Union revolt will doom our chances of recovery
Public sector staff should realise they are being led into a fight that will ensure we all lose, writes Alan Ruddock
TWO statements this week will put Ireland's chances of economic recovery in sharp definition. One, from Brian Lenihan, the Minister for Finance, will tell us what needs to be done this year if the public finances are to be stabilised and the economy revitalised. The other, from the trade union movement, will tell us how trade union leaders plan to disrupt that recovery with a rolling programme of strikes.
The choice for those on the frontline -- those public sector workers who still have jobs during a recession that has so far seen a quarter of a million people lose theirs -- is relatively simple: are you prepared to back the plan for recovery, or do you side with the shriller voices of the union leadership?
There is no middle ground: the trade unions have decided that theirs is a political fight and they are determined to force the Government into submission or out of office. Their campaign will, apparently, start slowly this month and will build to its crescendo in late February. Schools will be shut, at first in a series of half-day strikes and then, presumably, for longer. Similar half-day strikes are likely across the public sector and the unions will also impose a 'work-to-rule' regime -- a euphemism for disruption on a grand scale.