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M&S Strike: A visit to the picket line

Today, December 7th was a good day in Ireland; a day of fight-back, solidarity and a well-taught lesson for the bosses on 'what happens when you attack workers pensions and conditions'. M&S bosses received this lesson today.

Who knows, who will be the next?

Today was also a lesson for many of us, who thought that there is no fight-back in Ireland despite all the worsening conditions in the country.

It was a day of destruction of myths and lies: “Workers on strike will not be supported by the people”, said some circles. M&S workers on strike were supported by the people everywhere in the country.

Trade union bureaucrats must have learned something as well. And that is a well delivered lesson on 'what unions should do and how they should fight-back against the attacks on workers conditions'. All they need now is a bit of practise. Practise makes one perfect, not sitting in cosy halls of Labour Party conferences.

Even the unelected Senator Feargal Quinn must have learned something today: More than 3000 years after the first ever recorded workers strike, you don't come-up with archaic, self-interested and anti-democratic ideas of banning strikes.  

A contemporary document recounting the first ever recorded labour strike, which occurred in Deir el Medina, Ancient Egypt during the reign of Ramses III when workers did not receive their rations. The stoppage occurred in the 12th century BC, on the 21st day of the second month in the 29th year of the reign of the Pharaoh Ramses III, while Ramses was fighting a series of wars and engaging in an extensive building campaign. The strikers were hereditary craftsmen who worked on the tombs of the Pharaohs, the vast complexes that to this day draw visitors from all over the world to the Valley of the Kings.

Why are they not teaching this in the history classes. You see, history isn't just about Greek goddesses and Roman emperors; it is also about people and their struggle.

Today, we know for sure that the story of the Dunnes Stores South Africa strike wasn't just an Irish Myth. It changed the world, and changed it for the better.

Today, on each and every picket line, there were workers who fought for their rights and there were people standing with them in solidarity.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring...

Today is only the beginning. A small but an uplifting beginning.

I would like to translate this little poem of the great Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet, and dedicate it to striking workers, here in Ireland and everywhere.

They are the enemy of hope, my love.
Enemy of the little stream and the trees in fruit season.
They are the enemy of life, flourishing everywhere.
Because death has its mark on their foreheads
Rotten tooth, decaying flesh.

Never to return again,
They will vanish.
And of course, my love, of course,
Will wander around, in its most glorious dress,
In this beautiful country,
Will wander in its workers uniform,
In this beautiful country

Onlar, ümidin düşmanıdır,
Akarsuyun meyve çağında ağacın
Serpilip gelişen hayatın düşmanıdır.
Çünkü, ölüm vurdu damgasını alınlarına
Çürüyen diş, dökülen et,

Bir daha geri dönmemek üzere
Yıkılıp gidecekler
Ve elbette ki sevdiğim elbet
Dolaşaktır en şanlı elbisesiyl
Güzelim ülkemde
dolasacaktır en sanlı elbisesiyle,
isci tulumuyla,
bu guzelim memlekette

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