[Sinn Fein]

1st May 2003

`It's time to fight back' - McDonald

Sinn Fein candidate for Dublin, Mary Lou McDonald has called for Trade Unionists to fight back against the encroaching privatisation of public industries and the growing social divide in Irish society. Speaking in Sinn Fein's May Day statement, Ms McDonald said that the economic boom for big business of the last few years meant ``We're working harder, they're getting richer.''

``90 years after the 1913 Lockout Irish Trade Unionism is on the back foot. The last 20 years have seen the introduction of anti-Trade Union legislation in the form of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990 and the Amendment Act, 2001. There has been no legislation introduced to oblige business to recognise Trade Unions.

``The latest so-called Partnership deal pledges Unions to Compulsory Binding Arbitration, IBEC called it a `ground breaking move' by the Union leadership. Trade Unionists have put their fates in the hands of the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court.

``As for the rich and big business, a recent Revenue survey showed that almost one in five of the top 400 earners has an effective tax rate of 15% or less and 29 of those individuals pay no tax at all. The profit share of the national income has risen from 25% to 38% since 1987, the largest such increase in the EU, Japan or the US. At the same time as business profits have increased so much productivity output per head has almost doubled. Corporation Tax is the lowest in Europe.

``We're working harder, they're getting richer.

``Public utilities are being privatised. They have already sold off the telecommunication industry and it's only a matter of time before the ESB, Aer Lingus, CIE, Dublin Bus and others are sold off unless workers organise to campaign against privatisation.

``This state is now one of the most unequal in the world. In 1987 6.2% of families lived in relative poverty. In 2000, this had doubled to 12%. The number of people living on the streets is increasing.

``In 1886 eight Trade Unionists were sentenced to be executed for fighting for the right to an eight-hour day. It is this great sacrifice that we march to remember every May Day. It is this spirit of Trade Unionism that must be awoken.

``It's time to fight back.''

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