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July 2017

Irish Congress of Trade Unions BDC 2017


John O'Brien (INTO)

John O'Brien (INTO)

Thurs 6 July 2017

Motion 53 – Global Solidarity

This motion has both an international and a local focus and the International agreements mentioned in it are hugely important and relevant. The Agenda 2030 (SDGs) is of particular note and I would hope that the international Trade union movement could sponsor this in a very real way by campaigning across the EU for all States to encompass the SDGs within their programmes for government into the future. That’s the big picture.

But, I believe the most important paragraph in this motion is about the Trade Union Movement’s role in defeating racial discrimination and combating efforts to divide ordinary people, while defending the positive role of working people who emigrate to Ireland.

For most workers and the public at large, their daily experience of, involvement with or visualisation of globalisation and the need for global solidarity principles, is their daily engagement with people who are “refugees” or people who have emigrated to Ireland, whether from EU countries or from further afield. It’s a real issue and pretending there are no racist tendencies in Ireland is not true. We must mitigate against any growth of alienation that some Irish people feel, whether instigated by elements in the media of other sources.

I have had very little experience of personal discrimination (I’m a very lucky person in that regard) but, I will relate a recent event, where when on a street in Dublin City centre with two other people who were speaking in a foreign language, we were accosted by a stranger, on the street, and told to “f-off back to where we came from”. Two of us were Irish and the third person was not and simply because we were speaking in a foreign language, we were targeted for abuse. I was shocked and bemused by this event. But, how serious it must be for people who have to deal with this abuse on a regular basis.

Trade Unions should campaign to finish Direct Provision, but without also promoting the benefits of immigration for Irish society, we run the risk of allowing the “anti-foreigner” lobby to own the topic within public discourse.  Therefore, we must address the matter as widely as possible, within workplaces, union structures and within the public domain.

Date: Thursday, 6 July 17