July 3rd: Moving Motion 36 at the ICTU Biennial Delegate Conference this afternoon, Unite Senior Officer Brendan Ogle said that the trade union movement – which represents 800,000 working people North and South – must campaign vigorously for measures to resolve the housing emergency which has left over 10,000 people officially homeless in the Republic. Referring to what he termed “tax haven, unequal Ireland 2019”, Mr Ogle said:
“Yesterday we learnt that a Cork couple walked 10 miles with their child to get food from the ‘Penny Dinners’ charity. We also learnt that the Goodman Group just paid practically zero tax on €100m+ profits. We don’t know whether the Cork couple are part of the official homeless statistics, or among the thousands of hidden homeless. But we do know that those who make sure Goodman and so many others pay little or no tax fall into neither category. Tax haven, unequal Ireland of 2019!
“This motion calls on the incoming ICTU Executive to establish trade union-led campaigns North and South to – among other measures – demand the state acquisition of vacant properties; impose rent controls on the property and landlord class who are declaring class war on their fellow citizens, and demand programmes of large scale, state-led, public housing.
“We can, and we do, lobby, petition and march for change. But we must go further. We must demand change and we must be prepared to mobilise our members to help deliver it.
“We must also be innovative. Let us not forget that we collectively represent workers who build: bricklayers, electricians, plasterers, labourers, general operatives, crane drivers, glaziers, plumbers, pipe-fitters, welders and more.
“Public housing is central to resolving the housing emergency. Imagine if we got together a workers’ co-operative – and instead of just raising the roof, we put on the roof, and laid the floors, and erected the walls. Imagine if we fitted the pipes and connected the electrics and put people in trade union housing on public land, given to ‘us’ the collective because public land is our land.
“I hope this motion is passed, and that the incoming Executive seeks ways of adding our industrial muscle to our political voice to deliver on it in new and innovative ways. Let us address the housing emergency like never before. Let us build”, Mr Ogle concluded.