A Victory for Respect, Solidarity, Trade Unions & the Beautiful Game

Posted on April 06, 2017 at 03:58 PM

Women's Football Team - The Irish Women's National Football Team outside Liberty Hall
Women's Football Team
The Irish Women's National Football Team outside Liberty Hall

Ethel Buckley, SIPTU Services Divisional Organiser on how the Irish women’s national football team stood together to win a new deal from the FAI

!n the early hours of Thursday, April 6, SIPTU and Professional Footballers Association of Ireland (PFAI) representatives secured a landmark agreement with the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) that our members believe will address their concerns and take their team to the next level.

This hard fought victory can be shared by all workers who are badly treated by their employer. It should give all trade unionists hope that with the right energy, enthusiasm and commitment we can prevail.

This is a victory for those who value dignity and respect, a victory underpinned by the strength and unity of the players and their union representatives. 

It is an important step on the road towards genuine equality for women playing sport professionally in Ireland and a reminder of the critical role our movement can play in closing the gender pay gap across every sector of the economy and society.

This landmark agreement was only made possible by the players’ bravery, commitment and organisation. The courage they showed in publicly outlining their concerns provided a solid foundation from which we could engage with the FAI and secure a just resolution to the dispute.

The events of recent days amount to a short, sharp and successful campaign that will contribute hugely to advancing the rights of women in sport.

They also serve as a reminder that women should never accept being treated as second class citizens, in any area of society,

Foootball Two

The campaign success was due to the collective decision of the players to join a trade union and fight for the right of their union to be recognised as their representative body.

The members of the women’s national football team deserve the respect and praise of not only the current generation of women in Ireland, but of future generations also.

As is the experience of any union member engaged in an industrial dispute, the players have been to hell and back over the last number of days. 

Their principled stance clearly resonated with people around the world as their story went viral, following the April 4 press conference.

The team decision not to train yesterday the next day was not taken lightly by any member of the squad or any union representative. The women’s absolute commitment to the green jersey and their passion for their country was clear for all to see.

But they were faced with a stark choice.

It is the same difficult choice workers engaged ina dispute make every day, whether in Bus Éireann, Tim Hastings Garage in Westport or in the green jersey of the women’s national team.

They leverage the withdrawal of their labour to even the score. 

The landmark agreement was a clear win for the people we represent.

If our movement is to continue securing wins for working people, then we must display the same strength and unity of purpose that has been shown by our women’s national football team.

La lucha continua. 

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