Date Released: 01 Feb 2011

The National Executive of SIPTU (NEC) has urged union members to vote for the Labour Party and transfer to other parties and candidates that support the principle of social solidarity in the forthcoming general election.

Following a lengthy discussion at the NEC meeting in Kilkenny on Friday 21st January, the NEC has effectively recommended to the 200,000 SIPTU members that they use their considerable voting power to prevent right-of-centre parties and those that encourage social division and inequality from dominating the 31st Dáil. SIPTU General President, Jack O’Connor, said that it was clear that the current deep economic and social crisis could not be resolved by a Government committed to the brutal austerity and anti-worker programmes of the past three years.

“While every voter has of course the right to exercise their democratic choice in the privacy of the ballot box, the NEC has taken this opportunity to express its view as to what is best for our members and their families,” Jack O’Connor said.

“For three years SIPTU and Congress have argued for an alternative economic and fiscal strategy to protect and create jobs and to avoid the savage attack made on the incomes and living standards of working people in this country.

“We opposed the terms of the recent EU/IMF loan facility which places an impossible burden on the Irish tax payer and we opposed the Finance Bill which gives effect to the unfair December budget.

“We are equally opposed to the four year austerity plan set out by the outgoing Government which places the burden on working people and fails to impose any significant burden on the wealthy in our society,” Jack O’Connor said.

During the long-awaited general election campaign political parties and candidates will be exposed to unprecedented scrutiny in relation to their policies and their plans to bring the crippled Irish economy out of recession.The fact that Labour Party was the only party to oppose the disastrous bank guarantee scheme in the Dáil in late September 2008 had a major impact on the deliberations of the NEC while its proposals for a State investment bank and the necessity for an urgent injection of funds into job creation measures was also significant.

More importantly, however, is the view held by many on the NEC that a strong Labour Party presence in a government which, on the basis of current opinion polls could be led by Fine Gael, is essential if the advances made by SIPTU and other trade unions in respect of job and income security are to be protected.

“SIPTU and the ICTU has also been pressing for many years for the right to collective bargaining to be enshrined in domestic law and the Labour Party leader, Eamon Gilmore, gave a commitment to introduce such legislation when he addressed Congress at its biennial conference in 2009,” Jack O’Connor said. “Of course, we would prefer to see a Labour led government of the left and will continue to fight for that outcome but we must ensure that the influence of Fine Gael or any other centre right party is balanced in the next government.” 

“While we recognise that other parties have endorsed our proposals for recovery and growth, and many other detailed policy positions promoted by Congress and SIPTU over recent years, the NEC has recommended to our members that their first preference votes should go to the Labour Party in the forthcoming election the outcome of which is so vital for the future of working people, to ensure balance in government.”

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