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January 26th 2005

Swearing in of Dubya

So George W. has been re-elected and 40 million spent last week to make sure he was inaugurated in style. God help us. World-wide, the most unpopular president in history – at home, the most divisive, George is, once again, at the helm of the most powerful nation in the world. Fifty-one million Americans decided he was the best man for the job, thus isolating their great nation even further from practically every other country on the globe.
Never has a US president done so much to alienate so many. Even as a winner, Bush is a loser. Having instigated the rape of Iraq, he and his administration have seen there country descend into an anarchy and chaos, becoming in the process an active breeding ground for Al-Qaeda and every other terrorist group existent in that region. Meanwhile, at home, the American people are paying at least $2 billion a week for the privilege of seeing their troops being blown to pieces, and repatriated in coffins, out of sight of the populace.
In his inaugural address Mr Bush used the word ‘Freedom’ 27 times, and ‘Liberty’ 15, “All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know the United States will not ignore your oppression or excuse your oppressors.” All of which must have raised a wry smile from the desolate Iraqis and the inmates of Guantanamo Bay.
Next Sunday, the Iraqis go to the polls to elect a government to lead a country, invaded, plundered and destroyed by the Yanks and the Brits. It will be amazing – no matter what the turnout or the result of this election – if it pacifies and re-unites a country so destabilized and brutalized by its occupying forces.
“The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world” said Mr Bush on his big day “America will not impose our style of government on the unwilling. Our goal is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom!”
Grand words, great intentions – but can the leopard change its stripes – and, even now, is it all too late?

Plans for Mullans on target

Margaret Gallagher

A pre-planning meeting for the proposed development at the Mullans took place in the Public Services Office at Drumlonagher last week between Bennett Construction, council planners, NRA and other services. John White, Project Manager with Bennetts, confirmed that, while there is some fine tuning still to be done, the company hopes to go to planning mid-February.
Mr White told Donegal Times that Bennett have also forwarded the additional information requested for the Drumlonagher development and confirmed that the company is in strong discussions with the Office of Public Works with regard to the mooted decentralised offices on this site.

Jon and Linda Geary, from Linda’s Krusty Kitchen, hosted a surprise party for Alrick and Valerie Thompson after they had locked up their drapery shop on Main Street for the last time. Photo: Jason McGarrigle

Hospira workers vote to strike

Tensions rise at Lurganboy plant

On Friday last, Jan 21st, 70% of the S.I.P.T.U. workforce of Hospira Ltd voted to strike in support of a 11% plus pay-claim. There are approximately 550 people working in the former Abbott factory which has been making hospital products in Donegal for the last 25 years.
Before the ballot, all employees of the plant were briefed by management on every aspect of the dispute and the possible repercussions should a strike follow.
Management pointed out that: •The union demand of just over 11% is nearly twice that agreed in the Social Partnership agreement •The local S.I.P.T.U. Branch recommended acceptance of Hospira’s offer but the ‘in house’ shop stewards recommended rejection. •The Labour Court ruled in favour of Hospira.
Management also indicated that the unions demand was not viable under existing circumstances in which East European, South American and Asian production costs are a fraction of what they are here. If they are forced to lay workers off they will only pay out the minimum statutory redundancy. They went on to say that once the strike ballot result became known, Hospira’s customers would immediately source other suppliers and that business lost would be permanent.
However, a worker told Donegal Times “they keep telling us they’ve no money but they’ve just spent €26,000 widening a road that nobody sees the benefit of, and now they’re widening the managers car park”
A shop steward said the main issue among the workers is that the staff of Abbott in Sligo are getting paid more, for similar work, than the workers in Hospira. She warned “if there is no breakthrough we are planning to strike on February 14th. While we don’t want to lose our jobs, staff are resentful of pay rates and want fairness.”
S.I.P.T.U. now have to give two weeks strike notice to the company. Feeling on the shop-floor is that the company will come back with a revised offer, even though management stated prior to the ballot that it would not. A possible solution might be leaving the rate offered the same but reducing the time-frame of the agreement.
Whether this will be enough for the 70% who rejected the final offer remains to be seen.

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

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