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I demand the resignation of SIPTU’s Jack O’Connor

Some interesting reading here, statements from Siptu’s President Jack O’Connor: www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/siptus-jack-oconnor-refuses-to-support-sinn-fein-despite-labour-party-election-wipeout-30331544.html

Meet Mr. Jack O’Connor: One of the problems of the working class struggle in Ireland, right in front of our eyes; the man who sits on top of the biggest trade union. It is not because of what he says or does, but only because of his position, he claims to be representing the workers of this country, despite all the things that happened, and indeed, despite his €115,000 salary which is a lot more than the average wage, i.e. the wage of workers he represents.

Whether he would support Sinn Fein or not is a different matter but what he says about the Labour Party etc. is interesting.

“The Labour party did the right thing by entering government in 2011, claiming that the only alternative would have been a right wing government which would have inflicted even worse austerity on working class communities.”

“When you distill it all down in February of 2011 the alternative that we were faced with was a Fine Gael Government propped up by one or two right wings, or Fianna Fail, or a new General Election which would have resulted in a Fine Gael government with an overall majority.

The same old excuse, the same old myth that without Labour things would have been worse…

Without Labour in the government, things would have been worse? Well, not if there was a fighting trade union leadership and not if there was a strong political resistance by the Labour Party to austerity, cuts and job losses. Instead, all that the Labour Party and Jack O’Connor did was to try to wrap nicely and sell the austerity package to the working class. They became the mouthpieces of the austerity program. Whenever they couldn’t sell it to the workers, they issued depressive warnings and forced the workers to comply with the government plans.

Jack O’Connor’s job wasn’t to explain the workers of this country the reasons why we should settle for a Labour supported austerity government but to fight against the cuts and job losses, which ultimately were in the interest of the anti-working class minority. This myth of “without Labour things would have been worse” has long been trashed with the fact that with Labour things have been worse.

A trade union leader cannot hide from the fact that he did not do his job right against a government that attacked the workers whom he supposed to represent. He cannot avoid the responsibility by becoming the defense person of the Labour Party and constantly avoiding the real issue. He does not have the mandate to speculate on ‘what if’ scenarios of the past but to fight the imposed harsh reality of today. No one asked Jack O’Connor to tell us about his fears of some possible outcomes of 2011 elections. But he keeps speculating like a stock broker, rather than fighting like a trade unionist.

“He still holds the belief of James Connolly, that an independent party for labour was needed.”

Jack O’Connor is twisting and reinventing the facts of what James Connolly stood for and what his fight was about. James Connolly did not have a vision for a party that would comfortably sit in government with a right-wing party and attack the unemployed, single parents, students, the young people, and indeed force the workers into compliance with the right-wing austerity measures. He would have said “cancel the debt, burn the bond holders, go on strike, resist, and fight back…” Other than the membership of Labour Party, which of these ideas did Jack O’Connor inherit from Connolly?

If you read between the lines of what Mr. O’Connor says, we must be stupid to decimate the Labour Party in the last local and euro elections. We must be so stupid not to understand how great a job the Labour Party was doing and how silly the workers were in voting for SF and some other left rather than the Labour Party. One has to remind Mr. O’Connor that the reality of life out there, in workplaces, social welfare offices and in thousands of homes is far from the Labour Party conferences, where he sat in his comfortable chair and applauded speaker after speaker the sales man and women of the austerity program.

Speaking of James Connolly and Larkin, he must have forgotten how the workers of this country  - and the world - have won the fight for some things we take for granted today. These gains weren’t because of Jack O’Connor’s of the past but it was because of the real leaders and rank and file fighters of the working class.

Jack O’Connor, once the ‘Businessman of the Month’ of ‘Business and Finance’ (businessandfinance.com/category/business-person-of-the-month) has done a great service. Not to the workers of this country but to the self-centric Labour Party leadership and to the wider beneficiaries of the austerity program.

With this performance and attitude, if he was the CEO of a corporation with an objective of looking after the profits of shareholders, he would have had to resign or he would have been fired. That is the level of his incompetence, or worse, the wrongness of his political choices.

We don’t need microwaved history lessons from Mr. O’Connor. We need him to do the right thing and take the message of 7% in the election result in the same way as Mr. Gilmore did, and go…

After all, if he still claims that the Labour Party is doing all the right things in government, than he is completely on the opposite side of the workers he represents. That means he is no more in a position to represent the workers. He may as well become a full timer in the Labour Party and experience politics with consequences rather than having a secure job and expressing opinions from his ivory tower.

Mr. O'Connor also called for a kinder budget in October in light of positive exchequer returns. “It won’t be necessary to do anything approaching €2bln.”

And what is Mr. O'Connor going to do if that will not be the case?

Whose side will he be on if the government, with his own Labour Party in it, says, “Thanks for the wishes Jack, but on your bike, go and keep your workers under control!”

Jack O’Connor is still openly defending things that even some of the prominent Labour members are finding difficult to do so.

Based on what I am reading, I demand his resignation.

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