An Irish public that has quietly endured harsh cuts so far may finally run out of patience and take to the streets when the deeply unpopular government unveils its next austerity measures, labor unions said on Saturday.
"I think we're close to the tipping point," Jack O'Connor, General President of SIPTU, Ireland's largest labor union, told Reuters in a phone interview.
"The kind of policies that have been pursued to date, which have been seen to fail and have discriminated very severely against the people on middle and low incomes, will not work," he said. "And there will be a reaction to those kind of policies."
Trade unions, student groups and senior citizens are planning a protest in Dublin on Saturday November 27. The march, organized by Ireland's umbrella union body, ICTU, will call for greater fairness in budget cuts.
O'Connor, whose union represents some 200,000 workers, said a good turnout at the march -- anything over 25,000 protestors -- could help shape the character of budget adjustments.
Despite facing some of the continent's deepest cuts, Ireland has largely been spared the civil unrest and protests that have hit other parts of Europe where governments implemented tough budgetary measures to cope with economic downturn.
Next week the government will issue its four-year plan for cutting the worst budget deficit in the eurozone, with a target of 15 billion euros in savings by 2014.
This will be followed by a 2011 budget early next month expected to include some 6 billion euros of those savings. Public sector jobs will be lost and services and benefits cut.
An IMF/EU-sponsored rescue package is also expected next week, which many in Ireland view as a loss of sovereignty.
"A lot of political leaders have been saying that they can't understand the calm about the Irish citizens at the moment, but I think it's the calm before the storm," said Eamon Devoy, General Secretary of the 40,000-strong Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU).
"People are enduring it, but just about. It's bubbling to the surface. Any further attacks on working people and social welfare systems and pensions and so on just won't be tolerated.
"The talk now is of the budget, and effectively destroying the social welfare system. I think there is going to be huge civil unrest as a result of that," Devoy told Reuters.
The TEEU is calling for a general election to usher in a new government. In any event, an election by early next year is widely seen as all but inevitable even if the budget passes next month given the government's weak hold on power.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Publicada por Miguel Madeira em 01:53