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The Labour Relations Commission: a Noxious Mix of the Malign and the Ineffectual

9 Jun

Apparently, the Labour Relations Commission is now beset with an explosion of rights cases from workers claiming unfair treatment by their employers in one way or the other. Given the opportunist tack taken by employers following the economic collapse, this is probably not very surprising.

As the Irish economic crisis enters a new phase, bodies such as the LRC are being put under increased pressure. The mounting contradiction of forcing ordinary working and unemployed people to cover the extraordinary debts accumulated by the wealthy is continuing to cause crisis after crisis for the government. And the LRC has been key to greasing the wheels of this scandalous expropriation.

Even more insidiously, many of the members of the Commission play multiple roles, including as parties to high-profile disputes. The actions of the LRC then take on a much more political complexion and it is worth looking more closely at exactly who is on the Commission and how they got there.

The inescapable fact is that the Labour Relations Commission consists of  Fianna Fáil hacks, failed union and government officials seeing out their golden years, employer hawks, old hands at the partnership game, capped by a Chair with links to child labour and sweatshops.

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The Tumultuous State of Irish Academia

20 May

The left wing of the right wing wrings its hands

These are scary times.” Thus blogged Prof. Ferdinand von Prondzynski just over a year ago during his tenure as President of DCU. And while the good professor has since moved on to pastures hopefully greener (as Vice-Chancellor of Robert Gordon University in Scotland), the tumultuous state into which Irish third level education was then descending has, if anything, become ever more tumultuous.

Aside from the continuing furore over academic standards which had originally gotten FvP into a flap, the sector has since had to deal with a series of rolling crises, none of which have found any resolution. In this post we document these eruptions, the internal power struggles gripping the sector and the corporate executive culture that has left the upper echelons bare-arsed in a chill political wind.

Putting this together with the scandals that have rocked the sector and the unrelenting pillorying by the likes of Independent News and Media, the medium term effects for the country’s education system will be dire. The seamless policy transition from FF/Green to FG/Labour and the continued spineless response of the representatives  of the academic staff will ensure:

  • dramatically increased costs for students
  • sharply declining educational standards
  • no new courses offered for years to come
  • annihilation of third level lecturing as a viable career choice
  • abolition of tenure
  • significant erosion of academic freedom

The common denominator in these developments has been a corporate takeover of third level education. This has had a corrosive effect: laying waste to educational standards, feeding excesses in the upper echelons, misdirecting funding, lowering the standing of education in society and undermining the educational ethos within the institutions. We will attempt to draw out these aspects of what is an on-going fiasco in an important strand in Irish society.

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The People’s Economy – The Minister for Economic Truth

21 Feb

Deenihan Plays Dodge on Public Service Redundancies Plan

20 Feb

I'll see your 30,000 and raise you 10,000

Mary Fitzgibbon (Independent Kerry North/West Limerick) has challenged Fine Gael Deputy Jimmy Deenihan to be honest about his plan for public service job cuts in his constituency.

Deenihan (an FG front bencher) has claimed that if he gets into government he would cut 12,000 less public service jobs than the 30,000 that is already targeted in the Fine Gael manifesto.

He gave the commitment during a Radio Kerry debate with the other election candidates in Kerry North/West Limerick. He was responding to Mary Fitzgibbon who challenged him about precisely how many public service posts in Kerry/Limerick that Fine Gael would cut.

Deenihan claimed that the Fine Gael manifesto “mentioned 30,000 but 12,000 are gone already so there would be only 18,000 redundancies”. However, the clear policy in the Fine Gael manifesto policy is to cut an additional 30,000 public servants on top of the 12,000 that were already removed up to 2010.

Deputy Richard Bruton (FG Enterprise Spokesman) has repeatedly confirmed that the Fine Gael plan is to cut 30,000 additional posts. However, Deenihan continues to contradict his front bench colleague with his renegade claim of 18,000 redundancies and refuses to specify where the public service job cuts will be in Kerry North/West Limerick.

Deenihan is misleading his constituents about the Fine Gael plan for the public service. He is on the front bench and he knows full well that Fine Gael want another 30,000 public service redundancies on top of the 12,000 that Fianna Fail already cut. It’s time for Jimmy to be honest about the Fine Gael manifesto and for him to identify what jobs will be lost in Kerry.

A total loss of a 42,000 posts under Fine Gael would decimate public services and would see at least 1,000 jobs go in Kerry North/West Limerick including nurses, gardai, teachers and other public servants. It would  have a devastating effect on the local economy in a region where employment is so scarce.

Vincent Browne Interviews Michael Martin & Willie O’Dea

20 Feb

Mario Rosenstock (of Gift Grub) strikes again…

Let’s End the Denial and Offer Positive Supports for Our Emigrants

19 Feb

By Mary Fitzgibbon (Independent Candidate, Kerry North/West Limerick)

Australian Government poster displayed 1949 to 1951 at migrant reception centres.

Nearly 1,000 citizens leave Ireland every week in a tide of forced emigration. It is estimated that 100,000 will leave over the next two years.

Emigration is causing huge  social destruction and emotional heartache here in Kerry North/Limerick West.  It is raised every time that I meet people during this campaign .

Last Saturday a mother in Tarbert told me grimly that her four children have emigrated and that she feels the political parties are in denial about the reality of emigration.

I am a  returned emigrant who took ‘Slattery’s Bus’ to London in 1987 and worked in midwifery there during the nineties. It saddens me to to witness the graduate nurses of 2011 following the same path. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past for my children and yours.

Bailing Out Private Banks to Export our Children

Poster from 1914 promoting emigration to Canada

Forced emigration will continue as long as the political parties refuse to face the reality that Ireland must default on the private bank debt that is owed to financial speculators. Only then can we seriously start to recover and create jobs. Even so, it will realistically take at least three years to return to high employment levels.

Job placement and work schemes are useful for graduates and those out of work to gain some experience but they are a very temporary solution as people ultimately want to earn a decent wage in order to finance key life decisions such as supporting a family or owning a home.

So emigration is with us for now but we must take initiatives to support our departing emigrants, nurture our diaspora while they are abroad and facilitate their return in the near future.

My Four Proposals for Positive Emigrant Support:

  1. A new agency with responsibility for pre-departure services both at home and abroad in order to give our emigrants the best possible chance of succeeding abroad.
  2. A one year rebate of tax and levies to be paid to those who are departing Ireland in order to secure work abroad.
  3. vote for the Irish abroad in all elections at home. The ballotbox.iecampaign has highlighted the reasons why this is imperative.
  4. Facilitate and encourage the Irish abroad to return to job opportunities at home as the economy recovers. Advertise all public service jobs on the site and allow candidates who are abroad to do  interviews by internet video link.

We need to act and to start planning now so that we can support and cherish those who are forced to leave Ireland.

I welcome your suggestions and opinions. We need to have a much more open discussion about these issues and to collectively devise appropriate supports and positive measures.

Be careful what (and who) you vote for!

16 Feb

The following three videos from Marian Harkin (MEP), Fergus Finlay (Barnardos Ireland, CEO) and John Lonergan (former Governor Mountjoy Prison) are messages of warning about the policy of reductionism of the public service. None of the three speakers has a personal vested interest in the public services, above or beyond any other Irish citizen.

Mindless Austerity

There is a group think among some of the political parties that a key pillar of our economic recovery is the reduction of the public services. Marian Harkin warns of cutting what is ‘good and valuable’ as part of this ‘mindless austerity’. Fergus Finlay highlights that we probably won’t miss them until they are gone and then it will be too late.

The meaningless divide, being promoted by some sections of the media and political interests, between the private sector and public sector (Marian Harkin) and the front line/back office workers (John Lonergan) is articulated. Continue reading