by David Granville
TWO IRISH trade union officials have begun a major grass-roots campaign in support of their bid to win reinstatement with meetings planned throughout Ireland and beyond.
Mick O’Reilly and Eugene McGlone were dismissed from their posts as secretary and deputy secretary of the Irish region of the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) at the end of April, following several months suspension and a series of lengthy disciplinary hearings.
The union’s London-based leadership, led by union general secretary Bill Morris, had accused the pair of “serious negligence and gross dereliction of duty”. The two ex-union officials have consistently argued that they had no case to answer and have likened the disciplinary process to a trial by kangaroo court.
Formal appeals against their dismissal will be held in London between 19 -- 21 June. At the core of the union leadership’s case was a decision by Irish region, the ATGWU, to recruit members of the Irish Locomotive Drivers’ Association. ILDA was originally formed as a breakaway from the main Irish train drivers’ unions following a bitter industrial dispute. However, tensions between the Irish region and the London leadership had been building up for some time.
“The suspension and subsequent dismissal of Eugene and I amounts to a political coup d’etat by the London-based leadership of the union who could never accept the political position of the union and membership in Ireland on a host of issues, including social partnership and the Nice treaty,” said Mick O’Reilly. The pair have received strong backing from the union’s Irish region and across political and
community divisions. Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine was one of those who wrote to TGWU general secretary Bill Morris complaining over the original suspensions. “By sacking me, Mr Morris has chosen to ignore and treat with utter contempt the expressed wishes of the Irish membership of the ATGWU,” said Mr O’Reilly.
The pair also have considerable support outside of the Irish region, including at executive level.
Martin Mayer, an executive committee member for passenger services said that he was appalled and saddened by the pair’s sacking. However, he promised that the decision would be challenged by a wide range of activists and officers across the whole of the union.
“Mick and Eugene had justly earned respect for their diligence and enthusiasm and for their progressive trade-union views which led them to speak out at times for working people against established views”, he said.
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