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2011 n o MANDATEeNEWS i t c E l l a I C e p s

Issue 8, February 2011


! W O N S I E M I T E TH

T N U O C E T O V R U O Y E MAK | email:

Straight Talking with John Douglas Members The upcoming general election, on the 25 February next, is without doubt the most important since the foundation of the Irish State. By using your vote and using it wisely in the interest of working people and their families you can create a Fairer, Better way. You can make real and effective change happen. th

It might seem obvious to say this but the general election should be about the party or parties that will wield power over the coming years which will either negatively or positively impact on your life and that of your family. Not only must you vote but you need to consider how you vote to help shape a better, fairer and socially progressive new Ireland. Voting for the parties who presided over the unmitigated disaster Ireland now finds itself in would be more of the same and frankly its an option not worth considering. Voting for parties who have recently dressed themselves up as parties of change will not achieve progress. Scratch the surface of their gloss and spin and you will find a party which has no real interest in social change, in tackling inequality in health care, education, housing, income or workers rights. The time is now right for Irish workers, their families, students and all those who believe in a better, fairer society to support real change by voting for parties and progressive candidates of the left whose policies and values are based on the principal of social solidarity and equality. WE HAVE BUT ONE CHANCE TO MAKE CHANGE HAPPEN… NOW IS THE TIME.

Boxing Clever, Voting Clever The one thing that can’t be denied during this upcoming election is that the last three years have left the ordinary workers of this country battered and bruised. Left to carry the can for the mistakes of others, what are the options for fighting back? The single, most important tool our constitution gives every Irish man and woman to influence how the country is run is the vote. But the vote is only as good as the amount of people that use it. For the last number of elections, people voted for the same old thing because the economy seemed to be moving along just fine. Now we know different and can’t afford to get stuck in Groundhog Day. There is an alternative out there to the old boy network but these new voices will only be heard if they are supported by people like you. In the article “Where they stand…” we set out which party’s policies favour Mandate members workers and which don’t. It’s up to us to make the difference. Voting is about tactics. The vast majority of TDs elected to the Dáil every election don’t get enough No.1 votes to make the cut. So how did they end up in power? The answer lies in our system of transferable votes. The Irish system of voting is called the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system. It’s set up to minimise the effect of “wasted votes” i.e. if your candidate doesn’t win your vote counts for nothing. What STV does is gives everyone a chance to rank all the candidates in order of preference i.e. your favourite is No. 1, second favourite is No. 2 and so on. What this means is that although a number 1 vote is the best option, it’s really important to get number 2 votes as well. The more transferable votes you can attract the better chance of getting elected in the later rounds of the count .

What all this means for Mandate members is that it’s really important to be smart with your vote. Make sure that not only your first but as many of your preferences as possible go to progressive parties and independents from the political broad left. As set out in the article “Where they stand…” there are parties that will work in our member’s interests and those that won’t. So make sure your vote is working as hard as you are!

John Douglas Mandate General Secretary.

MANDATE NEWS / Election Special 2011


Ireland’s Day Of Shame On the 1st February, as Brian Cowen, Fianna Fáil and the Greens rode into the sunset with bags of loot, the most shameful measure of their reign came crashing into effect. The National Minimum Wage was shrunk by €1 to €7.65 per hour. However, this shameful measure did not go unchallenged. Mandate, as part of a coalition of progressive organisations, held a Ceremony of Shame outside the Dail to remind every single would-be TD that this economically regressive and unfair measure will not be accepted by the people. Workers from Ireland and across the world took to the podium and declared what the cut would mean to them. Mandate member and one of the Laura Ashley strikers, Emma Nolan stated: “This step to reduce the minimum wage is not right. People on minimum wage didn’t create the economic problems Ireland is facing so I can’t understand why we are being asked to take the pain. The day of reckoning is soon approaching”. Mandate General Secretary, John Douglas argued that low paid workers did not cause this economic crisis, but the 30th Dáil made them pay for it, stating: “By cutting the Minimum Wage and initiating a review of Employment Regulation Orders, the Fianna Fáil-Green Government has brought shame to the Dáil.”  “The cut of the Minimum Wage today from €8.65 to €7.65 will slash an additional €40 a week from the household budgets of tens of thousands of working families across Ireland – families that are already struggling to make ends meet, even more so with the additional taxes being taken from their weekly pay cheques”, he continued . 

Representatives from the Labour party, Sinn Fein and Fine Gael addressed the assembled crowd with encouraging words. Labour’s Emmet Stag, Sinn Fein’s Angus O’Snodaigh and Independent Maureen O’Sullivan declared that the cut of €1 was both brutal and unnecessary and that if elected they would reverse the measure. Indeed, Maureen O’Sullivan stated: “I don’t think I should have to sign this pledge. The cut should never have come into being in the first place”. Each candidate signed the pledge that they would reverse the Cut to the Minimum Wage and protect the Employment Regulation Order (ERO) system. This pledge started the ball rolling on a campaign to get as many candidates as possible to sign up to reversing the cut over coming number of weeks. The coalition, which includes MANDATE, SIPTU, CWU, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, The Poor Can’t Pay Campaign, The Community Platform, UNITE and The National Women’s Council have joined forces to campaign for a reversal of the €1 per hour cut to the Minimum Wage and to protect EROs which have recently come under review.

Talented actor Ger O’Leary then took to the podium to re-enact James Larkin’s immortal speech of resistance and solidarity reciting: “We are now on the threshold of a newer movement, with a newer hope and a new inspiration.” Ger O’Leary then took up a list of all TDs who had voted through the Minimum Wage Cut and called aloud for their names to be remembered with shame. The crowd responded in kind, calling shame after each name called out.


MANDATE NEWS / Election Special 2011

The Shame Of Fahey It really was a ‘day of shame’ for Galway TD Frank Fahey. While activists were marking the introduction of the cut to the minimum wage outside Dail Eireann, the Fianna Fáil deputy cleared up any doubt that may have existed about the Government’s attitude towards lower paid workers. When approached by John Douglas with leaflets that condemned the €1-an-hour cut, the Galway West TD threw the leaflets back at the Mandate General Secretary.

Fianna Fáil TD Frank Fahey

Minutes earlier, Mr Fahey happily gave sound bites to the media about his final day in the 30th Dail but when he walked back to the Dáil gate, he brushed past John Douglas and tossed the event leaflets to the ground. “Our members will remember your shameful actions when you are pounding the streets of Galway looking for their vote”, promised John Douglas as Mr Fahey rushed away. We are calling on every Galway member of Mandate to make good on this promise. Frank Fahey should never be allowed to forget this fateful day of shame and his abominable disregard for the working classes of his own constituency. Make sure your vote counts.

MANDATE NEWS / Election Special 2011

They’re coming after your Sunday rate of pay and your unsocial hours’ premium. Not happy with slashing €40 euro per week off the minimum wage, the Fianna Fáil/Green Government agreed as part of the EU/IMF bailout deal to a review of legally binding rates of pay and conditions for over 300,000 workers in sectors such as retail, cleaning, hotels, catering and security (known as JLC sectors). Big business interests such as Retail Ireland, Hotels’ Federation, Restaurant Federation and Employees’ Groups IBEC/ ISME have been lobbying hard for years to get the government to dismantle the JLC system of legal rates of pay, overtime, holidays, sick pay – they found willing ears in Fianna Fáil and the Greens who fresh from their attack on lower paid workers with the cut in the minimum wage and the introduction of the universal social charge decided to keep kicking hard working lower paid workers when they’re down. The so called “Review” is a sham; the terms of reference are loaded to ensure one result - the removal of any piece of decent legislation left to protect workers. They have specifically targeted Sunday pay rates and unsocial hours rates. The would be party of power Fine Gael fully supports the review, it also thinks that workers in some of the lowest paid and hard working sectors of the economy should not get a cent extra for working Sunday or unsocial hours. To quote Fine Gael, “we do not see any case for premium pay on Sunday.” They also want to allow employers to make “local” agreements with their workers for legally inferior rates of pay – are they for real? Employers will threaten and bully workers into signing their rights away. And when Fianna Fáil, Greens and Fine Gael have done all the dirty work, it will be open season for greedy employers to dismantle union agreements on overtime rates, unsocial hours’ premium, sick pay and pensions. Your vote and your union are the last lines of defence. Use your vote to fight back. Go to page 5 and see where the political parties stand and which of them are kicking workers. Box clever and vote clever. Visit, click on ... Send an email to all candidates and tell them that you will be using your vote to fight back!


Where They Stand Who’s kicking workers?


Minimum Wage

Protecting wage rates and conditions in the retail sector

Social Welfare rates

Workers rights Access to and Collective Healthcare Bargaining

Definitively rejected the reduction in national minimum wage, promised a reversal

Supported a review but believe nothing to be gained from pursuing a low-pay agenda

Headline social welfare rates should be protected

Commitment to legislate for the right of all workers to collective bargaining

Extend access to all citizens on the same basis as the privately insured

Definitively rejected the reduction in national minimum wage, promised a reversal

Believe mechanism's such as the Joint Labour Committees are absolutely necessary to protect lower paid workers

Social welfare benefits to be protected from cuts

A constitutional amendment to enshrine the right of workers to be represented by trade unions

A universal public health system that provides care to all free at the point of delivery, on the basis of need alone

Promised to reverse minimum wage cut within 3 months

Propose an overhaul of the wages & conditions in retail, hotels etc. including cutting sunday rates and unsocial hours premiums

Need to reform the social welfare system so that it avoids making people dependent on the State

Employers required to set up internal Employee Representative Committee’s, these are yellow/dummy unions

Universal health insurance with option for private

Implemented a cut of €1 to minimum wage

Introduced a review of wages & conditions in retail and other low-pay sectors and favours cuts to sunday rates and unsocial hours premiums

Introduced cuts to social welfare rates

Failed to introduce rights for all workers to be represented by a union

Not disclosed

Implemented a cut of €1 to minimum wage

Introduced a review of wages & conditions in retail and other low-pay sectors and favours cuts to sunday rates and unsocial hours premiums

Introduced cuts to social welfare rates

Failed to introduce rights for all workers to be represented by a union

Public control of health care deliver systems with universal access to primary health care delivered in the community

Opposed reduction of minimum wage

Not disclosed

No to the cuts in social welfare payments

Support the legal right to trade union recognition

Publicly funded health system, free at the point of access, paid by a progressive tax system

It’s A Man’s World Why is it that nearly every Election 2011 candidate that calls to the door is male? Easy because in these enlightened times less than 20% of candidates are women. Even more shocking in six of the 43 constituencies there are no women candidates running at all!

Since the last election political parties in Ireland have received almost €55 million of public money to run their affairs. This is in addition to the salaries of TDs, their advisors and secretaries in the Dáil. One of the specified purposes for this substantial public funding is to ‘promote women in politics’.

The Dáil that forms after the election is unlikely to contain many more women than the last one which had among the fewest women in the world. Ireland is joint 83rd with Cameroon on the Women in Parliament World Classification list.

As part of it’s programme for political reform, Claiming our Future, the newly created campaigning organisation, is organizing an on-line petition calling on the parties that form the new Government to include measures which will ensure that political parties put a more balanced slate of candidates in front of the people in future elections. This will contribute to transforming the nature of Irish democracy helping to create a more sustainable, equal and thriving Ireland.

Of course, it is already too late to do anything about the candidates for Election 2011. But if we want this blatant inequality to change in time for the next election, we need to start now. Last year, all of the major parties said they favoured a better gender balance, yet no party which has published its electoral reform package has included proposals to tackle it. Fine Gael says it will ask their proposed citizens’ assembly to address representation of women but withdrew the only proposal that specifically targeted the issue. One point out of 140 in Labour’s transformational plan addresses the under representation of women. It’s easy to see how we could end up in five years time facing an election with the same inequality of candidates.

You can read more about this campaign on


If so, grab your camcorder and get shootin g. We’re looking for the best 60 second election video outlining why its so important to make your vote count in Election2011. You can use whatever tech nology you can get your hands on. The best entry will win a €200 voucher and will be posted on the Mandate website and Facebook page. So get busy, get shootin g!

MANDATE NEWS / Election Special 2011


Mandate Members on the Frontline say… Leigh Speight Mandate member “The Universal Social Charge has been very hard to take and is unnecessary for lower paid workers. Add this to the constant erosion of workers benefits and times certainly are tough.”

Emma Nolan Laura Ashley worker and Mandate member Daniel McCarthy Mandate member “To be honest, what affects me most as a Mandate member and student is the Universal Social Charge. At a time when my hours are being cut, college fees are being increased, this is a tax that takes no account of individual’s circumstances. It just applies across the board. That’s what I’m finding most difficult to swallow.”

“I had a job in retail but was recently made redundant and now in my search for work will be faced with the new lower minimum wage. I would like to know if the people who made the decision to take €1 euro an hour out of our pockets will be the ones who will have to live on and experience the harshness of it. Hopefully the new Government who come into power will keep the promises they make on our doorsteps when they are looking for our votes.”

Denise Tyrell, Mandate member


“The Universal Social Charge, changes to tax credits and the recent reduction of the minimum wage have all had immediate and negative effects on all workers but particularly the lower paid. Certainly people employed in the retail sector are the first to see the damaging reduction as households through no fault of their own are forced to reduce their spending. Each and every person, seeing these reductions, will be doing everything possible to balance their budgets i.e. spending less on food, clothing, transport, socializing and holidays. Make no mistake these cutbacks will lead to more job losses.”

MANDATE NEWS / Election Special 2011


Mandate News General Election Special  
Mandate News General Election Special  

A special edition of Mandate News for the General Election 2011