Anti Imperialist Action activists were on the ground yesterday to oppose the latest Free State attack on the working class in collusion with imperialist vultures KPMG.
At around 11am a call out was made on social media from the Debenhams workers declaring a red alert and that Garda were mobilising in numbers outside the Henry St Store at the Parnell St side loading bay, in preparation for KPMG scabs to move in and remove stock to be sold in Belfast stores. The workers and supporters had sealed the gates and were standing in front of the shutters that lead into the store.
Initially 4-5 vans and approximately 30 guards were present. Very soon they began to harass supporters that had gathered outside, and separated them from the workers inside by barricades. Covid legislation was used to tell supporters to disperse as well as to take names and addresses, and soon three supporters who had sat down were physically removed and arrested. Local working class people also gathered across the street and expressed their anger at the cops and support for the workers, with some hurling well deserved abuse. Garda angrily told the locals to “get back inside”.
The situation was at a stalemate for some time but within a couple of hours, six Garda vans including four Public Order Unit vans arrived. The vans had been observed around the corner several hours before. It is clear that the entire operation had been well planned by the Free State police. There was now over 60 cops present. At this point the Garda entered into the loading bay and began to physically remove the workers and supporters, who were not offering resistance. As many as 12, several elderly men and women, were physically carried out by Gardaí and dropped near the protest as locals and supporters chanted at them. At one stage a brief clash occurred with Garda getting physically and pushing the protesters out of the way as they refused to allow the Garda to carry the workers through the lines. They then used an angle grinder to cut through the gates that had been sealed. This was around 1:30am.
Scabs entered the store under Garda escort for the next while where they began packing the goods for transport. Despite shouts of “scabs!” and “shame!” there wasn’t much that could be done to oppose it. After several hours of standoff with protesters numbers dwindling, aroud 3:45am two large trucks which had no number plates were escorted by the cops up the road to the back of the store. They had redirected traffic and allowed the trucks to drive on the wrong side of the road to avoid running into the protesters. 2 lines of Garda covered both sides of the road while the goods were loaded, and by quarter past 4am the trucks had departed.
Today marks another low for the Garrison class in its war on workers in Ireland. Strike breaking of course is a proud tradition of the police in Ireland whether under the British crown or under the Free State. The Dublin Metropolitan Police that brutalised striking workers in the Great Lockout of 1913 was for the most part incorporated into An Garda Schiochana from its foundation, because the 26 counties state has never left its subservient colonial role behind.
Such a large deployment of cops for such a small number of workers and supporters, and the use of force to remove the workers as well as clear coordination with Debenhams and KPMG from the beginning, removes any doubt that this was the state fully acting as the armed wing of corporate interests and imperialist vultures. Covid legislation, supposedly designed to protect people, was used to harass and move on protesters and workers, and yet those same regulations didn’t apply to the scabs and truck drivers who were clearly engaged in non essential work. The High Court that provides the injunction against the workers is appointed by the ruling parties in the state. Every section of the Free State establishment can and will mobilise to crush workers resistance and solidarity. The working class will come to understand that there is no compromising or reasoning with a system designed to exploit and grind them into dust.
While last nights events were certainly a blow to the cause of the Debenhams workers and Anti Imperialist Action will continue to support them any way we can in future. After over a year of protesting these workers deserve not only their pay, but the solidarity of every worker in Ireland.