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ictu women’s conference – day 2

ictu womens conference
Day 2
march 4 2016
We start the second day with Motion 10 detailing changes to sick leave entitlement, seeking that any pregnancy related sick leave will not be counted against entitlements under current Public Service Sick Leave provisions, as austerity cuts were not just pay and pensions but also changes to terms and conditions.

Motion on Austerity and the impact of Women
Calling for a fight against Austerity and for equality. Organise women’s lobbies to highlight disproportionate impact of the cuts on women, develop a women led political campaign based around key industrial demands, provide political education courses including training on how government works

Motion on Child Poverty – set goals to end child poverty by 2025 by investing in education and working with relevant agencies, including food. 1 in 5 children go to school hungry, some startling figures for a modern “recovering economy:

Motion 15 on reproductive health and justice calling for support of repeal the eighth campaign, harrowing personal story was told. Hugely emotional hearing about how more than 10 people who travel daily to the uk for abortion. The motion called on ICTU to continue to support Trade union campaign to repeal the 8th amendment, lobby political parties to commit to a referendum and support a vote on the issue and encourage the mobilisation of trade union members on the issue.

Motion 16 calling on ICTU to lobby Government to address gender pensions gap of 39% leaving many women living in poverty. Gender Pay gap results in lower pensions for women, austerity has worsened this as pensions were postponed in return for putting food on the table.

Motion 17 – Violence against women and girls calling on ICTU to campaign to introduce legislation similar to Violence against women and girls act in Wales and to work with affiliates and employers to develop workplace policies on domestic violence. There was an all island survey over 10 years ago on the impact of domestic violence in the workplace where one third of people said they had experienced cases and this had an impact on their work. Legislation in Wales places a duty on Ministers and Public Bodies to introduce, monitor and evaluate strategies to tackle violence against women and girls, a more pressing requirement is to have active policies in the workplace, ensuring these places take a stand against this horror. Narrative needs to move from why does she stay with him to why doesn’t he stop

Motion 18 – Equal Marriage calling on ICTU to fully support Civil Marriage Equality campaign in Northern Ireland as it is the only part of the UK and Ireland where gay and lesbian couples can’t marry. After the success of the Marriage Equality referendum down south it has helped highlight the absence in this in Northern Ireland.

Motion 19 supporting the work of Women’s Committee endorsing the programme of work that was produced prior to conference. The programme has three parts – women Organising for decent work – women in society – Women in trade unions. as this co-ordinates with other congress campaigns. There is a notable absence of women negotiators

Motion 20 was about the new Workers College which is in the process of being set up. It called on ICTU to ensure that gender balance is part of teaching, participation and relevant training.

Motion 21 was similar but went a step further calling on a specific training and mentoring training programme for Women Trade Unionists. This will help empower women activists to be confident in pursuing a career through the trade union movement which should help achieve an acceptable gender balance which is missing

Guest speaker Montserrat Mir Roca, ETUC confederal Secretary spoke about Breaking the Glass Walls, paying tribute to the mothers and grandmothers have done to help with todays situation, though there’s a lot of work left to do. Austerity policies effect vulnerable people more. Not acceptable that companies are paying below minimum wage. Poverty and exclusion exists all throughout Europe, not just the poorer countries. There is a European Commissioner on gender and ETUC are looking for European Gender equality strategy. ETUC priorities include looking at gender pay gap is still a big problem, sometimes you can have good legislation but it doesn’t always get implemented. Also the representation of women at higher level positions in union and other organisations. There is still a need to advance work life balance arrangements, including implementation of parental leave directives. This year will see a push to highlight violence against women through a “safe at work, safe at home” programme. €370 million lost in gender pay gap throughout Europe per annum, this is not just a trade union demand it is economic.

And that was that – 21 motions and not one speaker against but a very inclusive conference. There was a strong feeling of solidarity for all speakers to motions, encouraging people to speak


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ICTU women’s conference 2016 – Day 1

ictu womens conference
Day 1 review
march 3 2016



Theresa Dwyer opened conference discussing how unequal the world still is. International Women’s Day is next Tuesday with a theme of achieving parity. IWD is a celebration but also a statement of how far society has to go.

Brian Campfield, President ICTU spoke of the daunting task but in this historic year it is good to focus on achievements by and for Women in the past 100 years.

James Connolly described the worker as a slave to capitalist society but the female worker as a slave to that slave, those words still ring true for the majority of trade union members in Ireland.

Sustainable development agenda was agreed in September last year but around the world gender inequality still exists. This represents super exploitation, providing equal access for all is the only thing which can ensure economies will be successful in the future. We were told that 4% of CEO’s are women.

Finally, Brian urged the delegates of a need to challenge a system that puts profits before people and profits before societies.

Patricia King is the first female General Secretary of ICTU and along with Alison Millar who is the first woman to be general secretary on NIPSA there are small signs that times are changing. Patricia spoke on the current state of inequality in Ireland
inequality is a persistent feature in Irish society. North and South women are severely underrepresented in our political system. The Irish Constitution has no reference to gender equality AND no reference to fathers. Lack of commitment in practice to improving gender inequality, National Women’s Council funding was slashed and combat poverty agency was disbanded in 2009, if you take away mirror of reflection on how bad poverty is/ then you take way the signal that shows people in poverty
65% of workers on minimum wage are women. Women are managers of poverty in low income households. Dunnes dispute highlighted worst behaviour in companies, don’t underestimate the value in the message that the Dunnes workers had.

There is a Lack of affordable and effective childcare system. Highest childcare costs in europe, legislative measures must be introduced. incoming southern government Invest in properly resourced childcare system. Women are less likely to have independent access to pensions. Gender pay gap is 8.5% in North and 14.4% down south. Ireland is out of line with representation on companies boards. 43% of irelands top 500 companies have no female representation, 9% in total have membership. Women are severly underrepresented in senior grades in Education and Public Service.
Over 50% female memberships and full-time officials and positions of leadership are predominately male
Patricia finished by reminding delegates not to be complacent because we have elected a female general secretary. We need to do better
Essential step to reducing inequality is t lift workers out of the poverty trap. Let us resolve to concentrate all our efforts to achieve fair work for all

Motions reached on Day 1

Motion 1 Campaign and lobby for decent work for women carried unanimously

Motion 2 Investigate best practice examples relating to paid carers leave and Campaign to establish Carers Statutory Paid Leave in such circumstances

Motion 3 Campaign for an effective solution to the Cost of childcare in Ireland carried unanimously,, Childcare is a barrier female participation in trade union issues

Motion 4 Support the development of a programme on mental health awareness, including needs and issues of women in the workplace. As amended to include current cuts in Social Welfare for under 25s to put pressure on Govt to put a fairer system in place, carried unanimously

Motion 5 Care Homes and Female Employees
Call on ICTU to put pressure on private sector providers to review their decision to close care homes. and for NI Assembly to take over the homes to provide security for occupants and staff. Do we want to treat elderly people as commodities in society Request to remit was accepted as it is left in hands of negotiators

Motion 6 Requesting DPER to review the content of Gender Equality Policy and policy on diversity published in 2001 and 2002 carried unanimously

Motion 7 Flexible Working – Calling on ICTU to research an expose the extent to which women are being denied access to flexible working and work with affiliates to continue the campaign for a legal right to flexible working

Motion 8 Bullying and harassment calling on ictu exec to publicly highlight bullying with a view to ensuring that affiliates and members along with employers and workers in general are fully aware of the rights and obligations in dealing with and preventing this kind of negative behaviour in the workplace.

Motion 9 – Women and the economy, calling on government ot carry out meaningful equality impact assessment before spending decisions are made, monitor the impact off decisions and revise policies when it is clear that there is a disproportionate impact, introduce a dedicated women’s employment strategy to address the dominance of women in low paid work and end public sector pay freezes and caps, introduce stronger legislation on equal pay audits, greater transparency and better quality part–time and flexible work opportunities

Motion 10 moved to tomorrow

Motion 11 around a pledge to end zero hours and casualisation, looking back on 100 years of struggle that continuing absence of women at the top of trade union leadership will not do anymore, outcomes of the conference must be core part of trade union movement. Seek to integrate policy on zero hours into our bargaining strategies and, industrial action and legal action, launch a solidarity pledge to make zero hour contracts history. This solidarity pledge will be brought to governments North and South and seek to commit a full review of these. Some strong words arose during this debate as it is obvious that workers under such precarious conditions are extremely vulnerable. trade union movement is here to better the conditions of workers in all workplaces, mandates dunnes stores campaign is being fought like a war and it is still very much a live issue.

Motion 12 was around childcare and the flexible economy seeking a strategy around childcare that provides affordable childcare that meets the needs of women working in vulnerable employment. It stated that employers have a duty to take caring commitments into account and measures need to be developed to support childcare providers and non profit organisation, including grandparents was unanimously passed

The afternoon session started with a presentation by Margaret Ward, Irish Women, Suffrage and war

Women’s fight for citizenship in Ireland is going on since 1871 when North of Ireland Women’s suffrage association were set up for the right to vote. In 1912 a feminist newspaper, the irish citizen, was set up – “For Men and Women equally, the rights of citizenship. From men and women equally the duties of Citizenship” With impending Home Rule on the horizon suffragettes across the island started a militant campaign, including destroying buildings and horsewhipping of people. Focus of Suffragettes changed when the First World War started. In 1915 there was a suffrage and peace conference in the hague which attracted 1136 delegates. Irish women couldn’t travel and held a protest in Dublin which Pearse sent a message to.

Cumann na mBan fought in the rising of which the proclamation called for equal rights for all, and in 1918 Constance Markievicz was elected – the first and sole woman successfully elected

Mary Muldowney also spoke about the brave women who not just fought in 1916 but were involved in other activities at that time, be it pacifist like Louie Bennett who became General Secretary of ICTU or other trade unionists like Delia Larkin and Cissy Cahalan

Relatively we have made a few strides forward but there are still many battles to be won. Countess Markievicz is spoken of as if she was the only woman involved in the 1916 rising, but that certainly was not the case. Winnie Carney was in the GPO during the rising and went on to be secretary of Irish textile workers union. Rosie Hackett was a trade union activist for 60 years. Hannah Sheehy Skeffington was nominated to be in the first provisional government.

Cumann na mBan and women in Irish Citizen Army were somewhat militarised. the Citizen Army recruited men and women equally. Kathleen Lynn gave first aid classes to all people. Irish women’s workers union was set up and many of these were in Irish Citizen army,

50,000 women got work in munitions factories with canteens serving lunch during the first world war, also separation allowances were given to women whose husbands were fighting for the British army which helped alleviate the horrendous poverty that existed

Mary’s excellent presentation ended with a nod of appreciation and recognition of Dunnes Stores workers in 1984 and how they stand for everything that was great about the trade union women in 1916. Remember the spirit of women who wished to bring fairness and equality to everybody

“Invisible Women” by Brian Moore

The singer sings a rebel song

and everybody sings along.

Just one thing I’ll never understand:

Every damn rebel seems to be a man.

For he sings of the Bold Fenian Men

And the Boys of the Old Brigade.

What about the women who stood there too

“When history was made” …?

Ireland, Mother Ireland, with your freedom loving sons,

Did your daughters run and hide at the sound of guns?

Or did they have some part in the fight

And why does everybody try to keep them out of sight?

For they sing of the Men of the West

And the Boys of Wexford too.

Were there no women living round those parts;

Tell me, what did they do … ?


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ICTU Women’s Seminar 2015

ICTU Women’s Committee hold a seminar and conference on alternate ears. As last years conference was in Wexford it was the turn of the NI members to host this years Seminar.

It was two days, not of motions but of workshops and keynote addresses, an attempt to empower, inform and entertain delegates. As with previous years PSEU had a strong delegation in attendance.

After being welcomed by both the Joint Chairs and Belfast Trades Council who reminded us once more “Let us be the change we want to be in the world”, In fact Kerry Fleck from the trades Council went on to speak eloquently and passionately on the effects of austerity on Workin class women and how there are now a plethora of active women’s groups in Belfast. Kerry reminded us of the change in discourse of groups like the IMF who are calling for an increase in the minimum wage and that inequality is the achilles heel of neoliberalism.

Ethel Buckley from SIPTU spoke of the Ethical Work Initiative and of the involvement of President Michael D Higgins in pushing this valuable campaign. #ethicswork is their hashtag
David Begg then gave what is his last official speech as general Secretary of Congress befor Patrica King takes over on International Womens Day this weekend. David spoke of the “widening gap between rich and poor which may threaten economic and political stability….and so it should” He pointed to the Nordic countries as the most economically and social cohesive models and said that “our mission is to project ideas for a different, better, fairer, society.” On international Womens Day this year there will be women leaders of ICTU, TUC, ITUC and ETUC which is a great achievement for the movement.

ICTU President John Douglas reiterated this theme, these are the most challenging times in our history and welcomed the fact that Patricia King is taking over – “Patricia is the best trade unionist on the isand of Ireland” John opined.

Zuzanna Muskat-Gorsta from the ITUC spoke eloquently in her non-native tongue on Gender Equality. “From Poland it is deeply risky to say, ‘I’m a feminist”.. Zuzanna echoed Naomi Klein’s recent thoughts that climate change is strongly linked to Global Inequality and that Green Jobs is the way forward. We also heard how that Gender Based Violence is increasing and amongst that Forced Labour and human trafficking in a violent act.

The seminar split into workshops and the perception of women in Public Life heard of groups in both North and South that are sing education to help equalise the balance of gender participation in Political Life. Some startling figures came out. 16% of dail seats are held by women – an all time high! and 96th in world ranking. 0% of Senior Judges in Northern Ireland are female.
Belfast Lord Mayor then spoke of the way she never though of gender until becoming Lord Mayor and how suddenly her clothes seemed as important to print media as her actions. The office run Lord Mayor for a Day internships and Joanna gave an inspirational speech on disability and her hopes for the future.

Caroline McGuigan of Suicide or Survive gave the keynote address for the afternoon. This shows how the Seminar is different from so many. Suicide and mental health is a strong concern for society and obvioulsly then for trade unionists. We all konw people looking for help and were reminded that we need to listen to people because they are experts. http://www.yourmentalhealth.ie is there to assist people. Voices from the floor said how people are flat in the workplace, austerity has beaten them down. We have to try and assist in whatever way we can.

The day finished with a screening of Inez: A Challenging Woman – this documentary gave a short insight into the work and battles of human rights activist and trade unionist, Inez McCormack, ICTU’s first Woman President and trailblazer for many. It is a sad yet inspirational tale as, like so many other tributes, we wait for the people to pass away before celebraitng their life. The respect for Inez amongst people at the Seminar is palpable and it was a great way to celebrate her achievements.

Day 2 had less time allocated but was no less informative. Annie Campbell from Womens Aid NI detailed awful statistics around Gender Based Violence. According to PSNI stats there’s 1 doemstic abuse incident every 19minutes with 1 domestic abuse crime every 41. IN the time it took me to write this there were 2 incidents and 1 crime. 2.5 times more domestic abuse than burgalry with over 95%directed at women. Austerity is bringing challenges as it can lead to unsustainability.
It’s hard when this is just a topic at a conference attended by hundreds of union activists to understand the severity if this issue but with these stats you can be sure there are victims and perpetrators as members of all unions in attendance. Awful.

The final piece before the wrap up which was given by PSEU’s Melissa Brennan was a panel discussion with guests from cosc, womens aid, white ribbon campaign, cpsu and Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. There was a varied discussion on violence perpetrated by men and howmen avoid vulnerability. Most comments from the floor related to the proposed upcoming visit to Ireland by Juien BBlanc. Blanc has been denied access to the UK and Singapore. He was deported from Australis and is planning on speaking at a €2,000 per ticket event in Dublin in June. He is a self proclaimed ” leading international coach in dating ” and all impressions are that he condones violence. His social media diatribe is insulting and if he does make it to the country you can be sure there will be a strong presence outside the event.



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ICTU BDC Day 3 July 2013

Day 3

Day 3 ICTU conference July 2013

“History will look back on this being a defining conference for the trade union movement” David Begg told us at the end of this session. A session that saw a further 14 motions pass almost unanimously, including 2 emergency ones. I don’t think that is the history defining moment the General Secretary of congress meant. Nope, it is the motion that allows ICTU to look at the way the trade union movement is organised. This could see a streamlining in the number of unions in this country but it still needs us to address the issues facing working (and increasing numbers of unemployed) people.

Derek Keenan from ICTU youth committee explained that the “demographic time mob is exploding as young people are not becoming members. Sections of youth identify more with Michael o’Leary than 1913. The era of Social Partnership has allowed our movement to become self serving. the movement needs to show a radical way. It is imperative that we become relevant to young workers.”

Today we heard that the extent of casualisation in the workforce is unsettling. It’s not just in areas like retail. Where people may get a minimum wage but don’t work enough hours to earn a living wage. The teaching profession sees “employers lying for loopholes to avoid contracts” so the TUI told us. Teachers are working on zero hours contracts, they are experiencing bullying in the workplace and it suddenly seems a different profession. IBOA general secretary Larry Broderick spoke eloquently on the banking profession. It seems that the banks are out for three things, Larry told us.
1/ Screw customers
2/ screw staff
3/ screw the country.
Recent calls for a banking enquiry ring hollow for the IBOA as they have Ben calling for it for years.

There were more calls for us to “Apportion blame for what has happened to those responsible. Develop the toolkit through NERI.” Eoin Ronayne from CPSU told us. “If Govt aren’t listening then we need to look at how we are doing business.

David Evans, president of TUC in Wales, paired a similar story, only the Welsh assembly aren’t looking to privatise services. “People are struggling and day to day communities see this crisis worsen.

And then we came to what could have been the elephant in the room. FEMPI or Financial Emergency Measures Provision Act . Jimmy kelly from unite explained “govt agrees here is a war going on and this is an opportunity to unite the organisation” Eoin Ronayne exclaimed “this is nota public sector issue. It is incumbent on the movement to see the repeal of this legislation. What is next?” Dave Hughes from INMO was similar speaking about precedent. “Every negotiation will have this threat”. And so it continued, speaker after speaker bemoaning the fact that govt legislated and this needs to be repealed. “This is akin to blackmail” said Pat King of ASTI. Even unions who voted yes to croke park 2 were in agreement. PSEU’s Tom Geraghty was windering why this was needed as unions will be in Haddington Road, however “the sort of change we will be seeking is through sheer hard work of trade union leadership”

The issue of Private v Public Sector arose and words were used to deal with it. One only hopes that “best strategy is the be united under one agreement” or when an injury to a “shop worker is akin to an injury to a nurse is akin to an injury to a building worker is akin to a teacher” will really be the case when we get back to the reality of dealing with our employers.

Conference continued in the vein of suggesting a united trade union movement in the future. Many questions were raised, a lot of discussion around how to get people involved. The best answer is to try and involve them. Engage with the membership and they will feel you are relevant, be involved in communities, let people see that this organisation representing 800,000 people (and their families) is a real social movement. We can become the media, start with blogs and twitter and social media. Work into union mags, work towards a newspaper, create your own tv.

As NIPSA put it so much better than me “There is still an echo of Jim Larkin in our movement and still some fight. We are facing a significant fight. We have to change direction and not accept any more attacks”


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ICTU Conference Belfast July 2013

Day 1

It was with some trepidation and excitement that I attend my first ICTU conference. I have been involved in trade unions in various shapes and guises since entering the workforce in 1987. I have stepped up this involvement in recent years and have been on the edge of the ICTU family. This was my maiden voyage to the biennial event that is their policy making and shaping event.

I read the documentation with great interest and my first impressions is that nothing was too contentious. It gave a chance for the membership to rubber stamp their feelings on austerity but also helped get some ideas out there between the rhetoric and enable rank and file union members to organise within their trade union.
As Paddy Mackell – Belfast Trades Council stated in his opening address to the packed Assembly Rooms.
“Current Economic Situation has completely failed working people”. He then went on to make some interesting statements including quoting Dr Conor McCabe “We don’t need an onshore tax haven”.

And that set the tone for Day One. ICTU outgoing President Eugene McGlone explained that ICTU has a combined membership of nearly 800,000 people.
“It is our responsibility to ensure 3/4 million people (ICTU membership) are listened to”, we need to “Create a climate for change” and “Create a fuller understanding of the need to organise” and that we should ensure that “Solidarity works to our benefit”
As the Trade Union movement in an integral part of our social fabric we should engage with it however “the movement must always be responsive to our class, we’re manifestations of our communities.”

The reference to class is very interesting. The trade union movement came from a class structure and the need to ensure that the working class were dealt fairly by their employer. It is arguable in Irish Society today that class structure is still there. Where is the line between Working and Middle Class? Do the working class aspire to break from their structure to be part of a middle class? Are workers there to be represented no matter what their standing is in society? It is one that I don’t know the answer to and no doubt has many academics scratching their middle class heads.

Anyway this conference isn’t gonna provide the answers to class in Ireland. However ICTU General Secretary David Begg did try and provide some answers to the route that society is heading. He told the audience that we are at a “critical juncture in the economic situation…this is a crisis which could have been avoided….there is irrefutable evidence that austerity isn’t working.” David pointed out that personal expenditure is down by 3% in the last 12 months and many other facts relating to the austere policies spreading through society. He asked “how can policy makers deny this” and stated that “Solidarity is the cement that binds us together”. As the trade union movement has been stating since 2008 there is a better fairer way and “Now is the opportunity to press our case for alternatives way forward.”
SIPTU President Jack O’Connor also spoke eloquently of austerity “One sided austerity has utterly failed, there is no disguising this matter.”
Mick O’Reilly from Dublin Council of Trade Unions was as vociferous and emotive as Jack when he called on members to “have the courage to resist Austerity”. DCTU are trying to involve Community Groups and in a candid speech Mick stated that “we don’t have all the answers” but “we have to explain to our members what is happening. We can use policies as a weapon”. Mick called on the “trade union movement to be transformative and develop our own media.” He called on government to “Repudiate the debt and start organising.” In a statement of fact he recognised that “Our members are not clammering at the door looking for industrial action but we have to show them the confidence to do this.”

There were calls for workers to be more involved in running society, socialise the economy with the creation of worker led businesses. The obvious was stated many times “Huge despair and disillusionment amongst trade union membership. We need to give our members the information”

From a Public Sector perspective it was noted that due to the ban on recruitment there has been very little employment of the Disabled in society as the Public Sector is the only real employers of people with disabilities. Eugene Mc Glone said in relation to Haddington Road Agreement “No Govt should have the power to legislate away our terms and conditions” . The reality is however that they do and no proposal was put forward to counteract this.

There was a closed session on the future of trade unions in Ireland which will eventually lead to some change in structures and there was recognition that working members can be educated in their roles by retired workers. Value needs to be put on the knowledge and work of retired workers, they are today what our future is tomorrow.

All in all an interesting day. You can’t but be moved by some of the rousing talk given at the podium. What that will equate to in the coalface of the workplace is the burning question. However the direction of the trade union movement is that austerity isn’t working and the family that is ICTU will continue to try and press this home at every opportunity (verbally at least). I took from the day that we need to engage the union membership with our work, they are the union and they need to know this, we are the media and we are the conduit for this information.


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Global Solidarity Summer School – day 1

“Knowledge is power and I’m looking forward to bathing in know,edge and spreading it after the weekend” is how ICTU President Eugene McGlone ended his welcome address today at the 4th annual Global solidarity summer school in Wexford.

Eugene’s words came after Minister of State Joe Costello opened the summer school with words about his area of responsibility for trade and development at the department of foreign affairs.  The minister is putting the finishing touches to a white paper for Irish aid which is a result of extensive consultations with civil society in Ireland. Minister Costello spoke about how he intends there to be a summer school for Irish aid in the future. He also spoke on how the trade union movement has a role in bonding society together.  This was a common theme through the afternoon as delegates were poised with the question of how do we make the union movement relevant. One way is through participation in society as a whole and be active in campaigns, campaigns like the one that will replace the millennium development goals which are up in 2015. As Ireland takes on the eu presidency for the first half of 2013 this small country could have influence on what will replace these goals.
The global solidarity summer school had approx 80 people all trying to find ways that they can help make a difference. These people are a starting point, a chance to go back to the wider trade union movement in general and Force change upon it.  Discussions took place around Colombia where one of the Colombian delegation that travelled with an international group this year has been missing since April. There was also talk about Palestine where jack o conor from siptu is on the record as saying “what’s happening in Palestine is the greatest crime to humanity over the past hundred years”.
Roland Munck from dcu posed the question to delegates “what is global solidarity “. Is it just stopping the race to the bottom? is it about decent work for all? is it stopping forced child labour?  Or is it more?  He suggested we can’t look at one country in isolation and that globalisation is not only about capitalism spreading its wings it can be about organised labour too.  It made for a good debate and the question is there more to global solidarity or is it just good to have friends is one that will provoke reaction from all involved in trade union activism. Judith kirton-darling spoke of solidarity being a two way process, where workers in Latin America support their European colleagues in the battle against Austerity
The range of speakers was really impressive, visitors from the TUC in Britain and the wider trade union movement were in attendance.  Judith, as mentioned above, is a member of the ETUC and Jeffrey Vogt was over from the ITUC. There was talk of the Cuban 5 and how Irish trade unions could work with sister unions in the us to get these people freed and allowed to see their families. The diversity of opinion from the floor meant that we could have been talking al night about the inequalities of the world but one thing was for sure the people in attendance on this wet Friday afternoon want to try and engage with the wider trade union movement and society as a whole to see if we can really make this a better and fairer world for all.



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