Taoiseach washing his hands of Irish Ferries workers

Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland
24 November 2005

The statement by the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, that he can do nothing more to prevent the management of Irish Ferries from going ahead with its plan to make 543 members of its work-force redundant and to replace them with cheap labour from eastern Europe shows that he is washing his hands of this growing problem.
    There are solutions to the problems posed by Irish Ferries. The Taoiseach can revisit the issue at EU level, by reconsidering the opposition to the EU Directive on Ferries (which has been under discussion since 1998), which his government recently voted against. Opposition to the replacement of highly skilled seafarers and well-paid jobs throughout the European Union with cheap labour from eastern Europe and other low-wage economies can win political support throughout the member-states if the political will existed to campaign for it.
    This unwillingness to bring the management of Irish Ferries and other ferry companies who operate within the European Union to heel exposes the tokenism that the EU elites offer to the concerns of working people, and the close relationship and co-operation with the interests of big business.
    It further shows what a hollowed-out shell “social partnership” is. Workers give, and the Government and the bosses take. The problems posed by the displacement of Irish workers with cheap labour will only be spurred on by Ahern’s political decision to wash his hands of this problem.
    Irish and European workers are paying an increasingly heavy price for the imposition of neo-liberal economic policies, both at the national and the EU level. How many more “Heralds of Free Enterprise” before action is taken?
    We also call upon the Irish labour movement to back the Irish ferries workers in whatever action they feel they need to take to defend their jobs and livelihoods.

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