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WHAT IS TO BE DONE IN TRADE UNIONS?

Support Mandate Strikers at Tesco

Resist Attack By Employers on Workers’Conditions

If Tesco WINS THIS DISPUTE THE CONDITIONS OF  WORKERS EVERYWHERE WILL BE IN DANGER

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Support Bus Éireann Workers

DEFEAT THE EMPLOYER AND GOVERNMENT OFFENSIVE!

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Bus Workers Victory Heaps Pressure on Union Leaders Who Capitulated to Continued Pay Cuts and FEMPI ANTI_TRADE UNION LAW in Public Service

Lower-paid civil servants seek speeding up of pay restoration-Irish Times

The outcome of the Luas and Dublin Bus pay disputes “needs to be reflected within the public service”-CPSU

Martin Wall  Irish Times, October 1, 2016, 01:00

Lower -paid civil servants are seeking the Government to speed up the pace of pay restoration.Their trade union also said the outcome of the Luas and Dublin Bus pay disputes, which resulted in pay increases, “needed to be reflected within the public service”.It also warned that tolerance of additional unpaid hours which public servants were obliged to work was “running out fast”.

The Civil Public and Services Union (CPSU)wants the €1,000 payment due from September next year brought forward to January.

The union, which has members working in clerical roles alongside gardaí in An Garda Síochána, said it would be watching developments carefully in the campaign by gardaí for improved pay and conditions.

Meanwhile Siptu president Jack O’Connor has said additional money that public service staff would be envisaged to receive under a successor to the Lansdowne Road accord after 2018 should be paid earlier.

He also urged the Government to bring forward the date for paying the second tranche of increases under the existing Lansdowne Road deal, which is currently scheduled to be paid in autumn next year.

Yesterday Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe said the Government was worried about the possible “domino effect” of the planned Garda strikes.

Mr Donohoe said that any solution to public sector strikes must be through the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

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GARDA DISPUTE: McGrath and Halligan Support Lansdowne Rd and Anti-Trade Union FEMPI Acts

Independent Minister Finian McGrath told The Irish Times the Independent Alliance were “100 per cent on board” for insisting on maintaining the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

As gardaí plan to take unprecedented strike action for four days, the Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal has told Ministers he is unwilling to agree a special pay deal for members of the force.-Irish Times 29/09

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Support the Bus Workers -For A Day of Solidarity Action!

The five trade unions representing workers at Dublin Bus have organised a solidarity march on Tuesday next, September 27, 12 Noon, Dublin City Centre

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 National Bus and Rail Workers Union (NBRU) has challenged Ross’s INDEPENDENT ALLIANCE COllEAGUES  including ministers Halligan and McGrath“to respond the question which is, do they support the minister on his handling of the crisis which is unfolding in Bus Eireann”

Transport Minister Shane Ross is set to come under pressure from his Independent Alliance colleagues this week after junior minister John Halligan backed bus eireann workers against planned pay cuts-Sunday Times  Justine McCarthy   25/09/2016

But where is Finian McGrath Hiding?

Bus Eireann told the Workplace Relations Commission recently that it wished to hive off  the Expressway service to the provincial regions to a low paying subsidiary company

Under its plan to achieve €7m savings, the company wants to reduce the number of full-time positions at Expressway from 550 to between 400 and 450. Compulsory redundancies have not been ruled out.

 

Currently, Expressway employees enjoy the same terms and conditions as workers in the company’s public service obligation routes, and are full-time staff.

Some private operators, in contrast, do not have full-time staff, and pay daily and hourly rates, while some do not pay pensions.

BUT THE VERY PROFITABLE  BUS EIREANN DUBLIN COMMUTER ROUTES ARE TO BE PRIVATISED

Bus Éireann routes to be privatised in 2016 by the National Transport Authority

120 Dublin–Edenderry–Tullamore

123 Dublin–Naas

124 Dublin–Naas–Portlaoise

126 Dublin–Naas

130 Dublin–Naas–Athy

Tenders  also been  sought for six Waterford routes currently operated by Bus Eireann.

It is Clear that All Bus Eireann Routes are To be Made Profitable through Low Pay and then sold off!!

Extracts from Sunday Times Article

Bus Eireann told the Workplace Relations Commision on Wednesday that it wants to cut pay, consider the option of redundancies and to restructure its Expressway service which is losing 500,000Euro per month due to competition from private operators. (Bus Eireann wants to hive off Expressway into a separate company with lower pay and worse conditions than in the parent company-PH)

Halligan Wants Private operators licences withdrawn and has called for bus services nationwide to be nationalised . . . . . .

Halligan , the minister for training, said it would be “grossly unfair” if Bus Eireann introduced pay cuts and redundancies. “The general public deserves a quality public service but the workers who provide it deserve to work in reasonable conditions and be properly paid.” he said.

“I believe the bus service should be run by the state. I’m against privatising any part of the service. We need to have an economic assessment done to see how the state can control it.”

Dermot O’Leary, General Secretary of the National Bus and Rail Workers Union (NBRU) has challenged Ross’s INDEPENDENT ALLIANCE COllEAGUES “to respond the question which is, do they support the minister on his handling of the crisis which is unfolding in Bus Eireann.

O’Leary said: It would be unconscionable to think politicians whose natural habitat is on the left  of the political spectrum would support such a draconian attack, led it would appear, by one of their allies in the Independent Alliance, on the livelihoods of 800-plus workers in a state owned company”- – – –

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Stand Up To Lord Ross, The Independent Alliance, Fine Gael and CIE

The Outcome of the Transport Disputes will Affect all Workers

In addition to resisting the justified claims of the workers at Dublin Bus, the Government and CIE are now proposing reduce wages and conditions in a part of Bus Eireann by hiving off the Expressway service into a seperate company.

If the Government succeeds in this, the pay and conditions of all workers in the commercial state sector will be in immediate danger. Trade unions will be weakened in Irish Society in General.

Ministers Finian McGrath and John Halligan are members of the Independent Alliance of which senior Minister for Transport, Ross is the effective leader. MvGrath and Halligan purport to be left-wingers and friends of workers.It is time for them to stand up and be counted on the workers side in these disputes by stopping Lord Ross in his tracks.

When INMO, Civil and Public Services Union (CPSU), UNITE and the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA) successfully proposed a motion at ICTU BDC 2013 calling for the repeal of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, they said  its effect would “knock on” to  the commercial state sector and the private sector. TEEU said the same.

NOW IT IS HAPPENING!!!

All industrial and political means necessary to defeat Lord Ross and the company must now be used.

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A general article on the approach union activists should adopt to combat the capitulatory union leaders is carried below.

STOP PRESS

RESTORATION OF PAY CUTS IN PUBLIC SERVICE???????

New Government-ICTU Confidence Trick

The story about restoration of pay and pensions in the public service is a misleading kite been flown jointly by government and the Public Services Committee of ICTU. It is designed to relieve pressure on union leaders and on government. The timescale , they hope, should see them through the general election. We will be invited to vote Labour to ensure restoration of pay and pensions and the “success” of the talks.

Already the timescale of the Haddington Rd agreement was set to see the government through the next election.

But even the promise of jam tomorrow is completely false. Already unions are negotiating pay rises in the profitable part of the private sector covering about 50% of private sector workers according to  LRC chief Kieran Mulvey in a radio interview.. He has also pointed out that SIPTU has negotiated pay  rises  in 250 employments recently and MANDATE has also done so in large retail employments. Mulvey said these rises were normaly of the order of 2 to 5%. This means they are effectively cost of living rises. Faced with the inevitability of conceding similar rises in the public service, ICTU and Government have decided to call them “restoration”. Because they are the same cost of living rises as in the profitable private sector, there will be in fact no restoration in comparison to the profitable part of the private sector. Those in the public service who get the cost of living rises will have them strung out over years. But Minister Howlins statement indicates that many public servants will not receive “restoration”. This means they will not even receive cost of living rises.

This confidence trick would not be possible without the collusion of the public service trade union leaders who are responsible for a historic capitulation through Croke Park 1, Croke Park 2, Haddington Rd and aove all agreeing to FEMPI, the anti-worker  law.

We are seeing a continuation of the historic capitulation of ICTU in new packaging.

 

 

 

What is to be Done in Trade Unions?

ICTU CONFERENCE UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTED EMERGENCY MOTION ON THE FISCAL EMERGENCY MEASURES IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST LEGISLATION at its meeting in Belfast in June 2013:The following motion, sponsored by the INMO, Civil and Public Services Union (CPSU), UNITE and the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA) was unanimously adopted by the ICTU Biennial Delegate Conference:

“ Conference, noting:

  • that the Fiscal Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act undermines the principle of collective bargaining in the public sector and concerned that this may set a precedent for the private sector;
  •  that the legislation provides extraordinary powers to government Ministers to unilaterally vary terms and conditions of employment;
  • that there is no specified end period for this “emergency” legislation; and
  • that this anti trade union legislation has been introduced in the centenary of the 1913 lockout;

calls on the incoming Executive to mount a vigorous, and robust, campaign against this legislation with the goal of seeing it repealed.”

It should be noted that SIPTU, IMPACT, PSEU and the teachers unions voted for this resolution after they had used the Act to force members to accept the Haddington Rd Agreement under which conditions of employment and pensions were significantly worsened. Nothing whatever has been done to implement the resolution in the year since it was passed-surprise! surprise!

The unions  proposing the motion were only too correct when they included in the motion the fact that they were “concerned that this may set  a precedent for the private sector”. Indeed in its recommendation to members to reject Croke Park 2, the TEEU rightly gave as one of the reasons that the cuts would knock-on to the private sector.  

Employers in the private sector, as expected, have now intensified their assault on pay and conditions. Bausch and Lomb, the Greyhound bin company and numerous employers about the country are imposing pay cuts and other worsening of conditions, often, after Labour Court/LRC intervention. For example Bulmers Cider-Showerings and a chemical company , both in Clonmel, have recently imposed pay reductions. The attempt by Iarnród Éireann to cut pay continues.

(The demands of Bausch and Lomb are extremely threatening for workers in multinational companies and for the Irish people generally. The powerlessness of workers and the Irish Government in the face of these threatshighlights the effect of undue reliance on multi-national investment which, itself, is related to the failure to solve the national question in the 1798 to 1923 period with all its implications for economic sovereignty. I will return to this in a further document)

And why wouldn’t employers go on the offensive? Public service unions, including SIPTU, have been telling members for months that they had to vote for cuts under the Haddington Rd Agreement lest worse befall them under the FEMPI Act. Indeed, after the vast majority of public servants had rejected Croke Park 2, ICTU Gen Sec David Begg “intervened” and went on Radio Eireann to say that unions who said that no cuts in the public service pay bill were acceptable were being “unrealistic”!!!!  Private sector employers are now taking him at his word!!! The slogan; “an injury to one is the concern of all” is not solely or even mainly based on altruism.

What is happening at the top of the trade union  movement is a degree of betrayal of Irish workers interests that is unprecedented.    

Trade union activists of my age would have spent a lifetime criticising trade union leaders from my own general secretaries to Mickey Mullen, Fitan Kennedy, Denis Larkin, Tommy Heerey, John Mulhall, Harold O’Sullivan in the early years to more recent leaders such as Billy Atlee and many others for not being sufficiently militant.  But none of these were ever involved in anything remotely like the level of compliance with government that has occurred since the banking crash. Engaging in talks in the context of statutory pay and pension cuts by Lenihan, failing to oppose FEMPI while Howlin was piloting it through the Dail and continuing negotiations in its shadow, allowing government to deduct Home Tax from pay,  agreeing for the first time, under Croke Park 1, that permanent public servants could were liable for compulsory redundancy and therefore had to agree to cuts to avoid it. The level of compliance is also unsurpassed in any of the European bailout countries.

 

 UNION LEADERS SUPPORTING LABOUR HUMILIATED IN EUROPEAN ELECTION!

 

The political earthquake in voting allegiance in recent elections presents huge problems for union leaders. The combined non-Labour Party Left (excluding Sinn Féin) is now bigger than the Labour Party in local government! Big unions affiliated to the Labour Party were unable to deliver votes to Labour. A large banner on the SIPTU building in central Dublin urged votes for Emer Costelloe (Labour Party). There are 11 other trade unions affiliated  to the Labour Party including TSSA, UCATT and Municipal Employees Division of IMPACT. The Irish Region of UNITE had dissaffiliated from the Irish Labour Party before the election. The big retail union MANDATE has not been affiliated to the Labour Party for decades. Because of its pivotal place in the past and present of the Irish working class, in addition to its size, SIPTU (ITGWU)  through its leadership has a special responsibility for the austerity being imposed by the Labour Party in government.

In addition to Sinn Féin heading the European election poll in the Dublin Constituency with over 88,000 votes we see the following in details of the first count:

Socialist Party Murphy, Paul 29953
Labour Party Costello, Emer 25961
People before Profit (SWP) Smith, Bríd 23875

The leaders of SIPTU, the giant general union, were totally ignored by their members.  It is clear that union leaders are totally out of step with the popular mood. Nevertheless, since the election, SIPTU leader Jack O’Connor has  said: “Labour should remain in Government. It is vital there is a voice in Cabinet to challenge austerity” (Cork Echo June 5)     UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!!!  National mobilisation of members could not even be mentioned as an alternative!

 

Stirrings Among Union Members  

Already, union members are wearying of continued retreats before the offensive of employers in the private and public sectors. Is the unofficial stoppage at Greyhound a harbinger of the great waves of unofficial strikes of the sixties which culminated in the defeat of the employers in the Maintenance strike. Workers in Irish rail, Aer lingus, Bausch and Lomb and the Paris Bakery are either involved or have been recently involved in industrial conflict situations. The blows delivered to the government parties  in the recent elections cannot but give impetus to the determination of workers to resist economic attacks in their employments. Collaboration with austerity  governments has reached an all time intensity in recent pay reduction deals in the public service. The trade union leaderships are the praetorian guard of pro-austerity governments. But the worm may now be turning—–.

The Irish trade union leadership has been unusually compliant since 1969. That was the year in which an elected cross-union strike committee of maintenance craftsmen inflicted a historic defeat on Irish employers as a whole. The craftsmen won with massive support from general workers who respected their pickets.  Only one of 23 craft union leaderships was supporting the strike when the employers collapsed and settled individually with the strikers. The then Leader of the ICTU had called on members of his own general union (Marine Port and General Workers Union) to place pickets on workplaces in protest against the craftsmen’s activities!! Following the strike the entire unionised Irish workforce through relativity systems and under threat of a strike wave secured bigger increases than the craftsmen who then caught up! All modern wages in Ireland are based on the gains of the strike of maintenance craftsmen in 1969. Far from celebrating the victory, the top ICTU leadership immediately changed picketing rules in an attempt to ensure that the solidarity shown could never happen again. ICTU then tolerated changes in industrial relations law by government, which inter alia, gave increased powers to general secretaries over members and elected executives!

Background

Since the anti-conscription strike of 1917, the  ITUC Congress and Labour Party, as it was then known, has not spoken politically on behalf of the majority of Irish workers. It failed to lead the national struggle and the social struggles of the 1918-1923 period to a successful conclusion. This failure ceded the allegiance of Irish workers to Unionist parties in the northern state and pro-capitalist nationalist parties in the souther state. Since then, social democracy in Ireland north and south has always been a stunted organism. Unlike the Irish case, in imperialist countries, such as Germany  and the UK, its parties have been in government alone. There was a huge surge of workers into the trade unions in the 1918 to 1922 period, principally but not only into the ITGWU, now called SIPTU. In this sense, the self identity of the Irish working class as having a separate class interest is historically and practically centred on the trade unions rather than on the Labour Party as in the UK. The Irish trade union leadership was deeply involved in the false boom and subsequently in collaboration with the FF/Green Government and the FG/Lab government in implementing austerity programmes.

 

RECENT HISTORY

ICTU secretary General David Begg was a senior member of the board of the Central Bank  for 14 years up to the year 2010.  He reports to the executive council of ICTU. Before he became governor of the Central Bank, the current governor, Professor Honohan, in Economic and Social Review (Summer 2009) said:“Irish banking system had been, in effect, on a life-support system since September 2008.—-.Complacency resulted in the banks fuelling the late stage of an obvious construction bubble with massive foreign borrowing, leaving them exposed to solvency and liquidity risks which in past times would have been inconceivable–At the end of 2003, net indebtedness of Irish banks to the rest of the world was just 10 per cent of GDP. By early 2008 that had jumped to over 60 per cent”   The borrowing of 50% of Gross Domestic Product over 5 years by the covered banks is precisely what the Central Bank is tasked to prevent-grossly irresponsible borrowing which threatens financial stability. Following the banking collapse, countless thousands have lost their jobs and savage austerity has been visited on the population including pay and pension cuts.   There had been a formal system of social partnership in place from 1987 until the economic collapse in 2009. Subsequently collaboration with government by the trade union leadership intensified.   After the FF/Green government legislated for pay and pension cuts in the public service (Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, 2010) and implemented a moratorium on the filling of posts in the public service, union leaders negotiated further major reductions in the public service pay  bill over 3 years(Public Service Agreement 2011-2014) with the same government! Though the new FG/Lab  government reneged on the deal in 2013, and introduced draconian anti-union Legislation (FEMPI 2013), the union leaders negotiated a new 3 year deal implementing further cuts in the public pay bill  with the FG/Labour government . The trade union leaders are completely complicit in implementing austerity policies. Currently, the collaboration takes place through Labour Party ministers in government. But I do not believe that the complicity with the present government is due to the presence of the Labour Party in the government.  All the evidence is that the union leaders would be equally complicit with any government which maintained the cast of senior trade union officials as an integral part of the elite of Irish society. SEE   http://wp.me/pKzXa-gw

 

What Is to Be Done?

When I say that it is essential that the left and the trade unions show a new way forward to the Irish people in the current ongoing economic and political crisis, I do not mean that the current trade union leaders can be expected to do this. Activists must, of course, continue and intensify efforts to bring the leaders under democratic control of members and to replace those not amenable to such control.  However, if one depended solely on proceedings at annual congresses and branch/section meetings, workers would be long defeated before such processes were concluded. Irish workers have a particularly strong tradition of “unofficial” industrial action in addition to official action. But workers have been particularly quiet since the beginning of the economic crisis. There had been very significant improvements in workers living standards in the decade before the onset of recession.   The recession came as quite a shock to all. Trade union leaders and politicians reinforced the same message. If short term or temporary pain were accepted, previous relative prosperity would be recovered. Many believed this or thought it might be true.  But very few now hold this view and the number decreases as time goes by. After the overall exchequer deficit has been reduced below 3% of GDP in the budget 2015, the state is committed to removing the “structural deficit” by 2018 and paying down state debt from 120% of GDP to 60% over 20 years under the Fiscal Treaty. Resistance by workers in their employment is already increasing. Commercial companies which are partially or wholly owned by the state are now seeking to worsen conditions of employment. Workers in Aer Lingus and Irish rail are resisting. The largely immigrant workforce in a small Dublin centre bakery is sitting in to demand wages owed and redundancy payments. All this could become contagious! The current unofficial “downer” at Greyhound by lowly paid workers may be a straw in the wind! This possibility is enhanced by the outcome of recent elections.  The blows delivered to the government parties in the recent European and Local elections shows to workers that the government can be shaken and that there is widespread opposition to government policies. The wipe-out of the Labour Party  and the surge to Sinn Féin has rocked the political system and the irish elites including the trade union leaders.

  • In line with the new  mood, union activists must now redouble their efforts to secure support of fellow workers to resist attacks on pay ,pensions and conditions in the public and private sectors
  • Union leaders must be called to account for their support for Austerity Measures and for the Labour Party in Government
  • An alternative economic path for the country based on the interests of workers and the poor should be advocated (see x below)
  • Dissaffiliation from the Labour Party should be advocated (see y below)
  • Workers should be urged to seek and sign the official form form forbidding the union to give any part of union dues to the party.
  • Full time officials who represent unions on Public Service Committee of ICTU  and on the Executive Council of ICTU should be replaced by executive members subject to re-election. (This does not require a change of union rules in most cases)
  • All officials must be subject to election and re-election

X    several left wing organisations have put forward such programmes.  At a minimum a steeply progressive taxation of the incomes and assets of the very rich should be advocated (the top 10,000 income earners have an average income of 595,000 Euro each and financial assets (bank deposits and shares) of households only (not companies) have increased by 70 billion since the onset of recession and are now above peak boom levels (Central Statistics Office, Institutional Sector Accounts 2013). Water charges, to be introduced in October should be resisted by trade unions)

y  How can a union remain affiliated to the Labour Party after ICTU, itself, has passed the following resolution concerning the emergency legislation introduced by Labour Party Minister, Brendan Howlin: ICTU CONFERENCE UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTS EMERGENCY MOTION ON THE FISCAL EMERGENCY MEASURES IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST LEGISLATION The following motion, sponsored by the INMO, Civil and Public Services Union (CPSU), UNITE and the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA) was unanimously adopted by the ICTU Biennial Delegate Conference at its meeting in Belfast today (June 2013): Conference, noting:

  • that the Fiscal Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act undermines the principle of collective bargaining in the public sector and concerned that this may set a precedent for the private sector;
  •  that the legislation provides extraordinary powers to government Ministers to unilaterally vary terms and conditions of employment;
  • that there is no specified end period for this “emergency” legislation; and
  • that this anti trade union legislation has been introduced in the centenary of the 1913 lockout;

calls on the incoming Executive to mount a vigorous, and robust, campaign against this legislation with the goal of seeing it repealed.

(Nothing has been done to implement the resolution in the last 12 months. there is no union affiliated to the Labour Party among the proposers!! P H)

Labour Leadership Race: Savour the Total cynicism of Labour and Trade Union Leaders Miriam Lord : http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/the-question-that-should-have-been-asked-at-the-labour-husting-was-why-are-we-all-here-1.1833442 …

Read More http://wp.me/pKzXa-kQ 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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