Belfast Telegraph

Unions threaten civil disobedience

Irish trade unionists are threatening a campaign of civil disobedience if the state's beleaguered government fails to call a general election.

Talks resumed in Dublin between the government and representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European officials on a bailout for the crisis-hit economy.

But in a display of anger at the performance of the Fianna Fail-led government, a leading trade union called for a public campaign to force a general election.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen, rejected calls for his resignation and said his government was continuing to work in the Republic's best interests.

The Technical, Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) met in Galway for its biennial conference where the agenda was topped by a debate on the feared impact of multi-billion euro cuts in public spending.

Members passed an emergency motion accusing the government of negligence in its handling of the economy, and added: "If the government persists in clinging to power we call on the ICTU (Irish Congress of Trade Unions) and other civil society organisations to launch a campaign of civil disobedience to force an election on a regime that has no principles and no objective beyond staying in office for as long as possible, even at the price of destroying what is left of our economy and our society."

TEEU general secretary Eamon Devoy said the government's forthcoming spending cuts would hit the most vulnerable sections of society.

"What we are witnessing is a dismantling of social welfare provision and pensions for older people and the unemployed, health services for the sick and open access to higher education for our young, while creating immunity from pain for the builders, property speculators and hierarchy of the banking system who are entirely responsible for the mess we find ourselves in," he said.

"Over 440,000 are now unemployed and another 45,000, many of them highly skilled, forced to emigrate."

He accused the government of "floundering blindly through this crisis and dragging us all towards the precipice with it".

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