Addressing the event which marked the 73rd anniversary of the death of the trade union and 1913 Lockout leader, he said that Jim Larkin, “was a socialist with a strategic vision of what Ireland could become, if it shook off the grip of selfish oligarchs and embraced the aim of creating a society that allowed every citizen an equal opportunity to develop their potential”.
He added that Larkin’s message “is as relevant today as when he arrived on these shores over 100 years ago”.
Turning his attention to the current general election campaign, King, said: “The effectiveness of the union’s Stop 67 Pensions Policy Campaign launched last week shows our ability to give effective voice to the concerns not alone of SIPTU members but workers across the country.
“SIPTU is calling for an immediate halt to the arbitrary extensions in the retirement age and the establishment of a forum with all stakeholders including employees, employers, political and civil society groups, to promote new and progressive policies on determining the pension age and maintaining people’s living standards in retirement.
“This has become an urgent necessity because of the repeated refusal by this, and other business dominated administrations, to introduce mandatory pensions for private sector workers, that would ensure decent minimum living standards in old age.”
He said that the arrogance of the Government and its indifference to the plight of ordinary people was nowhere more obvious than in its approach to the housing crisis, “where the Minister not alone seems to think that completion targets that barely reach half of the annual minimum required is a success story, but wants to be re-elected so that he can ‘finish the job’”.
“As the SIPTU election manifesto says, ‘We have the land, finances and builders to deliver affordable rents and home ownership and to end homelessness’, but, unfortunately, we also have a minister who hasn’t a clue.”
King also outlined solutions to the crisis in health, childcare, and the need for a ‘Green New Deal’ to address the climate change emergency.