The following statement on the war in Ukraine was issued by NIPSA (the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance), the largest trade union in Northern Ireland, on 28 March.
The statement presents a class approach to the war in Ukraine and advocates the unity of the working class across all ethnic and national lines.
This echoes the situation in the north of Ireland, which for many years was blighted by sectarian killings, armed conflict, militarisation, and oppression. Nearly a quarter of a century after the formal end of the conflict, known as the ‘Troubles’, the working class still faces sectarian divisions and poverty.
The CWI in Ireland (Militant Left), is active in NIPSA, at all levels, and our supporters in that union and other unions call for workers’ unity against the bigots and the bosses, and for a new party of the working class to oppose the main sectarian-based parties and to struggle for socialist change.
NIPSA opposes and condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We call for an immediate ceasefire and for all Russian armed forces to immediately withdraw from Ukraine.
The war in Ukraine is an extremely dangerous development. Implicit in the situation is the risk that it may spread and escalate, drawing other countries into a growing international conflict. The working class has nothing to gain from war and will pay the biggest price, both in Russia and Ukraine.
Despite the terrible situation, we support the building of unity among workers across national boundaries. The workers of Ukraine and Russia like all workers have common interests – as do the international oligarchs (including global arms dealers) who, over decades at home and abroad, have grown rich plundering the wealth they had no part in creating.
We stand in solidarity with those in Russia who have protested against the invasion, despite police repression. We support the building of a mass anti-war movement, including among Russian troops. Similarly, we support workers in Ukraine acting independently of the Zelensky government, building their own organisations, and taking independent action. This includes attempts to build dialogue and links with rank-and-file troops in the invading Russian forces.
We condemn any far right or fascist group, on either side of this conflict, seeking to take advantage of the war to build their own organisation and activity by further provoking national and ethnic tensions.
We send our solidarity to those workers in Ukraine who are risking their lives delivering emergency services and humanitarian aid in the most appalling and dangerous conditions. We will seek to build support and send practical solidarity where possible, including through the trade union movement.
This war is also a longstanding proxy conflict between Russia, the EU and NATO prompted by NATO expansion into central and Eastern Europe, despite previous commitments from them not to do so. We oppose this expansion and any intervention in this conflict by NATO forces.
We support the rights of ethnic minorities in Ukraine to determine their own affairs.
We note that economic sanctions will disproportionately hit working people which may be seen as an aggressive measure by the west and which could strengthen support for Putin.
We oppose the UK government’s disgraceful restriction on the right of refugees fleeing wars to enter the UK. Recent actions do not go far enough. The plight of the Ukrainian refugees should act as a watershed in the treatment of all refugees and we call for refugees from this and other conflicts to be welcomed and supported.
Workers in Ukraine and Russia – and across the world – have common interests. In this appalling situation, it is essential that we and the rest of the trade union movement stand for workers’ unity and internationalism.