Wednesday 24 October 2018

Calls to make employment great again? That's Trumpian nonsense

Workers' rights are being eroded and jobs are more precarious - widespread beliefs but wrong ones, writes Dan O'Brien

There are genuine concerns about the rights of cyclists delivering takeaways, but much else in common debate is just plain wrong. Photo: PA Wire
There are genuine concerns about the rights of cyclists delivering takeaways, but much else in common debate is just plain wrong. Photo: PA Wire
Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

There have been bigger gains in employment over the past 18 months than in the first 75 years of this State's existence. That stark fact says more about Ireland's worst-in-Europe record on jobs in the 20th Century than it does about the (very good) recent record on employment creation.

Ireland's appalling record on employment growth over most of that century is one reason why there is less fuzzy-headed nostalgia about the past in this country than in some others, of the Make-America-Great-Again variety so beloved of Donald Trump. In many peer countries, and despite the drudgery of assembly-line work, the decline of employment in heavy industry is lamented because jobs for life in manufacturing have come to be seen as better than less long-lasting service sector jobs.

In spite of the facts that the Republic never industrialised and its 20th-century employment record was so grim, suggestions of a past in which jobs and employment conditions were much better are often made. Even more common are claims of an unstoppable proliferation of zero-hour contracts, bogus self-employment and other forms of awfulness in the world of work.

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