One hundred years on from the great lockout of 1913, the Derry man at the helm on the Independent Workers Union (IWU)here says little has changed in the way workers on the ground are treated.
Tom King was speaking as union members protested at Free Derry Corner on the 100th anniversary of the great Dublin lockout in 1913 when workers were locked out of the Dublin United Tram Company for taking part in union activities.
Mr. King, a self-employed taxi driver in the city, said: “A hundred years on and the people of Ireland are continuing to endure endless austerity and cutbacks, be it at the hands of the greedy bankers or flawed Governments and their policies and corruption that has led to families being evicted from their homes.
“We’re seeing young men and women having to flee from their home country to the four corners of the world in search of work and a better life. In the North we face much the same issues with benefit cuts, health care cuts and zero contract hours.
“This all points in one direction and one direction only; the working class people right across the country are suffering at the hands of capitalist business owners.”
Mr. King, who is known locally for his representations on behalf of taxi drivers, claimed the taxi industry was just one example of how capitalism was leaving workers on the ground unable to earn a decent income.
He said: “The rich keep on getting richer and the working class are being downtrodden and made to work longer hours for very little reward.
At a local level taxi drivers in Derry are working excessive hours just to earn enough to get by.
“Some of them are working 70 hours in a week. This is because of outdated fare structures and the increasing costs of keeping their cars on the road.”
The local union representative criticised major players in the taxi industry who, he claimed, were taking away the chance of earning a decent wage from drivers in the interest of making big profits.
He claimed that a “price war” and refusal to increase fares prevented drivers from making a decent wage and have a family life as well.
“It is sheer capitalism. James Larkin was a true socialist and a hero at the forefront in shaping unions in Ireland and the Independent Workers Union proudly display him on their banner.
“It is now time for people right across Ireland to stand together to make changes and I’m calling for the taxi drivers of Derry to unite and demand a fair wage,” he added.
You can find Tom King’s IWU page on Facebook for more information on how to join.