Ireland: Scabs and courts used against striking dockers

High court injunction backs up bosses’ attacks

Courts back scabs in dockers battle

By Stephen Boyd

Once again, the Irish courts have backed the employers in an industrial dispute. Marine Terminals have been granted an injunction by the High Court against their workforce and the trade union movement to stop what it calls the harassment of staff who are continuing to work!

’Floating picket’ by dock workers

The High Court is backing the scabs that are assisting Marine Terminals bosses to sack trade unionists and impose major cuts in pay and working conditions. The Court has also said that calling the strike breakers scabs is against the injunction – this could mean that if you were found "guilty" of breaching the injunction by calling a strike breaker a scab that you could be jailed!

The High Court has injuncted trade union SIPTU, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and 10 named individuals, which include the general secretary of SIPTU and the ICTU Assistant General Secretary.

The company argued in court that the strikers and SIPTU were breaching the constitutional right of the scabs to earn a living!

The Socialist Party fully supports the action of the MTL strikers and others to name and shame the scabs – it is they who are guilty – guilty of taking the jobs of the striking workers and of taking away their livelihoods by backing the bosses in this struggle.

This attack on the MTL strikers and the trade union movement by the High Court should not go unanswered. All of the current injunctions (there are now three) which have been imposed by the High Court in relation to this strike should be actively broken by the trade union movement.

SIPTU in conjunction with the ICTU should organise mass pickets to blockade MTL and shut this company down and the scabs should be confronted by mass protests and forced out of Dublin Port.

Solidarity strike action should be organised throughout Dublin Port to close it down. This is how battles against anti-union employers were defeated in the docks all over these islands in the past, through solidarity and the united struggle of all dockworkers.

ICTU should impose a real all out picket on MTL and organise to stop all trade unionists co-operating with this company and the scabs that are inside. No ships should be allowed to dock, no trucks should be allowed to enter, cargo from MTL should be blacked at all union ports and warehouses. MTL should be completely ostracized by the trade union movement until they reinstate all of their employees and accept the strikers’ demands.

The use of High Court injunctions in industrial disputes is now common place however the trade unions have the power to neutralise this weapon in the employers’ arsenal. The mass mobilisation of thousands of trade unionists can make these injunctions and the anti-trade union laws inoperable. The Gardai (Irish police) and the courts would be unable to enforce an injunction at MTL if they were confronted by a mass picket of thousands of trade unionists. And if any worker in the MTL dispute is threatened with being jailed or fined, then SIPTU and the wider union movement must counter that threat with the threat of mass protests and industrial action.

Striking dockers

Scabs and courts used against striking dockers

By Cillian Gillespie, 28 August 2009

“THIS IS an attack on terms and conditions that have been fought for and won over many years and now everything is being taken away at the drop of a hat so that MTL can make more profits”. John Walsh – MTL striker and shop steward.

At the beginning of July workers in the Dublin docks called an all out strike against the bullyboy tactics of their bosses. The management at Marine Terminal Ltd. have tried to force through redundancies and make the workers accept “take it or leave” contracts where they would be on worse wages and conditions.

In reality they are simply mimicking the same union-busting measures that they have carried out in different ports in Britain and in Belfast. MTL is owned by the Peel group in Britain and has assets worth almost £4.5 billion.

The day after the workers took their industrial action, the company took out an injunction against the workers preventing them from stopping trucks with cargo from crossing the picket line. This along with the fact that the workers are still being dragged in front of the courts for supposedly breaching the injunction has added to the difficult situation facing them. The company has also brought in scabs from Britain.

SIPTU and ICTU should use their power to mobilise all workers at Dublin Port into action to stop MTL from functioning. The unions should organise to stop the scabs from carrying out the strikers’ work – direct action with mass pickets could stop all traffic in and out of Marine Terminal Ltd.

The Industrial Relations Act and High Court injunctions cannot be allowed to limit the union’s actions. SIPTU and ICTU have the power to defeat these "obstacles". If SIPTU leaders refuse to take the necessary steps to really back their members’ struggle, then the MTL dockers will have to take matters into their own hands. Mass united action by all dockers could defeat MTL and be a warning to all other employers in the port.

’The Scab’, by Jack London

After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, and the vampire, he had some awful substance left with which he made a scab.

A scab is a two-legged animal with a corkscrew soul, a water brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue.

Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles.

When a scab comes down the street, men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and the devil shuts the gates of hell to keep him out.

No man (or woman) has a right to scab so long as there is a pool of water to drown his carcass in, or a rope long enough to hang his body with.

Judas was a gentleman compared with a scab. For betraying his master, he had character enough to hang himself. A scab has not.

Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage.

Judas sold his Savior for thirty pieces of silver.

Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of a commission in the British army.

The scab sells his birthright, country, his wife, his children and his fellowmen for an unfulfilled promise from his employer.

Esau was a traitor to himself; Judas was a traitor to his God; Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country.

A scab is a traitor to his God, his country, his family and the working class.

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September 2009