Organising for change… it’s the right thing to do

Thursday 19 April 2018

Straight Talking, by Mandate General Secretary, John Douglas

DOING the right thing is not always easy but it’s always right. In our jobs and in our communities there are many things that are simply wrong.

We witness inequality, injustice and bad treatment every day of the week, whether it’s the sight of homeless people huddled on cardboard in shop fronts, families condemned to living in one room in second-rate B&Bs, elderly patients waiting on trollies in a public health service starved of resources, workers forced to labour on minimum wages chasing hours in an attempt to make a living, children turning up to school hungry… the list is endless and all too predictable. The danger is that all this becomes normal.

The day we stop noticing these inequalities is the day the other side wins, but it’s not good enough just to notice and say ‘shame’, we all need to do more than just notice, we need to make change happen – change at work, change in our communities, change in our national political system.

This society of ours is fundamentally broken, not broken by accident but by design and unless we vigorously challenge the regime that allows this to happen then it will become the new normal.

The regime includes all the major vested interests – the politicians, the developers, the media, the speculators, the legal profession, the major accountancy and consulting firms, large multinationals and their representative organisations, and the EU. All these and more are at the very heart of shaping the State. They are the regime that inflicts all the inequalities we see every day of the week.

Organised labour at work, organised labour politically, and organised labour in communities is the only defence we have. It offers the only real chance of defeating the regime. That is why employers, politicians, and their media allies spend so much time trying to destroy and vilify organised labour.

That is why major employers bully and intimidate workers or try to split and cause divisions among workers. They know that we are a very real threat to the privilege they enjoy at the expense of others. That is why the regime politicians are happy that more than 30% of our citizens don’t vote in elections. That 30% tends to be those most screwed over. Not voting is not a protest. Not voting is surrendering.

Mandate members will continue to shout out loud and take action, continue to stand up and fight back against injustice at work and in their communities. It’s not easy and often it puts our members and their union in harm’s way but it is the right thing to do.

We as their union will continue to be a vehicle for regime change. We will mobilise, educate and agitate. Our union and our members are proud of our record and make no apologies for our actions.

Our task now is to grow and encourage Mandate activist groups in every town and city in Ireland. Our union is full of leaders and we have a responsibility to allow those leaders set the agenda and mobilise at work and politically.

We call on all trade unions in Ireland to put “the movement” back into trade unionism. Larkin and Connolly were not satisfied to live off the crumbs from the rich man’s table. Their vision was a table where all workers sat as equals and ate their fill.

Organise, Organise, Organise and fight for your rightful place at the table.