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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.

Continue reading

Missing in Inaction: ICTU Deserts Aer Lingus Crew

25 Jan

The Aer Lingus dispute is a key battleground that will determine how Irish workers will be treated in the decade ahead.

As part of the so-called ‘Greenfield Agreement’, the cabin crew previously agreed to huge pay cuts and massive concessions about their conditions of service.

Now Aer Lingus wants to drive a coach and 747 through those existing agreements and to mount a never ending assault on workers.

ICTU Twins in Hiding?

With so much at stake for workers, where is the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU)? Not a dicky bird from David Begg (General Secretary) or Jack O’Connor (President). Complete radio silence and not even a three line statement on the ICTU website. Have the ICTU twins entered the witness protection programme along with Enda Kenny?

Amazingly, the lock out of the workers at Aer Lingus is of no consequence to a union leadership that is hell bent on a single ambition – the continuation of ‘partnership’ and the benefits that it bestows upon an elite of union insiders.

Begg Flies Business Class 

Strike Busters: Colm Barrington (Chairman), Christoph Mueller (CEO) and David Begg (Picture from Aer Lingus Annual Report)

Surprise, surprise – David Begg is a member of the board of Aer Lingus.

Bertie Ahern rewarded him with this appointment in January 2008 .

Begg sits comfortably alongside the stockbrokers, accountants and the other business barons on the Aer Lingus board. Begg must have even gotten to know Seanie Fitzpatrick until the bankster exited the Aer Lingus board at the end of 2008.

The plan for strike busting and locking out the workers was approved by the Aer Lingus board on which Begg sits. Planes with a scab crew have been hired in at a cost of €400,000 a day. The board has even enlisted the help of Ryanair who have provided aircraft and crews. Michael O’Leary says that Ryanair is always willing to assist ‘if we can help a union to lose’.

Three Questions

We have three questions for David Begg:

  1. Why are you on the board of Aer Lingus?
  2. As a member of the board, what have you done to help the workers from being locked out in this extraordinary fashion?
  3. Given what the management there are doing, why haven’t you resigned yet?

UPDATE: 28 January – Double Agent David is Outed

David Begg and his friends in IBEC have come together to have talks with both sides in the Aer Lingus dipsute. LRC Director of Conciliation Kevin Foley is also being briefed by IBEC Director of Industrial Relations Brendan McGinty and ICTU General Secretary David Begg.

Which side is Double Agent David working for now?

UPDATE: 31 January – Double Agent David is Back Inside, Again

And then things got even murkier – it turns out that Begg’s membership of the Aer Lingus board was as a representative of the employee share ownership trust. However, this trust has recently had its stake in Aer Lingus reduced and so poor David is no longer eligible to continue on the board.

Fear not, we have today’s announcement that, given his sterling work to date, Begg is to be reappointed to the board, but no longer as an employee representative.  Presumably David will be only too delighted with his new role. Although keeping track of which side he is supposed to be on at any given time must be getting  harder and harder. I suppose that’s why he gets such a hefty salary…

As nation burns – union leaders busy themselves writing letters to the Irish Times

1 Jan

It is now over a month since the ICTU march in Dublin on November 27th and the question arises, what have Irish union leaders done to build upon the support of the 50,000+ people who turned up on that bitterly cold day? The mood at the march was certainly very clear – enough talk, time for action. The booing of Jack O’Connor and David Begg said it all – “we’ve heard enough of the blather about fairness. You have hundreds of thousands of members, when are you going to do something about it?” Continue reading

IMPACT Bites Back – Against Its Own Members, That Is

16 Dec

Our exposé of IMPACT boss Shay Cody’s shameless boasting to TD’s about how much he had managed to shaft his own members has elicited a furious response from the union. Gone are the soothing, reassuring words to members, the hallmark of IMPACT’s line on the Croke Park Agreement to date.

Instead, in an email circulated to members, IMPACT’s Information Officer Bernard Harbour let slip that, aside from TD’s, the damning letter had in fact been circulated to all senators as well. The excuse – a craven effort to curry favour with those hostile to the deal, an effort backed by their executive committee. Continue reading

TUI Leadership Prepares to Sell Out Its Membership

16 Dec

TUI General Secretary Peter McMenamin: One last sell-out before retirement?

Word is now coming out about the demands being made by the Department of Education and Science on the Teachers’ Union of Ireland in the Croke Park “talks”. Continue reading

Social Partnership – Chicken Soup or Gravy Train?

15 Dec

So now we have the outrageous statement from Minister for Finance Lenihan that “Social partnership caused enormous damage to the Irish financial system“. Unlike the banks, the developers and his own behaviour, which, of course, have been exemplars of rectitude.  “Partnership” was a disaster, but for exactly the opposite reasons espoused by  corpulent Tooth Fairy Lenihan – it led to modest cost-of-living increases for ordinary workers, while lining the pockets of union officials and massaging the inflated egos of union bosses. Continue reading

SIPTU – Too Big to Fail?

1 Dec

The recent announcement by the Psychiatric Nurses’ Association that it is extending membership to other emergency service personnel has sent shockwaves through the unions in Ireland. In particular, the fact that the PNA is outside ICTU and that the new recruits will most likely be coming from SIPTU has left the beards with quite a headache.

Given the very low opinion of the current union leadership, recently evidenced in the booing of O’Connor and Begg at the November 27th protest march, this could well develop into a full-blown migraine.

The main defectors are the nation’s firefighters and ambulance service workers, who’s recent letter makes it quite clear how unhappy they are with their current arrangements with SIPTU. Despite arm-twisting by SIPTU, the new Alliance has had 1300 expressions of interest from current SIPTU members and is now moving forward with recruitment. Continue reading