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4 February 2019

Ireland: Victory to the nurses strike!

INMO must not stand alone!

On 30 January in the freezing cold pickets went up outside every public hospital in the Republic of Ireland to chants of: “What do we want? Safe staffing! When do we want it? Now!” The 37,000 members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), who are mainly women and include many immigrants, are waging a series of strikes against the low wages that have led to the desperate understaffing of the Irish health service. The INMO’s strikes have been warmly welcomed in Ireland and by working people around the world who want decent healthcare. The nurses’ action has also struck a chord with women workers across the British Isles who are fighting for pay parity. The INMO must not stand alone!

In a dirty betrayal, the leadership of Siptu, Ireland’s largest union, has instructed its members to cross picket lines and work during the INMO strikes. Siptu organiser and Labour Party councillor Paul Bell even denounced INMO’s pay demands and declared that Siptu members who refuse to cross pickets will not be supported by their union! Picket lines mean don’t cross! What is needed is the mobilisation of the whole union movement to support the INMO strikes! All hospital staff, from porters to physicians, should be organised in one union and strike together!

The Health Service Executive is blaming striking nurses for endangering public health. Taoiseach [Prime Minister] Leo Varadkar has vindictively threatened to deny the nurses future pay rises if strikes continue. The real danger to public health is the capitalist government, which has starved the health service of funds while fattening up the parasitic private providers. Nationalise the private hospitals! Church out of the healthcare system! For separation of church and state! For quality, public healthcare for all, free at the point of delivery!

The European capitalist governments have used their EU cartel to gut social services like healthcare, to drive down wages and to push privatisation. The imperialist rulers of Germany, Britain and France also use the EU to impose crippling austerity on weaker countries like Ireland and Greece — with the acquiescence of the Irish and Greek bourgeoisies — including the pay cuts imposed on nurses and all public sector workers in Ireland beginning in 2009. Down with the bosses’ EU! The Spartacist League/Britain is for Brexit because it will destabilise the EU imperialist alliance and deliver a blow against our “own” exploiters, the British bourgeoisie. Britain out of the EU now!

Health requires more than just medicine and hospitals — sound housing, good food, leisure, clean air and water, decent working conditions, the application of the scientific principles of disease control to human society. As long as society is run for the profits of the few capitalist exploiters, good health will remain a privilege denied to most people. To put the productive forces of society at the service of human need requires the working class to become the ruling class. For an Irish workers republic, part of a voluntary federation of workers republics in the British Isles! To this end, we of the International Communist League are committed to building revolutionary workers parties around the world, sections of a reforged Fourth International. The struggle of the Irish nurses is in the interest of all those who want a better life for working people. Victory to the INMO!

—Spartacist League/Britain
4 February 2019