NCBI and Delta Care workers strike for pay restoration

Fórsa members employed by the National Council of the Blind in Ireland (MCBI) and Delta services CLG in Carlow are taking part on a one-day strike today (Friday 21st February) marking the latest phase of the union’s campaign for pay justice in independent organisations that rely on State funding to deliver vital health and care services.

Both employments are ‘Section 39’ agencies, under which community and voluntary sector organisations are funded to deliver care and other services by the HSE. Members of SIPTU in other Section 39 agencies are also on strike today (Friday). While these workers are not public servants, their pay was cut in line with public service pay cuts applied during the economic crisis.

WRC agreement reached in 2018 made provision for pay restoration for workers in the sector. Unions continued their campaign for pay restoration because of implementation delays in a number of smaller Section 39 employments.

Fórsa’s General Secretary Kevin Callinan said: “Section 39 workers were forced to organise and to threaten action to get a hearing, and while we made progress, the government failed to deliver what was required to complete the agreed pay restoration process. That’s not good enough.

“There’s no excuse for leaving workers providing these vital care services behind. A state that fails to treat the workers providing those key services fairly is an unjust state,” he said.

Fórsa official Catherine Keogh said every stage of pay restoration for workers in the Section 39 agencies has been hard fought. “It has been a test of endurance for people who deliver vital health services in the community, for whom other work opportunities means we’re now witnessing much higher staff turnover in employments providing vital care services.

“The failure to complete the pay restoration process is putting the sustainability of these services at risk, which would place the burden of service delivery back on HSE. The incoming government, however that is eventually composed, must recognise that resolving issues like these would be beneficial for service users. It’s another piece of unfinished business left behind by the last government,” she said.

SECTION 39 Case study

Name: Jacintha Hayden, social care worker and Fórsa union representative
Employer: Delta Care (Carlow)

Jacintha has worked for six years as a social care worker with Delta services CLG, which provides day and residential care to adults with physical and intellectual disabilities.

“I’m taking part in today’s work stoppage because we’ve been left with no other choice really. We’re fighting for pay justice.

“Agencies like ours seem to be the poor relation when it comes to pay restoration. There’s been pay restoration in the public sector and the larger Section 39 agencies have had pay restored but only after they fought for it.

“Now we’re having to fight for it too. It shouldn’t have come to this, our pay should have been restored in line with the other organisations.

“We work hard. We provide a valuable service. We should be paid accordingly. The delay has led to this strike action which has unanimous support among the staff.

“They feel very strongly about this and our union membership has increased as a result. They recognise that we’ve fallen behind where we should be in terms of pay and that it’s time to take a stand.

“We just want a fair day’s wage for the work we do, and that’s not happening right now. The HSE need to step up and resolve this by restoring the pay cut imposed during the economic crisis. Things have moved on. There’s no excuse for leaving workers like us behind.”

International News: Greek National Strike

Greece National Strike on February 18

TULF offers its International Solidarity with our comrades in Greece today who demostrated in over sixty cities throughout Greece. Watch Our comrades in action today


Demonstrations In More Than 60 Cities

Hundreds of trade unions of Greece, Federations and Regional Trade Unions have responded to the call of PAME for a National Strike On 18 February against the antiworkers bill of the Greek Government on Social Security and Pensions.

In contrast the General Confederation of Greece (GSEE), member of ETUC, is acting as strikebreaker and denied participation to the strike.

The struggle of the workers of Greece has the support and solidarity from workers from all over the world, with messages, photos and videos of solidarity sent to PAME in support of the Strike of February 18.

Video from Marseilles, France, UD CGT 19:

PAME has announced demonstrations in the following cities all over Greece for the day of the strike.

Last ditch talks to avert strike action at Allied Bakeries break down after pathetic management pay offer rejected by workers

Last ditch talks to avert strike action at Allied Bakeries break down after pathetic management pay offer rejected by workers

Allied Bakeries logoAll-out strike action by workforce confirmed to commence at Allied Bakeries in Belfast from 6am on Sunday [February 16th]

Strike action will cripple production and supply of pancakes across UK ahead of Pancake Tuesday

Sean McKeever, Regional Officer blasted as ‘pathetic’ the offer made by Allied Bakeries’ negotiators after direct pay talks broke down and confirmed that his members were now preparing for an all-out strike for a fair pay increase to commence from 6 am this Sunday [February 16th].

“Unite made ourselves available to Allied Bakeries and sought to engage positively in last ditch pay talks called at the request of management. Unfortunately the company did not appear to be serious when it came to addressing their workers’ demands and offered a pathetic pay offer which the shop stewards rejected as unacceptable. The meeting was a very short one.

“The other major competitor in the bread making sector in Northern Ireland, Hovis recently made their workforce a much improved pay offer which has been accepted. There’s no reason Allied Bakeries can’t deliver a similar uplift to their workers.

“Our shop stewards are now collecting flags and placards for the all-out strike action which is now set to commence from 6 am on Sunday [February 16th]; they are resolutely determined to win a fair pay increase.

“The strike action is set to coincide with the ramp-up production of pancakes at the Castlereagh Road site. Management bears full responsibility for what will be a hugely disruptive strike action coming in the key production period for the UK the fortnight before Pancake Tuesday.

“While we are now preparing in earnest for an all-out fight to secure fair pay, we remain open to engagement in advance of pickets going up. It is still not too late to avert an entirely avoidable strike action”, Mr McKeever concluded.

Pension’s Lie and Dammed Lies

Very interesting and informative article from the Socialist Voice

The establishment keep repeating the mantra that in twenty years’ time there will be far fewer people working than there are now, and more people in retirement. This has now become the accepted narrative of the mainstream media. And it is a lie.

This lie has been repeated so often it has now become fact and the common belief. But quite the opposite is true: the work force in the Republic today is in excess of 2.3 million, which is substantially higher than thirty years ago, when in the 1980s there were fewer than 1 million people working.

In 2028 the Irish state will have the highest retirement age in Europe, at 68. At 66 today we are two years higher than the EU average. We have almost 30 per cent fewer older people than the EU average.

According to the most recent EU statistics, the average proportion of people over the age of 65 is 19 per cent, with the highest in Italy, at 22 per cent, and the lowest in Ireland, at 13 per cent. So there is no “pensions time bomb.”

This pension theft is a direct transfer of wealth from the ordinary citizens to the business class, who are more than willing to sell private pensions to workers at extortionate rates, with absolutely no guarantee of return.

This is classic neo-liberal tactics, perfected by Fine Gael’s Leo Liberals to convince workers of the urgent need to finance their own pensions and to remove this obligation from the state.

The increase of the pension age to 68 is the largest cut ever in the social safety net. It is the equivalent of a cut of €39,000 per worker, i.e. state pension = €13,000 p.a. × 3 years.

If you work until you are 68 and live until you are 83, this cut is equivalent to a cut in pension of 20 per cent, i.e. €2,600 p.a. for 15 years = €39,000; higher if you die earlier. This is pension theft by the state.

Your pension is paid for over your full working life. It is deferred pay that you have paid for over years of contributions. It is the least you can expect when you reach 65.

Of course politicians can retire at 50, while workers are thrown under the bus.

All trade unions and the ICTU have a policy of returning to the pension age of 65. SIPTU intervened in the election campaign to stop the pension age being increased to 67 in 2021, which has forced politicians to react, eager to outdo each other on the hustings and to win votes.

Fine Gael would be ideologically opposed to reversing this policy, but the gombeenmen of Fianna Fáil might be willing to compromise and grant the change in order to gain office. If they are forced to make this compromise in order to win the election they will do so in the full knowledge that they will take this money away from workers by some other method, a tax increase or cut.

Make no mistake about it: they will protect their paymasters, the bankers, builders, and speculators, as they always do. There is no crisis Fianna Fáil cannot solve so long as they can transfer the burden onto the working class and continue the transfer of wealth from ordinary working families to the richest in society.

Of course they are not unique in doing this in Dáil Éireann: the Labour Party, the Green Party and Fine Gael are more than capable of it. Fianna Fáil, on the other hand, are experts at concealing it by convincing citizens that it is their own fault, that Fianna Fáil are their protectors and can be depended on to solve all the people’s problems.

We all partied”—Brian Lenihan
We are living way beyond our means”—Charlie Haughey
We will not stand idly by”—Jack Lynch
It took Ireland thirty years to become an overnight success”—Bertie Ahern

Vote for Radical Change!

With a week to go before Ireland goes to the poll booths, Mandate is delivering a stark election warning to all voters. Successive Fine Gael and Fine Fail led governments have created an unprecedented  housing crisis, a health care crisis and instilled widespread fear regarding pension age increases and continuing threats to reintroduce water charges and deny the people a referendum on public ownership of our water.

Check out Mandate’s General Election 2020 fact sheet on why you should vote for change in General Election 2020. Mandate has focussed on four key issues for our members: Housing; Health; Pension Age Increases and Water Ownership in Public Hands. We’ve inserted four handy questions on these important issues at the foot of each section which you may wish to highlight with canvassers on your doorstep. You’ll have many more issues of importance to raise with politicians on the canvas trail but one thing is vital – Vote for Radical Change!  

Take the profit motivation out of children’s welfare

The Trade Union Left Forum (TULF) supports the protests by childcare workers today, who struggle on minuscule wages doing what is an essential public service. This is against the backdrop of disgraceful practices from employers within the sector, who value profits over the welfare of children and their staff. 

Currently, more than 60% of educators earn less than the Living Wage of €12.30 per hour and parents are paying some of the highest fees in Europe. Due to low pay and poor working conditions, the average staff turnover is 23% per year.

The company that owns Giraffe Childcare, one of Ireland's largest chains, posted operating profits of €6.2m in 2017, while paying their workers minimum wage. It's clear that the childcare system in this country is fundamentally structured to suit the owners who supply childcare, producing huge profits for business owners while workers and parents pick up the tab. 
The TULF supports all efforts of childcare workers to organise and get proper recognition for the vital work that they do. The only solution to end the exploitation of staff, children and parents by these profiteering companies, is the provision of community or municipally provided child care, funded by the state. Take the profit motivation out of children's welfare.

‘We’ve been patient for long enough’ – Watch TUI members discuss their experiences of pay discrimination

Enough is Enough. Why we are taking strike action ?

Irish Participation in PESCO – the European defence co-operation entity

29 Jan 2020

Military 2

Congress has written to political party leaders expressing concern at Irish Participation in PESCO, the European defence co-operation entity

Dear Party Leader,

At our Biennial Delegate Conference in July 2019, in line with the proud and consistent record of support by the Trade Union movement for Irish neutrality, we noted with dismay the decision by the Government to participate in Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), seen by many as a precursor to an EU army.

The pace of development of EU militarisation and Ireland’s involvement has accelerated in recent times and Ireland has committed troops to a German commanded EU Battlegroup, which can be dispatched at short notice to emerging crises and conflicts around the world.  Ireland has also signed up as an observer on eight PESCO projects as well as participation in two projects.

We also note that the European Defence Fund will see at least €13 billion spent on weapons research and development during the next multi-annual financial framework (2021-2027) to the detriment of cohesion and development funds.  National contributions to the Fund during the period are expected to reach €36bn.  This is also happening alongside the launch of the Future Air Combat System (FCAS) and the growing EU/NATO cooperation.

All of this will lead to a massive annual increase in military expenditure 2021-2027 by the EU. Consequently, this will result in a massive increase in Irish military expenditure, thereby reducing monies available for investment in social expenditure such as health, housing, and pensions.

Concerned by the above developments, among others, Conference urges all political parties to express their opposition to further participation in PESCO and calls on them to commit to using any post-election influence to ensure that any new Government will immediately exercise its right to withdrawal under Article 46.5 (TEU) of the Lisbon Treaty and to notify the European Council accordingly.

I would be grateful if you could communicate your party’s position on the matter.

Yours faithfully


Congress Backs Feb 1 Protest by Bord na Móna Workers


30 Jan 2020

Just Transition

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has backed a protest march to be held by Bord na Móna workers in Shannonbridge, County Offaly on SaturdayFebruary 1.

The rally and march have been organised by Bord na Móna workers and pensioners in protest at the failure to deliver a Just Transition for the affected workers and communities, across the Midlands.

The initiative enjoys widespread support among local communities and energy sector workers in the region.

Speaking ahead of the February 1 demonstration in Shannonbridge, Congress General Secretary Patricia King said the failure to implement a fair and Just Transition had created fear and anxiety across the Midlands.

“To date, government has borrowed the language of Just Transition but failed utterly to deliver on the substance. The workers and communities had already signed up to the transition to a low carbon economy but made it clear it had to happen in a fair manner and that workers and communities would not be left behind.

“That means creating good quality replacement jobs and opportunities to make up for those being lost in peat production. That means investing in areas like retrofitting and renewable energy production in order to address that jobs shortfall and to assist with the country’s overall shift to a low carbon economy.

“To date that has not happened and workers in the Midlands rightly fear their region being abandoned in the years to come. Their campaign has the full support of Congress and affiliated unions and we would urge voters on February 8 to exercise their vote accordingly,” Ms King said.


Contact : Conor Kavanagh, Congress Communications Office  

Unite to ballot membership working in Hovis on significantly improved pay offer

Unite to ballot membership working in Hovis on significantly improved pay offer

Sean McKeeverShop stewards suspend pending all-out strike action planned to commence Friday after company makes new offer

Sean McKeever, Unite Regional Officer, confirmed that his union would be balloting members on a fresh pay offer made by the company’s management in the face of all-out strike action.

“Strike action is always a last resort for workers and our union. Unfortunately we were left with no alternative but to proceed with plans for all-out strike action as a result of the total failure of Hovis bosses to take seriously our members’ pay expectations. The workforce had sought a decent pay uplift but were offered only 3.2 percent by management despite the negotiations going through mediation at the LRA.

“In light of the significantly improved pay offer made by management today, our team of shop stewards have agreed to suspend the action  planned to commence at a minute past midnight on Friday [January 24th]. We will now proceed to ballot our members on the offer and are hoping to announce their response and next steps within a week”, Mr McKeever concluded.