As for the unions… December 4, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, Irish Politics, The Left, Uncategorized.
Some more choice quotes from Lucinda Creighton’s thoughts this weekend on why collective bargaining is a bad idea, a piece which rapidly – too rapidly, broadens out into a critique of unions as a whole. By the way this is taken from the Sunday Business Post but she has been writing far and wide (well, that would be the Independent in various forms) over the past week or two, or three.
She writes that ‘Eamon Gilmore’s announcement that he will push forward legislation on collective bargaining is yet another example of the LP’s politicisation of policy that has scant regard for the working people of Ireland’.
Tomboktu has already pointed to some problematic aspects of the following on this thread:
The LP’s vision for Ireland is for a minority of well-paid union leaders, such as SIPTU’s Jack O’Connor, to claim the right to represent all of the workers of Ireland. These are the same trade unions, under the same leadership, that right throughout the Celtic Tiger period demanded continuous wage inflation, not just for their workers, but also for their own leadership. There was no economic or evidence-based rationale underpinning their demands for wage inflation. They demanded such inflation because the coffers of the state were full, or because a company’s profits were growing.
The use of the term ‘wage inflation’ only adds to the mess. But there’s more:
Most recently Jack O’Connor told the government that the improved economic position of Ireland meant that SIPTU would soon be demanding wage inflation for all of their workers in both public and private sectors.
The fact that competitiveness has improved, which inevitably has incentivised employers to take on more employees, is dismissed by the very same people as some sort of neoliberal speaking point.
When was the last time we heard of an Irish Trade Union leader talk about competitiveness or wage restraint? In March 2003, Germany’s SPD the party from the same European family as Labour in Ireland, introduced reforms including cutting unemployment benefits, making ti easier to hire and fire workers and raising the retirement age.
At the time Agenda 2010 was approved by almost 90 per cent of SPD party delegates. These decisions were taken in the face of enormous trade union opposition to structural changes i the German labour force. The SPD showed leadership in facing down the TU movement which at the time opposed the Agenda. WIthin the last ten years the number of unemployed people in Germany declined from 4.4 million to 2.9 million while employment rose by 3.1million to 41.7million.
Unfortunate timing that reference to the SPD given last weeks events, not least the issue of retirement ages – even if they are as Die Linke notes ‘watered down’.
The public coffers may today be in better shape than 2010, and employment may be growing, but do those who shed crocodile tears for the working people in Ireland actually care about the 280,000 people currently on the dole and without work? All the evidence suggests not.
Teachers’ unions protecting some longer term members against the interests of new teachers, or ESB unions protected over-inflated pensions against the interests of small businesses who rely on their services – the same small businesses that represent 70 per cent of all workers in Ireland – provide absolute proof of the insularity espoused by union leadership. The trade union movement is bereft of leadership that cares about all the workers in Ireland, rather than simply its own sectorial membership and the fees they collect.
Quite simply, Ireland does not need collective bargaining. Workers’ rights are extremely well protected in this country, thanks largely to the rules and regulations set down by the European Union. Workers enjoy high standards of healthy and safety in the workplace, relatively high play and conditions vis-a-vis the rest of Europe, and strong protection in labour law, with recourse to the Employment Appeals Tribunal and the Labour Relations Commission.
She concludes that this is a Labour Party stunt. This may well be true, more on the proposal later, but…
One small point. Collective bargaining isn’t as Creighton seems to argue, a (pernicious) optional extra, it is a recognised (by some) as a human right. But who would that be?
As this useful wiki notes:
Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights identifies the ability to organize trade unions as a fundamental human right. Item 2(a) of the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work defines the “freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining” as an essential right of workers.
It would be interesting to know how those who contest the notion stand in relation to that. Or is it that some rights are fundamental, and others… well… they just aren’t. Or as noted in Tomboktu’s other post on the matter from yesterday, that somehow we’re going to wind up with an Irish solution to a supposedly Irish problem that will gut meaning from the very idea.
The piece goes on to note:
In June 2007 the Supreme Court of Canada extensively reviewed the rationale for regarding collective bargaining as a human right. In the case of Facilities Subsector Bargaining Association v. British Columbia, the Court made the following observations:
The right to bargain collectively with an employer enhances the human dignity, liberty and autonomy of workers by giving them the opportunity to influence the establishment of workplace rules and thereby gain some control over a major aspect of their lives, namely their work… Collective bargaining is not simply an instrument for pursuing external ends…rather [it] is intrinsically valuable as an experience in self-government… Collective bargaining permits workers to achieve a form of workplace democracy and to ensure the rule of law in the workplace. Workers gain a voice to influence the establishment of rules that control a major aspect of their lives.
That point alone is essential. The workplace is to some extent – and perhaps unfortunately given its domination financially, time-wise and in other respects – absolutely key to our lives, where working. Any curtailment on workers autonomy within that, anything that tilts the ground yet further towards employers, is something that has to be resisted or pushed back.
What you want to say… Open Thread, of 4th December 2013 December 4, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free.
An Islamic bomb? Isn’t there already one of those? December 2, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Listening to the Slate Political Gabfest from this last week I was surprised to hear outlined by John Dickerson amongst the reasons that there was deep antagonism from the Israeli government and US neo-conservatives to the current deal with Iran on nuclear enrichment that:
…now they’re allowed to enrich at a very low level, which isn’t anywhere close to what they need to have actual material to get a [nuclear] bomb but the neo-cons worry if you validate at all their right to enrich you validate this notion that it was doing this just for energy purposes when that’s not true, it’s a total lie, they’re trying to build a weapon and so don’t buy into their little fake that this is for energy purposes and in six months everybody will have kind of gotten more relaxed about what the true Iranian goal here is, which is to create an Islamic bomb.
Surely that would be another “Islamic” bomb, no? And the latest is that the Saudi’s are in on this particular regional race.
And for all the baroque stuff that Iran sometimes presents surely Pakistan as a polity appears actually fundamentally less stable in the short, medium and long term. Saudi too in a way.
David Plotz, editor of Slate, on the podcast made the point that Iran and the US have cultural and economic interests that could well be much better served by a rapprochement between them. It was educative to hear Dickerson and Emily Bazelon’s response which was one of sheer disbelief that relations with Iran could be normalised – even if Bazelon was actually generally supportive of the deal (and tellingly Dickerson least so), and yet, isn’t it curious how relatively minor, in historical terms, those differences actually are. Iran and the US have never been in direct armed conflict for example.
Being strongly supportive of the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, it has always struck me just how poorly the focus on Iran has served the Israeli right because as noted Iran and the United States are states whose congruence of interests, even as the Iranian state is currently structured, is so great that it appears far from implausible that the relationship could flip, as it were, to a much better position with relative ease. A world in which that were the case would be most interesting and problematic for both states in some respects. But it’s a significant problem even further afield. Saudi is unlikely to welcome any rapprochement, for obvious reasons.
It also seems to underscore just how poorly the right in Israel serves Israel’s interest. One of their key approaches has been to attempt to freeze the situation in a local and regional and global context when that is simply unfeasible. There was something of that in the response to the changes in Egypt and North Africa where the new governments and their relative legitimacy in popular terms was something that Israel (and the US too in part) almost appeared to wish away, or want wished away.
But this leads to a further point that the long term interests of Israel are ill-served by an attitude of isolationism and further retrenchment. Hardly a novel thought, but something that is increasingly troubling as time progresses. The worst, or almost worst, possible outcome of all this would be a dynamic which pushed towards an isolated fortress Israel with few if any friends internationally, but increasingly one hears that prospect discussed by voices in the US and elsewhere who would be broadly sympathetic to the state.
Anyone who has been to Israel will know how small it actually is, hardly more than a narrow strip of land compared to its neighbours, and it’s understandable how this has functioned in shaping attitudes held by some, even if that is not to condone all such attitudes. But in a way that has masked the reality that an isolated Israel would be actually in a much much less secure position that it is today and the more positive potential that it might leverage itself to an even more positive position by a reworking of its current and previous approaches.
Perhaps counter-intuitively in that light this current deal with Iran is an hopeful sign that that might eventually occur by removing a threat that can sometimes appear all too expedient to some both in US and Israeli politics.
LookLeft Trade Union Forum presents a discussion on the impact of The Lockout centenary commemorations. December 2, 2013Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
The discussion will be led by a panel of historians, including:
Thursday 6.00 pm to 8.00 pm
Info on latest issue
What you want to say… Open Thread, 27th of November, 2013 November 27, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free.
Eamon Gilmore Lookalikes…… November 26, 2013Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
Sorry about this
A 1974 Eamon and Harry Styles …. a 1987 Eamon with Eithne Fitzgerald.
Speaking of culture… November 24, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Uncategorized.
….seeing as there’s been mention of same today on foot of Eoghan Harris and his musings in the Sunday Independent, here’s some links which I meant to post up a while back.
And what about these? From artist Mathew Albanese who creates miniature landscapes from various materials and then photographs them. I’m particularly fond of Paprika Mars and ‘Everything We Ever Were’. But Sugarland is pretty amazing looking.
SBP RedC November 23, 2013Posted by doctorfive in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far
FG 29(-) FF 22 (-1) Lab 12 (+3) SF 15 (-2) Oth 22 (-)
73% want to see less spending cuts and tax hikes after the Troika’s departure.
Soviet juvenile SF films from the 1970s November 23, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Science Fiction, Uncategorized.
Here’s a real oddity, a Soviet juvenile SF film from the early 1970s, Moscow-Cassiopeia, that is clearly influenced by 2001: A Space Odyssey… at least in the sets and in some of the visuals. Padded walls (that’s not a joke, or is it?), psychedelic lighting effects that Warhol and the Factory would have approved of, they’re all here, though the spaceship isn’t much cop. And that star map on a transparent plastic sheet you’ll see in one of the clips is very 1950s. And as if that’s not enough, the first clip shows clips from both that and from another Soviet film, ‘Teenagers in Space’ as well.
You’ll find Moscow-Cassiopeia in all it’s glory in full on Youtube, not sure about Teenagers in Space (which might be a sequel to M-C, now I think about it).
Some dead ends at a crossroad November 22, 2013Posted by doctorfive in Uncategorized.
Last few weeks we have had
Liam Adams verdict
Bloody Sunday, still
The Lethal Allies Book
Military Reaction Force
The Disappeared Documentary
Irish State visit to UK announced
Comments of NI attorney general
And several others I am probably missing
All in the midst of Richard Hass.
Any of the above would be big news but so many together threatens to obscure whatever the real story is and given the nature of all this, who knows.
The Irish State are playing a very tricky game here and arguably have a lot to lose should things go wrong. As mentioned last week, this decade will contain few real surprises about IRA activity in the last four. For that big big ball of undecided there are few illusions about history at the ballot box. Conversely, everything that emerges from the shadow of the other side is good for Sinn Féin. Any high profile move forward/sideways of the process puts them for better or worse in the spotlight while Fianna Fáil and most of government are automatically sidelined. No rush but in the mean time it perhaps gets harder for all parties to stay silent on those other murder gangs we learn more of by the week.
Within that it is interesting to think how the parties would handle all this if Sinn Féin were not looking across the Dáil chamber. Probably as when Sinn Féin were not looking across the Dáil chamber you say but someone would have to claim that opposition. They will, no doubt, think of something but a British Army Reaction Force is no stranger to the memory of this island.
There is an impression that flag protests may not build quite the same steam in 2014. Could be wrong but there is a sense of antipathy that may not have been there before, this before elections prolong a Belfast summer. Across the way, nationalism, even by English standards, heading toward a Great War centenary, is on the rise and we are now ten months away from the Scottish referendum. How much of that campaign will be inflected by earlier skirmishes with UKIP? On it goes.
Above all of this is the future of increasing austerity, centralisation of undemocratic power, attack on workers and services we even more rely. My mother worked for years in a supermarket back kitchen, alone but for the radio. She regularly wondered what they would talk about if the Troubles ended till that gave way to boom and bust.
Wait till they start talking about 2016.