A Trade Union Strategy to Win for Working People

Speech at the Mother Jones Festival, Cork by SIPTU General President, Jack O’Connor, on Thursday, 28th July, 2016 Comrades and friends, This year’s Mother Jones Festival takes place against the background of the continuing trauma of the most serious crisis in global capitalism since the 1930s. It is important to say from the outset that this is a demand side crisis largely attributable to exponentially growing inequality in what we know as the “developed world”. The phenomenon manifests itself in the world of work or the “labour market” in the form of mass unemployment, increasing precariousness and social insecurity on […]

Important outcome from Labour Court

The Labour Court has issued an important outcome for Freshway workers in a case taken by SIPTU under the new legislation. On the question of evidencing union membership Joe O’Flynn, General Secretary of SIPTU, swore an affidavit in advance of the hearing to the effect that 63 of 170 workers were union members. The Court viewed this, 37%, as ‘not insignificant’ and passing the first barrier. The Company argued that they collectively bargain with an internal staff consultation committee but the Court found that it wasn’t an excepted body and that the practice was not collective bargaining as defined by […]

Politics, Policy and Organising in the Windy City: Lessons from 2015 Chicago for Irish Trade Unionism

Two important events happened in Chicago in February 2015, which hold lessons for the Irish trade union movement. Firstly, a major report was released by the Chicago Teachers Union, the highly politicised and organised 2012 strike winners and enemies of the Chicago establishment. It was entitled A Just Chicago: Fighting for the City Our Students Deserve (full report available at http://www.ctunet.com/quest-center/research/position-papers/a-just-chicago ). It proposed wide ranging solutions to a crisis in city education, which went far beyond base union issues such as pay and conditions. Situating school as the heart of communities, it also proposed substantive solutions to a range […]

The strike is the key to union renewal and working class power

Reviving the strike – How working people can regain power and transform America By Joe Burns Available on pdf at http://www.tuleftforum.com/discussion-papers/ and for purchase at http://www.revivingthestrike.org/ Striking to stop production This is a must-read book for trade unionists and left activists. Though it deals mainly with the American labour movement and conditions there, its main points and recommendations easily apply in Ireland. The author, Joe Burns, is a union lawyer, negotiator and activist for many decades, most recently involved in the airline industry and health services. He is adamant that the movement needs to return to the strike as the […]

Class-consciousness is increasing

The Right2Water campaign and communities from all over the country last week held their third massive national mobilisation within a few months, and the message was clear: people won’t be bullied or bribed, and they see through government lies and propaganda. The recent retreat by the government is not enough, and is not accepted by the people. The government has lost the Irish Water issue and has no popular mandate. The view of hundreds of thousands of people and families is irrefutable; the government does not have our support to govern. Last week’s protest followed an intensification of violence, supervision […]

All the key issues?

Last September the Trade Union Left Forum asked, will this Government guarantee the right to union representation for workers? (The full article can be read at www.tuleftforum.com/will-government-guarantee-right-union-representation-workers/). Judging by yesterday’s press statement by the Minister for jobs, enterprise, and innovation, Richard Bruton, on legislating for reform of the Industrial Relations Act (2001), the answer has to be a resounding and disappointing but not surprising No. The minister’s statement added very little to what he had already stated, and what was leaked to the media before Christmas. The Fine Gael minister has been clear that any legislation brought forward in this […]

Alt-labor: a new union movement or the same old song?

Unions are evolving to survive, as protests against Walmart – without employees of the company – increasingly show. On a crisp and sunny morning on the day after Thanksgiving, a group of protesters gathered in front of a large Walmart in Michigan’s Sterling Heights, calling for wage increases and better working conditions for the superstore’s employees. Mary Johnson, a retiree and member of international activist group the Raging Grannies, stood next to Dan Lombardo, a plumber wearing old-fashioned overalls, who was carrying a sign stating “Walmart equals poverty.” Mothering Justice founder Danielle Atkinson, in a vibrant purple coat, turned up […]

For Labor To Succeed, It Has To Be Disruptive

Taken from Talking Points Memo Rosenfeld’s latest contribution to this here book club is especially timely. For the past few weeks, the liberal commentariat has been having one of its perennial debates over whether the labor movement is dying and, if so, whether we should mourn its passing. This particular iteration of the old back-and-forth was kicked off by Bloomberg View columnist Evan Soltas, who argued that American unions are as good as dead and that’s pretty much okay. According to Soltas, the primary function of unions is to promote the narrow interests of their dues-paying members and “provide a […]