Unacceptable face of partnership
THE owners and managers of small- to medium-sized enterprises have been sceptical for some time now about the benefits of Social Partnership. .
This is because they are excluded from it and their interests are not represented by the employers' body IBEC. Similarly, the men and women who work in the private sector have felt disenfranchised for some years now, by virtue of the fact that the ICTU has ceased to be an effective representational force on their behalf
They have seen trade union leaders retreat in the face of hardline owners and managers, contenting themselves with taking on the much softer option of the Government. ICTU has become a collective of public service unions and, as a result, the lot of the public servant has improved in direct proportion to the disimprovement of the private-sector workers' pay and conditions. Where the worker in the private sector has seen his or her pension halved in some instances, the State worker has a guaranteed pension publicly financed from a €20bn fund of taxpayers' money set up by Charlie McCreevy -- and added to since. Where the private-sector worker has suffered pay cuts, redundancy and eviction as well as negative equity and emigration, the public-sector workers have seen their numbers actually grow. They have been given a new agreement guaranteeing present wage levels and job security and even a promise of a pay rise, conditions permitting.