AIB need to restore the 35 hour week.

The Financial Services Union (FSU) have launched a campaign to restore the 35-hour working week in AIB. The Union state that during the years of austerity the working week in AIB was extended from 35 hours to 37 hours.

3R_AIB_35_Hour_2

Speaking at the Triennial Conference of the FSU, Billy Barrett, Senior Industrial Relations Officer with responsibility for members in AIB commented:

“In a judgment a couple of years ago the Labour Court stated that “employees who cooperated with adjustments to pay and conditions of employment during the crisis are entitled to have those progressively reversed as circumstances improve

“AIB has reported profits of €274 million in the first half of 2021 and its CEO, Colin Hunt is on the record as stating that the economic outlook for the Bank is positive.

It is time that staff share in the upturn in the Banks fortunes.

It is also a case of fairness and equality in the workplace. At present if you work in Bank of Ireland, you work a 35-hour week. Any staff member who will transfer in the future from Ulster Bank to AIB will remain on their current 35-hour week contract.

This means that staff will be working side by side with some on a 35-hour week and some on a 37-hour week.

The FSU surveyed our members on this issue and the support for the campaign was clear and unambiguous.

As a first phase of the campaign, we have launched a petition of our members seeking their support.

It is time for AIB to reverse the decision to increase the working week from 35 hours to 37 hours, recognise the work done by members in returning the Bank to profitability and restore the 35-hour week as is common in other Banks.”

 

Trade Union Left Forum. May Day Statement:

Trade Union Left Forum  

Mayday Statement:

Trade union left forum wish to extend our solidarity greetings to workers their families unions and communities in Ireland and beyond on this International Workers Day.

We take this opportunity to announce that the TULF have completed drafting a bill for legislation to replace many of the workers’ rights lost as a result of decades of anti-worker legislation dating back to the 1940s. The TULF  have been campaigning for the last 4 years against anti-worker legislation, many unions along with the next generation of workers in the form of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) have adopted policies against anti-union legislation particularly the 1990 industrial relations act. 

At the recent biennial delegates conference of the Irish Congress of trade unions (ICTU) the Dublin council of trade unions (DCTU) moved a motion calling for legislation to restore workers’ rights lost as a result of the 1990 industrial relations act. This motion was unanimously passed by all the delegates and is now the policy of the Ictu. 

Since then, there has been done to advance this motion by the Ictu or any of the affiliated unions despite it’s overwhelming support.

The TULF will not let this very necessary motion gather dust on a shelf in the ICTU head office. We have stepped into the void and done what the Ictu and or the affiliated unions should have been doing since the Congress in October. We have drafted the necessary legislation and this will be launched on the 2nd of June at 6 p.m. at the Unite the Union Hall in middle Abbey Street Dublin.

The Trade Union Left Forum by launching this bill is calling for the ICTU to begin a national campaign in conjunction with all affiliated trade unions and trades councils to seek the support of government, political parties, Dáil deputies, local authorities and wider society to amend  the existing legislation and introduce the Fair Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2022 as drafted by the Tulf, which will be the first step to start the process to tip the balance of power back to workers in Ireland and in line with policy as adopted unanimously at congress.

Trade Unions must be Radical or they will become Redundant.

Up the Workers

Mandate President Denise Curran’s Speech to 1916 Commemoration in Sligo

Thursday 28 April 2022

Sisters/Brothers,

I’m honoured and delighted to address this important gathering today, as we not only commemorate those great Irish women and men who fought so gallantly against the odds and for so long in delivering to some extent our country’s independence from a cruel colonial power, but equally importantly to reaffirm our ongoing struggle for a true republic in which the focus is firmly on its citizens, families and communities.

I’m also very humbled that as Mandate President we remember in our commemoration two true Irish men in that struggle for independence- Patrick Moran from Roscommon and our own Martin Savage from Ballysodare. Both these men like myself worked in the retail industry and were active trade unionists in a union that eventually became Mandate. Their struggle wasn’t confined to their military escapades for independence, but equally in their union activities to better their terms and conditions and rates of pay. That struggle more than ever remains a constant today.

As Irish politics hurtles towards potential watershed and historic moments, Irish workers across the island of Ireland whether Catholic, Protestant or Dissenter, are facing into the economic unknowns. Our employer and landlord class aided by its political equivalent and supporters, will use these so-called economic unknowns to attack workers employment rights, their hard won terms and conditions and pay rates. Their relentless drive for more and more profit, for delivering increasing shareholder dividend, for protecting their business case models over workers’ interests, the ongoing marketisation of anything that is of vital importance to Irelands citizens and communities makes a lie of any mealy mouthed words by the same class that they have social conscience and responsibility policy positions.

We have seen this in Mandate with Arnotts, Clerys and only recently Debenhams where so-called reputable employers used the prevailing legal systems to exercise their rights to siphon away and out of the country valuable assets and money from those businesses, without any legal recourse to honouring negotiated commitments to their workers and under the watchful eye of our political rulers who have promised legal change on this behaviour but delivered so far nothing.

Spare a thought for the Debenhams workers who had to picket their empty workplaces through the ravages if a Covid pandemic, the harshest of Irish weather and suffer physical attention by state forces for 406 days.

They like the Dunnes anti-apartheid strikers in the 80s are like Savage and Moran part of our struggle in delivering an Ireland for the people run by the people…not in the interests of a few of the wealthy and their political cronies. That struggle continues today.

And it’s a struggle that takes place in a climate of people challenges, both local and global. We’ve yet to deal with the full threat of Brexit, the Ukrainian and other war situations, the ongoing narrative of our country’s invaluable neutrality position, the economic and sovereign restrictions of our EU membership, the serious threat of climate change and so on and on. The challenges are varied and endless, but in each and every one of them there’s an obvious constant threaded through them. And it’s not us …the workers who are at fault despite what some in the media will tell you.

It’s the pursuit of resources in the interests of capital, the protection of capital interests ahead of the ordinary people and the very obvious and accepted universal inequalities of wealth distribution. All of these have and will continue to threaten our very existence.

As we commemorate our heroic dead today – such as the Patrick Morans and Martin Savages and so many more, their struggle and fight against their imperialist oppressors now becomes ours. Like those I’ve mentioned we must commit and affirm our responsibility as workers to struggle and fight our deserved rewards from the capitalist classes, many of which are imperialist in nature and outlook.

There’s a clear local, national and international dimension in this struggle and fight. Those that believe it cannot be achieved here should look at what was managed and done through the recent Right2Water and Right2Change campaigns of which Mandate Trade Union had no small part in. The Mandate Dunnes strike of 2015 delivered employment legislation that provided better protection for flexible contracted workers not only in bar and retail but across all Irish employment. This was the Banded Hours legislation which is the envy of workers and their unions across the globe.

The Dunnes anti-apartheid strike of the 80s which I’ve already referenced and was by a small group of 9 women and one man strikers from only one store, Henry Street, contributed to an Irish government position change on importing goods from the apartheid South African state.

Simple worker and community led campaigns and actions can have meaningful effect for those that we represent and fight for. As American Margaret Mead said when describing those Dunnes anti-apartheid strikers ‘never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’

Irish workers should not be reticent in asking for more, nor apologise for demanding their fair share on everything. And I mean everything. Workers across the world shouldn’t shy away from exercising their collective will and, if necessary, their muscle for the same. It’s our world and as I said during my Mandate President election campaign, we have the means…all we need is the will. Those that we commemorate had less means but clearly had more will.

To finish sisters and brothers, as the song goes if we continue to ‘tolerate this, then our kids will be next’.

Thank you.

MAY DAY MARCH AND RALLY – DUBLIN COUNCIL OF TRADE UNIONS- Sunday 1st May

Dublin Council Of Trade Unions Invites ALL Workers and others to their May Day Rally this coming Sunday 1st May. The slogan will be A Decent Public Health Service! End the Housing Crisis now! Assemble: Garden of Remembrance. Parnell Square. Dublin at 1.30 PM.  Followed by march to Liberty Hall for Public meeting outside. Support your Trade Union. Come along and bring family and friends.

The Amazon Labor Union Victory Lessons for All Workers

In one of the most remarkable labor organizing victories in decades, the Amazon workers in Staten Island voted to unionize with the independent Amazon Labor Union (ALU). This is the first organizing victory for any union at any of Amazon’s 110 warehouses across the USA, the nation’s second largest employer with over a million employees.

This was a real bottom-up organizing effort potentially highlighting an effective way forward for the rest of labor – a victory that gives momentum to workers not only in the other Amazon warehouses but in all industries. It demonstrates how and why rank and file workers are the essential elements of not only a successful organizing drive but critical to a revitalized labor movement based on struggle.

In a remarkable moment of candor, the Financial Times, which always speaks for big business, admits Amazon workers took great inspiration from none other than legendary communist William Z. Foster.

Amazon’s warehouse in Staten Island is a thoroughly 21st-century workplace where human “pickers” select items from shelves brought to them by a fleet of robots. Yet when the leaders of the newly formed Amazon Labor Union wanted to unionize the place, they turned to a manual called ‘Organizing Methods in the Steel Industry’ from 1936. The pamphlet recommends among other things a “chain system” whereby workers recruit other workers.

That Amazon workers should look back to the history of the steel industry is not as strange as it might sound. Steel was a vital sector of the American economy a century ago, as is ecommerce today.

Justine Medina, Amazon organizer, described Foster’s Organizing Methods in the Steel Industry in Labor Notes as a “must-read”.

Why Follow William Z Foster? And Why Now?

While written in the 1930s, the short but informative pamphlet illustrated and combined the necessary ideological foundation, strategic outlook and practical tasks needed to take on the biggest Steel corporations and win. And it remains relevant today.

Unfortunately the strategy and victory for the ALU is an exception to the norm in today’s labor movement. A combination of red baiting, de-industrialization, and lack of desire to actually fight has seen the broader labor movement completely abandon any semblance of class struggle for class collaboration since Foster’s time.

Not only have traditional unions been largely unable to organize large militant units like the ALU just did in Staten Island, but the same losing class-collaborationist approach was most apparent when unions were unable to protect workers who were already organized. In the late 1970’s and onward, the de-industrialization of the USA was in full swing. Steel, coal, auto, rubber, transportation were just a few of the basic industries that were offshored, downsized or dis-invested by capital. Hundreds of thousands lost their jobs, communities were devastated, as infrastructure and public services took a major blow.

The causes of this man-made disaster were pictured and portrayed by politicians, business, the media, and labor as inevitable results of living under the magic of the capitalist market. The mayor of Pittsburgh, Richard Caliguiri remarked that workers should leave the city for greener pastures, essentially defending the bosses’ shut down of the steel mills in western Pennsylvania. Rather than use their existing political and organizational muscle to mobilize the tens of thousands into a grand coalition to put up a fight, unions simply folded into a charity-based approach, reducing their credibility and giving credence to the bosses’ arguments that the unions caused the offshoring because they “asked for too much”. Given that all these industries were unionized yet collapsed without a mass struggle is crucial for workers today.

Labor’s efforts today, with the exception of a few unions in particular sectors, largely mirror this defeatist approach.Tied to the bosses and the twin corrupt mainstream political parties, labor’s efforts are reduced to lobbying, email campaigns, media releases, and excessive legalistic strategies. For years, rather than attempt to unionize many low-wage sectors, labor lobbied for a federal minimum wage bill, something still yet to come to fruition.

This is what makes the Amazon victory so exciting, and one can see the incredible relevance today that is exhibited by the Foster pamphlet used to organize the Steel Industry decades ago. The parallels for the labor movement today and in the late 1920s and early 1930s are remarkable:

The organization campaign must be a fighting movement. It must realize that if the steel workers are to be organized they can only rely upon themselves and the support they get from other workers. While every advantage should be taken of all political institutions and individuals to defend the steel workers’ civil rights and to advance their interests generally, it would be the worst folly to rely upon Roosevelt, Earle or other capitalist politicians to adopt measures to organize the steel workers. There is every probability that only through a great strike can the steel workers establish their union and secure their demands, and this perspective must be constantly borne in mind.

Although the steel workers must not place their faith in capitalist politicians, they should utilize every means to develop working class political activity and organization in the steel areas. Especially there should be organized local Labor parties in the steel towns and thus foundations laid for an eventual Farmer-Labor Party.

Christian Smalls, leader of the ALU, in an interview on Fox News commented on being ignored by politicians in the runup to the NLRB election, “Whether they showed up or not, they didn’t make or break our election. We just had to continue to organize.” Like Foster, Smalls is setting an example in which unions chart an independent course, focusing on confidence and mass support of the rank and file over tacit support from politicians – worrying about whether AOC or Bernie Sanders attends a photo op rally is not a priority.

Democracy Defined as Rank and File Control and Involvement

For both Foster and now the ALU, mass participation among the rank and file and a captivating positive attitude among the organizing committee were crucial.

The necessary discipline cannot be attained by issuing drastic orders, but must be based upon wide education work among the rank and file and the development of confidence among them in the cause and ultimate victory of the movement.

A central aim must always be to draw the largest possible masses into direct participation in all the vital activities of the union; membership recruitment, formulation of demands, union elections, petitions, pledge votes, strike votes, strike organization, etc. This gives them a feeling that the union is actually their movement.

This critical strategy to draw in the workers to participate in the drive was necessary to destroy management’s attempt to picture the union organizers as “outsiders” that can confuse employees and reduce the union‘s credibility. Unfortunately, Amazon was successful in defeating the first Alabama organizing drive by the RWDSU by constantly highlighting the out-of-town supporters who would pass flyers or visit workers instead of rank-and-file workers at the sites. Solidarity support and professional staff are critical but only work when following a worker-led movement.

What Kind of Union Do Workers Need Today?

Can we learn from our past mistakes? Unions are essential for protecting the workers on the job and that’s why the capitalist class is relentless in opposition to workers organizing. But the Amazon Labor Union model can not exist in a vacuum. Its approach is a guide and for the working class to move to the offensive its principles must be extended far and wide.

The ALU and other new leaders in labor must shift the broader labor movement away from the strategy of class collaboration in order to be strong enough to withstand the ongoing attacks by capital. Workers can only actually go on the offensive once campaigns are moved beyond individual bargaining units to a class-level fight.

The ALU has shown the working class in simple and practical terms that it’s more important to build bottom-up solidarity among all workers than building an identity with your boss. This is something we should understand and help to nurture and grow.

 

Unions dismayed at Department of Social Protection handling of employment services

SIPTU and Fórsa members employed in local employment services (LES) and Job Clubs are losing confidence in the ability of the Department of Social Protection to manage these vital social services following a further change in the contracts for their provision.

SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Adrian Kane, said: “The Department of Social Protection has, without consultation, extended the contract of the current providers of LES and Job Clubs until August. This is yet another example of times for the deadlines concerning the operation of these services being unilaterally changed by the Department.
 
“This reactive and last minute approach shown by the Department is incredibly unfair to our members, many of whom will lose their jobs as a result of the planned tendering process for the provision of these services.”
 
He added: “Our members need to plan for their futures. They need definitive timelines. At the very least there should be an extension of these contracts until the end of the year. This would allow time for a proper stakeholder process to be established and to agree a way forward for the provision of these vital social services.”
 
Fórsa Assistant General Secretary, Lynn Coffey, said: “SIPTU and Fórsa have been steadfast in their opposition to the marketisation of the current services. We have called for a minimum extension of the current contracts until the end of the year in light of the Ukrainian refugee crisis. To continue with the marketisation of these critical services as we enter into a very unpredictable economic period goes against all logic.
 
“The approach of privatising these services, adopted by Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, has no political support apart from among a handful of hard-line ideologues within Fine Geal. It is clearly not in the interest of the most vulnerable within our society to have these services cease at this time.”
 
She added: “What the Minister should be doing is seeking to implement the nine recommendations from the Report on the Examination of Employment Services in November 2021 published by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands.”

The WFTU International Campaign in Solidarity and Relief of the Palestinian People ended with success.

On April 10th, 2022 a solidarity event with massive participation was organized by NAKLIYAT-IS in Istanbul Turkey to mark the successful end of the WFTU – GUPW Palestine campaign.

The materials were collected by 45 countries of the world. The huge participation in the campaign proves once more the solidarity of WFTU and its members with the Palestinian people.

In the event participated the WFTU General Secretary George Mavrikos, Ali Riza Küçükosmanoğlu, member of WFTU Presidential Council and General Secretary of TUI Transport and the ambassador of Palestine in Turkey.

Our next step is the arrival and distribution of the material to Palestine.

  •  

SIPTU to seek greater pay increases across private sector to offset inflation

SIPTU members across the private sector will seek pay increases to match the rising costs of living and will re-negotiate existing pay deals which fall short of inflation.

Following a meeting of the union’s sector organisers, SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Gerry McCormack, said that its members in more than 2,500 companies across Ireland will urgently seek minimum rises in line with the rate of inflation which is expected to reach 8 per cent over the coming weeks and months.

“In negotiations with employers across the economy, our members will seek increases that will offset the sharp rise in the costs of living in Ireland. We will also re-renegotiate earlier deals that are no longer sufficient to recompense workers for the increase in inflation,” he said.

“We are aware that some businesses may not be able to afford the increases required to meet inflation and do not intend to place them in further financial difficulty with unsustainable pay claims.

“However, we have also witnessed gouging over recent months which is unjustified and suggests there are business people who are raising prices above the inflation rate solely to increase profits at the expense of their customers.

“The sharp rise in living costs, including energy prices, is largely driven by external factors and is not caused by working people and their families, many of whom are now struggling to pay for their rent, mortgage, fuel and other basic needs. The 14% increase in house prices is creating real hardship and deepening the housing and homeless crisis.”  

Gerry McCormack added: We have pressed the Government to increase the €500 limit that employers can give in tax-free vouchers to €1000 and can be paid in lieu of wage increases.

“The Government should also raise the minimum wage to the living wage and protect vulnerable citizens on fixed incomes by increasing social welfare and State pension rates.”

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS BOOKLET

Trade Union Left Forum sends our support to PAME in Greece- National General Strike 6th April

The class unions are in the workplaces and the streets transferring till the last moment the call for the success of the General Strike of April 6.

The class unions demand

No involvement-no participation of our country in the imperialist war!

All in the fight against inflation and taxation

For the defense of the working-class income

For collective agreements with substantial increases in salaries

The resumption of the collective bargaining of the National collective Contract as a starting point for the increase of the minimum wage, claiming 825 € minimum gross salary

The restoration of conquests and rights such as the beginning of a more favorable contract, the Sunday holiday, the payment of overtime, the 13th and 14th salary in the public sector, etc.

The general reduction of working time, with 7 hours – 5 days – 35 hours per week and stable work with rights.

Abolition of VAT on consumer goods.

Abolition of ENFIA-House tax and big reduction of municipal fees for workers’ households.

Reduction of the price of electricity and gas by 50% and abolition of taxes on fuel and energy in general.

Debt relief, not in foreclosures and auctions for workers and poor households.

Recruitment of staff with stable jobs and rights in health, welfare, education, local government and civil protection.

Strike rallies are to take place in more than 60 cities all over Greece. 

Amazon workers in New York make history by voting to form union

Amazon workers in New York have voted to form a union in what labor leaders are calling a “historic victory” against the US’s second largest employer.

In Staten Island, New York, 2,654 warehouse workers voted yes to forming a union, while 2,131 voted no, according to a tally by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

 

Meanwhile, in another union vote, Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, appear to have rejected a union bid – but outstanding challenged ballots could change the outcome. The votes were 993 to 875 against the union. A hearing to review 416 challenged ballots is expected to begin in the next few days.

The Staten Island victory marks the first successful US organizing effort in the company’s history. Organizers have faced an uphill battle against Amazon, which now employs over one million people in the US and is making every effort to keep unions out.

Seth Goldstein, a pro bono attorney who has represented the Amazon Labor Union in Staten Island through their election proceedings, said: “Worker engagement has been the key to this historic victory and can be attributed to increased nationwide union organizing in digital, tech, non-profit and Starbucks. Gen Z and millennial workers are leading the charge in union organizing.”

 
A Starbucks barista in Buffalo, New York, helps out the local Starbucks Workers United in Mesa, Arizona, in February.
US unions see unusually promising moment amid wave of victories
Read more

John Logan, director of labor and employment studies at San Francisco State University, said the early vote counts in New York had been “shocking”. The nascent Amazon Labor Union (ALU), which led the charge on Staten Island, has no backing from an established union and is powered by former and current warehouse workers.

“I don’t think that many people thought that the Amazon Labor Union had much of a chance of winning at all,” Logan said. “And I think we’re likely to see more of those [approaches] going forward.”

After a crushing defeat last year in Bessemer, when a majority of workers voted against forming a union, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) got a second chance to organize another campaign when the NLRB ordered a do-over after determining that Amazon tainted the first election.

Stuart Appelbaum, president of the RWDSU, said on Thursday that the union would be filing objections to how Amazon handled the election in Bessemer but declined to specify. He also took the opportunity to lash out at current labor laws, which he believes are rigged against unions and favor corporations.

“It should not be so difficult to organize a union in the United States,” he said.

Chris Smalls, a fired Amazon employee who has been leading the ALU in its fight on Staten Island, remains hopeful of victory.

“To be leading in day one and be up a couple hundred against a trillion-dollar company, this is the best feeling in the world,” Smalls said after the conclusion of Thursday’s counting.

While Smalls’s attention has been focused on securing victory in New York, the efforts in Alabama also weighed heavily.

“I’m not too sure what’s going on in Alabama right now, but I know that the sky’s the limit if you can organize any warehouse,” he said, noting that the vote in Alabama could well end up differently. “I hope that they’re successful. I don’t know what’s going on yet, but we know we show our support and solidarity with them.”

Amazon has pushed back hard in the lead-up to both elections.

In a filing released on Thursday, Amazon disclosed it spent about $4.2m last year on labor consultants, who organizers say the retailer routinely solicits to persuade workers not to unionize. It’s unclear how much it spent on such services in 2022.

The mostly Black workforce at the Amazon facility, which opened in 2020, mirrors the Bessemer population of more than 70% Black residents, according to the latest US census data.

Pro-union workers say they want better working conditions, longer breaks and higher wages. Regular full-time employees at the Bessemer facility earn at least $15.80 an hour, higher than the estimated $14.55 per hour on average in the city. That figure is based on an analysis of the US Census Bureau’s annual median household income for Bessemer of $30,284, which could include more than one worker.

The ALU said they don’t have a demographic breakdown of the warehouse workers on Staten Island and Amazon declined to provide the information to the Associated Press, citing the union vote. Internal records leaked to the New York Times from 2019 showed more than 60% of the hourly associates at the facility were Black or Latino, while most of managers were white or Asian.

Amazon workers there are seeking longer breaks, paid time off for injured employees and an hourly wage of $30, up from a minimum of just over $18 per hour offered by the company. The estimated average wage for the borough is $41 per hour, according to a similar US Census Bureau analysis of Staten Island’s $85,381 median household income.

A spokesperson for Amazon said the company invests in wages and benefits, such as health care, 401(k) plans and a prepaid college tuition program to help grow workers’ careers.

“As a company, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “Our focus remains on working directly with our team to continue making Amazon a great place to work.”

Associated Press contributed to this story

 

 

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