Like a game of fantasy football, the establishment media and media pundits fill the pages and the air waves with speculation about how long the present coalition government may last.
The coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party, while only in office since 27 June, stumbles and staggers from one crisis to another. Whether these are merely teething problems or something deeper only time will tell; but what is clear is that the political representatives of the ruling class have been weakened by the results of the general election.
The Green Party was hauled on board this leaking vessel to give the appearance of change and renewal, to allow a government to be formed that will follow the diktats of the European Union in regard to the further austerity coming to us shortly.
The Green Party will no doubt experience further tensions and defections as the real agenda of the state bites harder and the level of idealism wanes. Unemployment will not decline any time soon, as the pandemic will continue to send shock waves through the economic system.
Many small businesses opened their doors in the hope that they can salvage something, but many may well go under within the next few months as economic activity stagnates. Workers’ spending power has been drastically hit, yet rents and the costs of child care have not come down. There will no doubt be further job losses throughout the economy, north and south, especially in the retail and service sectors.
As workers are being coerced back to work by the state, many of them are now experiencing serious health risks in unsafe and unchecked working conditions. The trade union movement has failed to rise to the challenge, to be the focal point of demanding real health and safety measures.
In all branches of the economy the bosses have appointed “covid-19 safety officers,” from the foreman on building sites to line managers in banks and shops. The bosses have been policing their compliance themselves.
IBEC estimates that 40 per cert of workers now working from home will continue doing so for the foreseeable future, home working becoming the new norm, saving employers millions on fixed costs. Research has shown that there has been a growth in productivity without recompense to workers. While the growth in home working may well suit a minority, it will have a negative impact on the lives of tens of thousands of individuals and families, with increased stress and strain.
On the national and the global level, what the impact on corporate landlords and commercial property speculation will be with the growth in home working has yet to unfold. Big monopolies, such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, have been telling their workers that they will be working from home also, allowing employers the opportunity to restructure their business model. How many will now need fancy headquarters?
What will be the impact on finance capital? Property speculation has been a central avenue for capital speculation and accumulation for decades now. What if there is a decline in the amount of office space required, or when income from rents begins to decline?
Manufacturing is stagnant. For some time the scientific and technological revolution has been shifting in favour of China. That shift is one of the main contributory factors to the growing hostility by both the United States and the European Union towards China as they attempt to control and narrow its influence on the global economy. One example is Huawei, which has become the global leader in the manufacture of smartphones, overtaking Samsung and Apple.
While the machination of the establishment political parties may provide some diversion and light entertainment in these pandemic days, now is the time to build the forces to defend workers’ rights and their terms and conditions. Parliamentary manoeuvring and an emphasis on electoralism will not achieve what needs to be done.
Workers must rely in the first place on their numbers and organised strength. We have great strength, yet it is unrealised and remains untapped. The struggle for water showed us that potential.
We need to build greater co-operation between workers at the global level and a new internationalism, acting in solidarity and collaboration with workers and their organisations against a common enemy and a shared exploitation.