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NIPSA, the most important workers strike in Northern Ireland in twenty years

A rank and file strategy


Davy Carlin • 16 September 2004

As like the Anti Racism Network (ARN) article this is in part a record of events on a particular issue as I firmly believe such should be recorded. This not only because of revisionism but more especially as one can look back and learn lessons if similar situations again arise.

This strike was one of the most important workers strikes in the last twenty years, Below is an article I had written almost six months ago during the height of the campaign, which now, with the dispute in effect over and defeated (Sept 13th 2004) I now put up on the Blanket. I believe that it is vitally important that lessons are learnt within such a dispute as so workers can take the experiences into the next fight. The dispute happened within NIPSA (Northern Ireland's largest union) and within it there had been for many years a broad left group, now such a group was called Time for Change (TfC).

The reality of this group is that it is and has been dominated and lead by the Belfast Socialist Party whose primary role has been to concentrate on trade union elections, as the means of delivering change, change from above in effect. However during this dispute a new group ‘uncivil servant’ came to the fore, based primarily on mobilising a rank and file network and mobilising the workers from their grassroots. It was the uncivil servant who where to the fore from the onset, and within a short space of time of its establishment had seen them initiating the mass unofficial walkouts of thousands of workers, while immediately and actively seeking all out strike action from the start. So while others meekly called for such, uncivil servant activists knew of the importance of attempting to bring such about from the onset, to win, and therefore ‘actively’ pursued this.

Although the Tfc did not this time hold an overall majority on the Civil Service Executive ‘leading’ the struggle, they though had quite recently held a majority. Yet they where voted out next time round by the members who had seen little of the change they promised to bring if elected. Yet as with this dispute, those who lead them, rather than dealing with the reality of their failure, they have again attempted to point the finger elsewhere as to their failures. Such is the mindset.

Nevertheless they still had many members of that upper body who where now ‘leading’ this struggle, and who on many occasions made unanimous tactical decisions, and so with that now seeing a historic defeat. Saying this, I can hold respect for many of them as individual activists, it is though that strategy of primarily electoralism, and of that leadership, that was to the detriment of the over all struggle that I deal with, as it is important for lessons to be learnt. Therefore the uncivil servant activists and their thousands of supporters knew that they had to look elsewhere to attempt to deliver change, and this would be from below, rather than from on top.

In effect it is now widely recognised that if all out strike action would have been called at the onset, with thousands of militant workers walking out unofficially with the ‘wildcat uncivil servant’ strikes, with the workers crying out for all out action, along with the then huge support for the official strike action by members, as well as huge public support, we could have won within a very short period. Workers in their thousands knew this, called out for it, and walked out unofficially with it in mind and voice. Instead though that leadership moved to selective action, in fact turning down, and then off, the tap of militancy, therefore having a strike strategy of the strike of the few, taking on the fight on behalf of the many. Although pressure would be put on government via this situation, this tactic on its own had no chance of winning.

It was not until eight plus months after a long drawn out struggle, with the momentum lost, the tap of militancy turned off, the public support lessening, and that selective strike action of the few for the many, that that ‘leadership then looked to call on workers, to now, go out on all out indefinite strike action before Xmas without pay?

Yet despite this, it was shown that those branches that where to the fore in initiating the walkouts, those branches that were and are best organised with a rank and file strategy, that they could still deliver a resounding yes vote for such action, despite all that had went before. Branch 8 for example, who had initiated uncivil servant, which is the largest, and recognised as the most militant and best organised branch, seen 95% of its members supporting strike action from the onset. Then after all this, eight months on, 85% of branch 8 voted for ‘this now’ called action. Yet overall the vote was lost for the all out call for action around the civil service.

The uncivil servant is now being contacted and building up a rank and file network around the North, our strength was not enough at that time to move the situation forward enough to the strategy that we, thousands of workers, and indeed government knew was needed if we where to win the most important strike in the North in twenty years. Lessons have been learnt by many involved, but probably not by all.

So before the account below of the militant workers actions (and additional points at the end), just a few further notes. Many may be aware that I am working on a book at the minute, it will account for my childhood growing up in West Belfast as a black kid at the height of the troubles. I was born into Ballymurphy 1970, then between Ballymurphy and Sevastopol Street, Falls Road 1974 to early 1981, then Twinbrook early 1981- 1989 . Apart from my life growing up in ‘the West’ it will also account for my life as an activist. I will be blunt, honest and forth- write in dealing with this account as I believe it needs to be. In doing that it will account for how I seen life on the left initially, and with witnessing of the ‘Political Sectarianism, of other left groups and individuals (namely the Socialist Party in Belfast) towards a new activist on the scene. You can get a taste in the article (Belfast: Political Sectarianism and the left – June 2002) which can be found at address belfastleft.html, or similarly in the first in my series of West Belfast articles. (West Belfast, Childhood and the wars – Oct 2003), at the address, partfivedc.html.

I also will write such accounts, and as stated before, in part against revisionism, yet as importantly it is to record a workers history that has occurred in recent times. Again I read of some accounts of campaigns that I and comrades have been involved in. Again I shall be blunt and honest when I record such as I see organisations (and again I will be specific both now and in the book) who attempt to claim every piece of working class activity. Again when I read of the Belfast SP trying to claim that the were responsible for the rally against the murder of a young postal worker Daniel McColgan in 2002, I knew firstly that the factual account needed to be recorded, and secondly I had come to an understanding why such organisations mindsets needed to (and in cases could) attempt to claim such to their membership, more especially those not in immediate or direct contact with the reality of the situation .

Workers need to learn from their history and that can be only done if the truth is told. So such events will be recorded such as that, that had seen the largest Anti sectarian rally during the conflict, after that brutal murder, which shall record the factual account of those left activists that played that not unimportant role in bringing such around. Similar in relation to both the Largest Anti War march and rally seen in the North with its mass student walkouts and various actions, along with a similar mass Anti Racism rally whose make up made it ‘Unprecedented in Northern Irish Political History’, the facts behind the initiating of such shall be written, from the stand point of one who was at the forefront of playing a part of bringing such around with comrades and other genuine activists involved.

Much other events shall be recorded in the book, from the ‘historic’ termed Falls and Shankill march, similar as I have recorded these NIPSA workers actions, as will the several day occupation of Queens University through to the first ever occupation of the US consul in Belfast (since moved), the mobilising and feeder marches from local working class communities, our participation and support as trade unionists at the interfaces, through to ‘sit downs’ opposing Orange marches on the Ormeau Road, etc will be recorded.

Yet apart from an account of my childhood growing up in West Belfast and the important factual accounts of such moments in time, I will account of coming from a working class Republican – Nationalist area and being invited into and speaking in the heart of loyalist working class estates from East Belfast through to the Village and Sandy Row areas of South Belfast.

I see such as important, and is in part why I write, as lessons of such workers struggles can only be understood and learnt from when they are factual and truthful, which can cut across the revisionism and sectional interest that I have found some reek from. Eventually when the book is written, several years down the line I shall put it on the net and begin, I hope, a second and continuing account. For now though below it some of the events and actions by workers involved in one of the most important strikes in twenty years, and the lessons to be learnt, The lessons being primarily of that (putting aside those whose primary role is to concentrate on trade union elections, rather than building strong branches) is that if our ‘leaders’ had of followed such a lead, the call, and the groundswell from below, from the workers themselves for all out action from the onset, instead of bottling the militancy, then we the workers, may very well have won.

Part of the Labour movement.

The rank and file strategy in action, the lessons learnt.

Written six months before the end on this dispute (March – 2004).
And additional notes after.

Now for printed for the Blanket

At the end of last year I had detailed the ongoing actions within NIPSA (Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance, Northern Ireland’s largest union) in an article on the Blanket site entitled (the close of the year 2003 - the Belfast SWP). I below will give an update of that struggle as it still continues and escalates, and it should be noted that when the first ‘official’ strike began it was the first such collective action seen in over sixteen years. My detail will be concentrated on the mass actions of workers who took action, ‘officially’ and ‘unofficially’ against a government agenda of intensified bullying and intimidation of civil servants and the perceived seeking of the breaking of our trade union. Our crime – is to take a firm stand against low pay.

Firstly though I had remembered a few years back when we (Belfast SWP) had organised a march through Belfast city centre against low pay. That march several hundred strong was lead then by up to 150 fire fighters in full uniform, yet with now seeing in recent times those very same fire fighters also in strike actions again on the issue of pay (recorded on the Blanket). Yet as we campaigned and raised solidarity for them we argued, as we argue presently - that as with the then Fire Fighter leadership strategy that the now NIPSA leadership strategy needs to advocate all out strike action for much longer periods if we are to win. The fire - fighter leadership action then as with the NIPSA Civil Service Executive now, have adopted a start stop approach to actions. This type of selective and stop start action in fact does little to win a dispute as recent history has shown. NIPSA members have shown though that they have been ready for the fight, yet it has been the weakness of the leadership of the Civil Service Executive (who have not been willing to take the step to move to firm escalation of the strike by calling for all out action). It is their and that weakness that will seriously hamper any chance of winning if they continue down their still tentative route, which plays into management’s hands.

Belfast SWP have both NIPSA members and also leading NIPSA trade union Reps on Branch 8 committee ‘CSA’ (the largest branch in the civil service) which is also recognised around NIPSA as its strongest and most militant Branch. This due to the respect the Branch has from the workforce due to the dedicated work and firm stands that they had put in over the years for members and also for providing active solidarity on many other ‘external’ issues and campaigns. Which is why I believe it is of no co-incidence that when management and government started suspending Northern Ireland civil servants, they started and directed their attentions whole scale against us in Branch 8. This whole situation had started to escalate when management had imposed a deal, 0% in real terms and with that Branch 8 had said enough was enough. Firstly, and as reported previously a brief account of the actions at that time to put the developing situation into context.

‘So on the news that the ‘deal’ was to be imposed rank and file activists within Branch 8 NIPSA drew up placards and began marching around the floors of our thirteen story building in Belfast, with placards reading 'end poverty pay - all out.' And with that workers joined in behind and marched outside in their hundreds onto the streets of central Belfast on ‘unofficial’ walkouts.

As the news spread around, other workers starting walking out of their offices all around Belfast with many marching upon Branch 8 to stand firm with their colleagues. With comrades now standing upon the steps of our workplace making addresses to the workers, other workers looked down out of the windows of surrounding buildings shouting out ‘we are on our way down’; and down they came. As the news spread others started walking out as far away as Derry. Such was its impact and the inspiring spontaneous mobilisation of workers that the N. Ireland minister stated that ‘the actions of workers at branch 8 were deplorable’.

Yet I tell you what was and is deplorable Mr Minister - the imposing of a 0% deal in real terms and the keeping of workers on poverty wages. So with that the rank and file workers, Catholic and Protestant in their many many hundreds strong, took the lead, immediately downed ‘tools’ when the ‘deal’ was imposed, and walked out, clapped as other workers marched towards them in solidarity and with that together stood firm and united on that day. Thus in doing so taking to the streets of Belfast and beyond, in solidarity and against poverty wages.

This active and visual action led the way in showing both how much workers are sickened by the way they are being treated by management and government and provided a small example of the real power held by the workers as the businesses came to a virtual standstill. These workers therefore took that lead, stood firm against low pay and excuse the pun, walked the walk. As one worker and recently new union representative, recently interviewed and newly inspired, has stated (who had never been in such actions).

‘I have seen trade union activists in different trade unions during my time as a NIPSA member (8-9 years) and before, looking time and again to trade union election after election to try and bring change. Or looking to provide activist based leadership and involvement (from on top), but unfortunately providing just the very occasional sign of either. I believe that those unofficial walkouts were probably the largest and most feel-good immediate reaction responses against low pay that has been initiated, responded to, and more importantly led by ordinary union members, that NIPSA has seen in God knows how many years and, most probably, has ever seen.'

Such walkouts had also happened this time last year which seen walkouts and actions this time by school students against the war in Iraq (recorded on the Blanket). A joint press conference was held then by the Irish Congress of Trades Unions and ‘Schools Against War (SAW) and chaired by my comrade Dan (SAW and Belfast SWP) before the school student actions. Again the actions taken through the SAW walkouts, marches, sit downs and venting of anger at the US consul as like the NIPSA members now, sent out a clear and powerful message of opposition on those particular issues.

This NIPSA rank and file action gave workers inspiration and many of the rank and file workers who took the lead in this case, as was to be the case in the next mass ‘unofficial walkouts’ were grouped around the newssheet of ‘uncivil servant’. So for the next while NIPSA continued with selective strike action and work to rule but once again management moved to escalate the situation by issuing threats.

So with these threats to remove ‘flexi time’ and with blunt refusals to even negotiate etc and just a week or so after thousands attended the Anti Racism Network rally (ARN), thousands of civil servants again walked out on unofficial action. This on Feb 5th when management issued the threats. Below again is a report of again Branch 8’s initiations and actions.

‘At 11.30 am Feb 5th branch 8 members of NIPSA with chants of ‘Tommy O’Reilly on yer bike, we’re going out on strike’ walked out of their office and went onto the streets of Belfast. 500 strong we marched up Great Victoria street's roads in central Belfast and passed Belfast City Hall in what the media called 'wildcat strikes' and the civil service management called 'illegal'.

Like the first 'unofficial wildcat actions' a few weeks prior that lead the Northern Ireland minister to state that 'Branch 8 actions are deplorable' as branch 8 had previously brought hundreds on walkouts onto the streets from Belfast to Derry against low pay. This time though it was thousands (three to four thousand).
Many of such activists to again take the initiative and lead being grouped around the ever growing rank and file workers newssheet ‘uncivil servant’ (established only a very short time). This network has seen such spontaneous mass ‘wildcat actions’ against low pay that has not been seen under the period of previous (over many years) and present ‘broad left’ groups whose ‘main’ focus is primarily on trade union electoralism. Therefore these mass actions from below (rank and file workers actions) far outweighed anything on such similar matters that had ever gone before this in NIPSA. More importantly though the actions have give both inspiration to workers and shown also where the real powers lays, which comes from below. As one recent leading senior NIPSA official acknowledged at a mass meeting of Branch 8, ‘if every branch was like Branch 8 we would have won this fight in the first week’.

In saying that he hit the nail on the head, that is, the NIPSA broad lefts years and years of primarily focusing on trade union electoralism had now seen the weakness in that strategy. With the emphasis therefore on getting people elected to positions within the union leaderships, therefore very little was done on the ground within the branches. That is why although, yes, stand for elections but the primary focus should be on building strong and active branches, as those around ‘uncivil servant’ are attempting to do. This as has been shown in the recent actions and indeed through the realisations of some ‘left’ union activists and officials who have tended to concentrate in the main on electoralism over the years.

The original issue on these actions was in relation to a pay increase or in this case no pay increase and the first 'unofficial wildcat strikes' a few weeks back was when management imposed the 'deal'.

Management threats this time of withdrawal of flexi working hours etc, therefore seen similar actions by workers (this time in their thousands) who showed that we are up for the fight against both management threats and poverty pay.

So as we marched through the streets yet again on our 'illegal wildcat strikes' workers from other offices opened their widows from on high and started leaning out waving, cheering, clapping and chanting with us as we made our way onto the main roads and avenues and through side streets, from one side of central Belfast to the other. This as so we could meet up with other workers who had also walked out in solidarity and against the threats by civil service management. As we arrived at the meeting point with my comrade Ryan leading the chants on the mega phone thousands of workers who had already arrived cheered, raised their fists in solidarity into the air, or clapped at our arrival. And as we gathered at the management’s office we sang in Unison

‘We would rather be the pickets than the scabs
‘We would rather be the pickets than the scabs
‘We would rather be the pickets, rather be the pickets
‘Rather be the pickets than the scabs’.

Ryan, Chair of Branch 8 (a comrade who played the key role in branch 8 at this time) was interviewed in that days Belfast Telegraph (North’s Biggest seller) stating that 'workers were angry at what they viewed as threats and intimidation by management and today’s walkout is about expressing our anger'.

Management in the same piece stated that 'this industrial action has begun to impact significantly on services'.

The next day official action was to take place and as I walked around civil service departments in Belfast city centre many were simply shut or with their shutters down with pickets outside. Outside Branch 8 our picket around 30 strong sang spirited songs to, and with pickets stationed across the road who had now tripled their picket line since December’s action.

Management had underestimated the strength of workers feelings on the issue and the bully boy tactics and threats by management, workers had shown will not work. These actions while important and historic within NIPSA's history is more importantly though in the process of building both the confidence of workers in all aspects of society and secondly showing to date that this group of workers are up for the fight against the government agenda of poverty pay. If successful it will give inspiration to others, but to be successful we should learn the lessons of the recent successful postal workers actions in Britain.

For myself it has as with many campaigns, struggles and actions one has been involved in taught me lessons. I had originally seen and wondered at other left and socialist organisations whose main focus is on trade union elections. They hold trade unionists that hold senior positions in the trade union bureaucracy (who themselves are good genuine individual left activists). Yet it is their political organisations concentration on such elections without building anything on the ground that had shown the weakness of that strategy. This has been shown in the NIPSA strike where its leadership has been the weakest link with the workers more militant and that leadership more tentative. It has shown how a rank and file strategy of building from the bottom up, rather than building from the top down can have a far better chance of winning such a dispute as was even acknowledged by that senior union official.

Thankfully now in NIPSA a new layer of activists has emerged around the newssheet uncivil servant. They are the activists attempting to build the strongest activists based, rank and file lead branches. They are the activists who took the initiative to lead those historic unofficial militant walkouts of workers. They are the activists who are advocating and actively seeking all out strike action as to not play into managements hand and to more importantly to have a strategy that can win this strike. The lessons for oneself as a socialist are clear that focusing on trade union elections without building anything on the ground will not work and will lead to defeat.

I cite but two recent examples of differing ways of organising, solely as it is important as to how the difference in strategy can be seen in practical terms for socialists. The Socialist Enviornmental Alliance (SEA) was seeking to establish its self in Belfast as it had already done firmly in Derry. Its reason was to stand in the forthcoming European elections and as one who sees elections as tactical rather than a means to an end; this therefore was a time I believe when one should put forward a candidate. Not only given the increasing stalemate and political nature of the orange and green or indeed the development of the new international movements. It is though that we are also witnessing an emergence of new local activists and activist based cross community campaigns, which are part of the growing movement.

Yet such are in themselves creating and initiating mass local mobilisations and actions from fighting against low pay to taking a stand against racism. Such issues that are mobilising on mass scale locally in very recent times are also part of the priorities of the International movement. Therefore while it was important after the mass anti war protests of Feb 15th 2003 to provide a voice, it is essential now given at times the unprecedented specific mass mobilisations and militant workers actions happening on those variety of local issues. This is coupled with more and more new activists emerging, engaging, working, organising, agitating and networking together on a whole host of campaigns. A half a dozen community and activist based anti racism branches in Belfast alone, several activists based SEA branches seeking to develop also around Belfast, new networks of militant trade union activists who are to the fore of mass workers struggles and militant actions, these are just some of the developments in Belfast over the last several weeks. Such initiatives are also beginning or are already being developed outside Belfast as with the Derry SEA and its various local campaign initiatives for example. And of course we are essentially seeing the under laying factors within those local struggles reflected as part of the International movement.

Yet despite this there are those who still believe that the time is not quite right (to stand in elections, yet some of whom have before advocated and indeed stood in far far less favourable times?) well, to those persons I say that I believe that they are quite simply wrong. Therefore it is my belief that an ‘activist based non-sectarian electoral voice’ as part of the movement is essential at this time. Which represents and reflects both the anti capitalism of the movement and therefore with it the immediate local issues at hand. I see it as a case of looking to, and the involvement of the new and not primarily the old (left). Therefore as the SEA, I am to believe, is moving in that direction then for one it is something I would then actively support and actively promote, if that is the case, as the time is right.

The SEA therefore (as it is in Derry) and as it is to be in Belfast, is that of an activist based campaigning organisation working on the ground within the communities and trade unions etc. The meeting called in Belfast (to establish the Belfast SEA) attracted up to eighty persons, with an introduction by one person as to the reason of the meeting then it was opened for discussion. Those in attendance were on the ground and leading activists within anti racism, anti war and anti poverty campaigns. The meeting also seen leading, Gay, Women’s and environmental right campaigners in attendance, as well as leading rank and file activists from several trade unions. Persons from solidarity campaigns, left wing journalists, student activists and many other leading on the ground activists within local communities amongst others from around Belfast were also there.

This make up came from Catholic and Protestant areas and overwhelmingly non-party aligned and activist based and as importantly was reflective of the movement. For one I see this as the way to organise and to work together, and in doing so new moods of activism and activists therefore have come together in recent times. In doing so we have therefore seen the initiation of mass mobilisations and militant actions on various issues involving Catholic and Protestants in recent times on the streets and in the workplaces around the city of Belfast and beyond. It is the case of being part of the movement at a local level and to do that one most learn new ways to organising and seek to reach out for engagement.

Yet two days later another meeting was called by the Belfast Socialist Party, on building a socialist alternative. Their platform of speakers included a President of the largest Trade union, the leading figure of another Trade union and a Socialist TD (MP) from the South of Ireland. That meeting attracted little more than a dozen persons, in fact no one outside of their own organisation. While I can hold respect for those on the platform as socialist activist I again learnt a lesson similar to the NIPSA issue. That is, that if one works in campaigns in a fraternal way putting the interest of the campaign as the priority then people will acknowledge that. More importantly that the campaign should be activist based and activists lead from below, where genuine activists can begin to feel empowered and equal participants.

Therefore I have learnt that many independent and genuine activists will not necessarily go along to a meeting of Presidents of this or leaders of that (more especially if the speakers all belong to the same political party). But they would go along to meetings that they know will be activist based and those who will be in attendance have a recent history of broad based campaign activity with various others. As importantly that they know (due to their recent history) that such activists will work fraternally and in equal partnership on a common issue with them and with others. In effect making the issue the priority. For me personally such issues are important when working with others and more especially given the development of the new movements.

This is being reflected also internationally where new methods of organising and working together are being thrown up within the process of those new movements. What we are seeing now is new networks of activists and new ideas on organisation and how one works together coming to the fore. Therefore those who dwell on purism, sectarian party politics, and methods of the past will unfortunately be left there as new situations, (which mean adapting to those very situations) need to, and begin to occur, this in many spheres of ‘organisational politics’.

The work of the rank and file ‘Uncivil Servant’ activists who initiated the magnificent militant civil servant walkouts which eventually seen thousands of workers walking out unofficially, saying enough was enough. Or the Anti Racism Network (ARN) mass rally of thousands a week or so prior, with now ARN activist based branches establishing all around Belfast and beyond, has seen both of these local issues having a number of things in common. Firstly it is the coming together of activists on a common issue, where the issue and unity with others is the priority. With that both have been able to initiate mass actions and mobilisations. Secondly activists within each, seek to work from the bottom up both within the trade union and now the ARN local branches thus developing empowerment of activists. Yet although these are local issues they are part of the wider issues, which the movement takes up. This from the issue of low pay to the issue of racism and fundamentally to the issue of Capitalism and how that very system needs to see revolutionary change, and of course, how this is brought about.

Yet, and finally on the NIPSA issue, our struggle against poverty pay continues, but that struggle needs a firm strategy that will win, as I believe we can. Yet that is only a very small part in an internationalist struggle as at the end of the day for those of us that are internationalists, we have also a whole world to win.


Update - Sept 2004

Many lessons can be learnt within the account provided. The move for example, to all out action at the start when the militancy was bubbling over onto the streets in unofficial actions of workers in their thousands, this was the time to escalate. This when official actions had huge backing and active support from members across the board, also when there was huge public support from around society and when workers where screaming out for the call to escalate to win. This was the time to escalate, this was the time we could have won .Yet the ‘leadership bottled that militancy and excluded the majority in strike action for the actions of a few. While rank and file activists did what they could and even when thousands where taking unofficial action it was not enough to move that timid leadership.

Therefore what we need, is to continue to build up such strong and militant branches, as that is where the real power lays, as even as that trade union senior official had realised when he stated, ‘that if every branch was like branch 8 we would have won this fight in the first week’. Unfortunately the broad left and those now recently in the form of TfC (although doing occasional activity) have choose primarily the road of elections, in effect, to primarily seek the top table of the trade union bureaucracy. Yet, as stated, while elections should be a tactic, they should not be the ‘primary tactic’ of Socialists, as the means to deliver change.

The lessons have also been that whether in or out of leadership positions, that should not be where also a socialist ‘strategy’ primarily lays. If the energy used over the years in such elections would have even been equalled in building up strong branches, again it may have been very different. Although to late to change the overall out come of this strike, but having seen the positive side of having inspired and re - vitalised many branches and thousands of workers into activity or action, the uncivil servant rank and file network needs now to build and expand. Many have now learnt and seen in a practical way (this historic defeat) and as to where those whose primary concentration is on trade union elections, can lead us, and have lead us, and so, we must attempt to ensure that we have the collective strength that such need not happen within our union, the members union, NIPSA, ever again.

Davy Carlin, NIPSA REP Branch 8.





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
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Index: Current Articles

19 September 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

Get On With It
Dolours Price

Who Pulled the Strings
Eamon McCann

Can of Worms
John Kennedy

British Terror in Ireland
Kevin Raftery

Big Snake Lake
Eoghan O’Suilleabhain

'Ulster Britishism' or the Myth of Nationality
Liam O Comain

An Teanga Once Again?
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Converting Waste into Value
Liam O Ruairc

Scargill Speaks In Belfast
Anthony McIntyre

NIPSA, the Most Important Workers Strike in Northern Ireland in 20 Years
Davy Carlin

12 September 2004

Standing Down
Mick Hall

Life in the Party
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Is There a Peaceful Way to a Peoples Republic?
Liam O Comain

Rising to the Top of the Hate List
Fred A. Wilcox

Books Not Bombs
Mary La Rosa

Fighting for the Right to be a British Drug Dealer
Anthony McIntyre

Document Stamped 'Secret'
submitted by Fionnbarra Ó Dochartaigh

The Final Insult
Starry Plough Editorial Collective

Tensions Escalate as Loyalists March Through the Ardoyne
Paul Mallon



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