Posted by House trained on February 17, 2008 at 10:41:37:
In Reply to: re: re: trade unions only as good as their members posted by Jackobite on February 14, 2008 at 22:30:45:
Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen say we all have to tighten our belts. What they mean is that they and the bosses will do everything in their power to save themselves by putting the cost of the economy’s decline onto working class people.
Conditions for workers are already on the slide. Property crisis hits living standards: The fall in property prices has hit the financial position of tens of thousands. Many people’s debts outweigh their assets. House prices will decline further and indebtedness will get worse, meaning consumption and living standards will be seriously cut.
Families losing their homes: 40% of the houses going up for auction in London are now repossessed houses. In the US it is expected that 2 million homes will be repossessed in this year. Repossessions are relatively low here now but conditions can change quickly. The debt to income and debt to house price ratio is worse in Ireland and in the US or in Britain. Government cut vital public services: The HSE is getting €370 million less than what is necessary to sustain health services just at last year’s crisis levels! Further decline in economic growth will result in cuts in real terms across all services including education, which is massively under funded and social welfare. Inevitably the most underprivileged will be hit the hardest.
Job losses: Even though we are only at the start of the economic decline by last December 22,000 more people were unemployed compared to a year ago, up 14%. Latest information says the slump in construction has accelerated since then. With consumer spending and investment declining and crucially with the US falling into recession, job prospects are bleak. Arnotts are going to sack nearly half of its staff in Dublin. Unemployment means poverty: The ESRI said that if a decline in the US coincided with problems in housing here, unemployment could more than double to 11% in 2009! That means that 200,000 currently at work face the dole. In this high cost society, that would plunge many households into poverty conditions.
Pay and conditions under attack: The tops of society are getting big increases but ordinary public and civil service workers are facing a pay freeze which means a 5% drop in real income. In February hotel bosses were successful in their legal challenge to the minimum wage in the sector and now hundreds of thousands workers face pay cuts. Reports show that with the lapsing of agreements Irish Ferries are now paying the crews on the French routes €4 an hour! Having only thrown ordinary people a few crumbs from the Celtic Tiger table, the bosses are now putting us on rations. They have siphoned off or wasted all the wealth that was created. Bush’s package to save the US economy is just more tax cuts for the very rich. In Britain New Labour has put €54 billion into bailing out the rich owners of Northern Rock. That’s half the yearly budget of the NHS. Why isn’t the wealth used to defend the living standards of working people? Make no mistake the government here will also use your money to bail out their business friends if they get into trouble.
The housetrained leaders who dominate the trade union movement are doing nothing to defend workers against these attacks. Their inaction must be challenged. With proper organisation and unity in action, workers have the power to resist these attacks and fight to put the needs of people come before the profit of the few.
The government and the heads of the bosses club, IBEC have been grinning like Cheshire cats because most public sector workers got 0% pay rises from benchmarking.
Yet despite all of their talk of the need for pay restraint, and how Irish workers must be more competitive – i.e. work for less to increase the profits of big business – these self same politicians and employers have been awarding themselves and their friends small fortunes in pay increases and bonuses.
There is a constant stream of propaganda that workers are getting paid too much or their pay rises are too high. But these claims don’t stand up when faced with the facts. For example in the Irish food sector between 2001 – 2005 profits increased per worker by 85.6%, yet wages per worker went up by only 23%. And in the business service sector profits rose by 69.4% per worker but wages went up by only 20.1%! While big business has been making record profits, according to government statistics one in every three workers in the private sector is low paid.
The new round of social partnership talks are starting soon to come up with a successor to Towards 2016. Twenty one years of “social partnership” has seen a massive shift in wealth from the working class to the rich - nothing will come out of this new round of talks that will fundamentally alter the wages and working conditions of workers for the better.
€38,000 - Bertie Ahern: Taoiseach, - €38,000 pay rise bringing him up to €310,000 a year. It would take a worker on the average industrial wage nearly ten years to earn Bertie’s annual salary.
51% - Eamon Rothwell: Chief executive of the Irish Continental Group, the owners of Irish Ferries, the man who sacked 500 Irish workers and replaced them with low paid migrant workers on €4 an hour, was rewarded with a 51% pay rise.
€650,000 - VHI: The private health insurance company are looking for a new chief executive, starting salary ?650,000 a year, obviously planning to expand further into the public health service under Mary Harney’s tutelage
€500,000 – Padraig McManus: ESB chief executive, plans to make 500 ESB workers redundant – is paid €500,000 a year. This is the same man who contracted GAMA to build an ESB power station using Turkish workers on €2.20 an hour!
€342,000 – Donal Connell: An Post chief executive, earns €342,000 a year. That’s 14 times the basic wage of a postal worker whose wages and working conditions he is currently attacking.
33%: The number of workers in the private sector who are officially low-paid.
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