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Croke Park II: The Return February 25, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
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Hmmm… wonder if it will fly.

Note by the way the terminology used for increments about half way through the piece above.

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1. Ciaran - February 25, 2013

Look at Shay Cody in the photo – dead on his feet after the not-at-all-stage-managed macho ‘all-night’ negotiations : hope he’s careful not to rub the make-up off!

And yes, the characterisation of increments as unearned ‘pay rises’ continues apace.

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Dr. X - February 25, 2013

You’ll have to explain this “increments” thing to me. . . I assume it’s some kind of adjustment for cost of living increases, is that right?

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WorldbyStorm - February 25, 2013

I guess in way one could look at it that way, but effectively they are pay scales where for the first x number of years depending on grade one gets an increase in one’s salary. Then there are two further Long Service increases and that is that. If you stay on the same grade you won’t get any additional monies (short of national wage agreements which look unlikely to return any time soon). They’re regarded as part and parcel of the overall wage structure by unions (and hitherto by the employer ie the state) and they’re far from unknown in the private sector either.

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Ciaran - February 25, 2013

Do they even keep pace with the cost of living?

Anyway, if they don’t refer to them as ‘pay rises’, they tend to opt for ‘bonanza’.

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2. The Caretaker - February 25, 2013

Jack O’Connor already getting his excuses in. Basically, not enough of us vote Labour.

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doctorfive - February 25, 2013

They didn’t even run eight four candidates.

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doctorfive - February 25, 2013

*84

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3. ivorthorne - February 25, 2013

Is it to simplistic to start calling this the 2013 sellout as opposed to Croke Park 2?

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John Cunningham - February 25, 2013

Or the 2013 Knock-Out perhaps.
It could take a while for Irish trade unionism to recover from this. With the private sector long-abandoned; many public sector workers now seem to be wondering whether their unions can offer them any useful protection.

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WorldbyStorm - February 25, 2013

That’s another great point too. After all, if private sector workers couldn’t be protected then what guarantee is there for PS workers, and truth is there’s none.

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4. WorldbyStorm - February 25, 2013

There’s no question about the complicity of the union leaderships, but I’ve got to admit that blame can be spread further. Even given the useless nature of that leadership I think of the ICTU march the sheer numbers of people who are PS workers, and beyond, who potentially could have been on it but wouldn’t in a month of Sundays participate…and this in the context of something that affects their working conditions… small wonder the government is happy enough to push through whatever it can.

(Btw, I’m not dissing those who had a political objection or reservations about the march in the context of that leadership, but pointing more towards those who have a direct interest in such matters and just don’t get involved in the slightest).

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smiffy - February 25, 2013

Precisely. And, of course, if the rank and file membership in the various Unions party to this agreement consider themselves to have been sold out, they can simply vote against it. But I think it’s probably unlikely that they will. And even if they did, it’s hard to see the membership having the stomach for the kind of fight that would be needed to overturn the cut, where only one in ten will come out in a protest like the ICTU march.

That said, the priority for the Unions, leadership and membership, should now be to prepare for the end of this Agreement, and the inevitable dipping back into the well for savings that will occur before it expires. The reason the Unions are stuck with this ‘better than the alternative’ Agreement is because the groundwork for the fight hasn’t been laid over the last couple of years. Unions need to accept now that partnership is dead, it isn’t coming back, and a fresh approach is needed, that will unite and expand organised labour across the workforce, regardless of sector.

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Tomboktu - February 26, 2013

dipping back into the well for savings

Please, don’t call it “savings”. :)

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Ciaran - February 25, 2013

WbS,

You raise a good point. I have to admit, I haven’t attended the last few marches, largely, as you indicate, because of my lack of belief in the leadership who, as far as I’m concerned, beg for mercy rather than provide any meaningful opposition to Government policy and ordoliberal economics.

With regard to the membership generally, that the majority tend to be to the right of union reps (at least those on the ground) has been well-observed on this forum. I think you’ll find that these people have a very keen interest indeed in those things that affect them and their working conditions. Alas, they couldn’t give a damn about anything beyond that. We have an extremely atomised society in this country, and this manifests itself even among unionised workforces; slight disclosure here: I work in the public sector, and a number of my colleagues have expressed their dismay at the prospect of, for example, seeing their flexitime privileges diminished as a result of ‘Croke Park II’ (and well they might, as flexitime reduction does not constitute a cent of saving, and is no-one else’s business but that of the people who work in those areas). And yet, the very same people, if the topic comes up for general chit-chat, fully support any moves towards slashing welfare payments and/or any new plans to humiliate the long-term unemployed. I appreciate that what I’m saying here is anecdotal, but it’s inescapable from my own viewpoint at work. It’s this solipsism, curtain-twitching and lack of solidarity that’s a gift to the Government in holding up bogeymen for the public while they set about the task of pleasing the Troika. It also explains why we end up with union bosses who enter negotiations with such modest ambition.

But even all that aside, it has been pretty nauseating to witness the people allegedly fronting up for workers’ interests, to enter negotiations not worthy of the term, and accepting the main plank of ‘management”s terms, viz., we have to cut €1 billion. I think that that was a debatable starting point, to say the very least.

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6to5against - February 25, 2013

I agree with all of this but I think the last point, wrt the 1bn really needs to be aired more. There is no imperative to take 1bn out of public pay, and the government have made no attempt to justify this figure.

But then again, I haven’t heard them being asked…

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WorldbyStorm - February 25, 2013

+1 Ciaran, to put it mildly on all you’re saying and particular on what you say in your last point and what 6to5against says.

The lack of actual solidarity is terrifying in a way. I’ll add another point again drawn from anecdote. Take the ICTU march, most of those who I know were marching were people I know either in parties or formations or groups, or from on here. Those around me who I work with? Not so much. And that pattern is replicated in terms of others I know on the march.

Another thought, I’ve noticed something growing in recent years where there’s almost an attitude of subcontracting out all this to union activists or political activists, ie people don’t do anything themselves but hope the other two groups will somehow ‘do something’ or make an impression. And it just doesn’t compute. However hard union or political activists work unless there’s a broader support and activity it’s futile.

Perhaps CP2 will be a wake up call for many. I think smiffy’s got it spot on too, partnership is dead (indeed it wasn’t exactly alive in any meaningful fashion), unions have to refashion themselves and prepare their memberships and… make the case for solidarity amongst all workers, not just some codology about being anti-austerity… but actual solidarity.

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5. 6to5against - February 25, 2013

Even being utterly defeatist about this and accepting that it will happen, due to the complicity the union leadership and the indifference of so many of my colleagues, I really hope it is rejected by enough unions to force a dail vote.

A government with Labour members has reneged deliberately on a deal with unions and are trying to force through large scale pay cuts. They should at least be forced to put their name to it.

A few points that I think need to be mentioned:

1. the working week increase is a huge issue. In my family, this will cost us over 1000 a year in extra child care – and will obviously mean we also see less of our children.
2. The loss of s+s money for teachers wil cost us close to another 1000. the extra work will also have a knock on effect on time off and family life.
3. The ending of the s+s payment equates to about a 2.5% paycut for teachers with 15 years service. for those who are lower paid, it will be closer to 4%.

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WorldbyStorm - February 25, 2013

Yeah, that’s a very important point too that you make.

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irishelectionliterature - February 26, 2013

Agree also as the husband of a teacher. The odd thing was that in working conditions for teachers Croke Park 1 was only now being fully felt. By that they have had time to bed down and become part and parcel of teaching life as opposed to a one off event.
Whats crazy is that the extra hours to be worked by teachers in Croke Park 1, none of it was actual teaching it was administrative bullshit that could have easily been done during school hours. Instead every few weeks they had to stay late. As 6to5against says for those that have childcare its a nightmare and creches aren’t charities.

Its a bad deal and sadly when I read about the governments demands a few weeks back I could see the writing on the wall.

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Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - February 26, 2013

You have to remember a lot of the commentary is driven by a resentment of the public service itself, a feeling that people should suffer, life should become more difficult, just because it should…the bottom line is that they regard tax money spent on health and education as the same as throwing money away. This society values stock brokers over nurses.

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WorldbyStorm - February 26, 2013

And that feeling is often dressed up in particularly hypocritical terms, the crocodile tears on the part of employers organisations and others about private sector workers when they don’t intend to do anything at all about improving conditions for workers in that sector. Actually the stuff about pensions in particular from some employers reps is breathtaking in its hypocrisy.

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6. crocodile - February 25, 2013

I can only repeat what I said here after Croke Park 1: that the only thing that will unify and mobilise public sector workers now is a threat to our pensions. And that will will be next in line for ISME, the Sindo etc. The eaten bread of these latest concessions will be forgotten by this Sunday and there’ll be more about PS pensions being ‘unsustainable’.
As for the unions’ acceptance that the one billion cut was unavoidable in the first place, I was surprised to see Michael Taft apparently agree on ‘Primetime': Pat Kenny said something along the lines of ‘the only way to cut the fiscal deficit is to cut the public pay bill’ and Michael did not demur – no mention of tax rises at all.

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smiffy - February 25, 2013

“I can only repeat what I said here after Croke Park 1: that the only thing that will unify and mobilise public sector workers now is a threat to our pensions. And that will will be next in line for ISME, the Sindo etc. The eaten bread of these latest concessions will be forgotten by this Sunday and there’ll be more about PS pensions being ‘unsustainable’.”

And the only way to win that battle is for the trade union movement – now – to seriously push for a comprehensive, universal, retirement pension scheme for all workers. A serious push, not just some ‘wouldn’t it be nice’ paper from the Nevin Institute or Tasc or something like that. Because unless the response of the public generally to reports of ‘gold-plated’ pensions in the public sector is a demand that everyone should have access to such pensions, rather than everybody living equally in poverty in old-age, the fight’s already lost.

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Ciaran - February 25, 2013

+1, Smiffy.

A ‘gold-plated’ pension (i.e., a pension that actually pays out what’s promised) is something that should be available to all.

We need concrete proposals and alternatives, we shouldn’t be accepting the Government’s macroeconomic narrative.

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WorldbyStorm - February 25, 2013

+1 smiffy also.

And let’s be honest, this is something the unions should have been pushing as supposed representatives of the working class (or ‘workers’ if they find that too blunt) from the off and continually.

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Tomboktu - February 26, 2013

+3 smiffy

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7. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - February 25, 2013

‘And yet, the very same people, if the topic comes up for general chit-chat, fully support any moves towards slashing welfare payments and/or any new plans to humiliate the long-term unemployed. I appreciate that what I’m saying here is anecdotal, but it’s inescapable from my own viewpoint at work.’
That is an almost universal experience. Don’t really think it was much different in any other era-except that more people were in unions and strikes were common enough to be unremarkable. What is missing is a network of militants. You can’t will one into existence and calling for general strikes seems very fanciful now.

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WorldbyStorm - February 25, 2013

Network of militants very important. And something close to an exemplary context, ie that there are examples that can be pointed at in the contemporary period where union activism on all fronts works. Difficult but not impossible.

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CMK - February 26, 2013

Networks of militants don’t and won’t add up to anything unless those militants have something to work with. Look, CP II is in the bag for the state, the Troika and the media establishment. There’ll be a huge campaign to scare, confuse, bewilder and intimidate PS workers into voting for it. And, sadly, based on conversations with my colleagues today I think many PS will swallow the propaganda and will vote yes or not vote at all.

On the ‘militants’ point, the structures of unions are such that there is nowhere for militancy to go where militants are no prepared to step outside the law. A certain level of militancy can be incorporated into the union structures, and sure the militants provide hours of free labour to unions so having a couple of dozen active saves money, but there are instruments in place, legal above all, that will ensure militancy that stays within the law, will end up going nowhere.

If you step outside the law, or advocate same, you automatically reduce the numbers willing to listen to you or go there with you. Unless those militants are prepared to lose their jobs, court, injunctions, jail and other unpleasant possibilities, and some are but the vast majority aren’t, then they really serve no useful purpose.

The next few weeks will be very tricky for Begg, Cody and O’Connor but they get over it and the ‘Yes’ regardless of how narrow, they’ll have locked down the trade union movement. Alas, the union structures have been carefully constructed so that every decision of executives go before members with a head start, after all they get to frame the debate and they control the information before members.

After today it’s either outside the law or bust. And, in a political culture which prizes ‘consensus’ – real, imagined, fake, it doesn’t matter – there will be minimal takers for taking it outside the current industrial relations legal framework.

I’ve said it before here, today’s primary school kids will be walking into absolutely hellish working conditions, if the current trajectory is maintained and, in the clear absence of countervailing structural forces, it will be. This generation 35-55 deserve no mercy when we reach retirement age as we’ve dropped the ball badly and things are irretrievable at this point.

The trade union leaders are a Dad’s Army facing the SS and they know it. But being rolled over time and again is far preferable, from their perspective, to building a militant, active, mass, grassroots union movement.

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smiffy - February 26, 2013

“The trade union leaders are a Dad’s Army facing the SS and they know it.”

I’m stealing that.

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8. crocodile - February 26, 2013

Smiffy &WbyS dead right about necessity to campaign for proper pensions for all. Jack O’Connor has just echoed them on Primetime.
However the assault on public sector pensions has as much to do with pensions as protests against foxhunting have to do with concern for foxes – ie it’s a pretext – and the real agenda is a visceral, ideological hatred of public servants. The ISME position, for instance, is utterly illogical and self- defeating, since reduction in disposable incomes can only damage small businesses, but there’s still someone from ISME on TV bleating about ‘goldplated’ public service pensions.

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9. D_D - February 26, 2013

Not good to see CLR posters also putting the blame on the electorate and the ‘apathetic’ rank and file. It is certainly true that the wretched state of the unions cannot be put down to the leaders alone. But the ‘atomisation’ of the membership is the result of a long and often conscious process from above. And Croke Park 1 and 2 is social partnership par excellence.

A serious campaign against the deal, with seveal unions and many union branches already opposed to it, could defeat it. But will such a campaign be put together? From Paddy Healy:

From Paddy Healy:

A meeting to organise resistance to the changes to pay and conditions under Croke Park 2 will be held in Teachers Club, Parnell Square, on Wednesday next, Feb 27, at 8pm.

The meeting has been called by 5 branches of TUI to organise resistance to Croke Park 2 within the Education Sector.

The organisers have agreed to facilitate discussion among all public sector trade union activists and pensioners (pensions are to be reduced under the Deal) on organisation to oppose the Deal

Please Come along at this time of great danger for public servants and for the trade union movement generally.

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WorldbyStorm - February 26, 2013

I don’t think it’s a question of putting the blame on the electorate and an apathetic ‘rank and file’ so much as considering the actual forces and dynamics extant within what are nominally union memberships. What worries me is that there seems to be a somewhat overly optimistic perception of union memberships. My direct experience and that of most I know is that there’s very little appetite for action, there’s very little activism or participation. And this isn’t just down to unions ‘selling out’. You’re right, and this is something that has been said here time and again, that there’s a long process where union leaderships essentially retreated from engagement, engagement and recruitment with private sector workers, engagement with their own PS members and so on.

But… there’s no avoiding in my mind the fact that in addition to that there are many thousands of workers who either subcontract the heavy lifting to the union bureaucracy or more usually activist union members – at best – or at worst ignore or are disinterested in the unions and I’d argue that those two categories constitute a majority of supposed union members.

If I had a penny for every union member I speak to on a regular basis in my own employment who has complained about austerity, CP etc and yet who doesn’t bother to go to marches, wouldn’t think about it, I’d be able to buy all the books and music I could want in a single lifetime. And that’s those who complain. The majority don’t. I don’t know what they think about it all. Or actually I think I do.

This is part, I suspect, of much broader dynamics beyond unions – indeed I’ve long noted on here about how union membership and activism doesn’t immediately translate into support for the further left. Quite the opposite. There’s little or no connection. It seems to me to be representative of societal dynamics and socio-economic ones where the left is in retreat, a phoney consensus has emerged that left wing ideas, even very mild ones, are somehow out of the question and so on. Perhaps consumerism as well, and perhaps a stratification within the working class – it’s not just those who have the ludicrous concept of being ‘professionals’ (in public or private sector) which is pure delusion on the part of those who think they belong in that category (in terms of class position) but also a lack of solidarity amongst many other groups (as detailed above) with those who are on lower wages, do different kinds of work etc, etc.

This may be due to a low degree of class consciousness on the part of those I describe, or it may be due to an actual class hostility, though functionally those two amount in my experience to much the same thing. These are people, who as I said earlier, even when it is in their own manifest self-interest, will not go on an ICTU march to save their lives. Not four years ago, not today and not tomorrow. Even as the government cuts more and more from services and their own terms and conditions they continue to accept it all – not uncomplainingly, far far from uncomplainingly, but with no appetite at all to actually do something about it.

And I’m highly dubious that those groups would follow a ‘serious campaign’ at this stage, and again that’s not just defeatism, or trying to blame people, but a cold hard analysis of the actual political motivation and knowledge of those we’re discussing.

All of which is in addition to the fact that because of the fragmentation into sectors rather than workers there’s little or no chance of public sympathy for PS workers and that strikes around CP precisely because they’ll be seen as to the benefit of PS workers will be ignored or worse by most workers in the broader economy.

Let me rephrase all this to get a slightly different angle on it. Consider that we are now in the worst crisis of capitalism most of us have lived through, and I know many of us including me are in our late to mid 40s. And even now, during such a time there’s such immobility in amongst actual union members.

All of this is desperate, and what the unions have done is a disgrace and worse, but it’s not just about leaderships and it seems important to at least notice that there is considerable drag that is being generated by union members in all this.

Coincidentally I was reading this doc posted up on Soviet Goon Boy http://sovietgoonboy.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/a-note-concerning-the-swp-and-rank-and-fileism-principles-and-recent-experiences/

And the following from it struck me as relevant:

It is also vital to abandon the illusion that a majority of our class is organised or, failing that, has at least some kind of elementary class consciousness. Most do not and a considerable part of the class lacks any kind of knowledge of unions or connection to them. It follows that even if the absurd fantasy, raised more than once in recent years by the leadership, of a General Strike could be realized that a substantial part of the class would be untouched by a struggle led by the unions.

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ejh - February 27, 2013

Is he going to be doing the Papal resignation, do we know?

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10. George Coe - February 26, 2013

How will those earning 65001 euro and pensioners earning 32501 euro accept a situation where they lose 3500 euro and 1700 euro respectively whilst those earning 64999 euro and 32499 lose nothing?? The former has ,at least a vote, the latter doesn’t.

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Ghandi - February 26, 2013

My understanding was that it was at the lower rate upto the bands and then the higher rate for the portion over it, so the 10% is not really 10%

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Joe - February 26, 2013

The divil is in the detail. Some explanatory stuff about the IMPACT negotiators’ great victory is up on http://www.impact.ie. In fairness, it clarifies some things including George’s query: the person on 65001 would go down 1 euro to 65000 and so on up, if you follow, George.
IMPACT are crafty negotiators that’s for sure. And the website doesn’t wait for the ok from the National Executive before selling the deal.

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11. King Alpha Plan - February 26, 2013

Paddy Healy – having out there people like this fighting the union leadership ensures they will always be there and Paddy will always be mouthing

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D_D - February 27, 2013

Why was this post (11) left up? A purely personal attack. Unacceptable in any case, but whatever Paddy Healy’s faults and irritations he has done more than probably anyone else, right throughout, to really expose and campaign against the Croke Park deal. Certainly more than some of the defeatist people here blaming the people for their own oppression.

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CMK - February 27, 2013

I agree that it shouldn’t be left up as it’s a useless ‘contribution’ and attack on someone who has, as you note, worked tirelessly to expose the mendacity of the union leaderships.

However, I don’t agree that there is a defeatist attitude here where ‘people are blaming people for their own oppression’. I think there is a realistic assessment of the prospects for action against CPII. Personally, I’m one who is wont to accenuate the negative in online discussions but I’ll be doing my best in person to try and get a ‘NO’ vote.

I’ve just read through the whole thing and it’s basically a contemptible agreement. The people who negotiated this document on behalf of the workers who’ll bear the brunt of these cuts are not ‘trade unionists’ by any coherent definition. ‘Industrial relations representatives’ might be more apt, but less pithy.

CP II is explicitly predicated on the need to get the deficit reduced. This year the cost of servicing the debts incurred since 2008 will be in the region of 9.3 billion (up from 1.6 billion at the end of 2007). The 3% deficit figure that is ‘acceptable’ to neo-liberals would equate to a deficit of about 4.5 billion and the actual deficit this year will be about 15 billion. So, the gap between the the deficit target and the actual deficit is nearly completely taken up with the cost of servicing the bank debt. And yet ‘trade unionists’ continue to support the government line that we need to reduce pay because ‘we’re borrowing a billion every month to pay for nurses, teachers, gardai’.

It’s an outrageous sell out from a union leadership who seem good for nothing else but sell outs. Maybe, just maybe, things won’t go as smoothly as they hope.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2013

As someone who is always glad to post up anything Paddy Healy has to say and regard KAP’s thoughts as dross in this respect I’m tempted to leave it up. If KAP has nothing constructive to say even in a critical fashion about Paddy, then it says a lot more about him or her than it does about Paddy who is fighting the good fight.

Can I +1 CMK’s comment. I’m not defeatist either. We are where we are but there’s no reason to be downhearted. As CMK says the nature of CPII is a means for demonstrating why supposed trade unionists are being shackled by the govt to no effect.

There’s no reason for right social democrat defeatism. We stay true to what we believe in whether it’s socialist, left social democrat or whatever, and that means that we keep pushing against the current dispensation.

What all this means too is, and smiffy said something similar as well, that we have to start now to rebuild unions that look after all workers, regardless of sector, that see them as workers and fight for their interests, that won’t be bought off by trinkets and ‘deals’, that we will be militant, that will – unfortunately – but it has to be done – take years. It may be as CMK suggests that CPII spurs a more rapid movement. I hope so, but as he says it’s a cause for seeking a NO to the immediate issue and looking for serious transformation of unions in the short to medium term so that we actually have a long term as workers.

It’s vital we know the nature of the challenge facing us, and it’s huge, but even if I doubt any of us think it will be quick to overturn, shoulders to the wheel we might find it easier to manage than seems possible today. We won’t know unless we try.

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D_D - February 27, 2013

Agree fully about pacing. It’s a long haul to change the unions or even to build some alternative focus within them – though the unexpected might override all – and has been since the 70s and before. It’s unfortunate that patient sustained investment, rather than a quick return, has not been a feature of the radical left.

Meanwhile CPII can be met with whatever can be mustered. Not too bad actually compared to some earlier national deals: Frontline, four of five whole unions against and (in the TUI anyway) whole Branches officially against. But will the oppositional unions campaign outside their own memberships?

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12. CMK - February 26, 2013

From the ‘you couldn’t make it up’ department: Matt Cooper discussing the Croke Park II deal, which we know will cost up to 30,000 jobs in the private sector, follows with an item where FG TD Liam Griffin calls on Eamonn Gilmore to invite Kate Middleton and her husband to Kerry on the basis of the economic boost such a visit would provide. Hundreds of sustainable jobs to go in Kerry – unremarked on by Cooper – while same journalist uncritically allows a government TD to claim with a straight face that a brief royal visit will provide jobs!

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WorldbyStorm - February 26, 2013

+1

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eamonncork - February 26, 2013

Brendan Griffin is the TD I think CMK. Good spot all the same. Of course there wouldn’t be any economic boost at all, the ‘inspirational,’/slavish welcome afforded to Queen Liz hasn’t exactly turned Cork city into an economic powerhouse.
BGTD is probably more interested in a bit of starfucking and getting patted on the head for showing the maturity to have moved on in this day and age.
Speaking of Kerry and Royals and so on did that ever astute commentator Sean O’Callaghan turn up after a long absence last week to argue that dissident republicans were poised to carry out a spectacular in London or did I just have a bad feed of mushrooms?

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CMK - February 26, 2013

Thanks for the clarification but, I suppose, FG TDs are more or less interchangeable in their idiocy. If they weren’t so dangerous you could (almost) raise a chuckle. The disconnect from any discernible economic reality from two hardcore ‘reality’ merchants (Cooper and Griffin) was astounding but not surprising.

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eamonncork - February 26, 2013

Austerity fans are always being congratulated for their ‘realism’ even as their insistence that their policies are the way to economic growth is proved wrong by empirical evidence. ‘Responsible,’ politicians gave us the bank guarantee, the most irresponsible decision in the history of the state.

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CMK - February 26, 2013

Interestingly, Cooper claims that UNITE refused to give Michael Taft permission to appear as a guest? What’s that all about?

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ivorthorne - February 26, 2013

Odd. I often wonder why we don’t hear more from him.

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WorldbyStorm - February 26, 2013

He’s gone very quiet on his blog since last month.

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CMK - February 26, 2013

I thought he was working on UNITE’s Croke Park blog here: http://crokeparkreport.wordpress.com/

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crocodileshoes - February 27, 2013

See comment 11

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crocodileshoes - February 27, 2013

I mean comment 6

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Tomboktu - February 27, 2013

I have no inside information, but it does occur to me that there could be an innocent explanation. Could UNITE have a policy of omerta between the end of talks and the executive meeting to decide next steps?

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smiffy - February 27, 2013

Wouldn’t be unreasonable, but the last post on the Unite blog (which went up yesterday) suggests otherwise: http://crokeparkreport.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/reflecting-on-the-one-policy-state/

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13. revolutionaryprogramme - February 27, 2013

The full sell-out as posted on the LRC web site, copied to my blog – http://revolutionaryprogramme.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/lrc-proposals-_final.pdf

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14. Scabby Rabbit - February 27, 2013

Interesting…

27 February 2013

Press statement: Joe Higgins TD

IMPACT Dublin City Council Branch revolts against General Secretary and rejects Croke Park 2 agreement

“I welcome the news the at the Annual General Meeting of the Dublin City Council branch of IMPACT last night overwhelmingly in a show of hands passed a motion rejecting the Croke Park 2 agreement.

“The AGM, which was attended by a hundred activists and members of the union from across the City Council was addressed by General Secretary Shay Cody who despite giving the deal published last night the hard sell came in for hard and justified criticism from members.

“A motion for conference calling for rejection of the deal was then passed despite opposition from some of the branch executive, including one member who was featured on RTE news as a voice of moderation in favour of the deal!

“News of this rejection of Croke Park from the ranks of one of the flagship branches of the union is an extremely significant event and a blow against the leadership that I hope is replicated in other branches of that union and in the actual ballot itself.

“Rank and file members of IMPACT and other unions whose leadership are trying to sell this bad deal should make common cause with those unions and associations whose leaders are rightly rejecting the deal.”

Note for editors: The text of the motion passed at the Dublin City Council branch of IMPACT was as follows:

That this AGM says no to a longer working hours, day and week, reduction in overtime, premium, or increments, any attempt at reducing pay and this includes new taxes and it will not accept any compulsory redundancies. Taking one billion out of the public service pay bill will deflate the economy further causing more hardship to our members and society in general. What we need is a tax on wealth and resources of the wealthy in society

Ends

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2013

Fair dues to all concerned.

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Niall Shanahan, Communications Officer, IMPACT - February 28, 2013

Contrary to the claims in this statement, no specific motion calling for the rejection of the ‘Croke Park II’ deal was put forward or passed at the AGM. It’s important to make this distinction.

The AGM passed a motion expressing opposition to a number of specific issues. These included a rejection of longer working hours; overtime, premia, pay or increment reductions, with a specific mention of further taxation in this context, as well as a call for further taxes on wealth. The motion itself does not call for any specific actions.

What should be clarified at this stage, however, is that the motion itself makes no direct reference to the set of proposals from the Labour Relations Commission, which was published on Tuesday (26th Feb) following negotiations with union leaders, better known as ‘Croke Park II’.

Those proposals are today (Thursday) being considered by IMPACT’s Central Executive Committee (CEC). In the coming weeks, members will be given the opportunity to vote on these proposals.

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revolutionaryprogramme - February 28, 2013

That may well be technically true but if the content of the motion that was passed is taken as it reads then it is in effective a call to vote no in the ballot – as I, and other IMPACT class struggle activists, will be advocating.

“That this AGM says no to a longer working hours, day and week, reduction in overtime, premium, or increments, any attempt at reducing pay and this includes new taxes and it will not accept any compulsory redundancies. Taking one billion out of the public service pay bill will deflate the economy further causing more hardship to our members and society in general. What we need is a tax on wealth and resources of the wealthy in society”

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Niall Shanahan, Communications Officer, IMPACT - February 28, 2013

What I said was absolutely true, and was necessary to refute the patent untruth in the press statement above it.

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D_D - February 28, 2013

If the text of the Motion as quoted in Joe Higgin’s press statement is what was passed at the AGM then it is clearly a Motion directed at the deal and for its rejection.

Is the wording correct?

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revolutionaryprogramme - February 28, 2013

Niall, are you seriously arguing that it is possible to do anything other than vote No to the deal if you have a position of saying “no to a longer working hours, day and week, reduction in overtime, premium, or increments, any attempt at reducing pay”?

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Niall Shanahan, Communications Officer, IMPACT - February 28, 2013

This is untrue:
“I welcome the news the at the Annual General Meeting of the Dublin City Council branch of IMPACT last night overwhelmingly in a show of hands passed a motion rejecting the Croke Park 2 agreement.”

This is true:
“The motion itself does not call for any specific actions.”

I am merely making the distinction between that which is true and that which is untrue. If you’re going to attempt to influence the manner in which people vote on anything, I think it’s always a good idea to start with the truth.

That is my sole purpose for visiting and commenting on this blog.

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revolutionaryprogramme - February 28, 2013

And I repeat my question you have avoided in your supposed search for the truth:

Niall, are you seriously arguing that it is possible to do anything other than vote No to the deal if you have a position of saying “no to a longer working hours, day and week, reduction in overtime, premium, or increments, any attempt at reducing pay”?

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WorldbyStorm - February 28, 2013

I kind of see your point Niall, and fair dues for coming on here to make it. But it does seem to rest on something approaching a technicality and I do think revolutionary programme equally has a point. Functionally if one says no to x y and z that does imply that one is saying no to the overall agreement, albeit that isn’t precisely stated. Granted I guess that No to x y and z could stand and later a motion proposed and passed that would agree to the agreement. I guess we’ll see.

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Ed - February 28, 2013

Niall has twice declined the opportunity to say that the wording of the motion is inaccurate, so we can take that as an admission that it is correct. The motion as worded above is clearly, unambigiously a rejection of the content of the deal which has been handed down by the IMPACT negotiators. This need not detain us any longer.

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RosencrantzisDead - February 28, 2013

Although, WbS, if the communications officer for IMPACT is coming on here to state that they did not pass a motion rejecting Croke Park II then, absent of any reasons for believing fraud on their part, we can take it that IMPACT have not voted to reject Croke Park II.

This does not preclude the possibility that they will vote to reject Croke Park II but simply that they have not dome so at this point.

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Ed - February 28, 2013

“If the communications officer for IMPACT is coming on here to state that they did not pass a motion rejecting Croke Park II then, absent of any reasons for believing fraud on their part, we can take it that IMPACT have not voted to reject Croke Park II.”

No, that’s not the question – Higgins reported that the Dublin City Council branch had voted against the deal, not IMPACT as a whole; IMPACT’s communications officer has claimed that this was a lie, but he has not challenged the wording of a motion which clearly is a rejection of the deal.

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WorldbyStorm - February 28, 2013

Isn’t that kind of my point RID? :) That technically he’s correct and that at some later point they may vote outright against CPII. Though the substance of the motion appears to be a rejection of CPII in all but name, though he’s correct that one could reject CPII but not actually call on activity against it.

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Mark P - February 28, 2013

Niall, you are embarrassing yourself. Or at least you would be embarrassing yourself if you were capable of shame.

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RosencrantzisDead - February 28, 2013

Fair enough, WbS. As Ed pointed out, I have misread part of the statement so my initial post can probably be disregarded.

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WorldbyStorm - February 28, 2013

No bother.

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Corpo_Worker - February 28, 2013

@ Niall Shanahan

What should be clarified at this stage, however, is that the motion itself makes no direct reference to the set of proposals from the Labour Relations Commission, which was published on Tuesday (26th Feb) following negotiations with union leaders, better known as ‘Croke Park II’.

Hello. I am a member of DCC’s Impact branch and was present at the meeting in question on Tuesday. Both at the time and subsequently in discussions between members, not least on Impact member’s internal forum in that organisation, there is no misunderstanding but that we had in mind the ‘result’ that was obtained on Monday. I do not appreciate paid lackeys coming on here to claim otherwise in our name.

This was made clear by the panic among the professional trade union officially, with Shay Cody rolled out to lecture us on Tuesday about how we needed to be “adult, and grown-up” about Croke Park II (i.e. vote in favour). As well, the strenuous efforts of the Branch Exec to kill the motion before it got put to a vote were ‘illuminating’, as they say. AGM members do not appreciate being told that it is “inappropriate” for them to express an opinion independent of Impact HQ.

n.b. The posing of a member of the Executive as an ordinary DCC Impact member calling for a ‘Yes’ vote on Tuesday’s RTÉ Six-One News hasn’t gone unnoticed, either.

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15. Tomboktu - February 27, 2013

I haven’t read the full document yet, but when I took it from the printer at work today, I got a fright when I saw movements of 100 km mentioned (some people in my branch have been put under (gentle, I admit) pressure to transfer outside the existing 45 km rule).

I read the list correctly.

The utter cynicism of opening it not with a summary of what was agreed, but what management demanded.

I presume that is followed by a list of union demands (oh, for example, UNITE’s or Congresses’ alternative budgets). Yeah, right.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2013

+1

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16. D_D - February 28, 2013

Standing room only this evening at the meeting in Dublin to oppose the deal called by five TUI Branches. Members of other unions present. All heartened by news of the TUI executive’s rejection of the deal and declaration that if the union’s ballot votes ‘no’ the union will not be overridden by Congress acceptance. Agreed to organise a rally of education workers against the deal on Saturday 9th March.

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revolutionaryprogramme - February 28, 2013

Any IMPACT representation? Why a march of only education workers?

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17. D_D - February 28, 2013

Yes. An IMPACT activist spoke.

It’s an indoor rally.

It’s a TUI members’ initiative. The question was TUI or all education. The wider option was agreed.

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revolutionaryprogramme - February 28, 2013

The invite sent from Paddy Healy included: “The organisers have agreed to facilitate discussion among all public sector trade union activists and pensioners (pensions are to be reduced under the Deal) on organisation to oppose the Deal”.

I think it is vitally important that this fight gets out of the sectoral deadend as soon as possible so would also ask – was there any discussion about how that facilitation might occur and more importantly were there any concrete proposals in that regard?

An injury to one is an injury to all – Say NO! to Croke Park 2

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Watty Cox - February 28, 2013

On the contrary, a new version of the Croke Park
Agreement would be incredibly beneficial to the
Irish working class. A program of adjustment
and gradual economic recovery would be the
way forward.

The great Charles Haughey (demonised by the
Dublin 4 traitors ) negotiated
such a deal in 1987; a re-elected Fianna Fail
in line with the De Valera-Haughey tradition
could cut such a deal and restore the
Irish economy.

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Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - February 28, 2013

The problem is, Watty is not taking the piss. This is the artists formerly known as BICO’s line on social partnership.

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18. D_D - February 28, 2013

SIPTU public service members, email members of SIPTU’s National Executive Council to tell them what you think of Croke Park II, here:

http://www.siptu.ie/aboutsiptu/structuresandpolicies/thenationalexecutivecouncil/necmembers/

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CMK - February 28, 2013

Thanks, that’s useful to have. But is there any point in contacting these individuals? I don’t think anyone in the hierarchy of SIPTU will be prepared to go offside on this deal. Many will no doubt have very serious reservations but they probably won’t strong enough to break ranks. Having said that, I will write to them. For all the good it’ll do.

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Ghandi - February 28, 2013

and lose the salaries not in this life……. why do some refer to full time union officials as activists?

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seedot - February 28, 2013

This is the national executive – who are not trade union officials and do not receive a salary.

The link lists the workplace of each activist who is a member of the NEC.

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19. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - February 28, 2013

IMPACT seem a bit rattled. Bernard Harbour on radio at the moment not selling the deal very well.

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Niall Shanahan, Communications Officer, IMPACT - February 28, 2013

Far from rattled, I can assure you of that.

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CMK - February 28, 2013

That a senior full time official of a union who are urging a ‘Yes’ vote and thus guaranteed supportive coverage in the mainstream media, feels the need to correct that statement, suggests otherwise. Unless, of course, CLR has reached the point where the views expressed on it have surpassed the mainstream media in influence….

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Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - February 28, 2013

PNA and IFUT officials gave (different) cases for no vote on Matt Cooper.
Harbour did get a bit narky.

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WorldbyStorm - February 28, 2013

Interesting. I’d wonder is there a lot of upward pressure from below. Certainly what I’m hearing is considerable anger from many workers. Whether that can be channelled is a different matter, but it’s a start – though I’d add someone I know working in a place where union membership is broad but shallow says the SIPTU rep was given an hard time over the deal. The local rep made the point that firstly they themselves were against the deal but secondly those giving him a hard time hadn’t exactly been – ahem – active in the past. A steep learning curve for some.

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EWI - March 1, 2013

There’s clearly a strategy – and well-founded suspicion that the unions are complicit in this – to divide and conquer PAYE workers, each segment at a time. Not calling this out for what it is lets the enemies of working people triumph.

And it’s the same for inexplicable naïvety by supposed trade unionists who have swallowed the officials’ and politicians’ line that only votes they disagree with are illegitimate. I am ashamed to read such self-sabotaging talk here, of all places.

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CMK - March 1, 2013

EWI, ‘trade unionism’ as it’s currently practiced in this state has reached a very dark place with CPII. The officials know they are in the fight of their lives to get this across the line and they have, so far it seems to me, resorted to some of the lowest levels of sub-Sindo argumentation to try and frame the debate in terms of fairness. Laughably, the one thing that people have remarked to me about this deal is not the changes to pay, terms and conditions, all of which have outraged people, but, no, what has completely incensed people is the fact that this was agreed with 15 months left for CP1 to run and that the text of the agreement contains a line that it will remain force until July 2015. Both the unions and the government have insulted the intelligence of workers in the PS and while people might be talked around to taking pay cuts and changes to terms and conditions they won’t be talked around to being played for fools. If they had’ve waited until this time next year and brought out the same deal it might have stood a chance but taking the piss out of hundreds of thousands of highly intelligent, skilled workers is never a good idea. I think the unions will deeply regret this move. Indeed, the question ‘what are trade unions for?’ can only now be answered coherently as ‘mass political organisations for the defence of the working class’. Answers which stress the business unionism aspect – ‘at the table’, ‘influencing’, ‘partnership’ etc. – have literally collapsed into incoherence. Nearly every single gain won under partnership in the PS has either been already lost and, with CPII, has been negotiated away. Therefore, the whole basis of official Irish trade unionism for workers in the public sector is bankrupt. I think even workers who are politically conservative or centrist will see absolutely nothing in this for them.

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20. 6to5against - February 28, 2013

Interesting to see An Impact official come on here in such an antagonistic manner. It’s clear who they consider their enemies to be.

Unions have a hard job in these brutal times and all negotiators have my sympathy. They also have my respect, and I am prepared to believe in their good faith.

But I think we who oppose this deal are also due respect.

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WorldbyStorm - February 28, 2013

+1

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Joe - February 28, 2013

I dunno. I say fair play to Niall for coming on here and joining the debate. I’m in IMPACT and I will be voting no. I’d say it could go either way this time.

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WorldbyStorm - February 28, 2013

I’m very happy he’s come on here, and he’s welcome but his tone does seem to be a little unnecessary. I suspect it’s not an ‘untruth’ as he indicated initially but an understandable interpretation, or in fact a reasonable conclusion to draw from the contents of the motion. Technically JH may be incorrect, but it is a logical inference to draw from the motion.

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Mark P - February 28, 2013

He is engaged in sophistry, WbS, an attempt to find some way to distinguish the words of the motion passed from the bleeding obvious intent and context of those words. Niall would be better off adopting the job title “Disinformation Officer”.

I’d certainly welcome him sticking around and engaging in discussion here, even though that would obviously entail him putting forward the bureaucrat’s case for immediate and total surrender. But he’s not here to actually take part in the discussion, as his tone and prompt disappearance should make clear.

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WorldbyStorm - February 28, 2013

Thanks Mark P, I’m well able to make my own decisions on these matters without needing you to second guess or interpret them for me or tell me what I should or should not think. Okay?

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WorldbyStorm - February 28, 2013

That came out perhaps a little strong on reflection – I may have misinterpreted your tone. Let’s just say assume for the sake of argument I’ve got some sense.

That said I’ll add I genuinely would like to hear an explanation from our friend as to why x or y course of action is superior to a NO – though in fairness one probably wouldn’t be getting that from an union communication officer.

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Mark P - February 28, 2013

“Let’s just say assume for the sake of argument I’ve got some sense.”

I was using your comment as a jumping off point to have a pop at Niall’s clumsily obvious sophistry rather than assuming that you are in fact so naive as to believe he’s interested in a serious discussion.

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WorldbyStorm - March 1, 2013

Good to know :)

It is a pity he doesn’t engage particularly in light of comments in this thread that he might address rather than being quite so detached.

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smiffy - March 1, 2013

Let’s, all of us, pull back for a moment on this. I think there’s a risk of not seeing the wood for the trees, somewhat.

Yes, Niall is being – to a certain extent – disingenuous. The text of the Dublin City Council Branch motion – assuming that the quotation of it here is accurate – clearly rejects the terms of the so-called Croke Park Agreement 2. While the motion may not explicitly reference the agreement- he’s right on that point – the members of that branch have – to an extent – rejected the provisions of the agreement.

But … and here’s the big but …. those of us who are active in the trade union movement know exactly what we’re talking about here. One branch of one union has passed a motion rejecting certain provisions of the CPA2. Now, we all know that the majority of members of IMPACT don’t accept the terms of the motion as it’s written (to the extent that – if the political opinions of the members of IMPACT, a very large union, are broadly reflective of the political views of the general public as a whole).

In my experience of the labour movement generally, it’s hard to get even 20% of the membership to show up for the AGM. While I wouldn’t suggest that this is typically of other Unions (or, indeed, other branches of my Union) I would suggest that a formal vote taken by the members of a particular branch of a particular Union may not necessarily reflect the views of the members of the branch, more broadly.

All of which is to say that if Niall is guilty of trying to spin in outcome of the Dublin City Council Branch meeting of IMPACT in a particular way, anyone who suggests that that the formal decision by that Branch will necessarily mean that the wider membership of branch or, indeed, Union (based, again, on my relatively limited experience of my own union) is likely to vote in a particular way, is equally as guilty of the same kind of wishful thinking.

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revolutionaryprogramme - March 1, 2013

Smiffy is right – the odds are still against those of us who would hope to see a fightback by the organised workers’ movement.

But still this is not nothing. It may not mean we have won the war but every battle won is a good thing.

So the test will be whether this can be replicated enough times to give confidence to enough of the rank and file to vote no in the ballots and so see CP2 defeated. And then that there is enough of a network of activists created to be able to organise the militant class struggle.required to make that vote mean something.

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revolutionaryprogramme - February 28, 2013

Joe, I think that decision needs to take into consideration what a No vote, which I am definitely voting and will be trying to convince as many other people to do the same, would lead to.

Are we saying no just to go back into negotiations and work out another way to divide up the cuts?

Or are we saying no to the whole idea of the cuts?

I think the second.

This is 1 billion in cuts against our class – the purpose is to continue, even increase, the massive transfer of wealth from working people to the capitalists, both those involved in production and finance that is happening in the shadow of this economic crisis.

But if that is the case then it is an issue of saying “enough is enough” and we are going to have to face up to the reality that it will almost certainly mean taking significant industrial action.

That question of when a decision to take strike action against the kind of “death by a thousand cuts” Irish workers have been suffering over the past few years is an interesting one.

The govt are clearly committed to grinding us down further with the property tax and water charges already signalled. And on top of that there is 3.1 billion in extra cuts scheduled in this year’s budget and 2 billion the year after. Living conditions are already bad for the many of our fellow workers currently out of work and a very great number of us are on a knife edge and slowly becoming part of the new “working poor”, what will it be like after all that, which we can be sure will be overwhelmingly ?

The calculation has to be made of when “enough really is enough” by each of us – and when the majority, or at least a very sizable minority, of the working class start to come to that consciousness beyond the growing, but still a small minority, of workers who already feel that, then it might be time to use our collective strength as a class and take industrial action, not token 1 day strikes, but a conscious and well thought out plan of targetted industrial action including, if feasible and necessary, a general strike – an indefinite withdrawl of labour across the majority of the economy..

And that will largely be a question of political struggle for the hearts and minds of the majority of our fellow workers who know things are wrong and conditions are only going to get worse but haven’t yet come around to the idea of the need for collective action. The propaganda offensive by the government and capitalist class through their control of the mass media has only just begun. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, it seems that the IMPACT leadership has decided to enter that political struggle on the side of the govt and bosses. We need to get organised to counter that as best we can.

I hope you choose to enter that political struggle and organise with other activists within your union and across the wider workers’ movement.

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CMK - February 28, 2013

+1. Well said, Joe. Much to ponder there.

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WorldbyStorm - February 28, 2013

Interesting point about when enough is enough. I’d like to think that it will be soon. I think CP II is a step along the way.

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21. smiffy - March 1, 2013

Noteworthy that Enda Kenny’s call for a Yes to the Agreement was delivered at an IBEC conference yesterday. Speaks volumes about who’s driving this process.

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22. 6to5against - March 1, 2013

Some of us said after the 1st paycuts, in 2009, that they would be back for more. And when they cut pay again, less than a year later, we said they would then go after terms and conditions. When the CP deal was signed, we said that it still wouldn’t satisfy the zealots: they would be back for more.

And now that the CP deal has been abandonned and is being replaced with e draconian measures of CP2, we are told that this will be the last cut.

But have a look at Dan O’briens piece below. The campaign for the next set of cuts and attacks has already begun.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2013/0301/1224330653975.html

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revolutionaryprogramme - March 1, 2013

+1

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Joe - March 1, 2013

For sure, what the govt have learned from their successful attacks on ps workers over the last few years is that they can do it and get away scot free. No fightback. Somehow we need to get that across in campaigning against CP2. If ps workers don’t fight back this time, the govt will be back for more sooner or later – sure why wouldn’t they, it’s as easy as taking candy from a baby.
Rehearsing my speech for my union branch agm Monday night.

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6to5against - March 2, 2013

+1

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23. doctorfive - March 3, 2013

This right?

“The Troika has done more damage to Ireland than Britain ever did in 800 years” says er, David Begg.

Sorry to be inflicting the Telegraph on ye but not reported anywhere else. Course they have their own selfserving reasons http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9898920/EU-Troika-rule-in-Ireland-worse-than-British-Empire.html

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24. speed hack cs download - July 12, 2013

Right away I am going to do my breakfast, afterward having my breakfast coming over again to read other news.

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