Wednesday 28 June 2017

If Government surrenders to union muscle it will hurt us all

Commuters walk to town along the Luas tracks at Ranelagh during the Luas strikes in February. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Commuters walk to town along the Luas tracks at Ranelagh during the Luas strikes in February. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Eddie Molloy

It looks like we are in for the proverbial 'winter of discontent', with young and old walking home in the rain and disruption to other vital public services, unless the growing demand from trade unions for large pay increases is met by the Government. We've been here before but there is something different about it this time in the strategies and demeanour of the trade unions.

An anarchic, lawless element has entered the fray. Luas drivers withdrew services when their initial demand for a 50pc pay increase was refused and they went on strike again when their 30pc demand was denied. This prompted Kieran Mulvey, probably the most experienced and impartial industrial relations practitioner in the country, to express dismay at these exorbitant demands. He feared they would set a benchmark for other unions' demands, ultimately precipitating a collapse of the still precarious public finances. In a matter of weeks his fears are no longer seen as scaremongering but a real possibility.

The behaviour of the ASTI is another example of excessive pay demands, resistance to (educational) reforms and apparent indifference to the consequences of going on strike. Although only a net 25pc of teachers - that is 60pc of a meagre 40pc turnout - rejected the Lansdowne Road Agreement, school closures are threatened. Colm O'Rourke, former Meath footballer and a school principal, has suggested that a Trotskyite group has taken control of the association and others have suggested similar influences at work in the Luas strikes.

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