Since 24 March, 2600 workers at Bus Éireann, Ireland’s national bus service, have been on strike to stop a brutal company attack on their livelihoods. Bus Éireann is seeking to better compete with low-wage, non-union private bus companies by taking it out of the hide of the workers — unilaterally imposing casualisation and redundancies and cutting wages and benefits by an estimated 8000 euros annually per driver! The strikers, primarily organised in the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) and SIPTU (Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union), have shown their strength and militancy, halting the coaches that ply the arteries between Ireland’s cities and towns and the North and provide local transport in rural areas. In an impressive show of solidarity and in defiance of the government’s anti-union laws, transport workers in Irish Rail and Dublin Bus have refused to cross Bus Éireann picket lines. On 31 March they shut down much of the country’s rail network as well as transport in Dublin in wildcat strikes.
The state-owned CIÉ group, which owns Irish Rail and Dublin Bus as well as Bus Éireann, is suing the NBRU for millions of euros in compensation for “unlawful picketing” over the wildcat strikes. The capitalists’ anti-union laws ban secondary pickets in order to cripple and isolate union struggles. Joint union action to defend the NBRU and tear up the anti-union laws would strike a powerful blow in the interest of the working class as a whole. But the general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Patricia King, has no such perspective. Instead, in a 2 April RTÉ radio interview, King complained that the secondary strikes delayed any third party intervention by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) or the Labour Court. The WRC and Labour Court exist to enforce anti-union laws and prevent class struggle. In Ireland like in Britain, the unions need a leadership that puts all its confidence in the fighting power of the working class, and no faith in these agencies of the bosses’ government!
The European Union, that bankers’ and bosses’ club, is justly hated by many Bus Éireann workers. The pay cuts imposed on Bus Éireann workers in 2009 and again in 2013 were part of the Irish government’s plan to fulfil EU austerity directives. The privatisation of transport, carried out under the EU banner of freedom for capital, represents a drive to squeeze profits out of the workers in this industry. By striking a blow against EU austerity, the Irish workers are fighting in the interests of working people all across Europe. Down with the EU! For a workers Europe! It is in the direct interest of British workers, who are faced with the same union-busting attacks from the capitalist exploiters in this country, to support the Bus Éireann workers’ struggle. Victory to the Bus Éireann strike!
—Spartacist League/Britain, 4 April 2017