SHOPFLOOR MANDATE TRADE UNION
Budget comment & analysis Pages 4, 15 & 31
Gen Sec gives evidence before Oireachtas hearing
deliquent companies must face stronger sanctions M&S action called off after deal is brokered By David Gibney Mandate communications officer MAnDATE called off industrial action scheduled for September 10th at four Marks & Spencer stores after an agreement was brokered between the union and management. Members at the stores – in Dun Laoghaire, Mullingar, naas and Tallaght – voted in favour of industrial action in August after M&S bosses issued employees with compulsory redundancy notices without exploring alternatives. Mandate officials and M&S representatives negotiated a settlement which was balloted on and accepted by those members affected on September 4th. Mandate Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light told Shopfloor: “It is regretful that our members had to threaten industrial action in order to achieve what was a very reasonable proposition. “As a union, we had never questioned the motives for the closure of the four stores and all we were asking was that redeployment should be an option where possible. Our members fought for redeployment and they have now won that opportunity. Our members voted almost unanimously in favour of a compre-
hensive set of proposals, which allow for redeployment to nearby stores. “The level of support for the proposals shows the quality of the deal negotiated and it is now up to the union and our members to ensure there is as large an uptake of those jobs on offer as possible. “This successful outcome for the Marks & Spencer workers was only achieved because they were united in their union and were prepared to fight for a better deal for themselves and their families. “It again emphasises the importance and value of being a trade union member in today’s economic environment.”
‘Grit and determination’ Divisional Organiser Joe Donnelly, who was part of the team involved in brokering the deal, welcomed the wholehearted backing the agreement had received from members. He said: “The issuing of compulsory notices last month had caused our members a great deal of anxiety. However, they showed great courage, grit and determination in sticking together and, through their union, winning an acceptable agreement.”
By David Gibney Mandate communications officer MAnDATE General Secretary and ICTU President John Douglas has called for stronger sanctions to be slapped on delinquent companies and asked why should their “bad behaviour... be rewarded”. He made the comments at a recent Joint Oireachtas hearing as he highlighted inadequacies in the Employment Appeals Tribunal. Mr Douglas was critical of management who “hide behind a veil of corporate secrecy” to “avoid their responsibilities as employers.” In particular, Mr Douglas raised the plight of Connolly Shoes workers from Dun Laoghaire who, despite winning an unfair dismissal case in 2011, have still not received any compensation from their employer. He explained how directors of limited liability companies sometimes set up associated companies to hide assets when the state deems them liable for breaches in employment law. Mr Douglas was one of six witnesses at the Joint Oireachtas Committee hearing. The committee also heard from John O’Sullivan, a worker who spent four years chasing his employer for what he was owed through an EAT judgment. Employers’ body IBEC, which also attended the hearing, was widely criticised by committee members for implying that many workers take “frivolous and vexatious” cases against employers for unfair dismissal. IBEC also called for a cost to be imposed on workers who take unfair dismissal cases to the EAT. The hearing was also attended by officials from several government departments currently drafting legislation which it is hoped will address a number of Mandate’s concerns, particularly over the enforcement of
awards by the EAT. Esther Lynch, present at the hearing on behalf of ICTU, claimed there were “101 ways” employers deliberately frustrated the system so that employees eventually dropped their cases. But she added: “The Minister can introduce changes to insolvency rules in Budget 2014 which would address some of the unions’ concerns.” Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett from the Technical Group raised the injustice of unscrupulous employers who transfer the onus of responsibility for unfair dismissals on to the taxpayer by forcing workers to seek their award from the Government’s insolvency fund. Senator David Cullinane from Sinn Fein said he had personal experience of getting the “run around” from employers in the early 1990s and pointed out that nothing seems to have changed. He added that it wasn’t true to say that the EAT system is free for all workers and flagged up the cost in taking time off work, a cost for union representatives and other associated
costs. Labour Party senator Susan O’Keeffe condemned IBEC’s statements claiming it was disingenuous to say that employees had no costs when taking a case to the EAT, saying it was a “risible thing to say.” Senator O’Keeffe added she was "disappointed” the employers’ body had used “vexatious and frivolous" language. John Douglas concluded by stating bad employers should not be rewarded by allowing the taxpayer to bail them out when they make bad decisions. He asked: “Why should bad behaviour from that employer be rewarded? Why should the state not put a charge on the directors of that company? Why shouldn’t those directors be banned from ever being a director again? “This is about workers. Workers should have access to address their concerns and to right wrongs. The legislation as it stands forces workers down cul-de-sacs and it needs to be opened so that workers can access justice,” he added.
SUPPORT Office workers at Superquinn have unanimously accepted a set of proposals brokered by the union in advance of the name change of stores to SuperValu. The branding announcement, made by grocery chain bosses on August 7th and which comes into effect next February, impacts particularly on the 102 workers at the Lucan-based Support Office. Mandate held a number of meetings with management and hammered out a comprehensive deal during the consultation period following the announcement. The deal included: l Five weeks inclusive redundancy package with no cap on the sum; l In addition to this, an incre-
mental scale of completion payments based on service also applied (€1,000 up to two years; €2,500 between two and five years; €5,000 between five and 10 years; €6,000 between 10 and 15 years; €7,000 between 15 and 20 years; and €8,500 for 20 years and above); l A training fund guaranteeing each individual €2,000 towards further education; l An extension to the company’s doctors scheme for the remainder of the year of their departure and one year after, as well as the discount card for an additional 12 months after leaving; l Paid outplacement service to include paid release for interviews; l Colleague Assistance Programme in place for a year.
l Five weeks pay per completed year of service for those members with less than 104 weeks service; l Redeployment options within Musgrave and Musgrave Operating partners along with a six-month, opt-out clause to avail of redundancy terms Mandate Industrial Official Jonathan Hogan told Shopfloor: “The conclusion of the negotiations and the acceptance of the proposals by members represented a fair and reasonable outcome having regard to all of the circumstances. “It proves once again that such a result is more likely to be achieved through workers effectively combining and being represented at the negotiating table by a competent professional trade union.”
could you write for shopfloor? Superquinn support staff vote for deal
Do you have a perspective on the Irish political, social or economic environment that you'd like to share with your fellow members in Mandate Trade Union? Do you have a good news story about how being a union member has benefited you and your colleagues in the workplace. Have you a story about how you or your family are coping in the current recession. Whatever it is, we'd like to hear from you. Please contact Shopfloor at email@example.com or post your article to Shopfloor, Mandate Trade Union,9 Cavendish Row, Dublin 1 2
y September 2013
STRAIGHT TALKING General Secretary Mandate Trade Union
dare to dream again sign uP noW! Pledge drive gathers momentum MAnDATE has called on all trade union members in Ireland to take the Fair Shop pledge and avail of special deals in Fair Shop outlets. Mandate is currently in talks with a number of Fair Shop employers to provide special discount deals to consumers who spend their money where workers count. Mandate is calling on all members of trade unions in Ireland to take the following pledge: l I pledge to do all I can to support employers who voluntarily recognise the right of workers to be in a trade union and to be represented by that trade union through the collective bargaining process. l I support the Fair Shop campaign and
pledge to spend my money where workers count. Brian Forbes, Mandate’s national Coordinator for Campaigns, said: “By signing the pledge, you are supporting a retail workers’ human right to be represented by a trade union. “As a bonus, you will receive regular updates on deals which could save you hundreds of euro every year.” Log on to www.fairshop.ie to take the pledge or fill in the below pledge and post it to: Fair Shop Campaign, O’Lehane House, 9 Cavendish Row, Dublin 1.
Jacques Vert deal accepted An AGREEMEnT reached between Mandate and management at Jacques Vert has been accepted by a large majority following a ballot of those members affected. The deal, brokered at the Labour Relations Commission, came after a meeting on July 4 and followed the rejection of a different set of proposals put forward by management earlier in the year. On February 28, management at the ladieswear retailer outlined to representatives from Mandate’s national negotiating Team that they intended restructuring their business in Ireland. At the meeting, management flagged up a very difficult trading environment locally and claimed a large number of their stores had been underperforming. September 2013
Management set out a a number of proposals that involved: l Restructuring the management grade with a view to downsizing this in a number of locations, l Restructuring of staffing levels in some stores with hours being taken out of the business, and l The possible closure of a number of outlets. After a number of meetings, these proposals were subsequently put to a ballot of Mandate and SIPTU members at the retailer. Sales advisers and union members in management roles rejected the proposals and a joint referral was then made to the LRC. Following talks in July at the LRC, both parties agreed only to deal with the proposal to restructure the management grade as well as redundancy terms covering the grade.
Jacques Vert agreed that no changes would be made to the role of sales advisers until the outcome of the changes to the management grade has been completed. Divisional Organiser Michael Meegan told Shopfloor: “Following the redundancies the parties are to meet to address the restructured organisation in assessing the impact on a store by store basis, without prejudice. And the LRC will provide further help should both parties wish.” The proposal for redundancy for the management grade was Statutory Entitlement plus one week’s pay per year of service plus a €3,000 lump-sum payment for those with between five and 10 years service and a €5,000 lumpsum payment for those service of 10 years and more.
Exactly 100 years ago this month, over 20,000 workers in Dublin were locked out of their jobs by an employer class supported by church and State determined to smash the emerging trade union movement. Workers of Dublin combined under the leadership of Jim Larkin to fight for decent jobs, a living wage and an end to life in the slums. It was a class war, workers demanding a fairer share of the wealth they created while employers were determined to hold on to their privileges which had as its foundation exploitation, casual labour and low wages. Against all the odds, the workers of Dublin held out for nearly six months until finally starvation, scabs and police brutality forced an end to the strike. They returned to work not beaten but determined to fight another day. And so they did, over the next decades they won many victories – better conditions, better contracts, social housing, pensions, sick pay schemes and most of all they created a value system based on solidarity which at its core had the principle “an injury to one is an injury to all”. So, today have we forgotten the lessons of 1913? Are the values of 1913 as relevant today?, or are we so consumed by our own personal survival that we ignore the plight of our neighbours, fellow workers or the future shape of society for our children and grandchildren. Over the last five years, Irish people have endured many sacrifices and hardships in an attempt to right the wrongs of the political and economic elite which brought this country to its knees. Yes, these are diﬀerent sacriﬁces and hardships than those endured by the citizens of Dublin in 1913, but nonetheless, they are severe. There are over 400,000 of our brothers and sisters locked out of employment, forced to exist on the dole, tens of thousands of families have been divided through emigration and more than 100,000 citizens are in fear of losing their homes through eviction by the very banks they helped save. The most vulnerable, the sick, disabled and the elderly have suffered cut after cut in the name of austerity policies. And the employer groups of today are no less determined to snuﬀ out workers’ resistance than they were in 1913. Employer groups, such as the Fast Food Alliance and others have systematically targeted workers’ rights and the basic decency thresholds that underpin the value system of a fair society. The Joint Labour Committees once set basic minimum wages and conditions for workers in the most vulnerable sectors, such as hotels, restaurants, cleaning, retail and farming – the Fast Food Alliances armed with deep pockets drove a coach and horses through these minimum conditions in the High Court. The construction employer groups did the same to the Construction Registered Agreements in the High Court, prompting a race to the bottom. The same Irish media which cheered on the employers of 1913 are cheering on the employers of 2013 and those who dare to speak out and stand up are branded anti-jobs or loony left. Their sole objective is to drive down the share of wealth created which goes to labour in favour of capital. The net result of their actions is that large sections of the Irish economy no longer provide workers with a decent job or a living wage, instead offering part-time, low hour contracts on the minimum wage. Workers are seen as commodities to be abused, hired and ﬁred at will and their earnings determined solely by the employer. The casual labour of the 1913 Dublin Docks has re-emerged in the fast food outlets, hotels, shops and oﬃces throughout Ireland. The annoying fact is that it need not be like this – these sectors of the economy are profitable and can support decent jobs and decent wages. So what’s missing? The belief among workers that coming together in solidarity can make a difference, they can ﬁght and win, they are not on their own and they can dare dream again of a fairer society for themselves and their children. There are more of us than them, but we are not organised and they are. We must once again come together bonded by the glue of solidarity, never again allowing them to divide us, never again allowing them to pit private sector workers against public sector workers, workers against unemployed workers, Irish workers against foreign workers. They put us all in a race to the bottom while they sit comfortably in the viewing stands. The time has come to fight back to organise to make a stand, to create a trade union movement for change. In the future, the question will not be why does a public sector worker have a pension, but rather why can’t ALL workers have a pension? In future the question will not be why a teacher or a nurse can earn a living wage, but rather why can’t ALL workers earn a living wage? These are the questions that frighten the ruling elite because these questions are underpinned by a value system of fairness, justice and solidarity. For a glimpse of a world without solidarity you need go no further than to read the words of anti-nazi Lutheran pastor Martin niemöller, he said... First they came for the communists/and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist./Then they came for the socialists/and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist./Then they came for the Jews/and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew./Then they came for the trade unionists/ and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist/Then they came for me/ and there was no one left to speak for me. Let us ensure that when they come for us, we will not be alone – an injury to one is an injury to all. Let us organise.
Shopfloor is published bi-monthly by Mandate Trade Union. Mandate Head Office, O'Lehane House, 9 Cavendish Row, Dublin 1 T: 01-8746321/2/3 F: 01-8729581 W: www.mandate.ie Design & Editing: Brazier Media E: firstname.lastname@example.org Shopfloor is edited, produced and printed by trade union labour
a different Budget is possible BUDGET 2014 COMMENTARY
RECEnT economic news has been mixed with some small increases in full-time employment but continuing depression in retail sales as well as high levels of unemployment and rates of underemployment as people continue to work fewer hours than they would like. A combination of austerity budgets, high household debt (especially mortgages) and a slow-down in the international economy has taken its toll on the Irish economy. Many workers and their families continue to see erosion in the real value of their wages and social benefits as a result of rising prices for goods and services. The Government needs to change course. In recent submissions made by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions linked to research by the nevin Economic Research Institute (nERI) a series of alternative budgetary proposals have been outlined. This may be summed as follows: (i) Use the proceeds of the AngloIrish ‘Promissory note’ deal to reduce the size of the overall budget adjustment; (ii) Bring forward a capital investment stimulus package of €4.5 billion
By tom Healy NERI Institute Director
over the next two years (or about 2% of GDP per annum); and (iii) Target tax increases at the richest 10% of households. An alternative approach such as this could result in the creation of new jobs, raise consumer spending as well as government revenue and avoid further damage to essential public services and social cohesion. Crucially, this policy mix would also mean a reduction in the government deficit to about 3% of GDP in 2015. It is important that the quality and
Proposed additional tax measure in Budgets 2014 and 2015 (€ billion) Revenue ‘carry-over’ from previous year’s budget
Changes to income tax reliefs for the top 10% of households (e.g. pensions) Wealth tax
Employer Pay-related Social Insurance Corporation Tax
150 100 250 100
Capital Gains Tax
Capital Acquisition Tax TOTALS
150 100 100 -
volume of public services should not be further eroded through additional cuts, particularly in the ‘non-pay’ area of public spending. These include social transfers such as social welfare and student maintenance support, purchase of materials from the private sector and capital investment (expenditure on equipment, buildings and maintenance). The total revenue received by Government from taxes and all other sources is estimated to be 35.2% of GDP in 2013. It is projected by the Government to fall in 2015 and in 2016. We cannot continue to provide decent public services on this basis. Widening the tax base is crucial to doing so. There is a strong case to begin tax reform ‘at the top’ by tackling the low level of average ‘effective’ tax paid by many high-income households. Marginal rates are in the 52%-55% range for many taxpayers. It is not proposed to increase these rates. However, it is possible to increase, modestly, the average rate of tax paid by the highest-income households (those in the top 10%). Based on research by the nevin Economic Research Institute, the table (see left) provides a summary of possible tax measures that could be introduced as an alternative to cuts in non-pay current spending.
‘Widening the tax base is crucial... there is a strong case to begin tax reform ‘at the top’ by tackling the low level of average ‘effective’ tax paid by many high-income households ‘ By Tom Healy NERI Institute Director THE publication, recently, by the Central Statistics Office of results from their Quarterly national Household Survey for the year to June 2013 (see link below) has provided a welcome respite to the generally negative employment news since the beginning of 2008. Employment is now increasing across most sectors and occupations, both in full-time and in part-time employments. notwithstanding very disappointing results for GDP in the first quarter of this year, (nERI Quarterly Economic Observer of Summer 2013 – see link below) an increase in employment is welcome. In summary, the number of jobs is up by 34,000 in the year to June 2013, the numbers unemployed (as measured by ILO definitions) is down 22,000 while the numbers in the workforce (including the unemployed) is up by 16,000). The total estimated population is up slightly. Could this be the turning point? Could the austerity zealots be right after all? Doubtfully. A number of factors weigh on the Irish economies, north and South: l Stagnant domestic demand and retail sale volumes (July is likely to be a blip in the Republic due to the '132' 4
memo to govt: you can’t keep blaming the troika effect on motor sales), l Stagnant and possibly declining demand for work as proxied by the total number of employee hours worked up to the early part of this year, l Trouble signs in other European and Eurozone economies, and l The over-hang of household debt, distressed mortgages and business uncertainty with regards to investment in productive capital. Other caveats are in order: l The CSO has made the point in their QnHS release on page 2 in regards to Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing: “Given the continued introduction of the sample based on the 2011 Census of Population as outlined
in the note on the front page of this release, particular caution is warranted in the interpretation of the trend in this sector at this time.” Of an increase of 34,000 in total employment, 16,000 is related to this broad sector. l Economic activity and measures of employment do not necessarily follow smooth monotonic line curves. A succession of monthly and quarterly data is necessary before anyone can confirm a definite trend and momentum. So far, the evidence since mid to late-2012 has been moderately encouraging as unemployment has fallen both in absolute and relative terms as a percentage of the labour force. l Continuing high levels of net outward migration are undoubtedly
contributing to a significant fall in the numbers seeking work especially among the young (and better educated) population. l Total employment has increased for persons aged 35 and over while it continues to fall for those below this age (the reasons are varied from return to education and demographics but it likely to be the case that net outward migration is the main cause of the fall in the total labour force of persons aged under 35. These trends, if they are sustained, will have profound impacts on the structure of empoyment and age-profile of the workforce for years to come). l There is some evidence that behind some of the employment increases there is a rise in precarious
Central Statistics Office QHNS http://www.cso.ie/en/media/csoie/releasespublications/documents/labourmarket/2013/qnhs_q22013.pdf Quarterly Economic Observer http://www.nerinstitute.net/download/pdf/neri_qeosummer13.pdf
employment especially (but not exclusively) for those new to the labour market. The regrettable truth is that after five years of determined and onesided fiscal austerity, unemployment is 13.5%, under-employment is close to a quarter of the workforce and job prospects for many young people – especially those with lower levels of education and skill look very poor. Were it not for net outward migration unemployment might now be closer to 20% than 13.5%. Looking to the future, what Ireland needs is investment, growth and jobs. It will not happen automatically. And we cannot wait for the markets – international and national – and the private sector, alone, to come on board and deliver much lower unemployment (with echoes of debates in the 1930s). There is scope and urgent need for a European-level fiscal stimulus and an end to austerity. There is also some scope – even if limited by political and domestic economic circumstances – for a pro-growth policies in Ireland. Will Budget 2014 do more harm to employment or help accelerate the welcome, but modest, increases in employment? The choice is with our Government and we can't keep blaming the Troika forever. SHOPFLOOR
y September 2013
ÁRAS AN UACHTARÁIN
When mandate met the Prez PRESIDEnT Michael D Higgins has praised the courage and endurance of those workers involved in the 1913 Lockout, describing the famous dispute as a “founding event in our national history”. He made his comments as he addressed several hundred trade union activists at a sun-drenched Áras an Uachtaráin garden party to mark its centenary on July 10th. The colourful event, which was compered by Joe Duffy, featured a 1913 vintage tram parked on the lawn outside as well as music from the Cork Pipe Band and the Coronas. Mandate General Secretary John Douglas represented the union at the function and during a brief meeting; President Higgins congratulated Mr Douglas on his election as ICTU President. In his speech, President Hig-
LRC talks on Argos claim
THE LOCKOUT gins noted that a knowledge of local, national and international history was “intrinsic to the creation of active and responsible citizenship” and to the building of communities and a society that are “fair, inclusive and participative”. He said: “This year we are celebrating the courage, endurance, and historical human rights significance of the Great Dublin Lockout of 1913. “The centenary we celebrate in 1913 is about the struggle for the right to join a trade union; a right that was challenged in Dublin when 403 employers under the leadership of William Martin Murphy locked out
their workers who were union members and required those who were not to sign a pledge saying they would not join the ITGWU.” But after months of being locked out “their children starving and their families in dire hardship”, the workers were forced to return to work in January 1014. President Higgins quoted James Connolly, who wrote in the aftermath
of the Lockout: “And so, we Irish workers must go down into hell, bow our backs to the lash of the slave driver, let our hearts be seared by the iron of his hatred, and instead of the sacramental wafer of brotherhood and common sacrifice, eat the dust of defeat and betrayal.” However, he pointed out that while William Martin Murphy had won a short-term victory, he had suffered defeat in his greater aim of smashing the ITGWU or organised general trade unionism. “Through the heroic efforts by members and organisations it had recovered sufficiently to defeat a further attempt at lockout in 1915 as other employers recalling the cost of 1913 refused to join Murphy in his action. “By 1919 the International Labour Organisation would establish some of the principles he opposed as basic international labour law. While membership was initially decimated, by 1921 the ITGWU had 120,000 workers throughout the country. The union that William Martin Murphy had opposed had survived.” Concluding he paid tribute to the workers of 1913 and praised the trade unionists present for “painstaking efforts to create a society defined by solidarity and equality for all its citizens.”
talkS over terms and conditions of employment are continuing between argos and Mandate representatives at the labour Relations commission. Following local engagement with activists, a claim was lodged with the company for a pay increase as well as a review of working hours practices. Industrial Officer David Miskell told Shopfloor that there has been lengthy engagement on the issues over a number of months “to formulate a set of proposals that deliver improvements for our members in argos”. September 2013
gets opening up your Rosie the nod as digital horizons new liffey By Aileen Morrissey Mandate National Co-ordinator WhIlE many of us are now used to living in the digital age, at least one in five adults in Ireland has never used the internet. the BenefIt4 scheme is an initiative supported by the Department of communications, Energy and Natural Resources that aims to reduce this by offering practical training to encourage more people to learn basic It skills. congress has been successful in securing some funding under the scheme to deliver this training. Mandate’s training centre will be offering this training over the next few months. So this is an ideal opportunity for those who may lack confidence in using computers to gain useful skills. Please let members (including retired members), family and friends know of these courses and encourage them to attend. there is no fee for trainees. the eight hours of It training focuses on the It skills people need – how to use email, using an internet search engine, how to use services like Skype, conduct simple online
transactions such as booking a ticket, pay a bill, reserve a booking, as well as optional training relating to digital photographs, banking online, safety and security online, using social networking, using apps or the internet to assist with your own areas of interest. those eligible to attend should be one of the following: l aged 55 or over, l Unemployed, l Experiencing disadvantage, l Without any recognised formal education, or l have no or little computer experience. there are five dates to choose from: October 8th, October 15th, October 22nd, October 29th and November 5th, 2013. Venue: Mandate training centre, Distillery house, Distillery Road, Dublin 3 to apply please phone Mandate training centre on 01-8369699. We may schedule further courses if there is a demand. If none of the above dates suit, phone the training centre and we will advise you of other training opportunities that may arise.
bridge honours ica veteran
DUBLIn’S nEW transport bridge will be named after Citizen Army veteran Rosie Hackett following a vote of Dublin City Council. The Rosie Hackett Bridge now becomes the first – out of 16 bridges in the centre of the capital – to be named after a woman. The decision to honour the union organiser was welcomed by Mandate national Coordinator Brian Forbes. He told Shopfloor: “We’re delighted with the vote. This is a very appropriate way of honouring the massive contribution women have made to the trade union movement in Ireland in the centenary year of the Great Dublin Lockout.” The decision comes after many months of public debate about what to name the bridge which will carry the Luas Cross City line between Marlborough Street and Hawkins Street. Out of a short-list of five, Hackett received 192 points in the Council vote. In second place was Dublin camogie player
Union Representatives Advanced Course
Under construction: The newly-named Rosie Hackett bridge Picture: Informatique (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Kay Mills, who got 176 points, Alone founder Willie Bermingham received 167 points, Dracula creator Bram Stoker, 92 points and Legion of Mary founder Frank Duff, 80 points. Born in 1892, Rosie Hackett became a messenger in Jacob’s biscuit factory in Dublin. She joined the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union when it was founded in 1909 and less than a year later she was one of 3,000 women in the factory who went on strike and won a pay rise. She was dismissed from Jacob’s factory during the Lockout later training as a printer. Rosie was one of the small group who printed up the 1916 Proclamation on a faulty printing press bringing the first copy, still damp, to James Connolly. She was a member of the
Irish Citizen Army and served with Constance Markievicz and Michael Mallin when they occupied the Royal College of Surgeons in the Easter Rebellion and was sent to Kilmainham Jail. On her release she re-founded the Irish Women Workers’ Union with Louie Bennett and Helen Chenevix and for years she served as clerk in the union which, at its peak, organised about 70,000 women, including bookbinders, contract cleaners, laundry, print and electronic workers. Later she took charge of the ITGWU’s newspaper shop on Eden Quay. In 1970 Hackett received a gold medal in recognition of her 60 years of service to the Irish trade union movement.
The Union Representative Advanced Training Course is for shop stewards/union representatives who have completed the introductory course or who have relevant experience.
• Understanding Mandate’s structures • Overview of Mandate’s rules • Industrial Relations institutions and mechanisms • Mandate’s Organising Model
• • • • •
Negotiations & Collective Bargaining Understanding Equality and Diversity Developing induction presentation skills Introduction to Employment Law Identifying issues and using procedures
Certification and Progression: Members who successfully complete this training course will obtain a Mandate certificate. They may progress to the FETAC level 5 Certificate in Trade Union studies or other relevant training courses offered by Mandate.
If you are interested in this course, please contact your Mandate official or Mandate's Training Centre at 01-8369699. Email: email@example.com
g n i n ig a p Cam for ment t s e v in in education
All proceeds from this ad donated to the Bangladesh factory collapse fund
y September 2013
Picture: DonkeyHotey (CC BY 2.0)
€8k awarded to bar worker over denial of breaks By David Moran Mandate Divisional Organiser thE Rights commissioners have recommended a Mandate member is paid €8,000 in compensation for being denied her breaks. her employer, lowes Public house, trading as William lowe, Dolphins Barn ltd, had failed to comply with the Organisation of Working Times Act. the member, who works alone on a 5.30pm to 12.30pm shift three days a week at the premises, no had facility to allow her to take a break. She was in no position to close up and, given the nature of the bar trade, could not leave her place of work unattended. Mandate had raised the bar worker’s predicament with her employer on many occasions, but nothing had been done to address the issue. the Rights commissioner found that “contrary to Section 12 of the act, the respondent made no provision whatsoever [for her] to take her breaks” on those days she worked alone. the Rights commissioner also found that it was not good enough for an employer to suggest the employee could take her breaks during “slow periods” as “a break period is a time when they are not actually working or on call by a customer”. the recommendation also stated that in future employer had to take steps to ensure the employee received all her statutory breaks in line with the act. and, according to Mandate, the recommendation could benefit workers in other employments who find themselves placed in a similar position through staffing cuts – particularly if they are forced to remain on call while they should be taking their legitimate breaks and rest intervals.
Notes on the Front
Commentary on Irish Political Economy by UNITE research officer Michael Taft www.notesonthefront. typepad.com
ictu to offer training to people with disabilities By Sylvia Ryan DACT project programme manager THE Irish Congress of Trade Unions has been selected to offer training and support to people with disabilities. The Disability Activation Project (DACT) aims to increase the capacity and potential of people on disability/illness welfare payments to participate in the labour market. Congress plans to deliver education and training to enhance the competencies of people with disabilities in a range of personal development, Information Technology and workrelated programmes. The Disability Activation Project is jointly funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Department of Social Protection (DSP) and is targeted at the Border, Midlands and Western region (BMW). The target group for this funding is people with a disability, 16 to 65 years of age, in receipt of disability/illness welfare payments who reside in the BMW region. To be eligible for the (DACT) Training Options programme, participants/applicants must be in receipt of one of the following welfare payments: Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension; Illness Benefit, Blind
Pension, Disability Benefit, Incapacity Supplement, and Injury Benefit.
Disability allowance You can do rehabilitative work and earn up to €120 per week (after deduction of PRSI, any pension contributions and union dues) without your payment being affected. You must get permission from the Department of Social Protection before you start work. 50% of your earnings between €120 and €350 will not be taken into account in the Disability Allowance means test. Any earnings over €350 are fully assessed in the means test.
Invalidity Pension From February 13th, 2012, Partial Capacity Benefit replaces the previous exemption arrangements where people on Invalidity Pension could get permission to work part-time (known as an exemption) for rehabilitative or therapeutic purposes and keep their full social welfare payment.
tion) where people on Illness Benefit could get permission to work parttime for rehabilitative or therapeutic purposes and keep their full social welfare payment.
Benefits to Employee
l 12 week programme which will include achieving three (3) FETAC accredited certificates l 10 days practical work experience l Individual Employment Plan l On the job Support and Coaching l Follow up Support and Mentoring l Help with workplace integration l Advice on Employment Benefits and Entitlements
Benefits to Employer
l Range of supports for Employers include: l Database of skilled jobseekers l Access to a committed workforce l Grants and Financial Supports Available include: l Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS) l Workplace Equipment/Adaptation Grant (WEAG) l Job Interview – Interpreter Grant (JIIG) l Personal Reader Grant (PRG) l Employee Retention Grant Scheme (ERGS)
Since 13 February 2012, Partial Capacity Benefit replaces the previous arrangements (known as an exemp-
USEFUl lINkS Check out www.employabilitymidlands.com For updates on the project go to www.welfare.ie
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PLATFORM TRADE UNION LEFT FORUM
connolly’s wise words republished THE Trade Union Left Forum has held a number of successful meetings for left activists in unions this year. They covered a range of topics, including privatisation of our health services, the Croke Park/Haddington Road deals and youth activism as a force for change within the movement. When looking at how best to honour the Lockout centenary, it was clear there was a wide variety of meetings, events and commemorations taking place that left union activists already had an involvement in. So, it was decided the best way to mark the occasion was to reproduce a number of James Connolly articles 8
on trade unionism in an easy and readable format. What was important about the 1913 Lockout, and the years before and after, was the politics of trade union organisation and struggle – class politics. The workers of 1913 endured great hardships for their union – the one they choose and helped to build. It gave them a vision of a better society, giving them hope and a belief that they could win out in the end. They no longer had to rely on MPs in an imperial parliament, or alms from the Church to better their lot in life. With the ITGWU they could win a
better life for all workers. This political vision came from, among other factors, the political leadership of both James Connolly and Jim Larkin. It inspired the workers of the day and laid the foundations for crucial working class support for the revolution that would begin three years after the Lockout. The first in this series of reprints sees Connolly ridicule a Mr Bowman, who was President of the Sligo TUC, for appealing to capital to come and exploit Irish workers as well as calling on organised labour to join hands with capital to ensure Irish investments were remunerative for capital! Connolly contrasts this with a call to trade unionists who would have
Delegates to the ICTU conference in Belfast check out the Trade Union Skillnet stall
Building skills to meet the needs of today’s workplace
By Maria Hegarty TUS project manager MAnDATE is an active member of the Steering Committee of Trade Union Skillnet (TUS), which is a network comprised of affiliates of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions operating in the private sector. The aim of the network is to promote education and training among trade union members and provide them with quality, lifelong learning opportunities. The overall aim of the network is to improve skill levels among union members, be they employed or unemployed. The training programmes have been attended by 897 participants so far this year. They are designed to help participants cope with the changing workplace – with the continuing pressure caused by job losses, reduced hours and zero-hours contracts – so they can support, negotiate, and advocate for better conditions and opportunities for their colleagues. In today’s workplace, there are a range of demands on workers, and those demands are placing even more emphasis on each of us to develop and widen our range of competencies, keep up-to-date with emerging labour market and human resource trends, and be informed of any changes in national
and international labour law that impact on every workplace. TUS training courses aim to provide quality learning opportunities for members so that they can do just that. Training provided aims to offer opportunities for up-skilling, cross-skilling and re-skilling to ensure that: l union members are continually honing their communication, management and negotiating skills, l learning about and using all modern methods to reach agreement on change processes, and l enhancing the capacity of women to undertake leadership roles in the workplace. Our training needs analysis highlights the continued need for highly skilled and informed workplace advocates that understand the competitive issues facing companies, but also have been trained to recognise the factors that make a difference in productivity and competitiveness. The training offered is designed not only to build skills, but has a strong emphasis on supporting participants to apply those skills, in a variety of workplaces. It is very clear, as we conduct our training needs analysis for the next phase, and review our evaluations of the training, that people want this to continue.
“striven to infuse into the minds of his hearers a spirit of revolt against the system that holds them as its slaves, a system that tortures them with want in the midst of locked-up storehouses of plenty; a Socialist would have taught the workers to manfully take their destiny, politically and socially, into their own hands…” It is this politics, the politics of class struggle and solidarity that is worth commemorating and emulating today. Further reprints will be released periodically up to the end of the year, so keep an eye on the TULF website www.tuleftforum.com and Facebook page www.facebook.com/TradeUnion LeftForum. If you want to receive the reprints direct by email, sign up to the new TULF newsletter at www.tuleftforum.com/newsletter. SHOPFLOOR
y September 2013
Mandate Youth set to co-host major youth event in November
Proud dad praises mandate’s gaeltacht scholarship
PROUD dad Dan Horgan has sent a big thank you message to Mandate after his daughter Alison got a B2 in Honours Irish in this year’s Leaving Cert. According to Dan, Mandate gets top marks for helping Alison get a scholarship to go to the Gaeltacht. A member of the union for 30 years, Dan, who worked in PTSB, took redundancy in november 2011. He explained: “When I was working I was fortunate enough to win a scholarship for Alison through Mandate to go to the Gaeltacht in 2008 and 2012. “She really got to love the Irish – so much so that she got a job back in the Gaeltacht this year as a cuintoir (teacher’s helper). “Alison always loves working with young children and was hoping to get enough points to do a BA in Early Childhood Studies with a view to subsequently doing a B.Ed to enable her to become a primary school teacher.” Dan continued: “Well, the good news is she did it! She got more points than she needed – and got a B2 in Honours Irish. “This achievement was only made possible through the huge amount of work she did in school. And her time in the Gaeltacht definitely helped in a huge way. “So thank you very much in Mandate for giving her the scholarships which has I believe made all the difference to her Leaving Cert results and enabled her to reach her full potential.”
Application forms for 2013/14 Education Grants are now available. Details and application forms can be obtained from your local official or on www.mandate.ie The closing date for applications is Friday November 8th, 2013.
Gesture of solidarity: Mandate’s Aileen Morrissey with Captain John Goss
mandate offers solidarity to sacked Ryanair pilot MaNDatE has offered its solidarity to recently-sacked Ryanair pilot captain John Goss. capt Goss was sacked on august 14th following comments he made during a channel 4 Dispatches programme on the budget airline. aileen Morrissey, Mandate National coordinator, passed on a message of support and solidarity to capt Goss from the union. capt Goss had been with the airline for 26 years up to his dismissal and was due to retire in October. It is understood Ryanair
and the cWU, IBOa and Mandate are the key sponsors. Speakers from Spain, France and Greece are being invited to attend and some of the subjects, among others, up for discussion include: Who benefits from austerity? and Organising a New Ireland. If you would like to attend the event, please contact your local Divisional Organiser or email firstname.lastname@example.org Places are limited, so book early.
Trade unionist killed after army launches Colombia crackdown BETWEEn 12 and 15 protestors have been killed in recent weeks in the Cauca region of Colombia following an army and police crackdown on local strike action. FESUAGRO trade union activist Victor Alfonso Ortega died from head injuries after police opened fire on demonstrators. Another fatality was a 10-year-old boy who died from tear-gas poisoning following a protest. And according to reports, four peasants, including a six-year-old girl, were killed in another incident. Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly visited the strife-torn region
recently as part for a Justice for Colombia delegation. During the visit, he met with jailed FESUAGRO Vice President Huber Ballesteros. Mr Ballesteros was had been invited to visit this month’s TUC conference in Bournemouth as an official guest but was arrested by Colomiban police on 25th August. Meanwhile, JFC (UK) have launched a petition on change.org calling on Colombian authorities to free Mr Ballesteros. The petition will presented to the Colombian Embassy in London, which covers both UK and Ireland. Add your name to the petition at http://chn.ge/1aol9Mh
I’m a Person First Words create barriers and reinforce stereotypes Down syndrome is a medical diagnosis A baby is born with Down syndrome he/she is not ‘a Down syndrome’ Help us to break stereotypes by using person-first language: Please don’t call me a Down syndrome or a Down syndrome person I am an adult with Down syndrome I am a person first and foremost; I was just born with an extra chromosome.
(Terms and Conditions apply)
has now started defamation proceedings against capt Goss, channel 4 and Blakeway Productions, which produces Dispatches; associated Newspapers which owns the MailOnline; and the Mirror Group, publisher of the Daily Mirror. the legal firm representing Ryanair has been instructed to “vigorously pursue” the action against the pilot. But the Ryanair Pilots Group (RPG) has accused the budget carrier of trying to “suppress discussion”.
MaNDatE youth will be co-hosting a major national forum for young trade union members on Saturday, 16th November and Sunday, 17th November. the event, which is an initiative of IctU President John Douglas, will be a political training and informational event for young workers from across Ireland North and South. the event is supported by the Irish congress of trade Unions
DSI Landscape [Snap Frame].indd 10
GENERAL NEWS & COMPETITION
sharpen up ICTU President John Douglas launches Lockout centenary issue your skills at special organising seminar IF yOU are involved in organising within your respective union, then you’ll be excited to hear that plans for an organising seminar to be held in Dublin on 18th October are at an advanced planning stage. this will be the first in a series of organising events, run by the trade union movement North and South, aimed at consolidating, promoting and improving our organising capabilities as well as linking the organising work of unions much closer together. the conference, which will be opened by John Douglas in his role as IctU President, will hear from a range of international experts on the subject. they will outline their experiences and speak on the challenges, successes and critical issues impacting on effective organising across the island of Ireland. Mandate National co-ordinator Brian Forbes told Shopfloor: “Unions North and South are en-
gaged in some excellent work on organising and we hope to focus our deliberations from the event to produce qualitative information to contribute to a strategic discussion by union leaders on organising.” this organising event is being facilitated by the Irish congress of trade Unions and will be held in the newly-refurbished cWU head Office building. Mr Forbes added: “We are excited about the prospect of our first all-Ireland specific organising event coinciding with the centenary of the lockout in 1913. “We are confident this event will see both a prioritisation of collaborative work by unions on organising as well as the beginning of an ongoing commitment to improve our work on behalf of workers and members everywhere.” Further details and arrangements for registering for the event will be circulated to unions in the coming weeks. 10
Putting their stamp on history By David Gibney Mandate communications officer MAnDATE General Secretary and ICTU President John Douglas was on hand to launch a special issue of stamps featuring three key figures from the Irish trade union movement – James Connolly, Constance Markiewicz and Jim Larkin – to mark the 1913 Lockout centenary. The James Connolly stamp uses the original ITGWU headquarters building as a backdrop, while the Constance Markiewicz stamp is set against a photograph of children outside tenements in Chancery Lane (now Bride Street). ITGWU chief Jim Larkin is set against an iconic image of the Bloody Sunday riot when workers
were set upon by the Dublin Metropolitan Police and Royal Irish Constabulary. The disturbances were sparked when James Larkin was arrested at the Imperial Hotel on Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street) on August 31st, 1913.
‘Courage and determination’ Mr Douglas described it as a privilege to launch the stamps on such an important anniversary for the trade union movement. He said: “The 1913 Lockout is not just an event in our history books. It changed the course of Irish history and, as workers, we should always admire the courage and dedication, not only of the three leaders com-
memorated in these stamps, but also the thousands of workers and trade union activists who participated in the struggle.” Also on hand at the launch was Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte, Congress General Secretary David Begg, SIPTU General President Jack O’Connor and CWU General Secretary Steve Fitzpatrick. David Begg said he thought the stamps “pictorially” captured the “difficult day-to-day experiences” of ordinary workers and their families at that time and their “heroic determination to achieve decent treatment and fairness at work and, ultimately, radical social change and advancement”. He added: “Critical to events of
100 years ago was the right of workers to organise and to collectively bargain – an issue that has yet to be resolved, along with the timeless pursuit of decent work.” Minister Rabbitte said he hoped the special issue of stamps would “raise awareness locally, nationally and internationally of an event of considerable economic and political significance”. He added that he was sure An Post would be producing more commemorative issues. “I have no doubt but that we have more to look forward to in this decade of commemorations.” The stamps feature photographs from the ‘Darkest Dublin’ photographic collection.
1913 lockout stamP giVeaWay!
ShOPFLOOr has five “Centenary of the General Lockout” prestige stamp booklets and 10 first day cover envelopes to give away, all courtesy of www.irishstamps.ie and An Post. Simply name ONE of the people pictured in the brand new stamps from An Post who were key figures in the 1913 Lockout. Please send your answer to Shopfloor, O’Lehane House, 9 Cavendish Row, Dublin 1 and please remember to include your name, address and phone number. Online entries can be sent to email@example.com. All entries go into a draw. Competition closes on Friday, October 11. SHOPFLOOR
y September 2013
easons open talks Union Representatives over savings plan Introductory Course the company briefing until such time as the financial position of Eason & Son has been verified and the union has had the opportunity to consult with its members.” Mr Mcnamara said both Mandate and SIPTU had requested the company appoints forensic auditors Mazars as well as accountancy advisory firm RSM Farrell Grant Sparks to carry out this work. He added: “As the discussions are only the exploratory stage at present and Easons’ financial position has not been verified, it is important members do not get drawn in conjecturing on the outcome, whether on the shop floor with colleagues or at the ‘listening tour’ with management. “The only message that should be conveyed to management at this stage is that we are united and the best way to convey that message is to encourage any colleagues who may not be a member of the union yet to join.” Meanwhile, Easons have confirmed that the Airport Stores are not included in the cost savings discussions.
Picture: Sean MacEntee (CC BY 2.0)
EASOnS management have told a meeting of shop stewards that they plan to open discussions with Mandate and SIPTU over cost savings at the newsagents chain. At the August 14th meeting, they stated they were seeking to make annual savings of about €2.5 million as part of a sustainability programme. Mandate reminded Easons representatives of the great contributions made by staff in 2011 and 2012 – efforts which had already delivered annual cost savings of €6.1 million. While acknowledging this contribution, management claimed the current and future cost base was uncertain due to weak consumer spending. And Easons identified a number of possible cost savings pointing out that its preferred option would be for agreement on revised terms and conditions of employment. Mandate Industrial Officer Robert Mcnamara told Shopfloor: “Mandate have informed the company that we will not be in a position to enter into any discussions or even comment on
Towers Pub staff consider next move as firm refuses LRC invite
StaFF at the towers Pub, Ballymun, are to meet in the next few weeks to consider how to respond to a failure of meaningful engagement by management. the response, which could include industrial action, follows management’s failure to reply to a request made months ago for a meeting to discuss terms and conditions of employment. the
company has also now refused to attend the labour Relations commission to resolve the dispute. Industrial Officer David Miskell told Shopfloor: “It is regrettable that the employer has refused to engage on what is a reasonable request for a meeting and it is now necessary to take this step with a view to resolving the issues at hand.”
B&Q chiefs & mandate reach provisional deal on test cases MAnDATE and B&Q have provisionally agreed a number of test cases over payment of wages claims over summer/Christmas bonuses across all stores as well as the Zone Allowance (which applies only to the Tallaght, Swords and Liffey Valley stores). The provisional agreement follows a Rights Commissioner’s hearing on July 2nd. Mandate Industrial Officer Jonathan Hogan told Shopfloor: “To manage any future claims, Mandate September 2013
has written to the Rights Commissioner’s office seeking confirmation in writing from B&Q, that these test cases will mean that our members won’t have to process any similar claims, should they arise.” Mr Hogan said that though the union was still waiting for a response from the company, he was hopeful the written commitments would made. It is understood two further cases from members at B&Q stores in Swords and Galway will be heard on October 1st.
N UNIO P E R
The Union Representative Introductory Training Course is for new shop stewards/union representatives. The course aims to provide information, skills and knowledge to our shop stewards/union representatives to assist them in their role in the workplace.
Course content: • Background to Mandate. • The role and responsibilities of a Shop Steward/Union Representative. • Examining disciplinary/grievance procedures. • Developing negotiating skills. • Representing members at local level. • Communication skills/solving members’ problems. • Organising, Recruitment and Campaigns. • Induction presentations. Certification and Progression: Members who successfully complete this course will obtain a Mandate certificate. They may progress to a Union Representative Advanced Course and to other relevant training courses offered by Mandate.
If you are interested in this course, please contact your Mandate official or Mandate's Training Centre at 01-8369699. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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ICTU CONFERENCE BELFAST 2013
a battle for values and ideas COMRADES,
It’s a great honour to be elected as your President and I want to thank all of you for placing your trust in me. I promise I will do my best to repay your faith in me. I want to begin by thanking the outgoing President, Eugene McGlone. Eugene has brought tremendous energy and commitment to Congress and has helped to steer us through some difficult times over the last couple of years. Thank you Eugene. I also want to congratulate my fellow officers and those elected to the Executive Committee – I look forward to working with you over the next couple of years. It’s also right that I thank the staff of Congress – in particular our General Secretary David Begg – for their tireless work on our behalf. In addition, it’s only fair that I mention my own team in Mandate who have given me such tremendous support over the years. At this point I also want to say that I intend to operate as President in an inclusive way. I will listen to and take on board the viewpoints of all no matter how big or small your union is – I know this is important, as I came from a union with less than 5,000 members. [Irish National Union of Vintners Grocers and Allied Trades Assistants]
John Douglas’ incoming speech as ICTU President July 4th, 2013
tide has turned
Expose agenda At this stage of the conference's proceedings I know everyone’s thinking about ‘chilling out’. We've had three days of debate and discussion – both formal and informal – so I’m not going to hold you for too long, but there are a few important things I want to leave you with as you begin your departure from here. Our mission is to mobilise and campaign for a fairer, better society north and south and to do this we must reclaim the hearts and minds of workers and we must expose the agenda of the other side. In the past we have allowed our enemies to divide us, but they have not conquered us and they never will! We will unite in solidarity in exposing the type of society the neo-liberals propose, a society which: a) Puts no value on public services other than to measure it in terms of payroll costs; b) Which educates its children for emigration; c) Which condemns 100,000 plus construction workers to an existence on the dole; d) Where the pension savings of tens of thousands of private sector workers are allowed to go down the drain; e) Which values saving bond holders, but reduces the availibility of special needs assistants/home helps to the most vulnerable citizens; f) Where 26 million workers across Europe have no jobs, and are drowning in 12
ately. That is why it is so important we adopted Motion 9 last Tuesday to pave the way forward. It is clear also that the trade union movement must make a political impact if we are to win. If we could mobilise 800,000 trade union members and their families to vote for progressive political parties, it is likely that we would not be facing austerity policies north and south. What is also clear is that if we could mobilise the political muscle of the trade union movement, we would today already enjoy free collective bargaining and our public sector members would not have the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2013 (FEMPI) hanging over their heads. On the FEMPI Bill 2013 let me be clear. Free collective bargaining is a human right, and the FEMPI Bill 2013 is an ATTACK on that right... in that it imposes penalties on workers who exercise their free choice in collective bargaining. This legislation must be repealed as a matter of urgency. It has no place in the industrial relations’ arena and we must campaign to have it removed.
debt and in fear of losing their homes. Irish people and trade unionists need to wake up and smell the coffee and we need to be the ones who are sounding the alarm clocks. In some respects we are at war – we're in a battle for the values and ideas that will shape the future of this island. The trade union movement together with community groups and political activists must be in the frontline leading the
fight back. Our message is one of hope and a decent future for all. This vision for the future will not be given to us, but rather we will have to win our own destiny. However, this can only be achieved if we include our local activists in a coherent and consistent campaign – not just once-of days of action. That is why it is critical that the trade union movement reorganises immedi-
I also think that the tide has turned with regard to corporation tax across the world. Multinationals who operate on this island must be made pay their fair share towards a recovery – a minimum social contribution, if you will. It is not acceptable that they benefit from the investment we – particulary those on low and middle incomes who are just about getting by – have made in our education system, our health service and our infrastructure and then pay little or nothing back – remember some pay no tax at all – to maintain the quality of these services. They have a social and corporate responsibility to the citizens of Ireland and the world and should be making a fair contribution. I am sick of politicians north and south pandering and tipping the forelock to multinational abuse of the tax regime, while the same politicians cut services to the most vulnerable and criminalise ordinary workers who can’t pay service charges. The present crisis presents the trade union movement not only with challenges but with a great opportunity. We are still the biggest civil society organisation in Ireland; our challenge is to build on our strengths, refine our structures and to mobilise with a unity of purpose. We have common cause. But, this will require sacrifices, generosity and solidarity; we have but one chance and failure is not an option. Our shared history and our class demands that we succeed. Let us go forth from today, stronger, united and with purpose. SHOPFLOOR y September 2013
ICTU CONFERENCE BELFAST 2013
ouR team at ictu Bdc
BACK ROW: Left to right: Lorraine O'Brien, Joe Quinn, Karen Wall, Tara Keane, Brian Forbes, Willie Hamilton, Ciaran Campbell, Anthony Meaney, Denise Curran, Dermot Fay. MIDDLE ROW: Sandra Stapleton, Phyllis Kearns, Gerry Thornley John Douglas, Joan Gaffney, Aileen Morrissey, Noel Dunphy, Margaret O'Dwyer FRONT ROW: Colm Maguire, Keith Pollard, Gerry Light, Liam O’Meara, David Gibney, Jason Tully, Joe McGouran, Dessie Finnegan ICTU BDC pictures: Kevin Cooper/Photoline
decent work agenda must be pushed MAnDATE Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light, right, spoke about the need for unions to campaign for “decent work” at the 2013 ICTU Biennial Conference in Belfast in July. Mr Light proposed the Mandate motion to conference claiming that it was a “basic human right to sustain decent work in order to properly participate in the society in which one lives.” He continued by pointing out that the trade union movement had always been to the fore on decent work and we must get back to basics and “demand a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.” Drawing on lessons from history, Mr Light made comparisons between the hiring fares of 1913 and the current hiring methods from employers. “Unfortunately, it is not an overstatement to say that certain realities of the modern workplace would find parallels with the Dublin labour market of 1913. “The opportunity to exploit workers was widely availed of by unscrupulous employers largely because of excessive unemployment and associated social deprivation. Hiring fares were the norm with no guarantee of employment from one day to the next. When work was secured there was no assurance that earnings would be maintained. “Employer manipulation of working hours was used as an effective control mechanism leading to unSeptember 2013
healthy levels of compliance and subservience. Most of these challenges are not only familiar in a historical context but regrettably they are as real today as they were then, for many current Irish workers, particularly those employed in the services sector,” said Mr Light. In the context of the retail sector, he added: “Mandate has discovered that some of the most profitable employers are operating a structure whereby up to 90% of their workers are employed on part time flexible contracts. “Weekly hours can be as low as five. To retain a contract a worker must in some cases make themselves available over an equivalent number of days from 7am to 11pm which invariably include Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays – in fact, the spread in some cases is now over 365 days a year. To counter the new trend towards precarious work, Mr Light emphasised the importance of ‘banded hour contracts’. “In Mandate we now insist that every agreement entered into must contain provisions whereby decent weekly earning thresholds are not only created but sustained and protected. Furthermore, we insist these hours are worked over patterns that have a true regard for individual workers work life balance needs,” he said. Sadly, this precarious working
environment is not challenged in any meaningful way by an Irish government whose current job creation policy appears to be focused on shifting numbers from the unemployed to the employed with little or no regard for the notion of quality or long term security, rather the emphasis is solely on the numbers game. “Our political leaders also fail to grasp that the unprecedented growth in precarious work. Ironically it took the IMF in their latest review of the economy to point out that if the vast amount of part-time workers who are involuntarily compelled to work reduced hours are factored in, it would push the current unemployment figures to effectively nearly double the headline rate. Mr Light added that members of Mandate were fighting back but that it required all union members throughout the country to use their consumer power to eradicate precarious work. “Mandate’s Fair Shop campaign provides union members throughout Ireland with the ability to spend their money in workplaces where the union has negotiated agreements. This enables workers the opportunity to ensure they have security of earnings and income,” he said. Mr Light concluded by urging all trade union members to actively support the campaign and spend their money where workers count.
Gerry Light: parallels with 1913 highlighted
Blame for dublin Bus dispute lies with the govt, not the workers Much of the media coverage of the Dublin bus dispute has only confused the issues, argues Paul Dillon kar, agreed not to seek derogation from EU rules on rail market access. This is likely to lead to the emergence of "competition" on our rail infrastructure, whereby CIE would be broken up and there would be a split between an operator running the trains and an infrastructure company which would own and maintain the tracks.
Picture:Daniel Dudek Corrigan (CC BY 2.0)
In THE on-going media coverage of the Dublin Bus dispute, the public are being treated to a debate which, for the most part, manages entirely to ignore the real issues involved. There is hardly a mention of the matter which is at the heart of the problem, which is that the Government subvention for Dublin Bus, already very low by international standards, has been cut further by this administration. Each year, Dublin Bus receives a Public Service Obligation (PSO) payment from the Government, through the national Transport Authority (nTA). In 2008, the subvention was €85.6 million, according to the Dublin Bus annual report. According to the Dublin Bus annual report 2012, the PSO for 2013 has been confirmed by the nTA at €64.9 million, a reduction of €4.5 million (6.5%) on 2012. This is not a handout for an unproductive semi-state company, which would not be necessary if the company was privatised – as some suggest. Subventions to provide bus transport are the norm in all major European cities, and are accepted as necessary to provide an adequate transport system. It is a mark of the right-wing consensus that exists in so much of our media that a public policy to promote social and economic wellbeing is presented as a subsidy for failure. According to a 2009 Deloitte report, the Dublin Bus subvention is comparably low by European standards. The bus subvention, as a percentage of revenue, was 79% in Lyon, 62% in Amsterdam, 57% in Zurich – and 29% in Dublin. Another factor causing trouble for Dublin Bus is the issue of falling passenger numbers. In 2007,
Invest in public transport
Dublin Bus counted 147.5 million journeys on services. The total for 2012 was 115.2 million journeys, which was in itself a fall of 1.5% on 2011 Contrary again to some media reports, Dublin Bus workers have taken a huge hit in recent years. Since 2008, there has been a 589 fall in staffing numbers. In 2011 alone, payroll cuts totalled €6.4 million.
Pro liberalisation government The context to the Dublin Bus debate is that in 2014, the public service obligation payments contract between Dublin Bus and the national Transport Authority is up for re-
IKEA WATCH Ingvar finds home less taxing It is reported that IkEa founder Ingvar kamprad is to return to the small town of Älmhult in a more “tax-friendly” Sweden after nearly 40 years living in Switzerland. Älmhult was where kamprad, right, founded IkEa in 1943 at the age of 17. Now 87, he said he wanted to be closer to family and friends. In recent years, Sweden has abolished a wealth tax and lower income taxes. according to Swedish daily Sydsvenskan, kamprad – who has frugal habits and famously recycles tea bags – has a personal fortune of 750 million Swedish kronor (€86 million). 14
newal. The nTA is currently assessing whether it should “undertake competitive tenders in relation to some or all of the services”. We know where Transport Minister Leo Varadkar stands. In 2011, Varadkar said he intended to "explore the benefit to the public transport passenger of more diverse bus service provision." In July of this year, we are told that Varadkar brought a proposal that would see up to 10% of Dublin bus routes being handed over to private operators. If any of the Labour members in the Cabinet have a problem with this, they have maintained a vow of silence. The experience of the farming out
of profitable routes has been costly elsewhere. In London, for example, the experience of bus privatisation in the early 1980s has been bitter. As part of the privatisation agenda of the then-Thatcher government, Londoners were promised that the sell-off would lower costs and improve services. Wages for drivers were lowered by about 25%, but services declined dramatically and fares increased. The result was an increase in car journeys and huge pressure on the London Underground. But this Government is ideologically pro liberalisation of the public transport system. In March, the Cabinet, at the suggestion of Leo Varad-
Rather than the introduction of further subvention cuts to Dublin Bus, which make a short-term saving but represent a long-term loss, what we need is an increase in the subvention. The long-term benefits, social and economic, of investment in public transport are massive, even if much of our media cannot understand that short-term cuts do not equal long-term savings. A major 2009 report for the American Transport Association by the Economic Development Research group in Boston showed that for every dollar invested in public transport, there was a four dollar return. In France, 20 urban areas now operate public transport which is entirely free, which has resulted in a dramatic reduction in car congestion. But points like these are entirely absent from our media debate. The logic of how investing in services can boost the economic and social life of a city are likely to be lost on a government which introduces cut after cut, regardless of the impact, as part of an austerity policy which seeks to protect the elite and shift resources upwards at all costs. Paul Dillon’s blog is at www.pauldillon.ie.
ikea slips to fourth place IkEa’s “teflon-clean” image in the home of its birth has taken a slight dent after it lost its top slot in a league table of most trusted brands among Swedish shoppers. the flat-pack furniture company, which had been voted number one for the past nine years, slipped to fourth place behind DIy chain clas Ohlson, supermarket
Ica, and Google – only nonSwedish firm to make the top 10. Nordic Brand academy chief Robert Gelmanovsky told Svenska Dagbladet newspaper: "IkEa has historically been teflon clean when it comes to the question of customer confidence. "they've got through scandal after scandal and no-one's confi-
dence has been shaken. Now it appears the trend of being supertrustworthy has been broken. Ikea is becoming like all the other companies in terms of reputation." according to the survey of 15,000 Swedes Ryanair topped the poll of the 10 least reputable companies. SHOPFLOOR
y September 2013
there are alternatives to austerity, let’s use them BUDGET 2014 COMMENTARY
A French-style wealth tax would raise €500 million
Picture: Kenteeegardin (CC BY 2.0)
Picture: Labour Party
THE Government is presiding over economic disaster, rising inequality and a society where despair and fear for the future grip many people. In this context, it is more necessary than ever to put forward an alternative to austerity. Mandate and other unions have put forward alternative after alternative to the Government, only to be ignored. This is because, choice after choice, the Government has decided to protect elites rather than side with ordinary working people. Mandate pointed out at the time of the introduction of the property tax that this measure would result in reduced spending and job losses for the retail sector. Unfortunately, these predictions are coming true. There should be no further increases in taxes and charges on low and middle income earners in Budget 2014. Rather than introducing measures to kill domestic demand, we should focus on fair and just taxation on those who afford to contribute more.
Reducing relief against tax for interest payments on residential properties from 75% to 50% and applying PRSI to rental income would raise €90 million. Confining tax relief to a rate of 30% for individuals who can obtain relief at the 41% rate in respect of individual contributions to occupational pension schemes, retirement annuity contracts and personal retirement savings would yield €245 million. A French-style wealth tax would yield €500 million.
Trade Unions supporting Learning FREE 1-day Computer Basic Course
8 hours of IT training
Eligible to attend if you are: l Aged 55 or over l Unemployed l Experiencing disadvantage l Without any recognised formal education or l Have none or some computer experience
During this one-day session, you will learn how to use a computer, including: send/receive email, use social media, use of Apps, introduction to digital photography, perform simple online transactions, such as: book a ticket, pay a bill, online banking and introduction to safety & security online Five dates to choose from: October 8th, October 15th, October 22nd, October 29th and November 5th
Venue: Mandate Training Centre, Distillery Road, Dublin 3 To apply, contact: Mandate Training Centre 01-8369699 BenefIT IIII
Dept Communications Energy & Natural Resources
TD for Dublin West Increasing Employers’ PRSI on incomes of more than €100,000 to 16% would raise €100 million. An increase in both Capital Gains tax and Capital Acquisitions tax to 40%, accompanied by other reforms to capital taxation thresholds and allowances, would yield €500 million. The introduction of a financial transactions tax would raise €10 million. Allowing Revenue to employ an extra 120 staff to carry out additional tax audits and investigations to curb tax evasion would yield €90 million.
‘The Government has decided to protect elites rather than side with ordinary working people’
By Patrick nulty These measures would raise € 2 billion. Many of them are the norm elsewhere in Europe. There should be no further cuts to public spending in Budget 2014. The total reduction of the cost of interest payments on general government debt will be €1 billion in 2014. These savings should be used where they matter most – in the interests of fairness, the full saving must be passed on to citizens through using the savings as a substitute for the sort of cuts in public services we have witnessed in recent years. We badly need a budget that boosts investment in the economy and creates jobs. There is €6.64 billion in the pen-
sion reserve fund that needs to be drawn down now for investment in Ireland. The use of €4.5 billion of this fund in a two-year period for commercial investment would create 100,000 jobs. We must build as broad as possible coalition in the run up to this Budget in order to mobilise public opinion in support of an alternative to austerity. There will be opportunities to point to an alternative direction – in the Dail for TDs, in the media and on the streets for citizens and these opportunities should be used. We simply cannot withstand austerity for ever.
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CHEEKY SPEECH BUBBLE COMPETITION...
a f o d r a e h e ’v I ll’ ‘Spot the Ba boost to n o i t i t e p m o c s but e l a s r e p a p s ne w lous... u c i d i r s i s i th ... SO WHAT WOULD ‘BUBBLES’ SAY? THINK YOU CAN DO BETTER? Email your suggestions to email@example.com.Winner scoops tickets for four to Dublin Zoo. Competition closes Friday, October 11. Editor’s decision is final.
OUR VIEW TRADE UNION LEFT PLATFORM
our union rights... will this govt deliver? THE Labour Party claims to be committed to, in this centenary celebration of the heroic struggle of 1913, providing the legal right to trade union representation and collective bargaining for workers with their employers. They claim its part of the Programme for Government that they negotiated with their coalition partners, Fine Gael, although in reality all this commits to is reforming current legislation to be in line with recent European Court of Human Rights rulings. The relevant Minister, Richard Bruton of Fine Gael, has requested submissions on this subject earlier in the year and has committed to bring forward legislation to reform the 2001 Act to Government later this year that will “reconcile Ireland's constitutional, social and economic traditions, and international obligations, whilst at the same time ensuring continued success in building Ireland's domestic jobs-base and in attracting overseas investment into the economy.” (Minister Bruton in a letter to the ICTU Youth Committee) Already, however, it is clear that this Government will not legislate for collective bargaining for workers and the legal right to be collectively represented by an independent trade union chosen by the workers themselves. What is likely to occur is a reform of the discredited 2001 Act that will allow multi-national corporations, Ryanair included, to continue to consult with their own dependent staff associations and avoid any efforts by workers to achieve recognition for their trade union. So, while the fanfare may be great from the Labour Party and their representatives in various trade unions, the devil will be in the lack of detailed mechanisms for legal trade union recognition and collective bargaining. But what would we want if we could achieve legislative collective bargaining? First of all it’s important to state that legal union recognition would not be the panacea for the declining strength of the movement. Many countries have a variety of mechanisms for this, yet in the developed work, unions are declining numerically and in strength in virtually
Picture: marxist.ca/marxiste.qc.ca (CC BY-SA 2.0)
every country. Why? Because unions have failed to adapt to new forms of employer control and domination of workers and have dropped the broader social and economic demands of the class in favour of sectorial professional im-
agery. Where unions are growing they are allied to community demands and struggles and are challenging the political system – for example, nurses in California or teachers in Chicago. But nonetheless the right to union recognition and collective bargaining
is a recognised human right and has the potential to strengthen both our movement and our class and so is well worth pushing for. So, what demands should we make? What would constitute progressive legislation on this issue? For this right to be meaningful and possible for workers to achieve, more than just a right to be represented is needed. Legislation should include, the following: l Recognition of union membership and collective bargaining as a basic human right; l Legal right and mechanism for compulsory recognition of a trade union for staff by employers; l Broad parameters for what constitutes collective bargaining and negotiating mechanisms and an avoidance of minimal consultation style frameworks; l Clear understanding of a trade union as an independent registered trade union and not a staff association established by management; l Right to access to workers in their workplace for trade unions to ensure all workers are given the right to organise a union free from intimidation; l Right to access existing members and staff where collective bargaining is in place; l Protection for union members from penalisation, discrimination or disciplinary action for carrying out legitimate trade union activity; l Legal protection for at-source collection of union subscriptions; and l Economically harsh fines and penalties for companies found to be in breach so that it is not economic to illegally avoid unions. These are not unrealistic demands. Indeed, many of these kind of rights are in place in Australia, new Zealand, parts of the US, Britain and other countries in Europe. However, we are fully confident that anything this Government proposes, so as to keep their friends in big monopolies happy, will fall far short of them. Legal campaigns will not win us this result either. It will require unions themselves get serious about this issue and make it an industrial and consequently, political, issue.
‘Zero-hour contracts are exploitative, it’s that simple’
SINN FEIN tD Mary lou McDonald has told the chair of home and community care Ireland (hccI) – the body representing private home care contractors – that he has zero-credibility to argue for social inclusion if he is to argue in favour of the exploitative regime of 'zero-hour contracts'. Speaking at a meeting of the Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform committee Deputy 16
McDonald on September 13th, she said: "Representative bodies as well as employers need to stop regarding care work as some form of second-rate service and instead start to value care workers by providing them with decent contracts. "Zero-hour contracts are deeply exploitative, it's that simple. "the reality for thousands of low-paid workers is that they
are on call seven days a week with absolutely no guarantee of work. “this kind of exploitative regime disproportionately impacts negatively on the low paid and women workers. "It is unacceptable for the hccI to come before the committee and talk about incentivising the care sector, to make arguments for exchequer funds for services that are delivered
by private operators who will in turn exploit their workforce.” Ms McDonald added: "Under no circumstances will Sinn Féin support any organisation providing any service that uses zero hour contracts to deliver its services. “If we are to value care work we need to put a premium on the service and not undermine it with disgraceful employment practices."
Referral: Divisional Organiser Mandy Kane
tesco loses eat appeal over hours and pay cut
By John Carty Mandate Divisional Organiser THE Employment Appeals Tribunal has upheld a Rights Commissioner’s decision in relation to a complaint over a cut in pay and a reduction in hours taken by a former Section Manager at Tesco. Mandate’s Divisional Organiser Mandy Kane initially referred the complaint to the Rights Commission Service on June 3rd, 2011, alleging that the retailer had breached the Payment of Wages Act by unilaterally reducing our member’s hours from 45 to 35. In 2010, Tesco decided to do away with the role of Section Manager. All Section Managers were given three options – to become a Line Manager, Team Leader or General Assistant. There were no union/company discussions or agreement on this development. Our member had a number of meetings with the Store Manager and objected to the options presented if it meant a reduction in either his rate of pay or his hours. He did advise he would accept the position of Team Leader on condition there was no reduction in his terms and conditions of employment. At a meeting with the Store Manager in March 2011, he was informed that effective from March 25th, 2011 his rate of pay was to be cut as well as his hours. The Rights Commissioner found that under the Payment of Wages Act 1991 and on the basis of the evidence presented that our member’s complaint was well founded. As the period covered by the disputed cuts amounted to 11 weeks, the Rights Commissioner ordered that Tesco pay our member €4,111.25, subject to any lawful deductions, within six weeks of the date of her decision. Tesco appealed the decision to the Employment Appeals Tribunal. As Tullamore Local was subsequently transferred to the Western Division, I took over the case and represented the member at the EAT. The Tribunal heard the company’s appeal on the July 16th, 2013 and in its written determination stated: “Having listened to all evidence, the Tribunal is absolutely satisfied that the Rights Commissioner’s findings should be upheld and the appeal by the employer [Tesco] therefore fails.” SHOPFLOOR
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do we need VIEW SHOPFLOOR a code of a call to action practice for the grocery sector? gerry light
Assistant General Secretary Mandate Trade Union
By Thomas Pringle Independent TD for Donegal South West OVER the last four months, the Oireachtas Joint committee on agriculture, Food and the Marine has been holding hearings into the retail sector. these hearings were to assist us in preparing a report on the proposed code of conduct for the grocery goods sector, pricing and the impact on primary and secondary suppliers, support for local produce and labelling of goods in the grocery sector. the government intends to publish a new competition Bill in the autumn which I strongly believe should include the establishment of a statutory code of practice for the grocery sector. RGData, IFa and Retail Excellence Ireland are some of the groups we heard from during the hearings, as well as most of the multiple retailers involved in the grocery trade. however, Dunnes Stores declined the invitation to attend the committee and give their views. the hearings provided a valuable insight into the workings of the retail sector. all of the operators, apart from RGData, are opposed to the government plan to implement a statutory (backed up by
legislation) code of practice and are in favour of a European-style voluntary code instead. In fact it was very interesting to hear the language used by all the retailers – it was remarkably similar – about how effective they perceive the existing legislation to be here in preventing sharp practices in the sector such as ‘hello’ money and suppliers paying for the cost of promotions in the stores. they were all at pains to point out that the 2006 Competition Act banned all these practices and allowed for individuals to make a complaint to the competition authority should they be subjected to any illegal practices, and that it shows how effective this legislation is because there has not been any prosecutions under it, according to the retailers. We have all learned in Ireland over the years that just because there are no prosecutions doesn’t mean that everything is running smoothly! On the last day of the hearings, the competition authority gave evidence and they confirmed that their role under the 2006 act is only to act in circumstances where these practices could affect competition, a slightly different version of events to what was previously
purported. a statutory code of practice is totally unnecessary as far as all the multiples are concerned because they are so compliant anyway and it would only add cost to them that they would have ‘no choice’ but to pass on to customers. When posed with the question as to how, if they are so compliant and already spend so much making sure they are, could a statutory code add so much cost and a voluntary one wouldn’t. Surprisingly, they never really answered this question except to quote vague references to legal costs. But expect to see the multiples using the introduction of a code of conduct to increase prices and profits when it is implemented. But. of course. we will never know how much it will increase their profits in Ireland because they are not required to publish them separately here. like many aspects of Irish life, the retail sector could do with more transparency and a statutory code of conduct could go some way to providing that – but only if it is enforced, and that is unfortunately where we fall down. Pictures: Howard Lake (CC BY-SA 2.0)
ON REaDING the above headline one would be excused in thinking that the article which follows will contain another imploration of workers to rally behind a particular cause in the spirit and tradition of collectivism. While many such causes still exist today, along with the need to address them in an appropriate fashion as they arise, the thrust of what follows is instead a call to employers – particularly those operating in the retail sector – to use their individual and collective influence to demand from the Government measures which would have the effect of boosting the domestic economy and consumer spending. The fact that they have not done so up to now in a way that reflects the momentous and unprecedented challenges facing the sector raises suspicion about the delicate balancing act they appear to be trying to maintain. For the past six years, Mandate and its members have been at the coal face in dealing with the consequences of the economic recession. On many occasions we have had to listen to employer after employer bemoaning the fact that because of the collateral impact arising from the collapse in trade, they had been left with no option but to address the situation by attempting to significantly erode the hard-won terms and conditions of our members. From an early stage, while accepting that a certain amount of slippage had occurred in trading and profit levels, your union fought and – in many circumstances – won the fight against this particular employer agenda. We also highlighted the reality that the cause for the decline in retail spending, while rooted in the global economic crash, had as much to do with the austerity policies pursued by the Irish government. That is why we continue to place at the centre of our campaigning activities the need for the current Government to ease the intensity of their austerity programmes and to use recourses which are now available to them in a way which will stimulate domestic economic growth and retail spending. It often feels that we, as workers’ representatives, are left alone in defending the interests of the retail sector. On far too many occasions, major retail employers have remained conspicuously silent in challenging our political masters to make them recognise how important retail is to the domestic economy as well as the need to highlight what needs to be done to ensure no further damage is inflicted. One surely is entitled to ask why this is the case? Throughout history, the relationship between big business and politics can at best be described as blurred if not dangerously compromised at many levels. Recent initiatives to remove corporate funding of political parties are to be welcomed but far too many hidden aspects of the corporate political relationship remain covert in nature. It is also obvious from an Irish perspective that any profitable business will think long and hard before causing through their actions potential damage to the structure in which profits are so generously treated for taxation purposes, not to mention all of the other shelters and breaks which are available to them. So therefore the call to action is clear in that Mandate invites all retail employers in the run-up to Budget 2014 to join with us in demanding that the Government introduces meaningful policy changes which will see a lessening of austerity leading to greater domestic economic activity with the retail sector at its core. Any response which is not fulsome in this regard will only serve to sustain the perception that the corporate world continues to engage in the most crass form of opportunism and double standards.
1913 COMMEMORATION PICTURE SPECIAL
Wreath for our heroes PRESIDEnT Michael D Higgins laid a wreath on Saturday, 31st August, at the statue of Jim Larkin, in O’Connell Street, Dublin, to commemorate the workers and their families who suffered during the 1913 Lockout. The laying of the wreath, left, on top of an image of the Starry Plough flag was the centre point of an afternoon of commemoration including performances by singers, actors and community groups. They brought to life the events of late summer 1913 in Dublin and in particular Bloody Sunday, 31st August, when police baton charged striking workers. To the roaring enthusiasm of a crowd of more than 5,000, that included around 200 in 1913-vintage clothing, actor Jer O’Leary re-enacted ITGWU leader Jim Larkin’s speech of Bloody Sunday, 1913. “The bosses of Dublin are using starvation as their weapon, but they will fail as all tyranny will fail. The hunger that we have awakened will not be satisfied by bread alone,” he told the crowd before being “arrested” by two “members” of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. There was then a re-enactment of the infamous baton charge with a horsedrawn Dublin fire brigade ambulance collected the “injured”. Among those who attended the event were relatives of James Larkin and James Connolly. ICTU President John Douglas along with SIPTU General President Jack O’Connor and ICTU General Secretary David Begg laid wreathes on behalf of the trade union movement.
y September 2013
ICTU President John Douglas with ETUC chief Bernadette Ségol, Frances O’Grady, who is general secretary of the TUC, ICTU General Secretary David Begg and ICTU Deputy General Secretary Peter Bunting Pictures: ICTU
ICTU President John Douglas interviewed at the event September 2013
celebrating a case of glorious defeat?
lacking in purpose
1913 did mark the culmination of a period of change in civil society – change in leadership, strategy and tactics. It is that process of change that could hold lessons for us today. We need to explore that change for what it can tell us about the challenges civil society currently faces. Civil society is strangely quiet, lacking in purpose, and bereft of agenda. This is despite, and possibly because of, a context of high unemployment, worsening working conditions, emigration, deepening inequality, and unmanageable indebtedness. We need to create opportunities to assess the internal challenges facing civil society – across all sectors – if we are to build capacity to make an impact on where our society is heading. We need to explore what has happened to the organisations in civil society that are concerned with equality, environmental sustainability and empowerment. This is a challenge to trade unions, environmental groups, community sector organisations, global justice groups, cultural organisations and more. It is not a challenge to navel gaze and become ever more turned in on ourselves – each sector trying to puzzle through what went wrong and how to make it right. It is a challenge to involve all sec20
By niall crowley REMEMBERING
THE LOCKOUT ‘1913 did mark the culmination of a period of change in civil society – change in leadership, strategy and tactics. It is that process of change that could hold lessons for us today’ tors in civil society in discussing how we could build a civil society that could persuade people of the value of an equal, sustainable and participative society and advance these agendas with some impact. Claiming Our Future started out with this idea of seeking an empowered civil society in 2010. Trade unions, community groups and environmental groups played a central role in its development. It mobilised new energy by organising public events where people from these different sectors could deliberate on the values they shared and the policy demands that flowed from such values. Equality, environmental sustainability, participation, accountability and solidarity were the shared values. Income equality, an economy for society, and political reform were some of the policy priorities. Claim-
Claiming Our Future ing Our Future struggled to take off with increasing pressures on civil society turning organisations back into themselves. Claiming Our Future survived. It is now progressing a budget campaign seeking an end to cuts and a focus on taxing the wealthy. It is challenging the Seanad abolition referendum as the ‘wrong’ referendum and putting forward proposals for real political reform. It is raising the issue of income inequality and building a campaign to develop policies to close the gap by pushing down higher incomes.
Renewed energy within Claiming Our Future has brought the original challenge of building a more powerful civil society to the fore again. One initiative being organised is to bring leaders from national antipoverty and equality organisations together with leaders from global justice organisations. This meeting will explore our different approaches to seeking social change and discuss the links we need to make to empower and enable both sectors. The learning from this should enable more ambitious cross-sectoral engagement. Leaders from the trade union, community, environmental, global justice and cultural sectors could usefully meet to explore the current state of civil society, to build new links and to find the new strategies and tactics that might make some progress. That would be a useful legacy from our celebration of 1913. Picture: Caelie Frampton (CC BY 2.0)
WE ARE not just commemorating the 1913 Dublin Lockout. We are celebrating it! This is a bit strange, unless of course you are an employer into lockouts and union busting. Possibly, we are celebrating the courage and tenacity of those involved in taking on the challenge of high unemployment, low wages, desperate housing conditions and grinding poverty. But, there is a danger we are merely pursuing a favoured national pastime of celebrating glorious defeat. Why bother getting so wound up anyway about events a hundred years ago? Living in the past seems to be another favourite national pastime. This is certainly a moment for the historians. However, there appears to be little effort to explore what the 1913 Dublin Lockout has to offer the struggles of today. 1913 marked a high point in civil society’s demand for social change. We could celebrate the leadership, strategies and tactics that made that possible. But, the realities of 1913 were very different and we could just end up indulging in nostalgia.
flagging morale... Loyalism’s bitter street protests over flying of the union flag coupled with an inability to compromise is actually weakening the union, argues Trademark co-director Dr Stephen Nolan FIFTEEn years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement sectarianism is thriving. While we have witnessed historical changes in the status of the north and its relationship to both states, there remains an ongoing challenge to ensure that sectarianism is not allowed to go unchallenged through a dangerous acceptance of narrow ethnic divisions as normal. While moving from violence to peace and from a one-party state to, in essence, a two-party state is welcome, to assume that a functioning assembly will create a peaceful and shared region is to ignore the problem that an ethnic assembly in itself poses. The need for parties to shore up a strong electoral vote obliges them to play to an identifiable cultural and political audience and in the process prevents the emergence of more progressive voices. Republicans appear to hold out in hope that being nice to unionism and leaving open the promise of a financial stake in any united future will be enough to see them into an all Ireland. Unionism on the other hand, cowed by the loss of ‘their state’ and a rising Catholic population seems to have absolutely no cogent strategy that might involve convincing the nationalist population that a genuinely shared future in the Six Counties is possible. The reality of a united Ireland coming to pass is anyone’s guess, but the now old adage that republicans are too clever to admit they’ve lost and unionism is too stupid to realise it’s won, appears increasingly apt. When republicans and nationalists in the city council voted in favour of flying the union flag on designated days (as is done in Great Britain and most of the rest of the north), the reaction, stoked by both unionist parties, saw a furious outpouring of sectarianism and a wilful blindness to see it for what it was – constitutional nationalism implementing the Good Friday Agreement within the United Kingdom. It has been branded by some within Loyalism,
rather clumsily it has to be said, as the ongoing ‘de-Britification’ of the north. But the idea that the north is less British than it was, is not credible. Institutionally, militarily, politically, and culturally, the north is still a very British place. Thousands of uncontroversial Loyal Order marches every year, the presence of more than 2,000 British troops, several major military bases, the (controversial) presence of MI5 and the transfer of further covert policing functions to the ‘national Crime Agency’ are just some examples of northern Ireland’s full integration into the British security state. Further, it is almost entirely integrated into the British state economically, its media is almost wholly Anglo-centric with a sprinkling of Gaelic games and cúpla focal, and many of the laws that govern the north (when they’re not European in origin) have a very British origin indeed – the parliament of Westminster, where they are signed into law by a British monarch. There is also the not insignificant issue of 900,000 people with a British identity living here. (And while not wishing to rain on anyone’s parade the Life and Times survey in 2011 claimed 52% of Catholic respondents wanted to remain in the UK, with just 33% admitting to wanting a united Ireland.) So if it isn’t less British (and indeed might be a little more unionist), what’s the problem? The problem might be that it’s less Orange. While the institutions that govern northern Ireland remain fundamentally wedded to British traditions, cultures and laws, significantly they are no longer under the direction of a Protestant religious organisation and its political out rider, unionism. While this fledgling democracy is limited by the absence of any real opposition, the north is more democratic than it has been since Partition, and maybe that’s the problem. Is that where this rage and anger comes from? Does it emerges from a palpable sense of loss within unionSHOPFLOOR
y September 2013
Loyalist mural in west Belfast... time for a new lick of paint?
Picture: Robert Paul Young (CC BY 2.0)
ism? A loss of “our wee country” reflected in the obsessive flying of flags and an inability to compromise on marching. To many within the nationalist community, the anger is a reactionary and sectarian response of a political ideology rooted in supremacy and a sense of entitlement made worse by a deep sense of unease about their place on this island and their place within the United Kingdom. It is made worse by a false narrative of discrimination and exclusion which claims a loyalist victimhood and screams charges of anti-Protestant victimisation. The reality is that nationalists still fair worse in jobs, employment and measures of deprivation. The Millwall mentality of ‘no-one likes us, we don’t care’, needs to change because if Unionism’s historical deal of having one foot in the British state and one foot outside is being undone, it’s not being undone by Irish nationalism, but by Unionism itself. Its inability to contemplate what it means to share this place and to
Belfast City Hall and that missing flag...
compromise is making this relatively stable state that much weaker. Their only blessing perhaps is that the south is more partitionist than they are. For those on the left in this cauldron of shifting demographics and sectarian scare-mongering that we call politics, there is a desperate longing for a progressive working class voice within Loyalist communities, but when it appears, it seems to burn brightly before being snuffed out. When an Eleventh night bonfire sported the slogan “F**k your shared future”, it spoke about a deep unwillingness in sections of the working class community to share this place. But for this place to move forward there has to be a recognition within communities that the north isn’t as British as Finchley, it never was and when Loyalism proclaims “this is our wee country”, there’s a problem, because it isn’t. And not because nationalists live here, but because they don’t own it, none of it – they never have. They’ve never owned the profits of their own labour, they don’t own any plantations, they own nothing and can live only by selling their labour into zero hours contracts. This is the reality of working class lives, Catholic and Protestant. While in the past they may have benefited from loyalty to the Empire, those benefits are fast disappearing, leaving only a fading British militarism and the opportunity to defend British capitalist interests by invading some-
one else’s country. When Loyalists turned up at the anti-G8 march and protested that the march was ‘antiBritish’, it showed a staggering absence of political consciousness. Being anti-capitalist is not about disloyalty to the state, it is about loyalty to a future for all of our children. The working class, Protestant and Catholic, needs to be involved in building a strong labour movement and defending the gains of a British socialism that are being cynically sold off to anyone who can stump up the cash. But unity among the working class can only emerge if we accept that this place is a shared cultural space and that yes, Fenians live here too, Following the Good Friday Agreement, many experts in conflict resolution from around the world descended on northern Ireland to offer their own expertise about what should happen here. Many believed that the absence of serious armed conflict would simply eradicate sectarianism, while others believed that sectarianism was a product of that violence and that given space communities would automatically see the benefits of peace. The international conflict resolution industries’ focus was, and is, exclusively on the positive transition from violence to peace. It has almost completely ignored the accompanying and devastating transition to neoliberalism, Sectarianism weakens our resistance to the continued march of the free market into every area of our lives and the acceptance of its inevitability. The re-organisation of the world economy over the last 40 years and the emergence of a particularly savage form of capitalism poses many challenges to all those actors involved in the pursuit of democratisation and social justice. The emergence of atypical forms of employment, low pay, anti-union policies and ‘market flexibility’ has offered little protection for workers and communities, regardless of what flag they fly, and has ensured that labour rights and related social and economic benefits remain beyond the majority of people. Whether it is the attacks on the welfare state, privatisation, the continuation of the failed PFI programmes or attacks on some of the lowest paid workers, these free market policies are considered inseparable from ‘democracy’. However, with the ongoing implosion of this deeply-flawed economic system across the globe, our politicians who invested all our futures on roulette wheel economics, now scramble around looking for answers which do not lie in more of the same but in an alternative, progressive and democratic economics. This alternative future desperately needs a progressive strong Protestant/unionist/Loyalist voice, particularly in the labour movement. It needs to defend the gains of those men and women that fought fascism and on coming home brought the resources of their state under democratic control. It needs to show loyalty to an iconic symbol, the nHS and one of the greatest welfare states in history. That is a legacy worth fighting for. 21
VIEWPOINT 1913 UNFINISHED BUSINESS
it is time the workers’ movement was reborn
THE LOCKOUT By Ronan Burtenshaw & Shane McNally 1913 Unfinished Business THE recent commemorations of the 1913 Lockout have recognised a watershed moment in Irish trade unionism and celebrated hard won rights. However, there has been little discussion of the erosion of the foundations that were laid down a hundred years ago – a serious problem for the trade union movement today. The 1913 Lockout was brutal and ended in an short-term defeat. But by 1920 the membership of the ITGWU had surpassed 120,000 – more than four times what it had been in 1913. The Lockout invigorated the Irish working class and reminded them of their capacity to be an agent for change. It was a struggle based on an understanding of the fundamentally incompatible interests of workers and their bosses in the workplace. The men and women in 1913 knew that if you divided a page between what bosses and workers wanted, you would see that they were in conflict every hour of the day. Bosses want higher profits, we want higher wages. Bosses want to invest as little as possible, we want to improve the conditions we work in. Bosses want to limit the amount of paperwork they do, we want decent health and safety standards. This awareness was the fuel that
propelled the trade union movement at the beginning of the 20th century to win the gains it did. But it contrasts with today. How many people talk about the importance of class interests in determining the direction of society? In the last 30 years our trade union movement has sought refuge in so-
‘By mitigating conflict in the workplace, social partnership has robbed many workers of class consciousness, reduced trade unions to service-provision and disarmed many in the movement of the tools needed to fight and win’ cial partnership – a system of agreements between bosses, unions and the government. Its proponents argue that it resembles ‘worker democracy’, because workers are permitted to sit at the top table. But in reality, by mitigating conflict in the workplace, it has robbed many workers of class consciousness, re-
duced trade unions to service-provision and disarmed many in the movement of the tools needed to fight and win. And the results are evident: trade union density when the first social partnership agreement was signed in 1987 was 55%. now, it is 31% – down 7% from the turn of the century. As austerity loads the burden of a crisis – both practically and ideologically the making of bosses – on to workers, we find little fight-back in Ireland. The class struggle between workers and capitalists that led to hardwon gains, we’re told, should be consigned to the past – even as these gains are eroded on front of our eyes. Those who discuss class struggle too often do so in obscure or dogmatic ways, wrapped in academic theories rather than the experience of today’s workers. But if we examine what radicals like Connolly were talking about – a social conflict between workers who need their wages to survive and capitalists who own society’s wealth – who could deny their relevance to the world we live in today? Take, for example, the situations that retail workers have faced with the demise of HMV, GAME and La Senza – occupying shops in search of justice like their forebears a century ago. Look at the soup kitchens in austerity Ireland. Or the emigration. Or the dole queues. Capitalism is a system run for and by the rich. It says that workers will only get the essentials they need to live – such as housing, food, clothes and employment – if someone, some-
where is making money from it. Social partnership has told us for a quarter of a century that workers can simply sit down at a table and negotiate with bosses under this system – that you don’t need to fight. This has weakened workers’ organisations and created a layer of professional negotiators who are the subject of
suspicion for many working people. We have seen in the mass strikes of fast food workers in the US and new Zealand an effort to forge a different path. Street-fighting trade unionism, built on organising at the grassroots level and aimed gaining fairer wages. These workers are developing fighting trade unionism in societies as devoid of it as ours. Those movements have a lot in common with the tactics and form of new Unionism which emerged at the turn of the 20th century. It challenged the ethos of existing worker organisations, developed a class consciousness through struggle and articulated a vision of a society run for and by workers. Commemorations of Connolly, Larkin or Rosie Hackett are not enough. We must learn the lessons their actions teach. As capitalism shreds the public
sector, with its secure jobs, we see in zero hour contracts and internship programmes the future of work. The way this crisis is resolved will dictate the development of the next phase of the system – and workers can expect persistent unemployment, low-pay, less security and reduced services. What we’re living through now is not a blip. It is the basis of the new normal. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Societies are shaped by struggle and we can fight back. Larkin’s new Unionism won amazing gains for the working class in its time, and many other fighting workers’ movements have done the same. This is because workers have more power than we are led to believe. We are the majority in this society. Forget ‘job creators’ – workers produce the wealth. They make society run. And with that comes strength. But this can only be tapped if we take trade unionism out of the negotiating rooms and back to the streets. And we need to get political – we need to talk about a society beyond capitalism, its super-rich and big businesses. In short, trade unions must be the democratic and organic organisations of workers in their workplaces. And they must say, “workers should own and control their communities, workplaces and society.” But it can’t be divined from above, workers must get together to create it. A hundred years on from the Lockout, it’s time for a rebirth of the workers’ movement. We have unfinished business.
y September 2013
ICTU President John Douglas, has called for the immediate release of the ‘Cuban Five’ from custody in the United States and for them to be allowed to return to their homes and families in Cuba. Speaking ahead of a vigil held in Dublin on September 12th to mark the men’s 15th year in prison, Mr Douglas, who is also Mandate General Secretary, said: “The entire process surrounding the conviction of the Cuban Five was dubious to say the least and, in the interests of justice, the US government must release these men immediately and allow them to return to their home country. “Following the recent anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, it is ironic to consider that these men were jailed for their role in trying to prevent
ictu President calls for cuban 5 to be released
terror attacks on their homeland, by Cuban exiles based in the United States. They should be erecting statues to these men, not jailing them.” One of those attacks – a no warning bomb in a Havana Hotel – killed a young Italian tourist in 1997, while in 1976 a bomb on a Cubana airliner killed all 73 people on board. The Cuban Five were imprisoned in the US after being arrested by the
Federal Bureau of Investigations on September 12th, 1998. The five men – Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González – were investigating the activities of Cuban exile terror groups based in the United States when they were arrested. They were convicted in a Miami court of conspiracy to commit espionage, conspiracy to commit mur-
Wee buns! mandate retains Burger cup thE MUch-anticipated Ryder cup is to be held in Gleneagles, Scotland next year. But its highly-regarded local counterpart, the Burger cup, was held recently at ardglass Golf club – and what a venue it turned out to be! the beautiful, windswept links course is known throughout as a favourite of home-grown golﬁng superstar Rory McElroy. however, “scintillating” and “superlative” – words often used by tV pundits covering the Ryder cup – were notable by their absence on the fairways of co Down as Mandate squared up to the IctU. current holders Mandate under the astute leadership of the evergreen Gerry ‘Bing crosby’ light, alongside the talented but injured Brian ‘Seve’ Forbes, faced the daunting prospect of playing local man Peter ‘Pitch & Putt’ Bunting along with liam ‘Double Bogey’ Berney. the IctU duo took command at the turn with a once-in-a-lifetime birdie from Bunting. Moving on to the 17th tee, dominant and ex-
pressing supreme conﬁdence, the congress pairing could almost taste Burger cup success for the ﬁrst time. that is, until Bunting six-putted the 17th and sure-shot light drove the 400-yard 18th to secure an unbelievable birdie under the most daunting pressure as he was watched by a packed gallery at the lion’s Den. light’s 3ft birdie putt secured a well deserved half match against the congress pairing who had more shots than Jamie Foxx had in Django Unchained, resulting in Mandate retaining the prestigious Burger cup in a thrilling ﬁnal turnaround reminiscent of the famous liverpool v ac Milan 2005 European cup Final. Speaking afterwards and dubbing it as “a moral victory”, the debilitated but delighted Forbes told Shopﬂoor: “We were down and out, battered and bruised, but real leadership came in the form of Gerry with that birdie at 18. “It actually brought a small tear to my eye as I know how much winning the Burger cup meant to Bunto and ‘Double Bogey’ Berney.” The Burger Cup: Enjoyed by Mandate – with extra relish...
der, acting as an agent of a foreign government, and other illegal activities. Mr Douglas, pictured left at the vigil, said: “In 2005, the United nations Commission on Human Rights adopted a report stating that ‘the trial did not take place in the climate of objectivity and impartiality that is required in order to conform to the standards of a fair trial’.” The convictions and sentences of the Cuban Five have been strongly contested by the men and their many supporters, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former US President Jimmy Carter. At least eight international nobel Prize winners have written to the US Attorney General calling for the release of the men and Amnesty International has criticised their treatment in custody, describing it as “unnecessarily punitive and contrary to standards for the humane treatment of prisoners.” In May of this year, René González, who had been released on parole, was allowed to return to Cuba after renouncing his US citizenship.
FACT-FILE tERRORISt attacks against cuba have killed 3,478 people and injured 2,099, the majority carried out by Miami-based cuban exiles and paramilitary groups. this includes the October 1976 bombing of a cubana airliner, killing all 73 passengers. Gerardo hernandez, Ramón labañino, Fernando Gonzalez, antonio Guerrero and René Gonzalez were accused of the vague crime of conspiracy to commit espionage. the US government never accused them of actual espionage, nor did it aﬃrm that real acts of espionage had been carried out, as no classiﬁed document had been conﬁscated from them. the trial of the men lasted more than six months and included the testimonies of three retired army generals and a retired admiral, who agreed that evidence of espionage did not exist. In august 2005 a three-judge panel of the court of appeals revoked all of the convictions on the grounds that the ﬁve accused had not received a fair trial in Miami. the US government intervened and on august 2006, in spite of the strong disagreement voiced by two of the three judges who made up the panel, a new court revoked, by majority, the decision of the three judges.
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BloW tHe WHistle on tHe Bad Bosses
MUSIC Q&A MUSINGS...
Striking a chord: Walt Wilkins, left, with band in concert Picture: Robert Hensley (CC BY 2.0)
to Join 10 mandate the grand ennui Reasons
1. an organising and campaigning union:
Mandate is focused on building an activist base to protect and improve employment conditions. Through better organised workplaces and the power of the collective strength, we will deliver justice for working people.
2. modern and effective training:
Mandate provides free courses to help you learn new skills, improve existing skills and develop you and your prospective career. We negotiate agreements with employers to pay for attendance at courses and also to provide reasonable time off for employees to attend them.
3. campaigning for success:
Mandate is a progressive campaigning union fighting on issues that really matter to our members, their families and society in general. Mandate campaigns challenge social injustice at all levels of Irish society.
4. Protection at work:
Highly trained and skilled Mandate officials provide professional advice and assistance, where appropriate, on a variety of employment issues.
5. safety at work:
Mandate health & safety representatives are trained to minimise the risk of workplace injuries and ensure that employers meet their legal obligations at all times.
6. Better pay:
Year on year, Mandate campaigns for and wins pay rises for its members. Mandate also campaigns to close the widening gender pay gap in Irish society.
7. legal protection:
Mandate has won significant legal compensation for members who are injured as a result of an accident at work.
8. mandatory pensions:
Mandate has secured pension schemes with a variety of retail employers and will campaign to secure mandatory pension schemes for all members working in the private sector, partcularly those on low wages.
9.you’re less likely to be discriminated against:
Mandate has won agreements with employers on respect and dignity at work policies and procedures. Mandate will continue to campaign for tougher laws to make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex, race, age, disability or sexual orientation.
10. you’re less likely to be sacked:
Membership of Mandate protects you and strengthens your voice in your workplace.
together we’re stronger
Join mandate tRade union online at http://www.mandate.ie/contact/Join.aspx
By Brian Forbes Mandate National Co-ordinator PICTURE it... a balmy summer evening, the soft, velvety glow of the sinking sun caresses the nape of my neck as I cruise in my soft-top Ferrari through the beautiful winding roads of Donegal’s Blue Stack mountains. Sporting a cool pair of Aviator shades, wind in my flowing locks – you get the idea... As I press the pedal to the metal, I turn the dial to hear good old Walt Wilkins blasting out an old Mike nesmith number (he of Monkees fame) called The Grand Ennui from the car stereo. Pulling up to Biddy O’Barnes for a little light refreshment, the sound of the track dulling the gentle hum of the alarm clock informs me to get my face out of my Cornflakes and return to planet Earth. Although a dream, it actually happened but in a slightly different context. Driving on a miserable windy, wintery day through sweet smelling Killybegs, I cocked an ear to old Walt’s jaunty rendition of The Grand Ennui: “And as the headlights cast a glow on the road I heard a voice inside of me It said, ‘You lost the light And now you’re moving through the night running from the grand ennui running from the grand ennui’.” Walt sang with such conviction that I half convinced myself that the grand ennui was some kind of midnight ghoul or possibly a doubledealing politician or a megalomaniac media mogul. If, like me, you have never heard of the word ennui [pronunced ahnwee] – never mind the grand ennui version – you might be interested to know a quick Google search informed me it means a bored, disinterested state Immediately it struck me that the ex-Monkee’s lyrics might just be the perfect metaphor for the state of our
country – the disinterested state! We have 10 people leaving these shores every day with many of them running from what I would now call the grand ennui. So convinced are they that nothing but pain, misery and boredom on the dole exists for them in our disinterested state. “My mother didn’t raise me for export,” my friend David said as he stood in the departure lounge at Dublin Airport. He was speaking with some authority as he weighed up a JobsBridge future in Ireland against the
‘My mother didn’t raise me for export’, my friend said as he stood in the airport departure lounge lure of work – paid work – in far-off Australia. no doubt David was articulating the views of thousands of other young Irish people forced to take the decision to leave. He may boomerang his way back to Ireland in a few years time “when things pick up” but for now David is forced into running from the grand ennui. This disinterested state of ours has through its policies of austerity forced tens of thousands of well-educated, hard-working, articulate, energetic and capable individuals towards that exit door marked FORCED EMIGRATIOn. I recall, in particular, Fine Gael Minister Michael noonan’s recent off-the-cuff suggestion backing emigration as a lifestyle choice for people wanting to see a bit of the world. His views echo that of the disinterested state that fails to consider that emigration for many people is
a life sentence and not a lifestyle choice. Our political masters wedded to failed austerity policies have little understanding that people emigrate for work and if no work exists in Ireland then their life, lived with the dignity of work, is elsewhere. In effect, it constitutes a life sentence – not of their choosing – of living and working in a foreign country. Shakespeare once wrote that the “miserable have no other medicine but only hope”. As hope disappears like snow off a ditch, it is inevitable that people will continue to run from the grand ennui of joblessness actively caused by the policy decisions of the disinterested state. Unemployment is running at more than 14%. And there is an unavoidable correlation between bank bailouts, Troika demands and a seemingly endless succession of austerity budgets. The lengthening queue my friend David found himself joining at the long-haul flight desk at Dublin Airport now makes perfect sense to me. The deliberate political tactic of suggesting that emigration is simply a lifestyle choice – unlinked to economics, politics or social policy – attempts to separate flawed decisions taken by our current Government from the failed policies of austerity. And add to this the latest budget fiasco which feels already like a surreal version of austerity lite. All those media soundbites from party political machines gearing up to convince us that we need more doses of austerity – a treatment that is clearly killing the patient. The simple, sad, yet unavoidable fact is that people are not only running from the grand ennui but sprinting like Eusain Bolt on to the Last Train to Clarkesville singing Daydream Believer as the politicians continue to treat us all like an ex-Monkee’s uncle! Noonan: choice comments SHOPFLOOR
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Press rewind to 2008 and local class interests are revealed...
By Dr Conor McCabe On February 6, 2013, Stephen Donnelly, the independent TD for Wicklow, stood up in the Dáil to discuss the 2008 bank guarantee. He said it was passed because “of a diktat from Europe that said no European bank could fail, no Eurozone bank could fail and no senior bondholders could incur any debt.” It is a curious opinion to hold, as the only foreign accents heard on the Anglo tapes are imitations done by Irish bankers of considerable wealth and influence. The tapes shone a light on the short-term focus, the scramble for capital that was to the front of the bank’s management team. John Bowe, the head of Capital Markets at Anglo Irish Bank, told his colleague Peter Fitzgerald that the strategy was to get the Irish Central Bank to commit itself to funding Anglo, to “get them to write a big cheque”. By doing so, the Central Bank would find itself locked in to Anglo as it would have to shore up the bank to ensure it got repaid. The Irish financial regulator, Pat neary, in a conversation with Bowe, was quoted as saying that Anglo was asking his office “to play ducks and drakes with the regulations.” Once the guarantee was passed the bank’s CEO, David Drumm, told his executives to take full advantage but advised them to be careful. The idea for a blanket guarantee, however, did not originate entirely with the Anglo management team, regardless of how much they em-
braced it. In the weeks leading up to the decision, the idea of a guarantee was flagged in the national media by people such as David McWilliams and the property developer noel Smyth. In a piece for the Sunday Business Post (September 21, 2008), McWilliams outlined his plan to save the Irish banks.
‘2008 was a scramble by our indigenous moneyed class to protect itself at all costs, leaving us with the mess’ He called for a full guarantee, one that would give “full protection for all creditors, all our own deposits and those of the foreign institutions who have lent to the Irish banks. The government could do this for a limited period – let’s say two years.” McWilliams added that the “Irish government would be using its wellearned reputation as a sovereign entity, not its hard-earned cash, to solve this crisis” and that over the two years “with the return of confidence, the banks would have time to
sort out their asset problems.” noel Smyth, in a piece for the Irish Times, said that with a full state guarantee, the “three-month interbank facilities would then return, trust and confidence between the banks would replace the present fear of illiquidity created by the credit crunch and the system, stagnating at present, would come back into full operation.” McWilliams, Smyth, and the managers at Anglo, all touch upon a key factor in the 2008 crisis: the collapse in the inter-bank lending market. Two days after the bank guarantee was passed by the Dáil, Irish Times journalist Simon Carswell wrote a short, succinct précis of what had just happened. “The State guarantee,” he said, “allows the six lenders to borrow more freely and more cheaply for shortterm funding that had become scarce due to the global credit crunch.” He quoted Denis Casey, chief executive of Irish Life and Permanent, who said that with the credit crisis “the oxygen supply for Irish banks was being cut off and healthy banks were starting to gasp for breath. This guarantee turns on the oxygen supply.” On October 3, 2008, the ECB wrote a letter to the Irish Department of Finance, outlining its grave concerns regarding the scale and depth of the guarantee. It noted that the Irish state “opted for an individual response to the current financial situation and not sought to consult their EU partners.” It also made the
following observation: “ … the financial exposure of the Irish state under such guarantees is potentially very large, the Irish government could be obliged to make significant payments in case these guarantees are called over the next two years… this is a cause for concern, even when the provision of financial support would, under the draft law, as far as possible ultimately have to be recouped from the credit institution or subsidiary in question.” When the Irish state went guarantor for six banks and one stockbroking firm (Goodbody was also included) it merged the state, Borglike, with the parallel, or shadow, banking system. It was a reckless last throw-of-the-dice, one that no other country replicated. The Anglo tapes, while shocking, are white noise. The deep corruption of Irish political and business life is there for all to see. It is already in public view. And why should it hide itself? It has little to fear from the justice system, and in terms of general analysis, the German straw man has worked. The next time you see an
Irish comic on RTE in drag as Angela Merkel, the Irish moneyed class will be laughing along as well. Unfortunately it will be the Irish public, not the screen, that will be their source of merriment. At the very least, let us be clear as to what took place in 2008: it was a scramble by our indigenous moneyed class to protect itself at all costs, with a plan that backfired, leaving the Irish people to clean up the mess. Since 2010, that class has been talking up the role of the ECB and EU in an effort to disguise the local class interests that came into play in 2008. In other words, the consequences of the guarantee are now put forward as the causes of the guarantee. And so far, at least, the subterfuge has worked. At the end of the day the guarantee was about class power. Unfortunately in Ireland, that is usually the case.
THE ANGL O
Picture: Dennis AB (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Adult Education Courses for the Workplace
Mandate Trade Union with the VEC network is offering a programme of Training Courses called Skills for Work. Skills for Work offers members the opportunity to get back into education at their own pace with a wide range of courses to choose from. Each course has 6 – 8 participants and may be held locally and outside of working hours. Some of the courses include:
Communication Skills/ Personal Development and Effectiveness
For those who want to brush up on their writing and spelling skills while you develop personal and interpersonal skills which are important for dealing with workplace situations and improve communications in everyday life situations
Perhaps you’d like to brush up on your everyday maths, including home budgets, tax and weights/measures.
Communication through Computers
This course is ideal for adults just learning about computers and confidence for communicating online.
Please tick the box or boxes of the courses which interest you and return this form with your details to: Mandate’s Organising and Training Centre Distillery House, Distillery Road, Dublin 3 Phone 01-8369699, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Workplace Location Phone
Courses are free and open to members who have not achieved Leaving Certificate or who have an out of date Leaving Certificate. You can also achieve a FETAC Level 3 Award. Skills for Work is funded by the Department of Education & Skills
THE BIG IDEA...
Workers are the key WE are all familiar with the evil corporation in films. Omni Consumer Products brought us robocop, the Soylent Corporation turned people into food, and Weyland-Yutani was forever trying to bring Alien back to earth for weapons development. Unfortunately, the practices of many real-life corporations can similarly turn the stomach. Remember that description by rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi about Goldman Sachs: “The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” There’s another corporation that fits this description: Wal-Mart. The US retail corporation that runs chains of large discount department and warehouse stores is the largest private sector employer in the world. It has championed lower consumer prices but the cost has been high. Wal-Mart has destroyed local businesses wherever they moved in – using predatory practices (they engage in aggressive price reductions until their local competitors close up, then they increase their prices). This has had a particularly destructive impact in smaller towns in the US where studies have found that poverty and unemployment rise where Wal-Mart sets up shop. It is in the area of labour relations, however, that Wal-Mart has acted like one of those evil corporations of the silver screen. Low wages (between 10% and 20% less than other retail workers), poor working conditions (where management keeps stores almost permanently under-staffed) and few health benefits – something particu-
By michael taft larly important in the US. Wal-Mart is obsessively anti-union. They have even pre-emptively closed stores and departments where workers chose to unionise. no wonder
‘Wal-Mart is obsessively antiunion. They have even closed stores and depts where workers unionise’ that 70% of staff leave in their first year of employment. Workers have tried to fight back. Trade unions have set up special campaigns both to organise and defend Wal-Mart workers. Recently, Wal-Mart workers in 15 major cities went on strike as part of a nationwide campaign to double the
minimum wage. However, Wal-Mart is such a powerful corporate force that it is difficult to challenge them, despite the best efforts of workers and their unions. Wal-Mart appears invincible, a giant shark where everyone else – other retail operations, workers, communities – are just minnows. However, there is an interesting development going on in Idaho, a small, sparse region in northwest America. There, a small retail chain is challenging Wal-Mart’s domination. This small regional player beats Wal-Mart on prices and is rapidly gaining market share in their localities. It doesn’t advertise much. It is a no-frills place where customers bag their own groceries (not a common thing in US supermarkets). But what’s more interesting is that it provides health care and pension for its workers. Wages are higher and staff turnover lower. And the really interesting thing is that it is employee-owned. There’s a theory among management circles that the route to a suc-
cessful business is to cut, cut, cut costs. In services sectors, this means cutting labour costs – wages, overtime, hours, benefits, certainty of work. This is called ‘flexibility’ and this must be overseen by a dynamic, charismatic leader (think Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary). So, downgrade pay and working conditions; and set up cults around CEOs – hard men (they’re usually men) who know how to get things done. And yet there are thousands of companies that defy this logic and prosper – whether they are owned by workers, or by men and women who include workers in the operations of the company. How can this be? How can busi-
‘A small retail chain is challenging the domination of Wal-Mart ... and interesting thing is it’s worker owned’ nesses that pay their workers more than their competitors and still succeed? Pay better benefits? Recognise trade unions? Include workers into the management of the firm? How can this work when we’re told it can’t work? There is a new trend in business analysis – which focusses on how people work together in a company. Where companies invest in their employees – whether through wages, working hours, benefits, training and re-skilling – this analysis finds that the returns to the business are even higher. Indeed, during the recession studies have shown that workerowned firms have managed to do better than traditional firms. Because it is people, workers, who determine the success or otherwise of a firm. The production of goods and services, customer relations, ideas from the shop floor or factory floor – it all comes back to the worker. This is the new business model of the future – workercentred firms. Of course, in many areas and in many countries this future is still quite distant. Here in Ireland, precarious work
is on the rise, employees cannot exercise the right to collective bargaining, EU Directives to protect part-time workers have not been made part of Irish law and workers are paid well below European averages, while social protection supports are minimal. In too many companies, management see employees as a cost – when they don’t see them as a threat to their authority. When workers fight back against this backward business model – whether it is over wages, working time or conditions – they are attempting to defend living standards for their families and themselves. But they should know that they are also fighting for a new business which will, hopefully, prevail. The history of business is the history of advancing the interests and conditions of workers. After all, we don’t send children into the mines any more or shoot workers on the picket line (not here; unfortunately, our brothers and sisters in many countries still face these threats). The working day, the minimum wage, holiday time, overtime, legal regulations for health and safety – these did not come about through demands by employers. They came from the organisation of workers. So if this new business prevails it will be due to workers, not management. And then we can enjoy evil corporations – in the films, that is.
y September 2013
sorrow and the heartbreak
Picture: yrsis (CC BY 2.0)
This article, written by Doreen O’Keeffe of Dublin Distributive Branch, first appeared in a precursor to Shopfloor in 1990. It is reprinted here because it still reflects the true cost of the failure of the state to look after its own... WHEn asked to write this article on emigration, I went along to the local library to research the statistics. As I studied the figures, I realised the sorrow and heartbreak for countless numbers of parents who are not listed in “Official Government Data”. In the early 1950s, my eldest brother Sean who was only 17 years old took the boat to England to find employment. It was the custom in those days for emigrants to send back money to help the family budget. My brother, like a lot of Irish people, was lucky if he could afford the once-a-year train/boat journey home to see the family. There were no cheap air fares in those days. My recollection of him is a young man who came home on holidays but who also was almost a complete stranger to me. As the holidays ended, there were always the tears at the north Wall when he had to return to England. Come the early 1960s things had not changed all that much. The scourge of emigration was still with us. It was then that I became one of those statistics, so often mentioned in today’s headlines. I met and married my husband who was already an emigrant in London. The day after we married, we set off across the sea to start a new life. I will always remember arriving in London and feeling so bitter towards the government of the day, because I could not settle down in my own country. We were fortunate, however, as we had a house to go to – not like many of our emigrants. Some were not so lucky. When they arrived at Euston station they quickly discovered that the streets of London were not exactly paved with gold. Finding accommodation was always the big problem, and being Irish did not help the situation. When landlords heard your Irish accent, suddenly the room was no September 2013
Picture: Sean MacEntee (CC BY 2.0)
‘I will always remember arriving in London and feeling so bitter towards the Govt of the day, because I couldn’t settle in my own country’ longer available. For some of our emigrants who came unprepared, life was not easy. The end result was living in squalor, and all too often the solution to their problems was found at the end of a bottle. Even to this day, the streets of London and new York are “home” to the emigrants of the 1950s and 1960s. We had three children. They were also victims of our emigration, and not mentioned in government statistics. They grew up without having grandparents, aunts and uncles to celebrate important events in their young lives – birthdays, first communions, confirmations, etc. They were deprived of a close loving relationship with their extended family. This was the hidden face of emigration. In the early 1980s, the tide had turned. Emigrants were returning home to the prospect of low interest rates, double figure wage increases
and the removal of domestic rates on houses. We, like many others packed our bags and headed for the promised land. In 1979, Marks & Spencer opened in Dublin and I and my husband were fortunate enough to gain employment with them. We settled down to normal domestic life. The children went through the Irish educational system, and little did I realise then, that they were being educated for the EXPORT MARKET. In the 1980s, the SPEnD! SPEnD! SPEnD! of the previous decade had to be paid for. The government were not too worried, however. They had the solution in the young educated unemployed. Send them off on boats and planes to foreign lands. Then when it is time for the unemployment figures to be produced, they look good. It should be compulsory to show the unemployment and emigration figures together, then a more accurate figure would emerge. My youngest daughter left school and started working for one of the multi-national companies whose policy is not to have trade unions. The result was working conditions that were intolerable, plus the fact that her earnings were so heavily taxed; she could see no future for herself here in Ireland. Two days
after her 21st birthday, she quit her job to join the Emigration Trail. In the last 30 years, the scourge of emigration has never been far from the door, just like thousands of other families. When I go to the airport to see my daughter off, I look around me and see the sad faces and the tears of mothers and fathers seeing off sons and daughters to their adopted lands. Statistics show that within the last decade a massive 183,000 people packed their bags and left. However, last year’s figures were even more horrendous. I quote from a newspaper article: “But last year the numbers getting out were 46,000 – a quarter of the total for the entire decade. There are no firm projections for what is likely to happen in nineteen ninety
but the estimate used in the preparation of Albert Reynolds’ budget was that emigration in 1990 will be less than 25,000, which would be the lowest in five years.” In my opinion, that is 25,000 too much. If you add to that the “emigration” of the hearts and minds of parents left behind, it is a sad picture indeed. For far too long we have accepted the “export” of our children to solve the problems created by the mismanagement of our country by successive governments. As we go into the1990s, let us send this message to our government: CREATE JOBS, EXPORT GOODS, nOT OUR CHILDREn because one day it may be YOU standing at the airport, saying good bye to a loved one.
Health & Safety FETAC Level 5
This course is aimed at Health and Safety representatives Topic covered on course: • Health and Safety Legislation • Role of Health and Safety Representative • Safety statements • Role of Health & Safety Authority • Occupational health
Saf e firs ty t wor at k!
• Identification of hazards and risk assessment • Accident investigation • Fire safety • Effective communications • Health and safety promotion
Certification and Progression: Members who successfully complete this course receive a Fetac Level 5 component award certificate and may progress to other courses offered by Mandate. If you are interested in this course, please contact your Mandate official or Mandate's Training Centre at 01-8369699. Email: email@example.com 27
FROM WHERE I STAND...
alienated? Here’s why... By Ed Teller KARL Marx understood and explained alienation as being rooted in the economic production process in which labour is exploited by capital. He saw how capital alienated labour through the seizure of part of what it produced. Workers are paid a wage for their labour power and no matter what value they produce in their work, they do not receive its full value, as employers take some of it in the form of profits. But Marx also saw how this particular form of economic exploitation also led to the dehumanisation and alienation of the worker in general and the working class as a whole. He wrote: “… the worker is related to the product of his labour as to an alien object. For it is clear on this presupposition that the more the worker expends himself in work the more powerful becomes the world of objects which he creates in face of himself, the poorer he becomes in his inner life, and the less he belongs to himself. “... The worker puts his life into the object, and his life then belongs no longer to himself but to the object. The greater his activity, therefore, the less he possesses. What is embodied in the product of his labour is no longer his own. The greater this product is, therefore, the more he is diminished.” The alienation of the worker in his product means not only that his labour becomes an object, assumes an external existence, but that it exists independently, outside himself, and alien to him, and that it stands opposed to him as an autonomous power. The life which he has given to the object sets itself against him as an alien and hostile force. The harder the worker works and the more value he creates the more wealth he creates for someone else, the more he actually loses. The fruits of his labour are not his and work becomes merely a forced chore to survive, the ‘free choice’ of not working leaving him in a more worse and dependant position. “... he does not fulfil himself in his work but denies himself, has a feeling of misery rather than wellbeing, does not develop freely his mental and physical energies but is
physically exhausted and mentally debased. “The worker, therefore, feels himself at home only during his leisure time, whereas at work he feels homeless. his work is not voluntary but imposed, forced labour. It is not the satisfaction of a need, but only a means for satisfying other needs.” When technology is introduced it doesn’t lighten the load of workers, rather it further displaces workers and increases their exploitation. Like this practice, when management introduce ‘efficiencies’ this is also about increasing the exploitation of workers by having the worker create more for less so they can take a greater percentage of the value created. These efficiencies are usually accompanied by closer management oversight or micro-management and this is the way in which the alienation and dehumanisation of the worker is felt most in the open. Being watched over the shoulder, performing the same task repeatedly with a manager waiting for you to slip up so some form of disciplinary action can be taken, the reduction of any amount of human creativity or responsibility from the role to the point that the human become a mere extension of a machine. This is alienation. And unfortunately in today’s crisis, we are seeing this on the increase as capital attempts to increase profits and profitable avenues for investment always at the expense of working people.
Picture: Binary Ape (CC BY 2.0)
E-cigarettes are currently not covered under the legal ban on smoking in the workplace Picture: Taylor Dahlin (CC BY 2.0)
ictu considers calling for workplace ban on e-cigs By Esther Lynch ICTU legislative and legal affairs officer THE Health and Safety Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions is set to consider if electronic cigarettes should be subject to the same legal controls in workplaces as conventional cigarettes. The increasing popularity of e-cigarettes makes it crucial that we get reliable answers to questions about their health impact. This has become an issue for workers and their unions because with electronic cigarettes no burning of tobacco takes place, instead the battery powered cigarettes deliver a nicotine vapour. As e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, they technically fall outside of the scope of the smoking ban. But while e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, they do produce second-hand vapour. Manufacturers say that the vapour is merely water vapour and therefore harmless but health and safety experts are questioning if the makers of e-cigarettes have conducted the research needed to prove this. There is increasing medical debate on the impact of some of the ingredients in the vapour, which in some brands can include propylene glycol – this can irritate airways – and formaldehyde, which is known to raise lung and nasal cancer risk. A recent study published by the Fraunhofer Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut in
Germany examined second-hand emissions from several types of e-cigarettes and found that the e-cigarette produced lower levels of toxins in the air for nonsmokers to breathe than the conventional cigarette but there were still elevated levels of acetic acid, acetone, isoprene, formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, averaging around 20% of what the conventional cigarette put into the air. In August 2013, France’s national Consumer Institute reported that three out of every 10 e-cigarettes tested contained high levels of some carcinogenic substances, including that of formaldehyde and acrolein. So it seems that while they may not be as polluting as the conventional cigarette, e-cigarettes are not emission-free and the emerging research is suggesting that they may be putting detectable levels of several significant carcinogens and toxins in the air. If several people in a room are using electronic cigarettes at the same time, we have to assume that this results in considerable indoor air pollution due to accumulation. Some workers, particularly those with certain health conditions have reported that the second-hand vapour is irritating to their eyes, noses and throats affecting their breathing or making them nauseous. Workers have a right to clean air at work. no one should have to breathe in chemicals, whether they come out
of a conventional or e-cigarettes. Likewise, the precautionary principle means that employers should not allow a potentially harmful substance to be used in the workplace until it is proved safe rather than waiting until it is proved to be unsafe before they take action. E-cigarettes may not be covered under the legal ban on smoking but unions and safety reps can still raise the issue with employers and ensure that the prohibition on smoking in their workplace applies to e-cigarettes in the same way as it applies to conventional smoking It is worth recalling that not so long ago second-hand smoke was one of the biggest causes of work-related heart disease and occupational cancer. Thanks to the leadership of unions such as Mandate, this risk has been largely removed, saving literally thousands of lives from being cut short. It is essential that e-cigarettes do not act as a back door and renormalise smoking in the workplace. The ICTU Health and Safety Committee will consider and report to the ICTU Executive Council in October. l If you would like to see the ICTU health and Safety Committee focus on any particular issue affecting the safety, health or welfare of workers in your sector, let us know as we are currently preparing our programme for work for the coming year. www.ictu.ie SHOPFLOOR
y September 2013
danger of zero hour contracts
By Dave Miskell IBEC made a number of claims in Mandate Industrial Officer the radio debate over the alleged adMAnDATE Divisional Organiser vantages zero-hour contracts had Brendan O’Hanlon took part in a for workers. These included flexibilradio debate with a representative ity to work for different employers, of IBEC recently on the subject of flexibility around childcare/planzero-hour contracts. ning as well as the general claim that this was the way the employZero-hour contracts, set out ment market needed to go. under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, mean there are no Mandate couldn’t agree less with guaranteed minimum working these points as these types of conhours per week for a worker emtracts achieve the exact opposite – ployed under such an agreement. in fact, it is impossible to plan anything at all if you do not know what Mandate as part of its broader inhours you will be working from dustrial relations agenda has purweek to week. sued the idea of Decent Work both directly with employers and in the Also it is not possible to work for media for a number of years. two employers at the same time as again there is no certainty around In essence, Decent Work relates what hours a worker can commit to to the belief that workers should either job. have reasonable minimum guaranteed hours and income each week to If one looks at the statistics from ensure they are able to plan their fithe third party institutions (Labour nancial needs with a measure of Court, Employment Appeals Tribucertainty. nal, Rights Commissioner etc) on An example of this would be the introduction of DEEC D CEENT WO “banded hours” – where OR RK K?? employees are guaranteed THE IIM MP PA A C CT T O OF F hours within a certain THE R RE E C CE E S SS S I IO O NO ON N range and do not go below LLO OW P PA AIID D WO this at any time – which OR RKE KERS RS AR REP EPO ORT RT FFOR has been achieved with a OR MA M AN ND DA ATE TE TR TRA AD DEE U UN NION ION number of employers. BY BY CAM CAMIILLE LLE LLOF OFTUS TUS This gives people the certainty they need to plan their finances and prevents flexibility over hours being used as an informal disciplinary tool in the workplace.
various breaches of employment rights, it is clear that infringement of workers’ rights is commonplace. It is difficult to see why any worker would make a complaint if they face the possibility of having their hours reduced to zero or to a very low level the following week. If we are serious about genuine and sustainable recovery in Ireland, we need to focus on the creation of decent jobs and decent work. It is not possible to build recovery on the back of badly-paid, insecure and precarious work that drives people into poverty. The Decent Work agenda is about giving workers security, the means to raise and educate a family and the capacity to develop their skills and knowledge, which aids competitiveness. Across Europe there is a drive to reduce standards to the lowest common denominator and strip away rights that unions and working people have won over generations – equality, health and safety, paid overtime, holiday pay, pensions and unsocial hours premiums. l Full details of Mandate’s activities in relation to the Decent Work agenda are available on our website as is the interview with Brendan O’Hanlon.
Decent work was the subject of a recent Mandate report
Power-sharing administration failing workers of both traditions By Ciaran Campbell Mandate Divisional Organiser SInn Fein’s Gerry Adams once mused aloud that he aspired to celebrate a United Ireland in and around the 1916 Easter Rising centenary commemorations – which are but stone’s throw away. While an admirable aspiration I am sure, Gerry Adams fully appreciated that this was a hopeful throw-away comment that had probably had little or no chance of actually materialising. Certainly the events in the north of the last year would suggest we have a long way to go before we can witness such a development, as the deeprooted northern sectarianism annually exposed itself across all our media – locally, nationally and globally. The incredible but expected unionist/loyalist reaction to the recent Belfast City Council’s decision regarding the flying of the union flag at Belfast City Hall, resurrected the ageold sectarian arguments and tensions which continue to simmer below the surface. Lack of real political leadership from this side of the community has always and continues to purposefully incarcerate the Protestant working class in a mindless sectarian prison of thought and attitude. It should not be forgotten that the Protestant working class in the north are subjected to the same economic pressures and exploitations as their Catholic counterparts and any other working class. But as northern trade unions organised meetings, demonstrations, rallies on bread and butter issues such as economic and social policy proposals, austerity measures and the G8 summit, sections of the Protestant working classes vented their collective spleen on the hoisting of a piece of colourful material on the exact same number of days as is the norm in England and elsewhere in the British ‘Empire’. Lack of leadership from this community’s political leaders ensured an inflamed and over-the-top reaction of absolute civil lawlessness that changed nothing. Some people have, in my view, rightfully argued that Orange Order marches could and should be over time transformed into a colourful pageant of cross-community celebration of a historical culture and event that might be a tourist attraction. A recent visit to Belfast and the witnessing of one of these parades has readily disabused me of that view. Watching drink-sodden Orange
Order march supporters following a band and/or a lodge that espouses the title ‘temperance’ is, at best, confusing. Similarly the coat-trailing sectarian behaviour at these marches and flag waving demonstrations is saddening when you think that many of those involved have in common the same day-to-day class struggles as the very section of the community they are goading. Lifting people out of this sectarian hatred is and has always been the real northern challenge but today – and despite the so-called peace dividends – recent events in the north demonstrate we are a long way off from meeting that challenge. Serious questions need to be addressed at all levels as to how the fledgling northern power-sharing state is failing its working class communities and hasn’t resolved the obvious sectarian divisions that continue to plague northern society.
Lack of real and meaningful economic opportunity, a socio-economically and religiously divided education system, a governing system that institutionalises sectarianism and so on, are all the failed and failing entities which oxygenates the north’s historic sectarian problems. The trade union movements both north and South have been to the fore in trying to unite Catholic, Protestant and dissenter under the class struggle banner knowing full well that this is the only way to move communities beyond their sectarian comfort zones. Despite this, the trade union must at times feel exasperated at its limited success. If you consider that the only northern marches where Catholic, Protestant and dissenter march shoulder to shoulder are those organised by trade unions and its sister organisations – for example the acclaimed and laudable Belfast May Day march – it is difficult to understand why such marches do not gain traction in maintaining and advancing this unity. Therein lies the lack of real political leadership, leadership that puts people before votes, position and power. Political leadership that is prepared to demonstrate that learning from the lessons of the past, rather than trying to live in the past, is how we should approach the future. But, then again, maybe the north isn’t the only state where its communities have been failed by the political leadership!
SPECIAL REPORT CLEAN CLOTHES CAMPAIGN
Picture: CCC/Courtesy of IRLF
IT HAS been five months since the horrific collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory, which killed more than 1,100 people and left over 2,000 others injured. It is just 10 months since a fire broke out in the Tazreen Fashions factory, in the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, leaving 117 workers dead and at least 200 injured and it is less than a year since 258 workers burned to death in a garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan. These tragedies have brought garment workers’ safety into sharp focus over the past year and have enhanced everyone’s awareness of the human rights abuses taking place in garment-producing countries on a daily basis. The sheer scale of the devastation caused by the Rana Plaza collapse grabbed the global headlines and the public outcry was heard loud and clear by those brands involved. The subsequent pressure to act led to the signing of the Building Fire and Safety Accord – a binding agreement between retailers and factories to address safety concerns when they arise. This has been seen as a major step towards ensuring garment workers’ rights and eliminating the risk to life for workers in the Bagladeshi garment sector but it doesn't help those families struggling to survive in the aftermath of such loss. Many of those workers that survived the collapse have been left with life-altering injuries that will prevent them from ever working again. Others are left grieving a loved one while trying to deal with the loss of an income in a household already living in poverty. Too many children have been orphaned. The families left behind need full and fair compensation so they can start to rebuild their lives. There are children whose education fees need to be secured, there are the disabled who will have medical costs for the rest of their lives, there are families without mothers, sisters, fathers and brothers whose missing income is the difference between food on the table or hunger. To date, of the 50 retailers found to have worked with the Rana Plaza factories in the year preceding its collapse, only Primark has publicly stated it will pay long-term compensation in line with ILO recommendations. Meetings to be held in September aim to bring together the companies who placed orders at the two Bangladesh factories so they can commit together, in shared responsibility, to paying the compensation needed but already Benetton and Mango have refused to attend, preferring to offer short-term charity to those desperate for aid instead of the comprehensive redress they need. However, improving the garment industry is about more than paying compensation or preventing disasters but about addressing problems of an exploitative and unjust system. Issues – including poverty level wages, a disregard of workers' rights, daily unpaid overtime, lack of health and retirement benefits and violent suppression of union activity – are endemic in an industry that is poorly regulated and largely non-unionised. Under the Un guiding principles of
Rana Plaza... Tazreen... Karachi... how Third World garment workers became
business and human rights, companies must excercise due diligence to ensure they are not violating human rights within their supply chains yet the regularity of human rights violations within this sector is indicative of a complete loss of control by brands and retailers of their global supply chains. This lack of control and oversight has been repackaged as disownment over the years, but the reality is that the supply chain – no matter how
Picture: Qamrul Anam Coordinator, Textile & RMG, IBC
Fashion victims complex – must be managed and actions must be taken to address the root causes of the disasters we have seen claim the lives and livelihoods of so many over this past year. Retailers must take responsibility for improving conditions and recognising international labour standards within their supply chains and accept the necessity of working with worker representatives to address risks apparent in every country they source from.
thE clean clothes campaign Ireland is a coalition and the Irish branch of a global alliance of organisations dedicated to improving the working conditions and supporting the empowerment of workers in the global garment industry. Operating in 16 European countries with over 200 partners representing a broad spectrum of perspectives and interests, such
as women’s rights, consumer advocacy and poverty reduction, the clean clothes campaign lobbies companies and governments to effect change and offers direct solidarity support to workers as they fight for their rights and demand better working conditions. If you would like to learn more about the work of the ccc, check out http://cleanclothescampaignire land.org SHOPFLOOR
y September 2013
no one in this govt thinks of the long term
youth quiz raises €3k for Rana Plaza victims MAnDATE Youth held a table quiz on 10th July which raised badly needed funds for the victims of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh. A total of 1,129 workers were killed and about 3,000 injured when the Rana Plaza building which housed a number of garment factories collapsed. Many survivors and the families of those who died in the 24th April disaster have still not received compensation. Aideen Carberry, from Mandate Youth, told Shopfloor: “On 24th April this year, more than a thousand garment workers who have made clothes that many of us have worn, went to work and never came home. “Close to 3,000 others were injured, although many locally put the figures much higher. The accident is considered one of the worst to have occurred in the garment industry and – tragically – it was preventable. “The issue of compensation for those who died and those injured, many with medical bills, still needs to be agreed and local relief organisa-
tions are concerned at the mismanagement and the administrative chaos which has ensued since the tragedy. “Meanwhile, workers are without jobs and many may not be able to work due to their injuries.” Mandate Youth said they were delighted to see such great support from Mandate members and members of other unions for the fundraising event.
David Gibney, who is also in Mandate Youth, said: “The quiz was well attended and we’re thankful to everyone who supported our efforts. What we raised, although may seem relatively small, will go a long way in helping the victims of this dreadful disaster.” All funds raised on the night will go to victims’ families and help pay the medical bills of those who were injured.
By Frances Byrne CEO, OPEN THE 90,000 one-parent families who rely on weekly social welfare provision have, like others, been spared a cut to that payment, but every other support has been attacked since the current government came into power in early 2011. Cuts to Rent Supplement, the Back to School Clothing & Footwear Allowance and the monthly Child Benefit, among others, have led to a cumulative impact in some cases of a reduction thousands of euros per year in vital household income. Various Labour Ministers have made reassuring noises that weekly payments will continue to be protected, as per the Programme for Government. The Tánaiste also stated publicly during the summer that there would be no further cuts to Child Benefit. All very reassuring until you wonder what will be cut. Fine Gael Ministers, meanwhile, have called for the middle classes to be protected and appear to have set their faces against tax increases, even for those earning €100,000 per year. Austerity has been an abject failure in the opinion of many progressive organisations and voices. And even those who purport to support it cannot point to any successes, but instead argue that we had no choice. Even if that were the case, the austerity ‘project’ as well as leading to untold suffering in so many families and communities has also failed to deliver any of the reforms, especially in the area of social protection, which might have been possible. The short-termism mentality behind it also means that nobody in government appears to be planning for the long-term. There comes a time, a critical point, when the promise to protect basic rates becomes hollow if everything else is cut back by so much. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions and some of its members have shown that another way is possible. It is not only feasible but vital to protect the social welfare spend. The fact is that those on low incomes, whether social welfare, low paid work or a combination of the two, spend 100% of that income every week and they do so in our local economy. So if protecting existing jobs is a
BUDGET 2014 COMMENTARY priority, then that chunk of expenditure is key. The Government could also address a short-term and long-term issue by introducing a housing package which would use nAMA/ghost estate stock to provide badly needed shelter for the 100,000 plus people on our housing lists, saving millions in spending on rent supports immediately. After that process, we could then look at developing a proper, planned public housing building programme. The horrible irony is that while a housing bubble was a main factor in landing us in the mess we are in, accommodation continues to be a major factor in social exclusion.
‘The Govt could also address a short-term and long-term issue by introducing a housing package which would use NAMA/ghost estate stock to provide badly needed shelter for the 100,000 plus people on our housing lists’ Finally, it’s too late for Budget 2014, which will be revealed in the usual way, on October 15th, but bringing the budgetary process into the 21st century in the future by using an Oireachtas committee (or some other means) to interrogate its proposed contents in advance and to hear from those interested in making submissions – especially those representing those be affected by cuts – would improve transparency. It might also end the really unhelpful kite-flying which characterises much of what passes for pre-Budget debate here. And, even more importantly, it might make our legislators more accountable for their decisions, which are currently made by four male politicians behind closed doors, and that in itself would be no bad thing. 31
FROM WHERE I STAND...
keep this flame lit!
By David Gibney Mandate communications officer WHILE trade unions continue to take a public hammering in parts of the media, behind the scenes, they have been quietly protecting or improving the living standards of members and the wider community. Benevolent employers or generous politicians didn’t give workers the eight-hour day, the minimum wage, health and safety standards, Sunday pay rates, holiday pay or a public pension system¬¬. no, it was workers campaigning from within their own unions that fought and won these rights. On this the centenary year of the 1913 Lockout, some pundits claim unions are outdated but nothing could be further from the truth. Despite Ireland having some of the most restrictive trade union laws in the EU – where, shamefully, we are one of only three countries without collective bargaining rights – unions continue to campaign and advocate for workers relatively successfully.
wages and equality legislation breaches.The union ensures fairness in decision making, preventing an abuse of authority from those in positions of power.
Over the past year, while most other workers have seen reductions in terms and conditions, Mandate has won pay rises for staff at Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Dunnes Stores and Penneys. That’s about €10 million extra each year going into the back pockets of 30,000 retail workers rather than
From a representational perspective, Mandate, along other Irish unions, take thousands of individual grievance cases to the Employment Appeals Tribunal, the Labour Court or the Equality Authority each year. These can range from unfair dismissals, sexual harassment, workplace bullying, underpayment of
By Niall Shanahan IMPACT communications officer MY HISTORY teachers at school, as far as I can remember, never spent much time talking to us about the Dublin Lockout in 1913. It was one of those moments in Irish history, along with the Irish Civil War, that didn’t seem to get much curriculum time. The Irish Famine and the Easter Rising were, I suppose, the senior players when it came to moments in Irish history they wanted us to understand. The Lockout, as I recall, got one short chapter of the standard textbook, with a photo of the Bloody Sunday baton siege on Sackville (O’Connell) Street, but not much else. Fortunately, for my generation, RTE had adapted a TV series from James Plunkett’s 1969 novel Strumpet City. It traces the lives of a dozen characters between 1907 and 1914 and features James Larkin (Peter O’Toole) and Mulhall, one of his supporters (the legendary Donal McCann), during the Lockout. I was 11 when Strumpet City was first broadcast in 1980. This was at a time when we all watched the same TV shows at the same time because, with the possible exception of a few well-heeled homes, there was no way of recording them. Television was a 32
Zero hour contracts As precarious work has increasingly become normalised in the job market, Mandate has been to the fore in tackling low and zero hour contracts. Unlike the UK – where zero hour contracts have become commonplace – Ireland has a 25% compensation rate for hours not worked if an employee is required to be available for on-call work. Employers often cite this as a disincentive to zero hour contracts but
fail to mention that the only reason this law is in place is because trade unions – and, in particular, Mandate – lobbied for it.
Low hour contracts. Imagine not knowing how many hours you have to work week to week. Imagine being told that although you’d worked 40 hours for the past two or three years, your employer was cutting your hours back to 10. It might be for genuine operational reasons, or, believe it or not, it could be because the worker has asked to
Picture: progress ohio (CC BY 2.0)
into the over-stuffed coffers of shareholders
... a living history shared experience. I still recall, very vividly, going into school the morning after they’d broadcast the final episode. It featured the death of one of the most sympathetic characters, Rashers Tierney, played brilliantly by the late David Kelly. Rashers dies, alone and destitute, in a derelict basement. It left an impression on us, not least that the poverty of early 20th Century Dublin was harsh, unforgiving and widespread. And so it was that the fate of Rashers left a much bigger impression on us than the politics and circum-
stances of the Lockout itself. Rashers Tierney connected our young minds to the experience of living in Dublin at that time. He was real to us, and helped us empathise with a generation whose experience of poverty and hardship was a world away from the Dublin we knew. A century later, the Lockout is commemorated this year in many different ways. From where we stand today, it is humbling to consider what it must have been like to be one of the 20,000 workers, or one of their 80,000 dependents, who struggled to
see their contract of employment. In Mandate, we’ve even heard from a worker who pointed out a breach in health and safety procedures and subsequently had their hours slashed from 40 to 10 cutting their income by 75%. Employers can effectively penalise or discipline workers by cutting their hours of employment to a level that is unsustainable, and there’s nothing illegal about it. Such workers can’t plan their weekly budget because they don’t know what hours they’ll be working and are often afraid to raise genuine grievances with their employer.
survive through the winter of 1913. Stories of Dublin tenement life have been passed on through generations of families but, for most of us, the experience is still far beyond anything we can comprehend today. A unique exhibition which ran throughout July and August captured and distilled the essence of Dublin tenement life during the Lockout. I visited the Dublin Tenement Experience: Living the Lockout in July. It took place at no.14 Henrietta Street, the 18th Century home built by Luke Gardiner, and home to 17 families (about 100 people) in 1913. The house is pared back to its 1913 condition, with fragments of its former grandeur still visible. A short audiovisual presentation sets the scene before a small group of actors pull us into tenement life. What followed was an intense and emotional journey through the earliest days of the Lockout in August 1913 to its conclusion the following spring. The actors’ performances were electric. The stories of resilience, pride, hunger and desolation were vivid and real. We were connected to that time and place and to real people. It was devastating and brilliant. I wasn’t alone in struggling to choke back tears by the end. One hundred years on, beyond rhetoric, politics or competing ideologies, Living the Lockout connected us to that generation once again. An outstanding commemoration. www.dublintenementexperience.com SHOPFLOOR
y September 2013
Many aren’t even allowed to take on a second job because they must be available for work if called. That’s why Mandate has negotiated ‘banded hour contracts’ with several leading retailers ensuring that there is a floor below which no worker’s hours must drop. Since 2006, Mandate members, through their trade union, have managed to win banded hour contracts which guarantee a secure and decent level of income for themselves. Contrast this with the non-union retail sector where zero-hour contracts or low hours with ultimate flexibility is the norm.
Redundancies More than 55,000 retail workers have lost their jobs since the start of the crisis. But the contrast between a union member losing their job and a non-union member is stark. In the non-union retail sector, a company will often make their workers compulsorily redundant on the minimum statutory entitlement of two weeks per year of service, even if the company is highly profitable. That’s not always the case in the unionised sector though. For example, when Marks & Spencer announced 180 job losses at their Dun Laoghaire, Mullingar, naas and Tallaght stores, the workers argued for re-deployment for those who didn’t want to be unemployed and a decent compensation package for those who did want to leave. These options and compensation packages help workers adjust to the shock of losing their jobs and go
some way towards relieving the anxiety felt by employees who are told their jobs are to go. So are trade unions relevant today? In 2010, the Irish government cut the minimum wage from €8.65ph to €7.65ph. This followed a long campaign by employers’ bodies in favour of a cut. It was trade unions who resisted this drive and successfully called on TDs to restore that minimum rate of pay. Of course, employers will always be looking to increase profits at the expense of workers. That is unless workers are united and prepared to fight back. There are those who will continue to argue that unions are irrelevant in 2013, most of whom enjoy the benefits won by trade unions in the past – annual leave, lunch breaks, maternity leave, free education, and much more. Trade unions aren’t perfect. As fundamentally democratic organisations they tend to be a mirror image of their membership. They do the will of their members and they make mistakes. But they are also the primary reason Ireland doesn’t have higher poverty rates. They’re the reason women have more equal access to the workplace (although there’s still work to be done on this), and they’re the most effective way for any worker to ensure that they have a say in how their life is run, economically, socially and politically. It is every bit as important for a worker to be in a trade union in 2013 as it was in 1913.
Below is an extract from an interview conducted by the politicaleconomy website with Emeritus Professor John Foster, Social Sciences, University of the West of Scotland on the crisis. Describe the current crisis for our readers... It is a capitalist crisis affecting the most developed capitalist economies – the United States, Japan and the dominant EU states – and the economies most closely dependent on them. Those countries with significant state sectors, particularly the BRIC countries [Brazil, Russia, India and China], continued to grow vigorously through the first five years of the crisis as highlighted by the 2012 Un Trade and Development report.
What were the origins of the current crisis? The crisis emerged in the financial sector as a consequence of speculation in debt, the creation of ‘fictitious capital’ and the inability of some banks to cover obligations. An economic crisis followed as the scale of fictitious capital became manifest and new investment ceased. The underlying causes were: l Financialisation – being a combination of the deregulation of financial markets, making for the growth of unsecured speculative lending by September 2013
banks, together with an intensifying concentration of the ownership of productive assets and their increasing control by a narrow range of financial institutions, l The long-term decline in the labour share of national income in most advanced capitalist economies – particularly the US, Britain, Germany and France – as production was outsourced to cheaper labour venues in eastern and central Europe, Africa and Asia after the demise of the Soviet Union and the concurrent decline in vigour of trade union organisation, l A long-term increase in the relative cost of subsistence goods as countries in Asia and South America industrialised and placed new global pressures on supplies of food and fuel, l A decline in the pace of innovation in capital goods arising from the growing ownership of productive assets by financial institutions with short-term profit horizons and the contraction of public sector investment programmes, and l The short-term maintenance of mass demand for subsistence needs, such as housing, through bank lending – leading to high-risk, high-profit speculation in unsecured debt on a massive and ultimately unsustainable scale.
The full interview can be read at http://politicaleconomy.ie/?p=585
Finders keepers, losers weepers
By Rex Keenan, People’s Poet
Cluster, engagement, arsenal, belt, claddagh, pledge, eternity, college, sovereign, nugget, rock, honour, love, obey, charm.
Romanian gypsy women with two kids, black man, dyed blonde in a tracksuit with Adidas runners, nosebleed. Let bygones be bygones – a bygone era – be gone – begin. Every object tells a story. How many stories are there in here? Hundreds? Thousands? Millions? More? And more. What has value? Are you valuable?
Gold rings, picture frames, a collection of possessions used as collateral to get money for whatever reason. Money for holidays, extensions, hair extensions, abortions, whatever your heart desires. Finders keepers losers weepers.
“Them ones is it? them ones? Glen! Wait Glen! Will you wait Glen!”
“You didn’t look after me Pat. You didn’t look after me earlier. Me young fella was in here earlier – he was lookin’ for a few bob on this, and you didn’t look after him Pat! Me other young fella is on his way back from Portugal and I need to fix’m up – what’s the story Pat? Will you look after me? Its €300 I need on it… Pat?” “Where’s your sovereigns kept?’
Empty picture frames, a place for everything and everything in its place.
His place her place, your place my place.
“Glen! Ge’im will ye! He has to try it on.
For fuck sake Glen, GET HIM!
I want to get him the diamond one ma.
Glen! Ge’ im – it might fit one of ees other fingers.” This is a pawn shop – a pawn brokers – broker – broke. All sorts come in here.
Taxi drivers, builders, gypsies, townies, tweenies and mammies. Buggies and LIDL shopping bags.
“I have long lobes y’see – that one would be too heavy for me ears.”
“Johns nuggett ring is like tha’ isn’it? Look at the doggie Glen, and the horsie… look! (kik kik, kik kik…)”
“Still haven’t seen a rock – ya know? Like a fuckin ROCK!” “I like the dainty ones.”
“… like the rappers do have. Two million worth o’ damonds in ees teeth!” “Glen stop it! The man’ll give ou’ t’ye!”
“Still haven’t seen a rock. Ye know wha’ I mean…”
“… like the one Ashley Cole’s bird has!”
stand together & build together
By Eugene McCartan Communist Party of Ireland nEXT month we will face yet another austerity Budget, which will be a continuation of the current strategy of making the people pay for the crisis and the odious debt. Tens of thousands of families have had to find the money to buy school uniforms, school books, school “donations,” or sports gear. Many will have either gone to moneylenders, squeezed a few quid more out of the credit union, or raided their dwindling savings to buy what is required to keep the children in school. Our children will be returning to classes that are growing in size and bursting at the seams, in schools with fewer teachers, fewer resources, and more children. Children in the wealthy private schools will be well looked after, and they can expect to end up in university, to follow their mammies and daddies into the corridors of power. Families with children either heading to or returning to third level also face mounting bills, with increased fees and cuts in grants. Many students will simply not be able to return, because their families can no longer afford it.
Spiralling emigration The Government is proclaiming that their policies are working, as the number on the live register has dropped to 13.5%, or 435,280, whereas the real reason for the drop in the numbers unemployed is spiralling emigration, with one person leaving the country every six minutes, together with the limited period for which people are able to sign on, as well as the doctoring of the figures. People wait in trepidation to see what is coming next and what this Budget has in store for them. The Government is gearing up for a long, slow series of cuts, for restrictions and changes in eligibility, which will have a cumulative effect. More drugs will be unavailable on the medical card. It is a case of of the spread of poverty by a thousand cuts. We will pay about €9 billion to service a debt that does not belong to us – money that could be spent on our schools, hospitals, and community services. This €9 billion is coming out of your pocket, from your wage packet, social welfare benefit, or pension. It is the job of the left and the trade union movement to assist and give leadership in breaking free of the grip of fear and abandoning the feeling of hopelessness that permeates people’s lives. The trade union movement needs to break free of the stifling grip of the Labour Party. If it does
not, it will be increasingly marginalised. The recent shambolic event in O’Connell Street to commemorate the 1913 Lockout speaks volumes about how marginal it has become. The ICTU predicted that 80,000 people would attend; a little over 3,000 turned up, while most Dubliners walked past, ignoring the assembled dignitaries of the Labour Party in their exclusive VIP section. The egalitarianism of Connolly and Larkin was abandoned by the ICTU in order to rub shoulders with Government ministers and hangers-on.
‘Govt is proclaiming that their policies are working, as number on the live register has dropped to 13.5%, or 435,280, whereas the real reason for the drop in unemployed is spiralling emigration, with one person leaving the country every six minutes...’ no – Irish workers must now rebuild a united, coherent, fighting trade union movement. The sectionalism being fostered is the road to nowhere. As Connolly and Larkin forged a “new trade unionism” from 1907 to 1913, it now falls to this generation to do the same. The labour movement can no longer afford to use old and failed methods and styles of work. If we keep doing the same thing then we end up with the same result. If you keep voting for or supporting the same people or parties you can only get more of the same. The trade union movement needs to develop its own political understanding of what is happening; it needs to develop the political skills of its members so as to recognise friend from foe. The internal troika of the establishment parties – Fine Gael, Labour Party and Fianna Fáil, and no doubt a few others will join this list after the next general election – will continue their policy of permanent austerity, regardless of which particular combination makes up the government, unless we stand together and build together.
Note: This is an opinion piece written as a means of generating debate. It does not necessarily reflect the position of the Communist Party of Ireland 34
mandate shop stewards’ autumn training Programme 2013 Course Title
Union Representative Advanced Fetac 5
Sep 9 to 11
Sep 9 to 11
Sep 16 to 18
Sep 23 to 27
Oct 7 to 9
Oct 14 to 16
Oct 21 to 23
Nov 4 to 6
Nov 11 to 13
Union Representative Introductory Argos Specific
Union Representative Advanced Tesco Specific Fetac 5 Health and Safety Course
Union Representative Advanced Senior
Union Representative Introductory M&S Specific Union Representative Introductory SQ Specific Union Representative Advanced Senior Union Representative Introductory
*OTC = Mandate Organising and Training Centre / Venue dates and times may vary.
When cowards flinch and REMEMBERING
THE LOCKOUT By Brian Forbes Mandate National Co-ordinator A HUnDRED years on from the 1913 Lockout and very little has changed. Big Jim Larkin, right, was castigated and vilified by those backing the employers for drawing wages during the protracted dispute. It was a deliberate ploy to undermine the leader of this “insurgency” for workers’ rights while also trying to weaken the resolve of workers. They wanted to create a “him and us” scenario with the hope of sewing division among the rank and file. The dirty tricks brigade of the day – the sworn enemy of the working class – was aware of the emerging
power of leaders such as Larkin and the fact that the iron grip employers once had over their workforce was beginning to loosen. So the bosses fought back using all means fair and foul. Jump forward 100 years and chances are many readers can recite verbatim a story from a canteen or a shop floor when a colleague has berated unions, their leaders and even their staff. Remember that when some bar stool philosopher slams the “leftwing militancy” of union leaders citing everything from their earnings to the size of their houses, it is exactly how Thatcher’s acolytes in the rightwing media attacked Scargill and others during the 1984 Miners’ Strike. And it’s how many union leaders continue to be attacked by those determined to see the eradication of any semblance of worker power in SHOPFLOOR
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DUBLIN SIMON COMMUNITY
How taking part in our fun run helps fund our soup run THE Dublin Simon Community Soup Run and Rough Sleeper Team, is out every night of the year helping people sleeping on the streets and sees first hand the significant growth in the numbers who are bedding down in the city.
Growth in figures We are really concerned at the trends visible across Dublin. The most recent rough sleeper count conducted by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, which took place in April this year, found 94 people sleeping rough on the night of the count. Dublin Simon would see this as the absolute minimum figure, as the count does not include people considered the “hidden homeless” who are couch surfing, staying in squats or hospitals, internet cafes or temporary B&Bs. In spite of this the figure is extremely concerning as it is nearly 30% up on 2012 and up 25% on 2011. We are witnessing the same worrying increase in our own weekly street counts which are conducted between the areas of Harcourt Street, Amiens Street and Jervis Street between 5am and 6am. April and May are nearly double the same period for 2012 and our count in May found 58 people sleeping rough in one night. This is very frightening and was, for a short period, the
highest figure since we started our count in 2008. However, on September 12th. we counted 84 people sleeping rough, which is a new record and a 44% increase on May.
Accessing accommodation Dublin Simon Community services are stretched and are operating at maximum capacity every night. In present uncertain times, with limited emergency accommodation, shortage of move-on options, rent increases and rent allowance restrictions, the pressure for beds in emergency accommodation is frantic. In this environment, accessing accommodation is very challenging and the lack of sufficient move-on options for people means so many continue to sleep rough.
Housing-led model That is why at Dublin Simon we are desperately implementing the housing-led solution by securing and developing property to provide housing options for people distressed and isolated by homelessness. We are providing additional long-term permanent housing to rescue people from the revolving door of homelessness and eliminate their need for emergency shelter. As we help people off the streets, they take the first step towards regaining their lives in a suitable environment where they can redevelop
traitors sneer... favour of their chosen nirvana of casino capitalism fuelled by deregulation, cheap credit, financial greed, unsustainable consumerism and production levels that have pushed this planet to the brink of environmental crash. Of course, Larkin was well able to mount a stout defence to these attacks on his integrity. In an eloquent speech to the Askwith Inquiry into the dispute on October 4th 1913, he said: "I have lived among the working classes all my life. I have starved because men denied me food. “I worked very hard at a very early age. I had no opportunities like the men opposite, but whatever opportunities I got I have availed of them. “I am called an anti-Christ and an atheist. If I were an atheist I would not deny it. I am a socialist and have September 2013
always claimed to be a socialist...” He continued: “Can anyone say one word against me as a man? Can they make any disparagement of my character? “Have I lessened the standard of life? Have I demoralised anyone? Is there anything in my private life or my public life of which I should feel ashamed?" As for me, I’m not suggesting for one second that union leaders are beyond criticism but every unjustified anti-trade union sneer is another push for a freewheeling, greedy capitalism that will lead us towards an economic and societal slum. If every caustic, snide and politically-motivated comment denigrating the work of unions was countered with the same force, perhaps at the next election many people would think twice before electing the same bunch of right-wing capitalists into
any skills that were lost when they were sleeping rough. These skills can be as simple as having regular meals during the day, how to make your bed, how to brush your teeth or how to tie your laces. Our supported housing service provides the necessary help to enable people to redevelop these skills and learn many new ones.
How you can help Securing the delivery of fundraising income is essential to satisfy the continuing demand for increased services. We are dependent as always on our fundraising activities such as the Simon Fun Run. The run and community day is a critical fundraising event and a fantastic opportunity to bring people together to support those who are homeless or at risk. Taking place Saturday 12th October, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the Fun Run. To mark 30 years of Simon’s ‘Silly Run For A Serious Cause’ we promise an extra fun 5 Mile Run and Family Day. So whether you’re an elite runner, jogger, walker, buggy runner, school group, work group or loyal spectator, you can take part in our special day! With your participation and support you help us to provide vital services to those most in need and enable them to move to a place they can call home.
office. Union leaders are fallible; they make mistakes – as we all do in life – but until such times as Josephine and Joe Public see the societal value in standing alongside nurses and firemen in their struggle for decent work, we can expect more faulty reasoning about unions. Until such times as public servants realise that attacks against private sector workers and social welfare recipients only serves to weaken their working conditions, will the sneering diminish. Until such times, it is then and only then when you make that conscious choice and when you take it upon yourself to convince others of the need for social solidarity that unions, workers and our society as a whole will benefit. Society is divided. The anti-union rhetoric is part of the right-wing agenda in keeping it divided. “They see in the population’s hostility towards the left only the hostility towards the left, not the hatred against those who are socially privileged.”
Picture: Franco Folini (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Dublin Simon community provided services to more than 2,700 people who are homeless or at risk. In 2012 Dublin Simon community provided 201 beds per night. this is an increase from 2011 which was 184 beds and again from 2010 which was 169. this was in addition to the
Simon Soup Run and Rough Sleeper team (Regional contact and Outreach Service) who are assisting people 365 nights of the year. For further information or to go online and register, log on to www.funrun.ie. alternatively contact the Dublin Simon team on 01 6715551.
Power of the capitalist press: Anti-Larkin cartoon from 1913. How little has changed...