SIPTU Statement on Luas strike

SIPTU defers Luas strike action on St Patrick’s Day to consider WRC proposals

Date Released: 16 March 2016

SIPTU members working on the Luas light rail network have deferred a work stoppage scheduled for tomorrow (17th March) following talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) which have resulted in proposals to resolve the dispute for three out of four grades of workers.

SIPTU Organiser, John Murphy, said: “In talks lasting close to 28 hours with the employer, Transdev, at the WRC, we have made substantial progress. The WRC has produced proposals that it believes are the best achievable in relation to finding a solution to this dispute. On the basis of this progress the workers have decided to defer a work stoppage scheduled to take place tomorrow.”

He added: “Revenue protection officers, revenue protection supervisors and drivers will now consider the proposals in relation to their grade and vote on them in the coming days.

“In relation to the traffic supervisor grade progress has been made and we are hopeful a resolution can be achieved.”

Support the Luas Workers

Reprinted from https://radicalwhispers.wordpress.com/2016/03/14/support-for-the-luas-workers/

Turned a Rant Supporting the Luas Workers into a new blog piece after a little break

I genuinely understand why people are being played on with this case. It is a case of pay increases rather then resisting a firing, or a closure or an eviction or homelessness. It has the sympathy factor washed away. The problem is sympathy, the sort where we go ‘oh dear look at them poor people’, is not actually the best politics or the best basis for solidarity and collective action, it is dis-empowering and hierarchy creating.

What we really want, to start things off, to win basic demands here and now is at least 1) a universal floor, the idea that all people have value by what they do and b) the belief that collective action and groups standing together to fight for decency, proper pay, living or life itself is actually a good thing.

The propaganda is out to get us on this one, so here is the rant and best to all the striking workers on Thursday.

Support the Luas Workers on Paddy’s Day.

Many people earning feck all are trying to be turned against each other on this one. Lots of usual disinformation, 50% increase, nope sorry lads negotiation position for 5 next five years (now at 27%), lots of points focused and comparing the workers to others, and nothing looking at the profit of the company itself, lots trying to blame the workers when they took these measures causer the management wouldn’t negotiation, lots more genuinely snobbery, but they don’t have a degree therefore arn’t important (what decides important, surely a major transport system that gets 10,000s to where they are going is important… how and never,…. a few points to deal with

1) Tabloids are screaming “but you don’t earn that much and these Luas lads are showing you up.”

Yes most of use are earning feck all. What does that have to do with the Luas workers? They didn’t come put you on a job-bridge, cut the dole, hire you on a zero-hour contract or cut your pay. Companies did that, managers did that and governments did that.

Maybe the Luas lads are actually doing a good job or all of us? Fighting for decent wages, like we all should be. Using strikes and withdrawing their labour cause that’s the only thing that works.

2) “If I did that I would be fired”

Yea maybe that’s the problem, maybe no one should be just fired for fighting for the basic right to live and work in dignity. Maybe it shouldn’t be easy to just replace people with someone starving on the breadline. Maybe everyone should have decent work rather then being pitted against each other and maybe the action of the workers is what you should be thinking about. Join a Union, get organised and then they can’t just fire you

3) Luas workers are stupid monkeys just pulling levers.

This should be called for what it is snobbery. It is disheartening because it comes from many people earning feck all and being screwed with themselves, it also comes from genuine snobs who think they are simply worth more then these people.

What decides what is important in society, is a degree the measure of important work? If there were a million more accountants would it be more useful, are defined as more valuable because they have a degree because they wear a suit? Are other things that keep a country running valuable? Cleaners, maintenance, maybe even women who give birth to kids and don’t get paid for it, maybe even people who run vital transport? Is a arms dealer or investment banker more valuable? Are they even damaging?

Maybe we should be looking at value in society at a bit broader, or call it out as based on our bias and prejudice or maybe just maybe above all else all work has value, all labour has value, all efforts of getting up and doing something with your day have some value, as long as they don’t damage the lives of others

…………… Maybe instead of attacking Luas workers, we should stand with them and realised either we are already being kicked too and need something better or that after the Luas workers we will be next.

I know who my enemies are, who cut the wages of my family members, who forced me to emigrate and who chuck families out of homes every day and don’t bat an eye lid…. and they sure aren’t Luas Workers

Respect The Strike

Don’t Cross the Picket

Support your Local Picket

Stand up yourself with your, family, workers, community and everyone suffering along side you.

IMPACT – Childcare workers and childcare provision

Below is an interview we in the Trade Union Left Forum did with Lisa Connell, trade union Organiser with Impact trade union and their efforts to improve childcare provision in Ireland and organise childcare workers. Lisa can be contacted at lconnell@impact.ie 

There are a number of elements to the crisis in child-care provision in Ireland. How do you see it?

Child care has become increasingly popular as a topic discussed in wider society. On the back foot of the general election there was a narrative on what each political party could do in regard to child-care provision. The emphasis which emerged was on a “sustainable” child-care sector which benefited working parents. What the dialogue lacked was any focus on those employed within the sector.

As a wider conversation, some of the concerns and ultimately the crux of the crisis is around the cost of child care and the cost for parents to send their children to a local service versus their take-home earnings. Ultimately, when you further explore the sector, the crucial reason as to the national crisis affecting this sector is as a direct result of under-funding into the sector. When you make a comparative on a European level to funding to early years and education, Ireland is drastically lacking in GDP investment into this sector. Ireland invests 0.2 per cent of GDP while the European average is 0.8 per cent. While there are a number of elements to the crisis, ultimately the drastic underfunding into the sector is the core explanation to those using the services but also to those providing it.

What are conditions like for child-care workers?

There are approximately 30,000 workers providing early childhood care in Ireland, engaged in approximately 5,000 service-providers. The profession is heavily dominated by women. It is a sector that has expanded rapidly over the past few years, with the core reason in this expansion   the huge increase in demand for crèche services due to the changing pattern in the work force over the past twenty years.

Working conditions for those employed in this sector are exceptionally precarious, with rates of pay, seasonal and temporary contracts and lack of job security the major issues for those employed within the sector.

The early-years and education sector employs workers on low wages. The sector average is slightly above the minimum wage, with the average rate of pay throughout the working career averaging out at about €11 per hour. While wages remain low throughout working life, it is a sector with an increasingly qualified work force, with many staff achieving degree-level qualifications, and higher, to work within this sector.

One significant consequence of Government policy and funding in this sector is the requirement by Síolta for workers providing child care to acquire specific qualifications and for employers to engage staff holding such qualifications. While educational requirements continue to increase on an annual basis, rates of pay are not matching this.

This sector continues to see a great number of undergraduates study in this field, in which  they should be able to hold an expectation of a wage that reflects their own investment in training and education. The rates of pay for those who work in early childhood care do not reflect the investment in professionalisation which they put into this field.

Ultimately, the under-funding into this sector and lack of salary scales that match the educational requirement to work within this sector see many of those employed within the early-years sector forcibly migrate into other working professions due to the low wages that are in place.

A significant number of workers are employed on seasonal contracts, which as a result of the very nature of these contracts sees staff employed on a nine-month basis and then having to “sign on” in the Social Welfare office for the remaining three months of the year. Additionally, the free play-school year (ECCE) being offered by the Government accelerates this position, as the free play-school year is offered only on a seasonal basis and is not in place during the summer months. As many owners and private operators are not in receipt of an income during the summer months, the necessity for those employed in the sector means that there is no other option for them but to sign on during this period. This provides great job insecurity for those employed on these kinds of contracts and a highly precarious working culture.

Temporary contracts are also highly utilised within this sector. Much like seasonal contracts, they contain very little security of tenure for those employed on them.

Conditions are exceptionally precarious, with many having to contact their local Social Welfare office in regard to accessing sick-leave entitlements, while standardised contracts and standardised terms and conditions are not consistent throughout the work force. While there is an on-going political conversation around “quality child care,” as long as seasonal and temporary contracts, along with low rates of pay, continue to remain in place, real investment into the sector is not being carried through to those who are providing the services. Greater investment into the sector, directly through funding, is drastically needed in order to address the working conditions experienced at first hand.

What are the demands child-care workers are making?

Child-care workers are seeking the respect and recognition for the roles that they carry out. Those who work within the early-years and education sector carry out some of the most fundamental work with our most vulnerable citizens: children. The care and developmental support that they provide in our children’s education is crucial. However, for those working within this sector their pay and terms and conditions do not reflect the increasing living standards within our society. The demand that early-years professionals are making is for greater investment into those employed within the sector; this encompasses increasing funding to service-provides and greater investment into the industry to allow workers to remain within the profession that they have chosen.

Being organised is a worker’s best chance of winning decent work and conditions. Is there an organising focus to this campaign?

Currently the organising team in IMPACT are holding seventeen regional meetings across the country to reach out to those working with the early-years sector as part of our campaign. These meetings are only the first set in a series of meetings which will take place across the year. There is a strong organising focus to this campaign in looking to articulate the issues and conditions within the work force. We are organising across all the areas within the early years, including community and private settings, and looking for the inclusion of providers and professionals in order to bring through a common perspective which is drastically affecting those employed within the early years.

Weren’t there previous attempts to organise child-care workers that didn’t succeed?

Campaigns have been run in order to start a dialogue within the early-years sector previously. As there are approximately 30,000 people employed within this sector, it is a huge sector to campaign and organise within, which is why it is crucial to run a targeted campaign in looking to organise within this sector. The key in organising is empowering those who work within this sector to collectively organise and to bring a voice back to those who are directly affected by the nature of the working conditions. We would see the regional meetings and a targeted understanding on a collective perspective as the beginning of a successful campaign to organise on behalf of this sector.

What can people do to support and help the campaign?

For those who are working within the sector, to come along to the regional meetings which are being organised by IMPACT to see how we can progressively move and campaign on the issues. For those who are not directly employed within the early years, to begin a dialogue on real investment in this sector, of which the workers are crucial to the actual investment into child care in Ireland.

If successful, how will this make a difference to child-care provision in Ireland?

In recognising the incredible role of those providing these services this would greatly enhance the quality of the service. A real investment into child care would encompass greater funding into this sector and transforming this sector where there is a decent wage for the work being carried out. A greater investment into providers and professionals would result in a stronger investment into child-care provision, which will, as a result, benefit the parents who are struggling with the financial weight of using the service.

For more information on this campaign or to get involved please contact lconnell@impact.ie

Stop · Halt · Arrêtez · Στάση · Stad TTIP

Many trade unions are calling for CETA, the Canadian-European trade agreement, and TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, to be stopped and scrapped; and here is why.

In summary the concern of ICTU is that TTIP is a manifestation of an aggressive neo-liberalism aimed at so circumscribing the policy space for governments that policies will be separated from economics such that it will not matter what government is elected. It will, in other words, complete the subjugation of society to markets. Moreover, this issue has to be seen in the context of a European integration project which has lost a lot of its legitimacy in the eyes of workers over the last few years of austerity policies.

David Begg, then general secretary of the ICTU, November 2014

The former general secretary of the ICTU summarised well the concerns of many people throughout Europe that TTIP, and the regressive trend of many international trade agreements, including the CETA, will render states, and democratic governments, unable to promote policies that impinge on the more fundamental and better-protected rights of capital. Regardless of who is elected or what people want in a society, these legal agreements will greatly restrict the ability of states to change course or to encompass the needs, aims and aspirations of people if they contradict those of big business and profits.

This led to unions in Ireland adopting positions, individually and collectively through the ICTU. The ICTU conference of affiliate unions in 2015 passed the following motion, making this formal ICTU policy.

Conference therefore resolves that the trade union movement should now call for the TTIP negotiations to be halted and make it clear that workers will never accept any trade agreement that doesn’t promote decent jobs and growth and safeguard labour, consumer, environmental and health and safety standards. Conference calls for continuation of lobbying, campaigning and negotiating on these matters . . .

The TEEU has stated that

the provisions would also attack workers’ rights, erode social standards and environmental regulations and threaten our democratic institutions by asserting the primacy of the interests of business corporations over those of nation states and their people; would dilute food safety rules; undermine regulations on the use of toxic chemicals; rubbish digital privacy laws and strangle developing economies and while being supportive of genuine trade agreements, resolves that the TEEU oppose the ratification and implementation of this agreement at all forums in which it participates; inform the relevant government agencies of our opposition to TTIP; encourage other trade unions to join us in opposition and calls for its scrapping.

The Irish Federation of University Teachers has called support for TTIP misguided; the Irish Medical Organisation has serious concerns about the effect it might have on our health service, as do both Age Action and the Irish Cancer Society. Other Irish unions, including the teachers’ unions, NIPSA, and Unite, have also made statements against TTIP.

On the basis of the ICTU policy position on TTIP, the ICTU has set up a campaign committee comprising a strong cross-section of both public and private-sector unions, which will be actively campaigning against TTIP and raising public awareness of both CETA and TTIP in 2016.

So, clearly the union movement in Ireland has serious concerns about both CETA and TTIP and is calling for the negotiations to be halted, and some for TTIP to be scrapped altogether. What are the main concerns?

Regulatory convergence

Sounds complicated, but basically regulatory convergence means the coming together of regulatory standards between the EU and the United States. Now, as most regulations in the EU are for a higher standard than those in the United States, this can really only mean a lowering of standards in Europe. And far from being merely more “red tape” for business, some of these regulations are our most important protections on workers’ rights, human rights, food safety, car safety, capital/lending ratios, environmental standards, and more.

How will this happen?

Mutual recognition

Firstly, through the mutual recognition and acceptance of each other’s standards. So the United States will be able to export goods into the EU without modification or change. This will lead to the introduction of lower-standard products and services made in lower-cost environments, which will put downward pressure on EU standards.

Harmonisation

Once both standards are in each other’s markets, then it is proposed that these standards should be harmonised to one set. Now, at this point you will have massive lobbying from big business in both the EU and the United States, which have a common cause in reducing the standards to the American or lowest level. Harmonisation will not be upward.

And co-operation

From then on an undemocratic board of both the EU and the United States would monitor all future regulatory proposals on either side of the Atlantic. Not only is this a corporate assault on democracy but it would not increase or strengthen regulations, and so the bar would be set at a low standard, with massive implications for our health and rights and, to be blunt, the future of humanity itself, given the environmental crisis, which  this would only exacerbate.

Investor protections

The ISDS (investor-state dispute settlement) mechanism is a private court, made up of corporate lawyers, who judge on disputes between investors and states over the loss of profits, or even future profits, as a result of state actions. The ISDS in CETA or (if one is included) in TTIP would allow corporations from outside a state to sue that state if its actions negatively affect the corporation’s profits. So, for example, a positive policy on cigarette packaging leaves a state liable to be sued for loss of future profits. This has really happened, and a private ISDS awarded the corporation compensation. This means that change of government can happen so long as it doesn’t change policy! It’s the final hollowing out of democracy.

Removal of the precautionary principle

The precautionary principle exists in the EU. This means that in the EU something needs to be proved safe before it can be introduced to the market. It’s a safeguard against the introduction of anything dangerous. It places our safety before corporate profits. In the United States the opposite situation exists: a product can be released after minimal testing, and to be removed it must be proved dangerous. This means that a dangerous or damaging product can be left available while evidence has to be collected. It puts corporations before people.

Are there benefits?

Some will tell us this is positive for trade, jobs, and growth, and so we should support it. The reality is that there are very few remaining trade barriers between the EU and the United States; and if this was this focus of the treaty they could be dealt with in a much easier, less controversial and less damaging agreement. But the real prize for corporations is not tariffs and taxes but what are known as non-tariff barriers—and these are our rights and protections. This is what TTIP is being designed to get rid of. But even the most positive analysis of the maximum reduction of barriers show only negligible, minuscule growth, while some studies say there will actually be massive job “displacement” in Europe and even a net loss of jobs.

The benefits of TTIP, just like NAFTA, will be to big corporations, at our expense. If TTIP is allowed to continue and passes in the way it is shaping up, then it will be passed at our expense and the expense of democracy and the environment. In this year of the centenary of the 1916 Rising we must not allow the greatest robbery of our sovereignty, freedom and democracy to happen.

Greek workers prepare for Feb 4th General Strike

Occupations, protests and rallies are happening in Greece in build up to a national strike on Feb 4th called by a number of Unions and supported by the class conscious and militant PAME (All Workers Militant Front). PAME have and will continue to organise actions and events in advance of the strike.

A major demonstration took place yesterday in Athens in advance of the strike which has been called against what is known in Greece as the ‘Butcher Bill’ which is a pension and social security reform bill being brought by the SYRIZA Government which unions argue is a plunder of workers pensions. Both public and private sector Unions are opposing SYRIZA’s attack on peoples social security and pensions and it is expected that close to 2 million workers will participate in the strike, the first national strike of 2016.

Many workers see this as an attack on the rights they fought hard to protect, through many militant strikes, from previous Governments and now SYRIZA is going further than previous conservative Governments in its assault on workers.

As well as this strike action, farmers intend to block roads and highways in opposition and even lawyers, doctors and engineers groups have expressed their opposition to these so-called reforms.

Workers in Greece continue to lead the struggle in Europe against austerity and and the transfer of debt onto workers shoulders. The TULF supports these workers and farmers on strike and fighting back.

#savemoorestreet

The Trade Union Left Forum supports the Save Moore Street campaign (#savemoorestreet) and calls on Unions, and union activists, to show support for the campaign and for those seeking to save Moore Street buildings used by the heroes of 1916 from demolition.

While the State has designated numbers 14-17 as a National Monument and plans to restore only the fronts of the buildings as a commemoration to the Rising, we support the campaigners demands to protect number 18, arguably the last HeadQuarters of the 1916 Rising, and the greater site from being rezone and developed as a Shopping centre which will destroy the heritage of the site.

The 1916 Relatives Association have also made public their believe that the Minister, Heather Humphreys, decived them when outlining her Governments plans.

History is important. It provides lessons and inspiration. It teaches and reminds new generations of passed sacrafice and struggle. To surround a historic site like this with crass consumerism is not progress. It is to bury our past and history in the consumerism of short term desire of the day.

The Trade Union Left Forum supports the occupation and encourages activists to attend the protests. Tweet your support at #savemoorestreet and write to your Union asking them to support the campaign.

 

2015: resistance, struggles, and developments

Capital’s strategic offensive to open up new areas of profit, weaken the collective and reform education continued during the past year. However, there has been some increased resistance from workers on a number of fronts and pay increases won by union members, as well as a strengthening of the water movement in opposition to privatisation, double taxation, and Irish Water.

The following is a brief overview of some of the important moments of the year.

Water movement continues to grow

Without doubt the most important development for workers this year has been the leading role played by trade unions in the national water movement, providing finance, a national profile, and media attention.

While the success of the movement was and remains in each and every community around the country, the support of the large unions for the movement added something missing from previous resistance campaigns.

It has also helped to link workers’ work-place struggles with community campaigns and, if it can be built on, may just provide the necessary platform for rebuilding the union movement and workers’ confidence in struggle.

Housing and homeless action

2015 saw the steady growth of a housing fight back. Fragmented pockets of resistance from single mothers organising in working class communities, to anti-eviction groups, anti-capitalists, republicans, radical social workers, homeless activists and community activists formally joined forces in May as the housing crisis intensified. The Irish Housing Network was born.

Occupations of councils and departments were followed by the opening of the Bolt Hostel. The Bolt Hostel was a DCC homeless accommodation vacant since 2011. In the middle of an intense housing and homeless crisis, buildings like this lie vacant. After 2 months, a High Court ejection ended the occupation, exposing the true hand of the State.

The Network continued to grow, building a national network of housing and homeless groups and promoting deeper organising in communities and workplaces. Successes followed, a NAMA auction was stopped in Wexford in November and a 12 day occupation of emergency accommodation ended in a stalemate with DCC and property investors in December. Going into 2016, housing will be centre stage and capitals privatisation agenda gathers momentum. It is clear that the State will only seek ‘solutions’ that work for private enterprise and capital and where homeless people themselves organise the State will resist them.

Decency for Dunne’s

The Dunne’s campaign, led by Mandate, took a brave step in 2015 in the form of a one-day work stoppage on 2 April that saw six thousand workers in 109 branches withdraw their labour for a day. The action—probably the biggest private-sector strike for some time—also drew massive support and solidarity from other unions and from communities around Dunne’s branches. Pickets were vibrant and workers confident.

The management responded by victimising and intimidating members of the union; but so far members have stood strong with their union and have secured a pay increase of 3 per cent and some improvements to their terms and conditions. The one-day action was followed by a 5,000-strong protest outside Dunne’s head office in Dublin on 6 June; and just before Christmas some 1,300 Dunne’s workers participated in a survey that revealed their complaints on flexible-hour contracts and insecurity of earnings.

Justice for Clery’s workers

On 12 June, Clery’s landmark department store in Dublin was shut abruptly by the owners, Natrium, locking out staff and customers alike and leaving 130 workers without jobs. SIPTU, with its members, launched protests, and 30,000 people signed a petition that called on the management to meet the workers. A motion was also passed by Dublin City Council calling Clery’s an iconic and essential part of the Dublin retail experience.

Protests have continued as recently as 8 December, but still the owners refuse to meet the workers. These “entrepreneurs”—Deirdre Foley, John Skelly, and Ronan Daly—are the type celebrated by the Government and the media, although this is how they treat workers and the public. This campaign will continue into the new year as justice is sought for the Clery’s workers.

The struggle to hold Aer Lingus

May saw a renewed, and ultimately successful, attempt by the Government to sell its 25 per cent shareholding in Aer Lingus to IAG. This has long been an aim of Governments, although they hoped to do so in a way that avoided Ryanair being the purchaser.

SIPTU led a campaign seeking protection and commitments for jobs and routes, important for rural communities. This was successful in securing a legally enshrined registered employment agreement that will commit the company to not pursuing an agenda of outsourcing and compulsory redundancies. However, the campaign was not broad enough, nor political enough, with insufficient mass support to oppose the sale outright.

And so in August, Aer Lingus shareholders voted to accept the sale agreement; and for the first time in history the airline is without state involvement or part-ownership.

There are lessons in this, that while a strong union can achieve protection for workers in the short term, there is no doubt that the failure to prevent privatisation leaves workers in Aer Lingus far more vulnerable now than before, and where capital wishes it will in time find a way around any protections secured. The lack of a mass political campaign for public ownership was critical in the failure to oppose the sale, and the divide between unionised workers and the mass of non-members is critical in this failure.

Privatisation of Dublin Bus routes and Irish Rail disputes

1,500 workers committed themselves to a campaign of industrial action in midsummer in opposition to the privatisation of 10 per cent of Dublin bus routes and to secure protection for workers. Much like the Aer Lingus campaign by SIPTU, ultimately short-term assurance was secured that workers would not have to work the 10 per cent of routes for private operators; but it did not prevent the privatisation of routes, and so this protection will come under attack again—not to mention the fact that privatisation will lead to much waste, inefficiencies, and increased costs, just as with refuse collection. The remaining 90 per cent of routes will, potentially, be up for tender to private operators from 2019.

Without a broader political and social programme and the ability to mobilise the broader membership and class, campaigns against privatisation are unlikely to succeed, and so the best that the unions are achieving is short-term protection for the workers involved.

Following on-and-off discussions and a day of industrial action in November, members in Irish Rail accepted an outcome from the Labour Court on productivity initiatives and payments. In all these discussions the union members have given priority to citizens’ health and safety as well as to their own demands within the context of a relentless cost-cutting drive by the management. It is likely that there will be further action in 2016, as drivers in particular are well organised and clear in their opposition to cost-saving at their expense and the expense of safety.

Teachers and regressive reform

Over the last two years the teachers’ unions have opposed the Government’s proposed reform of the Junior Certificate, which would see new teacher-led methods of assessment. The unions have opposed these reforms, as they will potentially harm teaching and educational standards and follow some of the worst international practice.

At first all the teachers’ unions opposed the process, and there were two days of industrial action and a general non-cooperation boycott. Unfortunately, however, in September the TUI voted to accept the process, having secured what it described as its key objectives—the reinstatement of a fully externally assessed state-certified Junior Cert examination and professional time to be provided for teachers—while the ASTI members voted against it. This means that TUI members (approximately 9,000) will begin co-operation, where the position of ASTI members (approximately 18,000) is slightly less known.

The ASTI ballot was clearly not popular with the union’s leadership, who were forced to acknowledge that the vote was a vote of no confidence in the Government and that their members did not trust the Government’s commitments or its intentions in education reform—a wise position for members to take!

Pay for workers, public and private

May 2015 saw a pay restoration deal for the public sector agreed between unions and Government that will involve a phased return of about €2,000 over two years for most public servants, with priority for the lower paid. However, many members are still unhappy at concessions made over the three public-sector austerity agreements and the continuing privatisation of public-sector services.

In the private sector, pay increases were achieved during the year in manufacturing, retail, finance, and technology. The increases ranges from 2 to 4 per cent, and the ICTU Private Sector Committee has made a demand for increases of 5 per cent for the private sector in 2016.

It is at about this time of year that, if you are in a unionised company, negotiations will probably be starting. The biggest challenge for workers is to secure general increases for all and to resist or negate the worst aspects of performance-related pay and performance management structures, which unfairly discriminate against certain workers and divide workers to the benefit of the management, leading ultimately to pay stagnation, which is the general aim of capital.

New IR Institutions: a watching brief

The reform programme of the Employment Appeals Tribunal, National Employment Rights Association, Equality Tribunal, Labour Relations Commission and Labour Court progressed significantly in 2015. The reforms have now entered their final phases, which will see a two-tier structure in the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court, primarily as a court of appeal.

Concerns still remain. The Government tried to introduce a fee for taking a case, which the unions successfully opposed. But this attempt to monetise the process of rights vindication, which exists in Britain, will no doubt re-emerge in years to come. There are also serious concerns about the powers granted to the WRC to rule out cases before they even have a hearing, which is arguably unconstitutional. But by and large the unions have welcomed the reforms as making processes, structures and timelines easier for workers to follow and access.

New IR legislation yet to be tested

In addition to these changes to industrial relations and workers’ rights structures, new legislation was introduced that some unions—opportunistically and incorrectly—welcomed as collective bargaining legislation. It absolutely is not collective bargaining legislation. However, it may represent opportunities for workers without union recognition to organise and potentially improve their terms and conditions of employment, which is a positive development. But, as with previous attempts to legislate, it is stated Government policy that it must be in line with Ireland’s commitment to foreign direct investment, and so it will not deliver collective bargaining for workers. Time will tell what benefits, if any, are derived from this.

The Trade Union Left Forum reiterates its commitment to workers winning through collective power and action. Regardless of legislation—although it can be helpful or a hindrance—workers only win through organising and taking action, and this remains the surest way to improve your working life.

TTIP 2015 Updated Booklet

This updated booklet from John Hillary of War on Want is an excellent analysis and exposition of TTIP and the affect it will have on jobs, workers, the environment, regulations and much more.

TTIP booklet 2015 update

The booklet covers topics like:

  • transparency and lack of democracy
  • jobs and employment
  • deregulation
  • privatisation
  • investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms (ISDS)
  • food safety
  • environmental impact

Well worth reading in advance of #GE16 so you can challenge candidates on the door and at the supermarket as they canvas you for their vote.

But don’t just read it get involved:

1 – write to your Union and ask them have they taken a position on TTIP

2 – write to the Congress of Unions and ask them to resource an anti-TTIP campaign

3 – make TTIP an election issue at the door by asking candidates their position and clearly telling them you will only vote for those who are opposed to TTIP and will work to stop it

Q3 see’s a calming of industrial action

The CSO has published its figures for industrial in the third economic quarter of the year which shows zero days lost to industrial action (their choice of words).

ID2015Q3Fig1

There were no disputes and no days of industrial action in Q3. This followed 32,848 days, 7 disputes and 6 employers, in Q1 and Q2 of this year. 73% of these days lost were in the education sector involving the Governments proposed junior certificate reform. It is the first quarter since Q4 of 2012 to have zero days.

While the Q4 numbers are not out we can expect a significant increase given the industrial action that took place transport, Irish Rail.

WFTU Statement on the International Migrants Day

The WFTU expresses its solidarity to the migrants and refugees from Syria and all the other countries. We support their demands for dignified humane conditions and respect of their rights.

The World Federation of Trade Unions with its anti-imperialist and internationalist position and action denounces the murderous and hypocritical policy of the European Union and its Governments and struggles for the elimination of the aggressiveness against the people of North Africa and the Middle East, for the dissolution of NATO and for the utilization of the natural resources by the people for their own interests and for the popular development that will bring the reconstruction and the prosperity of the people.

We demand the immediate end of all imperialist interventions. We ask from the International Organizations to support the countries of origin of economic immigrants and of the political refugees.

The phenomena or racism, neofascism and xenophobia must be fully confronted.

Based on this the WFTU calls for:

  • The abolishment of the Dublin and the Schengen Treaty, the Frontex and all repressive mechanisms.
  • Stop the measures of the European Union for the repression in the borders.
  • End now the imperialist interventions of EU-USA-NATO.
  • Direct transfer of the refugees from the islands and the entry points to the countries of their final destination.-
  • Increase of the personnel and the infrastructure for the rescue, the record-identification, the housing, feeding, medical care and the safe transfer of the people.
  • Creation of dignified centers of welcoming and hospitality