Susan Fitzgerald calls on the trade union movement to draw the lessons from workers’ struggle and hit back hard at government
Punishing budget cuts will devastate public services in Northern Ireland and are an attempt to make working-class people pay for the latest capitalist crisis
Speaking ahead of the annual May Day rally organised by the Belfast Trades Union Council, Unite’s new Regional Secretary for Ireland, Susan Fitzgerald, today (Saturday) called for the whole trade union movement to hit back hard at government after they announced brutal austerity cuts to public services in Northern Ireland.
“Over the last year and across the economy as a whole, most especially among those in workplaces without a recognised trade union, pay has failed to keep pace with surging prices during the worst cost of living crisis in generations. The result has been mounting poverty, an explosion of food banks and a dramatic rise in homelessness.
“But not content with the suffering caused to workers and the most vulnerable by this crisis, the Government now seek to impose a brutal austerity budget to devastate public services in Northern Ireland. They want to double-down on working people and make us pay for this crisis. Swinging real-terms budget cuts will undermine public services which are vital to us all – and which offer a lifeline to the sick and most vulnerable.
“Of course the same government can find countless billions when it comes to bailouts for the financial elite, but when it comes to funding for public services, they want to slash funding to the bone. The less they can spend on public services, the easier it is to allow the billionaire class to continue to avoid paying any taxes at all.
“Contrary to the government’s lies – the cost of living crisis is not caused by workers pay claims. 58.7% of the last year’s inflation was been driven by ‘greedflation’ or corporate price-gouging. Working-class people have gone from having to choose between heating or eating to struggling to hold a roof over their heads. Meanwhile the wealth and number of billionaires has exploded – the number in the UK has increased by one-fifth since the pandemic, what a waste and shocking concentration of wealth!”
Ms Fitzgerald continued highlighting the determination of workers to fightback:
“But as well as the cost of living crisis, the last year has also witnessed resistance among workers growing in leaps and bounds. Workers are refusing to simply ‘just survive’. They are organising to defend their pay, terms and conditions.
“Tens of thousands of workers have stood together on picket lines winning pay increases offering protection from the cost of living crisis. What is more, their example has been closely watched and lessons learnt by other workers who now see and understand that ‘if we fight, we can win’.
“If this government, or any other government think that on top of the cost of living crisis they can make workers absorb even more pain – they need to think again, workers can’t and won’t. We will not sit back and watch as this failed government launches this assault on workers and the public services we rely on.
“We must hit back as a movement and hit back hard for better pay and to defeat this assault on our public services. Unite is committed and resourced for that fight – it is one we are determined to win”, Susan Fitzgerald concluded.
For further information or to arrange an interview with Susan Fitzgerald, contact Donal O’Cofaigh (press office), Tel. 07810 157926