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“Those who do not speak for themselves are doomed to have others speak for them”.
This old saying seems to apply very  exactly to September's Right2Water demonstration in Dublin. The demonstration was called by the left unions and comes a few days after the  release of ICTU's submission to the government on the 2017 budget.
ICTU used to directly organise pre budget demonstrations but in 2011 its policy,  articulated by Jack O'Connor as working within "the narrow confines" of the Troika budget led to demonstrations of   anger from workers. ICTU now prefer to stay in the background.
In the absence of any political programme or democratic structures the role of the Right2Water demonstration can only be to fuel the ICTU proposals. So what does their  document "People deserve better" say?
The deserving poor
It says that the €1 billion fiscal space  outlined by the government should all be allocated to infrastructure and public services. In addition a further €1 billion should be collected through taxes, including some wealth taxes and this used to solve the housing crisis.
This is in line with the platitudes the bureaucrats come out with for each budget - a plea for a government of the rich to tax the wealthy, a plea to capitalism to help the  workers.
Not spoken
However it in what they do not say that the union leaders come into their own.
In line with SIPTU's policy, they do not call for the abolition of water charges.
They have no opinion on an  Apple tax repayment 
They have nothing to say about the property firesale  organized by NAMA.
There are no proposals about the  endemic corruption and theft at all levels of Irish  society.
These issues are not on the table because today, just as in 2011, ICTU remain within the constraints set by the Troika and the transnationals corporations. Within these constraints there is no prospect that the yoke of debt and austerity will be lifted from the necks of Irish workers.
The mobilizations around water charges have enormous power, but to be fully effective they must be contained inside democratic struggles and political demands.
Rather than the property rights of local and international capital trumping the rights of workers, we must assert the rights of workers to jobs, services and housing over those of capitalist property relations. 


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