Irish Trade Union Leaders Sink to New Depths

6 Oct

The Irish trade union movement took a further lurch down the road to irrelevance, as the Croke Park Agreement was threatened with obliteration before it has even been implemented. First we had reports that Fianna Fail may tear up the Deal, a threat that Brian Cowen would not rule out.

Coming on the heels of the sabre-rattling by “Minister of State for Public Service Transformation” Dara Calleary, and others, the future does not look good for the trade union eggs so carefully placed in the one basket. Mind you, since the commentary is being fuelled by financial services gurus, who, as we all know, are entirely blameless for the mess we’re in, perhaps we should not be surprised.

Meanwhile the union bosses continue in their never-neverland hope of getting back around the “partnership” table with the government. The hand-wringing by the likes of Liam Doran, General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwifes Organisation was particularly unedifying. Here we have a union that roundly rejected the Croke Park Agreement and yet, by head office writ, has agreed to implement it, and is now claiming that all changes are to be imposed through the General Secretary.

And as for Shay Cody’s pathetic pleas for the management to implement the agreement as fast as possible, the less said the better.

Over at ICTU, business person of the month Jack O’Connor was engaging in his usual huffing and puffing. Of course, having done everything to ensure that there was minimal Irish turn-out for the recent Europe-wide anti-cutback demonstrations, he can be sure that the exact nature of the “more subtle and progressive approach” he advocates is clear to all.

One of the only unions remaining outside the “Deal”, the Teachers Union of Ireland had a recent Conference which, despite vigorous, and at times hysterical, opposition from the General Secretary and President, voted to stay outside of the talks being entered by supposedly anti-deal unions such as the ASTI. It remains to be seen how long the majority decison will be honoured by union officials, or whether the Croke Park Deal collapses before the General Secretary gets a chance to play footsie under the table with the government side again before he retires.

When compared to the French trade unions’ response to the prospect of raising the age of retirement from 60 to 62 (!), the true nature of the Irish trade union “leaders” is all too obvious. As David McWilliams quotes in a recent article on the Irish response to the crisis “Do you Irish need to be loved so much that you will stand up for nothing?”

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