ICTU's strike call futile and harmful
Published 26/11/2012 | 05:00
THERE are many reasons to believe that the economic crisis is entering a new phase. The economy is showing signs of recovery and most forecasters inside and outside the country now believe that we will be one of the few countries in the eurozone to see growth next year.
We are also poised to resume borrowing from the bond markets in 2013 which will finally end our humiliating dependency on bailouts from the rest of Europe and the International Monetary Fund.
There are still plenty of problems but Ireland is once again on the move. This makes the call by Irish Congress of Trade Unions boss Eugene McGlone for a general strike all the more mystifying.
The chances are that Mr McGlone was playing to the gallery at the weekend anti-austerity march and has no intention of calling his members out on strike – but even such a suggestion is damaging to the economy because it makes it difficult for individuals and companies to plan for 2013.
We have been here before. There were calls for a national strike back in 2009 and hardly a month seems to go by these days without reports that the Aer Lingus unions will strike and disrupt travel plans – but the reality is that most people with a job in Ireland today don't want to strike.
The proof is in the pudding: Ireland has a relatively low trade union membership and we were one of the few countries that did not join the day of industrial unrest that saw riots in parts of Europe earlier this month.
Mr McGlone's calls for a national strike are likely to fall on deaf ears. The problem is that those looking at Ireland from the outside won't necessarily understand that ICTU is a spent force which lacks credibility or the financial muscle to carry out its empty threats.
It was therefore both futile and irresponsible of Mr McGlone to call for such as strike. While it almost certainly won't happen, it was nevertheless damaging to the people Mr McGlone purports to represent and the much larger group of people he does not represent.