World Economic Forum: Defend our public services

DUBLIN HAS the odious task of hosting the World Economic Forum (WEF) from 19 – 20 October. The WEF, which is a representative "think tank" for the top thousand multinational corporations in the world, plans to hold a summit on "European Competitiveness".

But what is the WEF agenda for Ireland? Mary Harney (deputy Prime Minister) and her cohorts in government can hardly conceal their glee that such an event is to be held here. She recently stated that the " will have the capacity to influence change and drive the reforms needed to build competitiveness..". No prizes for guessing what reforms Harney is talking about.

These reforms, which the Fianna Fail / PD coalition wish to impose, add up to the privatisation of our services. They want to reform our bin collection service in Dublin, they would also like to reform our transport system, our hospitals and any other essential service they can prize open for profit. What this means is the handing over to big business for profit making of services that we’ve built up through our taxes over years.

Everywhere the WEF or the institutions of global capitalism have tried to meet, they have been met with opposition, whether in Davos, Melbourne or New York. Dublin will be no different, thousands around the world are already gearing up to bring their opposition to the streets in October. A motion was passed at the Fingal Anti-Bin Tax Campaign conference on 9 June calling for the convening of a meeting to discuss the formation of a campaign to defend public services against the government’s agenda of cuts and privatisation. An interim committee was set-up to develop proposals for this initiative at a meeting convened by Socialist Party Councillor Clare Daly.

The aim of this broad based campaign is to bring together organisations, such as the anti-bin tax campaigns, anti-health cuts campaigns, and workers fighting privatisation into a united campaign to defend public services. This campaigning umbrella group would then initally focus its attention on mobilising working class people to protest against the WEF in Dublin on 20 October and at meetings of the EU leaders in Dublin during the Irish Presidency of the EU in 2004.

The WEF and the EU are the main driving forces behind neo-liberalism in Europe. Ahern and Harney support this agenda. We need to organise now and get all those in opposition to privatisation and the bosses’ agenda mobilised to deliver the message loud and clear – our jobs and services are not for sale.

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July 2003