Union opposes sale of Dublin recycling plant

Fórsa, which represents workers in the four Dublin local authorities, has this evening (Sunday) urged councillors to reject a Dublin City Council proposal to sell a Ballymount waste recycling facility to a private company. The proposal will come before the monthly meeting of Dublin City councillors tomorrow (Monday).

Fórsa says proposals to sell the site would pre-empt the outcome of a review, currently underway, which is exploring the possibility of bringing waste collection and related environmental services back into public control, following its privatisation in 2012.

The new proposal to sell the Ballymount recycling facility would undermine the earlier decision by elected councillors.

 

Last November, a council working group agreed to conduct research into new waste management arrangements on foot of an earlier cross-party motion calling for the ‘remunicipalisation’ of household waste services. Funding of €70,000 was subsequently earmarked for the project.

Fórsa official Peter Nolan said the new proposal to sell the Ballymount recycling facility would undermine the earlier decision by elected councillors.

“At the very least, we are calling on councillors of all parties and none to defer this decision until the work of the sub-group is complete. If Ballymount is sold, it will be more difficult to move away from the current system of unregulated private waste collection, which has led to a chaotic market, increased costs and a huge growth in illegal dumping.

The evidence shows that a public waste collection service would provide a more efficient service to the citizens of Dublin.

 

“The evidence shows that a public waste collection service would provide a more efficient service to the citizens of Dublin. This proposal by council officials would seriously undermine the councillors’ earlier decision to explore the prospect of taking refuse collection and other environmental services back into direct public control,” he said.

The Ballymount plant, which is jointly owned by the four Dublin local authorities, is currently operated by a private Company.

Social partnership? No thanks!

Social partnership almost destroyed the labour movement in Ireland.  The 1990 Industrial Relations Act, and the equivalent legislation in the six counties, have left unions with no political clout to shape our future.  The Irish working class has suffered terribly from more than a decade of austerity – the direct transfer of wealth from workers to the ruling class.   No doubt the other “social partners” (big business lobby groups like IBEC and the CIF) envision the same again in the coming months: working-class people to be sacrificed for a return to “economic stability”, when the Covid-19 debt is calculated.  We know that such “stability” is a euphemism for savage cuts to wages and public services in order to restore profitability for investors, employers and landlords.  

NO social partnership! NO social dialogue! NO return to “business as usual”!

Unions condemn removal of workers from BNM payroll

The Bord na Móna (BNM) Group of Unions condemned the decision of management at the semi-state company to attempt to proceed with the removal of workers from its payroll.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Willie Noone, said: “Management has decided to select workers unfairly and without any logic for removal from its payroll while it has allowed others access to the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS).

“The BNM Group of Unions has instructed workers which the company has sought to remove from the payroll to report for work as normal. We are calling on the company to adhere to the Government policy of using the TWSS to keep workers on payroll and in employment as much as possible. The position of the Group of Unions is that workers who want to exit voluntarily should be allowed to do so and that as many workers as possible are kept on payroll with the support of the TWSS.

“Workers are particularly concerned that the CEO has informed employees that a decision on peat burning regulations expected from An Bord Pleanála on the 12th May has nothing to do with the ‘immediate impact of Covid-19’. This will result in a situation where workers facing lay off  in the event of a negative decision will be unable to avail of either the Pandemic Unemployment Payment or the TWSS.”

“We are also concerned that the ESB may be unable to utilise Shannon Bridge Power station next week, if needed, as the BNM workers required to supply it have been issued with notice of lay-off.”

The  BNM Group of Unions includes SIPTU, Connect Trade Union and Unite.

Trade Union Left Forum May Day Statement.

Trade Union Left Forum May Day Statement.

The Trade Union Left Forum would like to to express solidarity to all workers in struggle in Ireland and around the world today on this International Workers’ Day. We remember all those who have died at work in the front line fighting the coronavirus. We remember our fallen brothers and sisters and pledge to fight like hell for the Living to build a just world where all humanity can reach their full potential.

 

We express our solidarity with hundreds of millions of workers across the world suffering restrictions on their rights under lockdown condition. We support all those who struggle under blockade or sanctions by the western powers.

The coronavirus did not cause the crisis we now see in our health system, housing, or employment  but it has exposed the failures and highlights the urgent need for change.

The coronavirus has exposed the amount of precarious work in Ireland. As shareholders and top managers receive dividends and payouts workers are laid off with the state,  that is you and I the taxpayer, taking up the slack. Many of the front line workers keeping the country going during the pandemic are of the low pay category and their labour is grossly undervalued and goes without notice normally. There should be no going back to this normality, minimum hour, part-time contracts, precarious work, bogus self employment, the gig economy should all be abolished along with anti trade union legislation such as the 1990 Industrial Relations Act. We need to provide permanent secure well-paid jobs for our people. The 1990 IRA  must be replaced  with a fair Employment Act guaranteeing at a minimum;

  1. The right to Union recognition
  2. The right to Union access
  3. Full collective bargaining rights
  4. Maximum 35 hour working week

The two tier two jurisdiction Healthcare systems in Ireland have been exposed as not fit for purpose. The one tier health temporally rented in the south is the backbone of breaking this pandemic. It must remain post virus. Instead of renting the private hospitals they must be fully integrated into to our health service along with childcare and residential care for senior citizens. This can also be the backbone of our struggle against cardiac disease, cancer, mental health illnesses and all the health concerns of the entire population. The two separate health strategies north and south have been an abject failure as seen with the high incidence of the pandemic now in County Cavan which borders Fermanagh and Tyrone. This is due to the British herd mentality strategy which has led to much higher rates of infection. Trade  unions must demand  for all workers a one All Ireland fully funded Public Health Service. There must be no going back to normal of  the failed two tier two jurisdiction health systems.

The pandemic has exposed the  crisis in  Housing. Private rented accommodation is the main form of tenure in our cities and towns, overcrowding has increased for the first time in 50 years according to the 2016 census. We also have over 10, 000 citizens homeless, 4000 of these are children. People have received rent breaks and mortgage holidays this just kicks the ball down the road. These bills will have to be paid with interest when the crisis over. These rent demands and mortgage repayments should be written off and cancelled for the duration of the pandemic. There should be a ban on all Air B&B until sufficient public housing is provided. There should be no financial evictions until the state can offer a suitable alternative.

If this puts landlords or property owners in financial difficulty the property should be taken into public ownership. The property should then be rented back to the occupiers with income linked rents. For far too long landlords and property speculators have being subsidised to the tune of over 1 billion euro a year as they make excessive rent demands on our people. There should be no going back to normal in housing this parasitic gravy train of subsidies, grants and tax breaks should be firmly stopped.

There should be a comprehensive public building programme of universally accessible public housing. There should be a right to housing enshrined in the constitution. Rents should be linked to income. Cost rental model puts the entire cost of public housing on those who live in it. This is gross opportunism and is not what is needed to solve the crisis. Income linked rents, differential rents are the key to affordability. Public housing is of universal societal benefit to the state, similar to healthcare and education. It should be funded by the entire population.

A universally accessible public housing system, available as a right to all citizens, with rents linked to income will end the crisis in housing whether there is a pandemic or not.

Finally we would like to point out that social partnership is not what is required at this time. We need strong trade union leadership to lead our demands as outlined above to tip power back towards workers and away from employers. The pandemic has exposed the failures in the system there will be no going back to normal when it is over. Social partnership is a vehicle for the establishment to lessen the demands and expectations of the working class. They will use it to impose austerity on workers and make them pay for the cost of the bailout of capital. We paid for the last crisis in a €42 billion bank bailout we will not pay for this one. If big businesses run into financial difficulty they should be nationalised instead of bailing them out for private capital to reap the benefits.

The virus highlighted the crisis in the capitalist system.

Capitalism is the Virus.

 

Working in the Hospitality Sector:

While some advocate premature opening, Unite’s Julia Marciniak lifts the lid on our hospitality &

tourism sector.

 

While some advocate premature opening, Unite’s Julia Marciniak lifts the lid on our hospitality & tourism sector

drawing

“Washing hands doesn’t contribute to profits, so it’s not a priority for bosses”.

Most Easter weekends see us visiting pubs and restaurants to meet up with friends.  This weekend is very different, with hospitality outlets closed as a result of Covid-19.   As we sit at home, have a read of this post by Unite Hospitality Coordinator Julia Marciniak who lifts the lid on the conditions faced by many hospitality workers – and highlights what needs to be done to ensure that hospitality workplaces are safer places for staff and customers when they do re-open.

The picture at the top of this post was drawn by the young son of an activist and captures previous protests outside Dublin’s Ivy restaurant. 

Introduction

Julia Marciniak: This week Adrian Cummins, CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, called on the Government to set out clear plans for lifting restrictions so that businesses can re-open.

Obviously restrictions will eventually be lifted, but when that happens a focus needs to be put on employers’ responsibilities to put in place new measures that ensure the health and safety of workers and the general public.  Those measures need to include adequate washing facilities, break times, and a transparent method of workplace inspections.

The Hospitality sector is a key component of the Irish economy worth up to €7.6 billion and directly employing around 180,000 people. The sector contributes up to €5.14 million per week to the Exchequer. It is also a key buyer from Irish suppliers, accounting for €15.7 million.

The 180,000 workers in the hospitality sector also impact on the local economy; on a weekly basis they spend an estimated €54.3 million in the Irish economy. This has a positive impact on jobs in other sectors such as retail, making hospitality an important part of the Irish economy.

But without the workforce of baristas, waiting staff, bar staff, chefs, kitchen porters and many others, the sector cannot make any profit or have any impact. The workers are the engine at the heart of the sector that keep it alive.   Without them no profits can be made.

Hospitality in a time of Covid-19

We are facing a huge crisis in the hospitality sector at the moment because of forced closures during the Covid-19 emergency.  Most of the workers in this sector were laid off in the past few weeks. And the few who remain in employment are afraid of getting sick and potentially infecting others.

It is highly irresponsible for any non-essential outlet to remain open given the risk to public health and the health of workers.

But for some employers profit will always come before health.

As Unite Hospitality & Tourism Coordinator, and as a former hospitality worker myself, I have been watching as the emergency unfolds – and as the authorities give instructions that hospitality workers cannot implement.

Firstly, we are told to stop the spread of the virus we must wash and dry our hands thoroughly and regularly.  Simple, right?

Unfortunately not.  In my own experience, most workplaces do not provide their workers with soap, there is almost never a paper towel to dry your hands, and in some cases the only access to running water is in the customer toilets.

This may be shocking for customers, given the basic need for hygiene when we are serving food and drink – even in non-Covid times.

In order to cut costs and increase profits, most places are understaffed. With workers being so overloaded with tasks, it is impossible to find time to wash your hands as often as we should. Washing hands doesn’t contribute to profits, so it’s not a priority for bosses.  And we don’t just struggle to find time to wash our hands: we struggle to get a drink of water or a toilet break during a busy day.

In most establishments, staff struggle for the basics. They often don’t have a place to change or safely leave their belongings.   It is unacceptable that, on many occasions, workers have no option but to change in front of their colleagues in a tiny overcrowded room. Often no lockers are provided, and we just need to hope that our phones, wallets and jackets are still there at the end of the shift. There is often a little disclaimer on the wall to the effect that management don’t take any responsibility for the property of staff members.

In some cases there is no table or chair provided to sit and have a daily food break. Well, you can always sit on the staircase or an empty keg – right?

If they are provided at all, staff toilets are usually dirty as are staff rooms – again, if provided.  While the customer areas of establishments are cleaned on a regular basis, this does not apply to staff areas.  Of course, we should all clean up after ourselves, but what if our colleagues don’t?   Should staff breaks be spent cleaning up after others?

While a lack of staff facilities is always problematic, it assumes even more importance in a pandemic.

Facilities are just part of the story.  Some establishments ignore workers’ legal entitlement to breaks and rest periods.

In order to help halt the spread of Covid-19, we were told early on that social distancing is vital. Yet, in the midst of a global pandemic, there was a shocking delay in closing bars and restaurants – even though anyone who has either worked or been a customer in a busy restaurant or pub knows full well that social distancing is not possible.

Looking back from today’s reality to those bustling bars and restaurants just a few weeks ago gives me, and no doubt many others, a huge sense of anxiety.  Yet again, profit was prioritised over the health of staff, customers and the general public.

Eventually, and mainly because of public pressure, most restaurants and pubs had decided to close even before the caretaker government took action.

For workers in tourism and hospitality, this meant immediate layoffs with over 140,000 people losing their jobs over the course of a week. Thousands of workers who are not considered ‘essential’ and cannot work from home were laid off overnight and now face an uncertain future.  This includes a significant number of hospitality workers.

Short-term support

The response from the state to these layoffs, pushed by the Trade Union movement, was initially a payment of €203, later increased to €350 per week.  A rent freeze was introduced together with a temporary ban on evictions.

During this emergency, it is important that basic needs are met and people are protected from hunger and homelessness. The essential support provided by the Government is welcome – but it does throw up questions about the average income of hospitality workers.

Highlighting poverty pay and precariousness

The majority of hospitality workers are on minimum wages, with almost all – including managers and supervisors – earning below the Living Wage of €12.30 per hour.

The €350 social welfare payment would work out at €10.00 for a 35-hour week. Hospitality workers rarely have secure hours or a secure income. Many workers in hospitality who would like to work full-time hours are not on full-time contracts. Instead, hours vary week on week, depending on how busy the season is or who the manager favours at the time. And even if you are rostered for particular hours, they could fall through if the place is not busy and you are asked to go home. Whole shifts are sometimes cancelled at very short notice.

The result is that, for many hospitality workers, the emergency payment of €350 is more than what they earn in employment.

The reality is that precarious and low-paid work has become so widespread that many people in full-time work are living in poverty. At the same time, rising accommodation costs mean that people on low wages can spend up to 70% of their wages on rent alone.  Hospitality is a key economic sector, but most hospitality workers are struggling to pay their bills.

We are in a state of emergency, in the middle of a global pandemic. People all over the world are getting sick and many are dying. Businesses are closing down, people are instructed not to leave their homes. The world we knew has quickly changed. We have witnessed how greed and incompetence facilitated the spread of Covid-19. We have also witnessed how local communities have come together to help and protect each other.  It was pressure from communities that resulted in the cancellation of St. Patrick’s Day parades – and looking back we will see that this was a positive milestone in the battle against the virus.

Using isolation to imagine a better future – together

We should, if we can, use some of this time in isolation to look back and recognise the problems that we faced in society before this emergency. We all need secure well-paid jobs, we need social housing and rent control, we need more investment in a health system that has been run down for decades, and we need universal public health care, free at the point of access.

If workers were in poverty before the pandemic, when many businesses were booming and making profits, then it is worrying to think what will happen when the inevitable economic crisis confronts us.  It was largely working-class people who bore the brunt of the last economic crisis. But workers are very powerful when we stand together. This is the time to organise, to join a trade union and to get involved.  It is a time to stand strong and send out a clear message: we will not allow the working class to bear the brunt of the next crisis while those at the top of the economic ladder continue to avoid paying their dues to society.

International Solidarity: Inspirational Video from Fire Brigade Union in Britain to their Italian Comrades

International Solidarity: Inspirational Video from Fire Brigade Union in Britain to their Italian Comrades

May Day 2020: The current situation and our duties

The World Federation of Trade Unions, on the occasion of May Day 2020, salutes the workers in all continents; all those whose work continues to move the gears of life even in difficult conditions such as the Coronavirus Pandemic and keeps producing all the necessary goods so that life may continue and the needs of workers and popular strata can be met.

We honor the millions of employees in public healthcare systems around the world: doctors, nurses, all healthcare workers, who amidst the Coronavirus pandemic struggle every day to save the patients from the pandemic without even having the necessary protective and medical equipment, risking their own health and lives. They are at the frontline of struggle, with courage and self-denial, lifting the burden of care and treatment in a middle of a pandemic that already counts millions of cases and hundreds of thousands of deaths, in a public healthcare system deteriorated by underfunding and discredited by the policies of all capitalist governments, which consciously undermine the public healthcare system and privatize its neuralgic activities to enhance the speculative profitability of multinationals.

The workers and the popular strata, we unite our voices with those of the militant healthcare workers, we stand in solidarity with their struggle and we demand immediate coverage of the vacancies, adequacy of public health infrastructure and materials to serve the permanent and temporary needs of the people; Requisition of the private sector and abolition of the commercialization and privatization of Health and Welfare. Free public universal and high-quality health services. Workers’ health over profit!

We salute the workers in production and distribution of food and basic necessities, in supermarkets, in pharmaceutical sector, in cleaning services, in energy sector and other services, who through their work ensure the access of workers and peoples to everything necessary for their survival.

At the same time, on the occasion of the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, we denounce the huge attack on workers’ labor rights through layoffs, lack of payment, undeclared work and the restriction of trade union freedoms.

The long-term unemployed, the uninsured workers, immigrants, refugees, those who suffer from other diseases, are literally left at their fate, without being able to earn a living or ensure the necessary monitoring of their health, which can cause its deterioration.

Complaints are expressed from all over the world from employees in companies that do not produce basic necessities, but continue to work with their employees squeezed into production lines and offices, without any compliance with the necessary protection measures, so that multinationals can increase their profitability; As a result, the pandemic spreads rapidly, as was the case in northern Italy, in the US, Turkey, and elsewhere.

Facing all these issues, we stay strong and active, we put forward our militant demands, the workers’ demands for public and free healthcare for all, for jobs with decent wages, the right to full employment for all the unemployed, the substantial support of those who are unable to work or suffer from the coronavirus or other diseases. Take back all the layoffs and adverse changes that took place during the Pandemic!

At the same time, the antagonisms of capitalist countries and imperialist powers that are stealing the natural and produced wealth of peoples and leading to bloody conflicts and wars continue unabated even in these conditions, in a frantic effort to safeguard their economic interests against the workers’ needs. The US economic sanctions against the peoples of Cuba, Venezuela and Iran, the imperialist interventions against Syria, Palestine, Yemen, the weapon production and trade, the conflicts and antagonisms continue.

The speculation in hygiene and essential materials against coronavirus, the competition to find a vaccine that will bring huge profits to the respective companies in the country that will find it are intensified.

Against capitalist antagonisms and speculation, the workers and peoples raise our solidarity and proletarian internationalism, following the example of Cuba, which has sent specialized doctors to fourteen countries affected by the Pandemic, the example of the workers of Italy who organized a general strike in support of doctors and workers, following the example of workers in all countries who do not remain silent, who counter fight also this crisis with militant slogans in solidarity to all peoples.

The migrant workers in Chicago, who struggled and sacrificed their lives in May 1886 for the establishment of the 8-hour working day, paved the way of the world working class for the continuous claim of its rights.

The international class-oriented labor movement through the lines of WFTU honors the legacy of their struggle and continues under any circumstance, despite the difficulties, to struggle for the coverage of the workers’ modern needs and the abolition of exploitation. For the emancipation of the working class and its liberation from capitalist barbarism.

OUR URGENT DUTIES

Brother and sisters workers, employees and unemployed, retirees, immigrants and refugees, young scientists, indigenous people, women and men, in front of the complex difficulties we are faced with, we must once again stand at the forefront of the struggle, combining our ability to fight for the abolition of social exploitation with immediate and urgent requests:

  1. The states and governments should allocate the necessary funds for the support of the Public Healthcare Sector, so that all peoples have access to free, full and decent health coverage.
  2. Prohibition of privatizations in the strategic health sector.
  3. The International Organizations should stop good wishes and descriptions and live up to their founding principles.
  4. Safe and free vaccine for all.
  5. Prohibition of dismissals.
  6. Respect of all salary, insurance and employment rights of the employees.
  7. Defending democratic and trade union freedoms.
  8. Defending the right to strike.
  9. Strengthening of the internationalism and solidarity between workers and peoples.
  10. Stop speculation and high prices.
  11. Repel racist and neo-fascist phenomena.

Dear Colleagues,

Honoring the 75 years of WFTU, let us strengthen our class struggles, putting into practice our slogan: “NO ONE SHOULD BE ALONE!” All workers, together, we can struggle for the satisfaction of our modern needs.

The WFTU has been and is at the forefront for 75 years. It is our duty to continue and we will do so.

Long live proletarian internationalism

Long live May Day

International: WFTU ON THE DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINIAN PRISONERS IN ISRAELI JAILS

On the occasion of 17th of April, the Palestinian Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli jails, the World Federation of Trade Unions once more extends its unwavering support to our Palestinian brothers and sisters and reiterates the demand of immediate release of all Palestinian political prisoners from the Israeli jails.

Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails continue to be subject to extensive violations of their rights and dignity. Around 5.000 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli prisons and detention centers, including 183 children and over 400 held under administrative detention, a form of detention without charge or trial that Israel uses to hold Palestinians indefinitely on claims of secret information.

The current situation of the COVID-19 Pandemic and its spreading in Israel puts at even greater risk the health and lives of Palestinian prisoners.

As the world militant trade union movement, the WFTU and its 100 million members all over the world, we join our voices with the Palestinian workers and demand immediate protection measures against the Pandemic as well as immediate liberation for all Palestinians political prisoners.

The WFTU will stably stand by the side of the People of Palestine until the recognition of the independent Palestinian State, on the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The Secretariat

SIPTU members mourn deaths of two health workers in Kilkenny

SIPTU Health Division has expressed its condolences to the families of two health workers at St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny who died after contracting the coronavirus.

The workers who were employed as support staff at the hospital were members of SIPTU and are deeply mourned by their colleagues and friends, SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said.

“We offer our sincere condolences to the families and friends of our two deceased members. The colleagues of these two workers as well as the members and staff of the Union’s health division are deeply shocked by their deaths. These two workers have made the ultimate sacrifice while assisting in the fight against the Covid-19 virus,” he said.

International Workers Solidarity: Cuba shares what it has, Another Cuban medical brigade has arrived in Italy, this time in Turin

The Cuban medical brigade’s arrival in Turin. Photo: Heidy Villuendas

Another Cuban medical brigade has arrived in Italy, this time in Turin, with 21 doctors, 16 nurses and a logistics coordinator, joining the first brigade in Lombardy, the epicenter of the epidemic in the country, to save lives without asking anything in return, because solidarity has no price.

“We share medical care, life, with other peoples,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla tweeted yesterday, recognizing the admirable gesture of these professionals, committed to their own people, but without forgetting others, maintaining humanism as the foundation of their work.

Since their arrival in Turin, the brigade has received countless expressions of gratitude from residents in the region, in the north of the country.

An undeniable reality exposes the slanders of U.S. imperialism, attempting to discredit Cuba’s international medical collaboration. We have nine doctors for every thousand inhabitants, an almost exclusive luxury, and as if that were not enough, in the coming month of July 9,000 more will graduate. We have 84,000 nurses, and 34,000 students are studying nursing and health technology, to serve our population. This is a strength we share.

While the blockade is killing human beings, Cuba is saving lives. There are currently 20 Henry Reeve brigades (425 doctors, 722 nurses, 50 technicians), fighting for the lives of those with COVID-19 around the world.