| 4.6°C Dublin

Unions should be reformed or abolished

I WOULD really like to see unions make a plausible argument as to why their existence, in current form, remains valid here in the 21st century.

From what I can tell, the unions collect membership fees and so feel they must shake some sabres every so often. However, it also seems that unions come at the expense of an engaged and flexible workforce.

Here in the non-unionised 21st century, we look to employees to drive innovation in both work practices and products and services.

It seems that unions (if not also unionised employees) feel that they must get a little something extra to do something differently. The Croke Park "agreement" (wink) is a perfect example: in exchange for coming up with and implementing cost-cutting measures, unionised employees would not have their overall compensation package as savagely cut as the rest of the country?

What has resulted? Nothing. Apparently it doesn't really suit the unions to not get an increase of some sort, so they're not budging. And apparently our impotent Government can't do a thing about it. Inflexibility is not a good foundation for a modern economy. I am absolutely convinced that if we could tap the innovative talent of our public sector employees, we would quickly find cost savings in excess of 10pc and end up with more effective healthcare and civil service to boot.

Aer Lingus is probably wishfully thinking along much the same lines.

My number one vote in the upcoming general election is for whatever party or independent candidate includes as part of their platform a radical reform, if not outright abolishment, of employee unions. This should be coupled with some employment law reform as the original raison d'être of unions was to protect employees from exploitation.

Phil Miesle
Ennis, Co Clare