SIPTU General President, Jack O’Connor, has called for a new alliance to prioritise public investment in housing, health care, and education and to guarantee collective bargaining rights for all workers. Addressing the SIPTU Biennial Delegate Conference in Cork this evening (2nd October), Jack O’Connor said that public investment was the only way to ensure decent housing, health and education services and that tax cuts should be removed from the political agenda. “We need to forge a new alliance of genuinely progressive forces to prioritise public investment in housing, health care and education and to guarantee full collective bargaining rights for every worker. That should be the priority between now and the centenary of the foundation of the State in 2022, and not any tax cutting agenda,” he said. Delivering his final presidential address to the SIPTU Conference, Jack O Connor said: "it is absolutely obscene that our major political parties are again promoting a tax cutting agenda while children are homeless in one of the wealthiest countries in the world." “It’s a con job!   What is actually being perpetrated under the guise of ‘promoting the incentive to work’ or ‘rewarding people’ is a different thing altogether.  It’s the criminal degradation of our public services in order to facilitate the wholesale robbery of the people by a veritable army of land hoarders, speculators, licensed drug peddlers and corporate money lenders!  “It’s time to wake up and smell the roses, because instead of paying tax to fund our public services, together as a community, we’re actually ending up paying twice as much, and more, to these legalised bandits.  “That is why we are advancing the proposition that all available resources should be focused on the primary national project of housing our people, caring for the young, the elderly and the ill, supporting our people with disabilities and educating, training and re-skilling our people in order to build a decent society for everyone who lives on the island of Ireland, between now and the centenary of the foundation of the State in 2022. This would be a laudable project around which we could mobilise as a people, and forget about cutting taxes until then.” Calling for a Referendum to provide for a right to collective bargaining for every worker in Ireland, he continued: “The OECD estimates that we are the 3rd most unequal country in Europe, measured by market income. This is offset to some degree by the more progressive aspects of our tax system, but it is manifestly evident in the workplace.  “Thanks to the efforts of the Labour Party, the 2015 Act has progressed collective bargaining rights further than ever before in the history of the State. But workers in Ireland still do not enjoy a constitutional entitlement to participate fully in collective bargaining with their employers.  “This will require a Constitutional Amendment.  So, we will have to work with everyone who cares about workers, about equality, about low pay, about precarious work and exploitation, to press for a referendum to provide for the fundamental right to engage in Collective Bargaining for every worker in Ireland. In order to secure this, and a solution to the housing, health and other crises facing working people, by 2022, he said: “It will be necessary to forge a new alliance of all the genuinely progressive forces on the island of Ireland who are committed to the primacy of the common good to realise this great aspiration.” Click here to read the full speach by SIPTU General President Jack O'Connor