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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

TIME FOR THE COMMUNITY SECTOR TO FIGHT BACK


I attended a protest organised by SIPTU today in Dublin to fight back against cuts in the Community Sector. I commend SIPTU for organising the march and for mobilising thousands of people nationally from across the community sector. It is vital that the sector unites against savage cuts which will devastate communities especially those worst hit by the recession. The Community Service Programme has seen its funding cut by €10m. €44million has been cut from the Community Development Programmes and partnerships. Many Family Resource Centres are under threat of closure. €2.6m has been cut from the National Drugs Strategy. As a voluntary member of a Community Development Project in Larchville and Lisduggan and a former board member of Waterford Area Partnership I know at first hand the impact these cuts will have. These are organisations working at the coalface in disadvantaged areas trying to bring about social inclusion.

It is right that people in the sector are angry that the Government are making the vulnerable pay for their mistakes. However it is not enough to be angry. We need to turn that anger into action. The best way for the sector to achieve this is to unite behind a campaign to have these savage cuts reversed. I am calling on everyone involved with or who benefited from community development type programmes to attend SIPTU’s national march organised for September 30th in Dublin. Only be working together and uniting behind a single campaign can we successfully force this Government to abandon their strategy of making the vulnerable pay for their mistakes.

2 comments:

  1. I think it’s great that yourself and others are attending protests on cutbacks in the Community Sector. Just one problem though, would you not agree that the trade union movement (read SIPTU) institutionalise class inequalities through buying into the whole idea of “wage differentials” etc.? If we didn’t have such institutionalised levels of inequality in Irish society, I think perhaps a lot of the Community Sector would not be needed in the first place......
    Are these marches because “community workers” are members of SIPTU, and community sector budget cuts = job cuts? Are SIPTU trying to protect their members rather than the people that their members work? Or are SIPTU suddenly interested in really doing something to address the question of inequality??
    I’ll certainly be at the march on 30th September anyway, but I’ll definitely know why I’m there. I just hope that the grassroots of SIPTU realise that reallocating budgetary measures to the community sector is never going to address the bigger picture....

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  2. Hi Stephie,

    I agree with most of what you say. I am not a member of SIPTU and was there in my capacity as an elected representative and a volunteer in the community sector. I think it is up to those who attend the meetings to make it clear that this camapign is about cuts to the community sector and the impact these cuts will have on disadvantaged communities. SIPTU are of course trying to organise within the sector and will have an interest in protecting jobs. However your fundamental point about inequality is right. SIPTU have supported successive partnership agreements which has led to the growing gap between rich and poor, the haves and the have nots and have ignored the issue of wage differentials. I opposed all of the partnership deals on this basis as have my own union UNITE. However struggling communities need community based resources and programmes. This is the only reason why I was at the protest on Wednesday and why I will be at the one in Dublin on the 30th.

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