Sunday 20 August 2017

Government must stand up to unions' blackmail

The battle lines have been drawn for a campaign of national destruction that will benefit nobody, writes Alan Ruddock

Alan Ruddock

JACK O'Connor, the president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, could not have been clearer: he and his fellow trade union leaders are preparing for a lengthy and damaging war against the Government and the chances of economic recovery. O'Connor believes that he can force Brian Lenihan, the Minister for Finance, to abandon last December's Budget if the unions can convince Government that they "have the resolve and determination to conduct a campaign of industrial action and strikes on a sustained basis".

So prepare for a game of bluff in which there can be no winners. On one side, O'Connor will lead his unions into a battle that they cannot be allowed to win; on the other is a government that cannot afford to lose -- with everyone else caught in the middle.

Last week gave us a brief taste of what is to come, when the air traffic controllers shut the airports because they wanted some attention. The national interest, or even the individual interests of 20,000 passengers, counted for nothing. The controllers, and the semi-State managers who employ them, had no hesitation in allowing an internal dispute spill over into a national disgrace.

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