Debt, inequality, and industrial action: The chicken or the egg?

Trade unions remain the most tangible and most effective way to reduce inequality. Unionised work-places tend to have fairer, more transparent and more equitable pay models, which provide pay increases year by year for workers above inflation. They redistribute wealth from the surplus value created by workers that would otherwise go to profits (or dividends and executive pay) to workers’ wages. However, as unions have weakened, and union density throughout the economy has weakened, all workers have suffered. Low pay has become more prevalent, inequality has grown, and contracts have returned to the more “flexible” model of the nineteenth century. […]

Worker militancy on the rise

A wave of workplace militancy has arisen in recent months which has produced a number of notable victories for trade unionists. The end of several years of muted opposition from workers to cuts to conditions and pay or doing more work without improvements in earnings – under the cover of ‘increased efficiencies’ – can be traced back to the industrial action by SIPTU members in LUAS in the early 2016. This protracted and bitter struggle resulted in a substantial pay increase for LUAS drivers, with the victory achieved in the face of unrelenting media attack. The win set a precedent […]

Right to Access Bill for Unions

It is incredible that, in the 21st century, union officials can be physically blocked from meeting their members in the workplace, especially given the crucial role trade unions play in workers’ rights, pay and conditions. As we are seeing in the Tesco attack on long-serving staff, strengthening the legislative rights of trade unions is key to supporting workers in their defense and enhancement of decent jobs and decent work. Sinn Fein are introducing a Bill to try change this. The Right To Access Bill will enhance the ability of workers to organise into unions and win better working conditions.  The […]

Worker militancy on the rise

According to the latest CSO statistics worker militancy is on the rise from mid 2016. They say 100% of days lost were in the transport and storage sectors. With health service workers and other dispute looming it is likely this will continue in 2017. Workers have clearly had enough and expectations are not just for pay restoration but for real pay increases. Rent increases alone has put serious pressure on young and low paid workers in particular. Get organised and fight for better pay in 2017.

Advance or retreat?

The people’s right to the ownership of Ireland: What does this mean today, and how do we get there? Advance or retreat? Desmond Greaves School, Dublin, September 2016 The recent EU ruling on “state aid” by Ireland to Apple brings into sharp focus the related topics of sovereignty, ownership of the economy, and the right of the collective over the right of private individuals and corporations. On the one hand you have a European court telling Ireland we cannot give special treatment to certain companies, or provide state aid, or interfere with the market, as they have determined it. Essentially, we […]

Next steps…

The Trade Union Left Forum is developing a set of common political principles for trade union activists to campaign on and mobilise around. The next step in this is on Thursday 17 November where Conor McCabe will present what he believe are 5 key policy objectives for an Irish Progressive Government. Please note change of venue from normal TEEU location to the Mandate offices. Hope to see you all there.

Unlocking the potential of trade unions for working people

TULF submission to the Right2Water

Overcoming common misunderstandings about trade unions There are some common misunderstandings about unions that fall wide of the mark and lead to a lot of confusion; and some of this comes from within the movement itself and is given life by some unions’ language and actions. For example, a union is an insurance policy for workers when something goes wrong at work; it’s a professional representative body; it’s an interest group . . . These are all common answers to the question “What are trade unions?” but none are right. Trade unions are the collective and pooled effort and resources of working […]

TULF Mtg Thursday September 22, 6pm

There was agreement at the last TULF meeting that a common political programme for left trade union activists is a necessary step forward. We hope this meeting, open to trade union activists, can help develop a common political programme. This forum meeting has no set speakers and is open to all to bring ideas and programme points for consideration. FB event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/305400799828607/

Does the trade union movement need a new political strategy?

Below is the the final contribution to our recent debate on a new politics for the trade union movement by Dave Gibney. A follow up meeting will be held in September to further the discussion on what should be in a class based political programme for the trade union movement. If you have thoughts on this please post on our FB page The very first question asked by an Irish Independent journalist at the founding press conference of Right2Water in August 2014 was: “why are trade unions getting involved in politics, shouldn’t you just be focusing on workplace issues?” To trade […]

Irish trade unionism and the end of Civil War politics?

By Sean Byers, delivered at the TULF meeting a political strategy for the trade union movement. In December 2015, as the Right2Water campaign continued to confound its opponents with mass demonstrations attracting upwards of 100,000 people, former Taoiseach John Bruton made this revealing statement to the Irish media: FG and FF have complemented each other through Irish history. In Ireland we have had consensus about major long-term policies largely because we haven’t had a sharp left/right or ideological divide. We have had differences, but they are differences about other things, not economics, and that has served the country very well… […]