Back in 2009 and 2010 one sided austerity was promoted relentlessly as the “there is no alternative” remedy, on the pretext that it was based on comprehensive and unchallengeable historical analysis. Better still, it was asserted with equal vigour that the key to success was doing it through cutting spending as distinct from increasing the tax take from the better off. In other words by robbing the poor, while insulating the rich as far as possible. We now know differently. One sided austerity is not a scientifically basedconclusion at all. It’s all codswallop! Indeed no less an authority than theIMF challenged the whole edifice in a detailed study earlier this year which concluded that the negative multiplier effect of fiscal austerity on stressed economies had been grossly underestimated. Actually it is simply a device for asserting the interests of creditors over debtors. The juggernaut rolls on because it retains its only fundamental attribute – which is that it coincides exactly with the interests of the rich. These days all the establishment pundits and economic commentators are heralding the “end of the Recession” and the British Tory Press is absolutely gloating in praise of Osbourne’s brutal fiscal strategy. They may be crowing a bit prematurely. Yes, the 2ndquarter results do indicate 0.7% growth in the UK after a long period of austerity induced stagnation, as well as a slight reduction in unemployment. The Eurozone also finally recorded a limp 0.3% growth after six consecutive quarters of decline. We do not know how things will unfold, but what we do know is that the remorselessly driven one sided austerity strategy has threatened to capsize the Eurozone and that it has condemned millions of citizens to unemployment, forced emigration and misery, especially among the young, on a scale not seen in Europe since the 1950s. It is difficult to envisage how the stressed countries of the periphery can hope to regain the momentum to offer the hope and opportunity of sustainable jobs to their young people, while burdened by unsustainable levels of debt and in the absence of a major fiscal initiative at European level, to stimulate growth and recovery. Unless there is a marked shift in policy in Berlin and in Brussels, the outlook for these countries and particularly for their young working class  citizens, as well as the old and infirm who depend most on public services, must remain precarious. Itis as if the future of the peoples of Europe and indeed wider humanity standsuspended over the edge of a precipice, balanced precariously on thecommitments of the ECB and unprecedented injections of quantitative easing bythe US Fed, running at $85bn per month. Thecentral strategy of the people at the top of the European Financial andPolitical Establishment is aimed at persuading those corporate interests whoare warehousing trillions of euros, to invest again. In this regard, theinsistence on bargain basement sell offs of state industries and privatising publicprovision isn’t just about sovereign debt reduction, it’s also about providingsafe avenues for corporate investment. But the key ingredient of the internaldevaluation strategy is, as always, what they call Labour Market Reform – inother words – driving down the price of labour by attacking collective bargainingstructures and peoples’ rights at work. Amidst all this the much vaunted notionof Social Europe has been sidelined. Thus, we see even in Germany thedevelopment of an ever increasing underclass of working poor. TheEurozone is an entity with a single currency governed by the most neo-liberallyconstructed Central Bank in the World, which has no responsibility for anythingother than preserving the value of money. Consequently there is little prospectof the erosion of debt relative to GDP through inflation, which means that thepopulations of several countries are burdened with life sapping reparations inperpetuity. Thethreat to the survival of the very fabric of post war democracy has not goneaway. Indeed the ugly spectre of forces which many had considered consigned tothe dustbin of history are re-emerging to stalk the landscape of Europe withthe irrepulsive concoction of racial scapegoating and simplistic snakeoil solutions. Lookat the Netherlands today where the anti-immigrant so called Freedom Party ofGeert Wilders is commanding more support than any other in the latest opinionpolls – or at the progress of the openly Fascist Golden Dawn Movement inGreece, now striving to ferment a civil war in that Country, registering as thethird largest political force. These forces are gaining momentum in severalCountries, prospering in the hopeless ness which is directly attributable tothe brutal one sided austerity policy. Hereon this Island both jurisdictions are going through experiments in one sided austerity.The one imposed by the Tory/Lib Dem Government in the UK and the otherresulting from the ECB/EU/IMF Troika “Agreement”. Theslashing of the block grant to Northern Ireland by £4bn over 4 years, as partof the UK Government’s plan to save £80bn is aggravating decline and destroyingjobs. Youth unemployment now stands at 25%. The 80%:20% spending to tax ratioof their adjustment, which insulates the rich, translates into the so calledSocial Welfare reforms and privatisation of public services. This meansadditional misery for the working poor and those most dependent on publicprovision. The implications for the maintenance of intercommunal harmony andconsolidating the Peace Process seems to register well down the ranking in theorder of priorities of the UK Government. And we are scheduled to receive adetailed report on the situation there prior to the debate on Wednesdayafternoon. Sincethe collapse of 2008, budgetary consolidation in this Republic has amounted to€28bn or 18% of GDP – all to cut the fiscal deficit by a mere €6bn. Meanwhilethe domestic economy, which contributes a massive 74% to GDP has fallen by 24%and is still plummeting. It is hard to imagine a more painful route towardssuch a meagre outcome. EvenProfessor Asoka Mody, the original architect of the IMF in the development ofthe Austerity Programme here, has recanted in the light of the overwhelmingevidence of the damage itis doing. Of course, his empirically based conclusionshave been rubbished by the purveyors of the hair shirt now that he is goneoff-script. Allof which brings us to Budget 2014. In this regard it is worth noting that weare now arriving at the point where state revenue will almost equal the cost ofall our public services. Government borrowing after 2014 will be entirely forthe purpose of servicing debt. Next year it will amount to €8.48bn or an estimated4.9% of GDP, (about twice the Public Capital Programme of developed Countries)and more than one-fifth of total tax revenue. About40% of the debt is attributable to the dreadful decision of 29th September 2008to socialise the recklessly incurred debts of those at the top of our bankingsystem. This poses the question as to whether we should repudiate the debt andunilaterally default on it. Wehave considered calling for it but we do not think it would be wise to do so ina Country which is now so integrated into the Eurozone and which depends on FDIfor 50% of its manufacturing employment and 96% of its total exports. The timeto avoid the banking debt burden was by refusing to ratify the guarantee on themorning of 30th September2008 but unfortunately it was opposed by only onepolitical party in the Oireachtas – The Labour Party – on that fateful day. Theproblem with default is that it could become a one way ticket to the Stone Age!We may yet have to do it but it would be better to wait for a restructuring ofdebt at European level. It may take a while yet, but it will come when thechickens of the current policy come flocking home to roost on the order booksof German manufacturers. Allthat being said the Promissory Note Deal means that the Government does havesome flexibility on the scale o fthe “adjustment” for the first time since itwas elected. . We are totally opposed to doing one cent more than the absoluteminimum required to achieve the 5.1% deficit target for 2014. The objectivemust be to find the best and most painless route to the 3% deficit by 2015 Thefact of the matter is that if we are to achieve it, our GDP must grow to morethan €181bn by then from a projected €168bn this year – entailing cumulativenormal growth of 5.3% over the period. This cannot be done unless we stopsuffocating domestic demand which accounts for three quarter of the economy andwhich remains in free-fall due to austerity policies. TheGovernment must follow through by immediately leveraging the €6bn plusStrategic Investment Fund money and anymore that can be found, into the economyas rapidly as possible to provide social infrastructure and to enhanceproductivity and competitiveness for the future. We have been calling for thissince Mayday 2011. This is the way to meet the target and it is also the way togenerate tens of thousands of jobs and to alleviate the misery being endured inour society. Otherwise,as to the distribution of the adjustment itself, we call on the Fine Gael Partyto lift their veto on a tax contribution from the rich so that the biggestelement would be funded entirely by those who can most afford it. The publictolerance for austerity has passed breaking point. TheNevin Institute has clearly laid out how an additional €1.65bn can becontributed by the better off over two budgets without either increasing themarginal rate of personal taxation or the standard rate of Corporation Tax. Ifthey insist on over egging the pudding to impress the financial markets, thereis another way to stimulate domestic demand and that is by substantiallyincreasing pay. Yes, significant pay increases against the background of fiveyears of restraint would actually help the economy considerably. Indeed thiswas one of the inconvenient truths ignored by the Austerity junkies back in2009 when they were citing our emergence from the 1980s recession as supportfor the absurd “expansionary fiscal contraction” rubbish that we don’t hearvery much about nowadays. Theaverage industrial wage rose by14% between ’86 and ’89 contributingsignificantly to the recover (along with a number of other factors) by boostingGovernment revenue and private consumption. A rise in real earnings need notdramatically affect the Country’s export competitiveness. Already, Ireland’sreal effective exchange rates (deflated by consumer prices) has fallen by 17%relative to our trading partners since peaking in Spring 2008 (Source: CentralBank). Thereforeif the adjustment exceeds the 5.1% target we will propose that the PrivateSector Committee of Congress should spearhead a radical new drive for payincreases across the economy. Theresponse of the Trade Union Movement in today’s crisis is often comparednegatively with the heroism of1913. It’s worth pointing out that although therewere numerous sympathetic actions, what took place then was nota General Strike– it was the exact opposite – a General Lockout designed to exterminate thenascent Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union. TheWorkers’ were given no alternative to negotiate an Agreement of any kind. Andthere was one other crucially important ingredient – our people had nothing tolose – absolutely nothing to lose. Today,thanks to them and to countless battles over the intervening years, mostworking people still have a very great deal to lose – even notwithstanding theamount of ground which has been conceded over the past few years. And thus farat least we have had alternatives – even if they are bad alternatives. Westill have the option of going all out in one great pitched battle. We certainlycould give a good account of ourselves if all the elements of our disparate Movementpulled together. But would it ultimately take our people to a better place?Remember it’s not just our own employers and the Government, which incidentallyis democratically elected, that we would be confronting – but the Troika aswell. Theseare utterly ruthless people who have already demonstrated in Greece that theyare quite prepared to let the democratic system collapse to achieve theirobjectives. No-one can say with certainty what the outcome would be – and wemay still have to do it, because this crisis is far from over. But there are noeach way bets in class warfare – it’s winner takes all. This was the bitterlesson learned by our comrades in Britain when some of them staked all in aonce off pitched confrontation during the so called “winter of discontent” in1978/79. They ended up with eighteen uninterrupted years of Thatcherism fortheir trouble – which saw the reversal of a major proportion of the gains madeby the Labour and Trade Union Movement there since the 2nd World War. Thereis more than one way of fighting a war. It’s like being accosted by a band ofarmed robbers on a remote Country road on a dark, wet, winter’s night,demanding your car on pain of your life. You can mix it with them in the hopeof overcoming them or give them the car and suffer the misery of carrying on -on foot. You can get another car but you can’t get your life back. No-one couldreasonably accuse anyone of being unprincipled for making such a decision. Ifit’s not possible to storm the ramparts of the other side without exposing theMen, Women and Children on our own side to unsustainable risk, we must opt forthe next best option. This entails adopting a rear-guard strategy –erectingsuch fortifications as we can and organising behind them to hold as much groundas possible. Meanwhile we fight where we can win. Indeed we, in this Union,have sanctioned industrial action in almost 40 instances over the last twoyears. In this regard I want to make it absolutely clear that members who makedemocratic decisions by secret ballot vote to take action in defence ofexisting Agreements or to advance their interests will receive our absolute andfullest support. Similarly we have been engaged in almost 30separate groundcampaigns on a whole range of social justice issues over the same period. Theessential fortifications we have been involved in building are: TheProtocol with the Employers in the Private Sector. The Croke Park andHaddington Road Agreements in the Public Service 3. And doing everything wecould to head off a single Party monopoly Fine Gael Government (or worse, onedependent on a handful of Right Wing Independents) Inthis latter regard some people say that this Government is the same as a FineGael Government or worse. Well look at that Party’s Election Manifesto. Look attheir plan to effect the adjustment on a 73%:27% spending to taxation ratio by2014(not 2015). That would have meant well in excess of €1.2bn in additionalcuts thus far. Andlook their plan for the legal mechanisms that protected the pay and conditionsof over 200,000 workers and which serve as the threshold of decency for theentire workforce. Do we seriously think that such a Government would enactlegislation to put them back in place after they had been stuck down by theHigh Court? No, they would not – indeed they would have dismantled them in thefirst place. Andlook at their New Era policy where they planned to sell off all our StateEnterprises, our Airports, Ports and Harbours which are critical to theresurgence of our economy? Inthe public Transport Sector we are faced with a battle to head off of tenderingout of 10% of bus routes. But we would have a different problem with such agovernment – because the Fine Gael Manifesto said: “ We will completelyoverhaul the bus market in Ireland by introducing competitive tendering for allbus routes in the Country as soon as practicably possible”. Anddoes anybody seriously think that the Programme for Government would includeacommitment to legislate for Collective Bargaining Rights – 1913 Centenary or not? Peoplesay these things would never happen – well they would and worse – because inthe event of such an outcome the moderate wing of the Fine Gael Party wouldbeside-lined. Thepolitical right across the World has long since learned how to concentrate miseryon the poor, the people who work in the Public Service and the lower paidworkers – a large minority, granted – but a minority nonetheless, thus preservinga permanent electoral majority for themselves. Lookfor example at how Cameron, Clegg and Osbourne are driving their austerityagenda on an 80%:20% ratio which is now moving to 85%:15%. Atthe endof the day, Delegates, unpopular and all as it is to say it, it comesdown to the distinction between making noise and making a difference! TheLabour Party is defending working people and civil society within thisGovernment to the limits of their electoral mandate. They are battling at thevery gates of hell, outnumbered by more than two to one and against thebackground of the straightjacket of the Troika Agreement. This is not apparentto people, but unless those of us who know it have the courage to say it thereis a real danger that we will end up with a Government that will dismantle thecore gains of a century of Trade Union work. Doesthat mean that this is what we expected when we recommended a vote for Labourand transfers to the other parties on the Left? No! But the electorate chosedifferently. Does it mean that we regard the Government’s Budgets to date asfair – no we most certainly do not! But neither do we subscribe to the simplistic- “It’s all Labour’s fault” analysis – because it ignores the elephant in theroom – the inconvenient truth that 60% of those who went out to vote in thelast election voted for Fine Gael and Fianna Fail and the others who guaranteedthe rich that they would be required to contribute little or nothing – and thatbased on the current opinion polls if there were an election in the morningthose people would still command an absolute majority in the next Dáil. Wedo not indulge in describing the Sinn Fein Party’s economic policies as“fantasy economics” either. They are not fantasy economics. They areincreasingly largely consistent with the analysis of the Nevin Institute.Neither do we challenge the integrity of the people further to the Left. But wedo respectfully argue that there is a poverty of ambition on the Left. It’s notsufficient to vie for leadership of the Opposition. TheLeft has a responsibility to embrace the lessons of history and to build aunified, cohesive and credible alternative that faces the hard choices tochallenge the outlook and value system that has been dominant in Ireland since1922. – Otherwise it will never command the support of a majority of theelectorate. Wewant to work with everybody who is committed to the principles of social solidarity.The great tragedy is that the decade of Rebellion which followed the 1913Lockout did not bring about an Ireland informed by the Egalitarian ideals ofthose who led the Resistance. Insteadpublic policy in both of the jurisdictions which emerged has always reflected theinterests and the values of William Martin Murphy and his kind. Individualgreed has always been prioritised over the interests of the public good. Evento the extent that the right to Collective Bargaining, the core issue at stakein the Lockout, which is respected in virtually every EU Country, is stilldenied in this Republic. Itall led ultimately to the credit led property bubble here and the seminaldecision of the night of 29th September 2008, which saw the Government of the daysign us all up for the colossal debts of our reckless bankers, condemning us toour third existential crisis in sixty years and generations to a legacy of reparations. Ireland’sdebt to GDP ratio has increased by almost the entire size of the Irish economy inthe six years since 2007, to 123% of GDP. This is the third largest increase inpublic debt across advanced industrialised countries since 1900. Unlesswe can secure a very good deal on retrospective recapitalisation of the Banks,the rate of interest on Ireland’s debt servicing bill will exceed the rate of economicgrowth. We will have to generate primary surpluses each year. Thatmeans the volume of tax revenues will have to exceed day to day public spending,either by additional increases in taxes or further cuts to spending. Thus weare facing intense pressure on public services and a major on-going battlearound sources of taxation for years to come. This cannot be sustained by afragile recovering economy over the medium term. Theprospects for Europe too are more uncertain than they have been any time since WorldWar II. At the very least we are moving into a new and more brutal phase ofcapitalism. One thing is clear – the future will not be the same as the past. Wedo have one advantage over all the others – the best birth rate in Europe. Yetwe are sending our young people away to build economies across the world everyday of the week. Thevalue system of William Martin Murphy and his kind has failed spectacularly, inIreland and in Europe. It has delivered nothing only unemployment, emigrationand misery. As we emerge from the embers of our third major economic collapsein sixty years it’s time to revisit the other value system which was sobrutally suppressed in 1913. Wouldnot the egalitarian values of equality, community and solidarity provide abetter more sustainable basis upon which to construct the future? And would nottoday – World Day of Decent Work – be a good day to start? Perhapsagood place to begin would be by conducting an extensive, comprehensive and detailedstudy as to why it is that other small countries in Europe have succeeded whilewe have failed. Whyis it that Countries such as Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden areable to maintain higher employment rates and consistently lower debt levels,despite vastly better public provision and social infrastructure underpinned byhigher levels of public spending funded by taxation, than us? And incidentallysubstantially higher proportions of their workforces are organised in Unions.What is in their value system that has enabled them to do it – and what ismissing from ours? Howeverunless the Trade Union Movement steps up to the mark – the architecture of the future-and a bleak increasingly barbaric future it will be – will be left exclusivelyto the ideological descendants of William Martin Murphy and his kind. The TradeUnion Movement, despite all its faults, is the only force in society that isexclusively owned by working people in whose interests it is to reassert thevalues of social solidarity in the public domain. We cannot bring about aSocialist Utopia overnight but by combining our resources across the Movementwe have the capacity: To fund and equip the Nevin Institute to enable us to develop theconcept of a new and socially sustainable all Island economic model respectingthe dynamics of the Free Market but securely tethered to the interests of thepublic good and to advocate for it across every media everyday To build a Workers’ College to offer a comprehensive andenlightened education, to degree level, as an alternative to the increasing corporatecolonisation of Academe To create a fully staffed media vehicle to challenge the virtualhegemony of corporate influence in the dissemination of news, information andideas To establish a properly staffed Trade Union Centre in every Countyto provide information, advice and support to Workers and Communities battlingto defend their interests and to serve as focal solidarity centres,administered by vibrantly democratic Trades Councils To co-ordinate our industrial and consumer potential to exhortmassive pressure on all those who deny workers respect and dignity. Noone Union can accomplish this alone but together we can build a powerful socialforce for Fairness at Work and Justice in our Society. We should not leadworking people into avoidable battles if we can build alternatives to protectthem. And when we do lead them into confrontation we have an obligation toprovide them with the capacity to win. We have to focus on building a Movementagain, instead of functioning on the basis of a multiplicity of industrialrelations Institutions. Tinkering around the edges won’t do. Wehave to face up to the other inconvenient truth too. We have to stop treatingthose employers who deny workers the fundamental right to Collective Bargainingbetter than those who respect it. This means shifting a significant proportionof income to organising and combatting exploitation. Italso means paying as much attention to the success of enterprises where Unionsare recognised as we do to everyday negotiations and representations, to ensurethat good pay, pensions and conditions of employment are sustained through productivity,innovation and skill. Similarlywe have to recognise as well that the most important weapon in the battle to keeppublic services public is to ensure that they are actually superior, the mostefficient and the best value for money and we have to reflect this in everyaspect of our work. Otherwise the other side will inherit the future and dictatethe agenda in the workplace by reference to the rules of the race to thebottom. Delegates –all the commemorations are important, but if we are really seriously true to the memory of the heroic Men and Women of 1913 – we must equip working people to win again. This would be living up to the legacy of those who struggled and starved in the streets hereabouts to insist on the right to a decent life. By working together across the Movement we can assert the values that sustained them through that heroic struggle, or we can choose instead to settle for relegation to the role of whingers on the side-lines of history while the ideological descendants of William Martin Murphy and his kind reinstate their model of society and get back to business as usual for another century. Delegates, we stand at the crossroads of history, starkly challenged by the choice between making noise and making a difference. This is our watch – it’s down to us – we must not fail our children and future generations. ENDS