Tuesday 17 October 2017

It's a free-for-all in public sector - and who shouts loudest gets the most money

Commuters walk the tracks during last February’s Luas strike: the dispute has been the trend-setter for public sector disputes that followed Photo: Steve Humphreys
Commuters walk the tracks during last February’s Luas strike: the dispute has been the trend-setter for public sector disputes that followed Photo: Steve Humphreys

Anne Marie Walsh

You could see the big industrial relations disputes of this year as a 'smash and grab', or a victory for the working woman or man. This probably depends on how far right or left you swing on the political spectrum.

There is no doubt that the tide is definitely turning in favour of the worker after eight years of job losses in the private sector and pay cuts for those who work for the State. But we are now in the middle of a free-for-all in terms of pay demands and inevitably, those who shout loudest are the ones that are being heard. Or more accurately, those with the power to halt vital public services - often described as holding the public to ransom - are the ones having most success.

There is no social partnership to set moderate pay rises in return for industrial peace and there is essentially no Lansdowne Road Agreement to do the same thing in the public sector. The weakness of the minority Government has given the perfect opportunity to strike.

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