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Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week December 15, 2013

Posted by Garibaldy in Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week.

There’s several bouts of stupidity today, but Marc Coleman’s lament that the opportunity to face down an ESB strike was missed is out on its own. The whole thing is bad, but here’s a flavour.

But in their strike threat ESB unions have reminded us of something that we had nearly forgotten. That we are a divided economy. Between those who have power — conferred on them by State ownership or favourable State regulation — and those who have none, a growing gulf is emerging. And the ESB union strike threat was a timely reminder to Government of who is in charge. They haven’t gone away, you know. But neither have we. And had the strike gone ahead, ESB unions might have found that sympathy for their cause has all but evaporated. Even amongst those of us who would normally say that the right to strike to preserve one’s pension ought to be protected would add that in the case of ESB unions the conditions they sought to enforce were too dependent on past abuses of monopoly power to be defensible.

Unions run the country. The right to strike is an important one that must be recognised. Except when someone tries to actually use it. Etc.


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1. WorldbyStorm - December 15, 2013

Wow. So, no underlying principle at work whatsoever.

doctorfive - December 15, 2013
2. ivorthorne - December 15, 2013

So who do you think Coleman is talking about when he says “we”?

3. 6to5against - December 15, 2013

isn’t he mking a rather good argument to join a union?

ivorthorne - December 15, 2013

The mere existence of Coleman and his ideological kin counts as a good argument to join a union.

4. crocodileshoes - December 15, 2013

Is there any point in remarking that Coleman’s last sentence makes no sense? (I’m not referring to its ‘message’, just its syntax).

richotto - December 15, 2013

I think in that last sentence if he said “those amongst us” rather than “amongst those of us” it would have been grammatically correct.

ejh - December 15, 2013

Yes, I think that’s right. Usually this happens when you start writing a sentence in one way and then decide to change it round.

crocodileshoes - December 15, 2013

Which all goes to show that the Sindo’s subs are more overpaid than the ESB workers – whatever they’re on. :)

5. workers republic - December 15, 2013

Congrationals to the ESB workers. The propaganda machine of the capitalist media went into topgear against the unions representing ESB workers as well as RTE, the voice of the government .
I remember a few years ago, Aine Lawlor ,commenting on a dispute in public transport, say something like , “didn’t he cause trouble before”, about a union spokesman ,on the Radio 1 morning news. That’s what we’re up against , mass brainwashing by the rags and RTE .
To illustrate this point ,my mother-in-law, who normally appears sensible and is not righ-wing, started a rant against Brendan Ogle (ould Ogle) she called him.
I had to remind her that a massive majority had voted for industrial action, for the strike; also that all our pensions are under threat. Then she remembered that she also had an occupational pension.
It was great to see all the unions involved acting in unison. Hope we see more of this! The M&S workers need all our support. The government are likely to react with anti-union legislation and tradeunionists must be ready to oppose any such anti-union legislation.

CMK - December 15, 2013

All good points WR, so long as we remember that not all ‘trade unionists’ are trade unionists and some of our worst enemies could belt out ‘The Red Flag’ with the best of them; are festooned in Union badges and can clench their fists with the best of them and can spout some of the best militant rhetoric. But who are dedicated to keeping things just the way they are…..

workers republic - December 16, 2013

Yea CMK you’ar spot on there, I heard ‘Ho Chi ‘Quinn belt out l’Internationale on May Day on the Radio some years ago.

richotto - December 16, 2013

Agree that ESB Unions saw off the things that were said against them in the media and the public facing power cuts at Xmas seemed to baulk at condenming the Unions actions. A couple of things though mitigated against any public resentment. The issue was handled moderately by the Unions who made the reasonable point all along that they were only trying to hold the employers to the agreement which supported the retention of the defined benefit system. The Unions made a substantial concession in the 2010 agreement of payment of pensions on a career average as opposed to a final salary system. And they pursued their case in a restrained way until it became obvious that the employers would’nt budge over a two year period. It was interesting that Mark Coleman in his article attacking the ESB Unions referred not to the specific disputed issue which implied some kind of embarrassment in backing the employers position on pensions but the history of previous highly unpopular industrial action.

crocodileshoes - December 16, 2013

I note that IBEC’s latest list of demands includes that all public servants now in employment should have their pensions calculated on career average earnings rather than final earnings. The nearer I get to retirement, the more I am deafened by the sound of goalposts moving.

CMK - December 16, 2013

How close are you to retirement? If you’re more than 20 years, there probably won’t be a pension there for you, despite you’re probably paying 15-20% of your gross income in pension deductions and PRSI. IBEC won on PS pay; they won on increments; and they’ve swiftly moved, with their media allies, on to PS pensions – they will, in all likelihood, win on PS pensions, too. You’ll note a spike in newspaper articles on public sector pensions in recent times, and the hue and cry about them will only intensify. ‘Career average’ is nicely correlated with the spread of internships in the PS which could shorten the length of a ‘career’. Also, outsourcing: many currently in PS jobs will end their careers employed by Capita, ATOS or some such outfit. What will their ‘career average’ be? I doubt IBEC will be busting a gut to find out. The unions are in the last chance saloon with pensions; if they don’t fight like f**k to defend them, then they’re mere zombie organisations.

6. crocodileshoes - December 16, 2013

Yes, CMK, I remember commenting here years ago that public service pensions would be the last stand. Rank and file will fight to the last whatever the cravenness of the leadership.
I had a friendly pub conversation with someone very senior in the pensions business. He told me that I had no chance whatever of getting the pension I’d counted on all my career: only an economic illiterate, he assured me, will compose a party manifesto in the future that does not include PS pension ‘reform’. His advice? Never retire.

Johnny Forty Coats - December 16, 2013

Public servants have an ace in the hole – the 29th amendment to the constitution:

“Where, before or after the enactment of this section, reductions have been or are made by law to the remuneration of persons belonging to classes of persons whose remuneration is paid out of public money and such law states that those reductions are in the public interest, provision may also be made by law to make proportionate reductions to the remuneration of judges.”

I have no doubt that the supreme court would unanimously find any attack on the pension rights of public servants to be an outrageous breach of the constitution.

Ed - December 16, 2013

“only an economic illiterate, he assured me, will compose a party manifesto in the future that does not include PS pension ‘reform’.”

I guess that can be translated as ‘only a party that’s not completely in the pocket of the banks and the financial services industry won’t bow to our demands that people be coerced into taking out private pensions so we can gamble with their money and earn some fat bonuses’. You couldn’t blame him for seeing things that way after what’s happened since 2008; certainly all of the mainstream parties in Europe today will dance to their tune.

CMK - December 17, 2013

As if to prove my point the SBP had yet another breathless editorial on ‘insane’ pensions in the public sector, in their (warped) view. I agreed, pensions are going to be perhaps THE Union issue over the coming years. Workers in half decent unions not dominated by the Labour Party, like Mandate and Unite, will probably go down fighting on this issue. Those of us in SIPTU or Mandate are goners as neither will lift a finger to defend the pensions of their members. We might get a few days out in Dublin on a protest, but that’ll be about it.

WorldbyStorm - December 17, 2013

I read that and have a few thoughts on it. Very disingenuous it was too.

CMK - December 17, 2013

I stopped buying the SBP for a few weeks, to get some mental rest from their ‘analysis’, but I swear that the last edition I bought a couple of weeks ago had almost exactly the same editorial!

CMK - December 17, 2013

Sorry, that should read ‘Impact’ not Mandate.

ivorthorne - December 17, 2013

I think that pensions may become “THE” issue in the coming years. I also worry just what some of the unions will sacrifice in order to preserve them. We’ve already seen so many unions accept inferior terms for younger/newer workers within certain sectors in order to protect the interests of longer serving workers (e.g. teaching) so who knows where they will draw the line.

CMK - December 17, 2013

What I’d say to that is that the ‘pensions crisis’ as a ideological meme is accelerating many existing workers i.e those in the 40-55 age groups are unlikely to escape what will be quite a rapid attack. It won’t be slow attrition but some ‘crisis’ will emerge that can only be solved by putting everyone on a stock market based defined contribution pension. It could happen very soon. A lot of people thinking of a cushy retirement are in for a severe shock. Finally, the unions will need Connolly/Larkin levels of effort to beat this one. Do Jack O’Connor, Shay Cody, David Begg strike you as capable of that? Ogle, maybe, but he’ll be kept on a tight leash.

Ed - December 17, 2013

Maybe the left in the unions should try a new line of approach with the bureaucracy – tie the pensions of all senior officials to the pensions of their members; a new twist on the old demand. See how chilled out Cody and O’Connor would be about it then. Jack might even put up a scrap at the gates of hell for his own sake.

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