Statement by the National Executive Committee, CPI
11 June 2020
The formation of the three-party coalition government in Dublin, and their agreement on a “programme for government,” is a case of more of the same—a continuation of the same old polices that favour the rich and powerful, policies that are pro-business and full of pious aspirations and wishful thinking regarding the growing global environmental crisis.
This is a programme that will provide little for workers, either in the short or the long term, as can be seen from the fact that workers’ rights do not feature anywhere in this proposed programme. It is a deal to ensure the political stability of a failing system and of the main parties that have been in government for nearly a century.
In February, working people voted for a change of direction, for a change of social and economic policies in relation to the two-tier health system and to housing policy, which has given priority to the interests of the market and a continuation of the dominance and priority given to private builders and speculators.
The Communist Party of Ireland calls on trade unions, people’s organisations and all progressives to organise maximum parliamentary and extraparliamentary pressure to ensure that the change voted for in February is respected. The all-Ireland “No Going Back” post-pandemic proposals of the ICTU must be developed, strengthened, and campaigned on.
The record of all three parties, including the leadership of the Green Party, shows that they cannot be trusted. While giving the appearance of three distinctly different parties, their agreed programme for government is based on one economic strategy: to make workers pay for the deepening crisis of the system, with the Green Party leadership providing the cover of appearing to be different.
In relation to public housing, the CPI calls on working people to resist the possible imposition, as outlined in the agreed programme, of “social housing,” which gives profits to private builders and speculators, instead of public housing, which removes the profit element by being built directly by local authorities. Workers need to resist the imposition of the “cost-rental model,” which links rents to the cost of building and maintaining the property, rather than differential rents, which link rent to income.
Their agreed programme will continue the practice of selling state-owned public housing to tenants, as well as the selling of of public lands, taking assets directly from the state and transferring them to private hands.
The covid-19 pandemic has exposed the two-tier health system, which this “programme “ does not challenge; instead it makes vague proposals for a single-tier health system. They should be introducing a fully funded public health service and working towards and planning for an all-Ireland, fully funded health service, as demanded by increasing numbers of people and organisations, including the ICTU.
Those in the Green Party who are genuinely concerned about the environment were asked to buy this deal on the grounds of proposed carbon taxes for tackling the environmental crisis. Experience shows that this is for making the working class pay for pollution, instead of the real polluters: big business. To the many sincere Green Party activists we say this “programme for government” is not the way forward to finding a just and lasting solution to the global environmental crisis that is now threatening our planet and life itself. It was a welcome development that a number of members within the Green Party actively spoke out and campaigned against this deal and against going into coalition with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. That opposition will be vindicated in the coming years.
The two-year stimulus offered by the government to balance the books following the covid-19 crisis is designed to stabilise the system and promote the interests, both national and international, of capital, rather than to protect working people. It is for buying time for the establishment to prepare the ground for a renewed wave of austerity and attacks on workers’ rights, terms, and conditions of employment.
Given present conditions, there are grave dangers for the working-class movement, as the strategy within governments and employers’ organisations, in collaboration with leading elements within the trade union leadership, is to re-establish some form of reheated “social partnership”—a strategy of offering a few crumbs from the table, for softening up the working class to lower their expectations, so that they accept the austerity policies that will inevitably follow.
To the many sincere Green Party activists we say, This “programme for government” is not the way forward towards finding a just and lasting solution to the global environmental crisis that is now threatening our planet life itself. Now is the time for clear, independent political mobilisation and action by working people throughout the country. We need to build a people’s movement, a movement linking the demands and needs of workers and environmentalists to challenge this decaying system.