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Same old, same old from Dunnes over pay claim
MANDATE has been forced once again to submit a Section 20 referral for a pay claim on behalf of members working at Dunnes to the Labour Court. Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light told Shopfloor that he was disappointed “if not entirely surprised” that the union had to resort to such an action. He said: “In the past many issues affecting our members in Dunnes have been referred to the court under Section 20 which is used in circumstances where the employer blatantly refuses to engage with the union either directly or by attending in the first instance the Labour Relations Commission and then the court.” Mr Light also claimed that relations with Dunnes “had hit an all time low”. He added: “Dunnes management this time around did not bother to show basic respect to our members by even acknowledging our letter seeking the pay increase. “Management now appear to believe that they can act with total impunity by ignoring a request from their employees’ chosen representatives and the State’s industrial relations bodies to engage and deal with matters of concern.”

Sarsfield CU staff get their 2011 Xmas bonus
view. But Mandate countered that the credit union had failed to pay last year’s bonus without the employees’ consent and had therefore failed to pay wages “properly payable” . It is understood the staff had enjoyed the Christmas bonus of one week’s wages for more than 10 years. especially anxious to engage with management after the firm announced in October that it plans to radically restructure the business across the UK and Ireland. Mr Hamilton added: “Obviously we need to establish to what extent these plans, particularly those relating to store closures, will impact here.” It is expected that a meeting between union and management representatives will take place over the coming weeks, after which members will be fully consulted.

Mr Light pointed out such attitudes displayed by management “had always been unacceptable to the union’s members employed in Dunnes”. He added: “This is particularly so coming as it does in the wake of other retailers bucking the trend of recent years and actually agreeing with the union pay increases for their workers.” Mr Light underlined forcefully that Mandate was fully committed to its members at Dunnes. “Ultimately it is up to our members to decide whether they wish to be treated as second class workers. Our promise to them is that in the near future a special union-led initiative focusing on Dunnes will afford them the platform to determine their collective futures as employees of this company. “The union is fully committed to supporting whatever path is chosen by our members. Dunnes management must finally realise that their past and current treatment of our members who work for them is unacceptable. It has no place in a modern Irish retail sector but also within an evolving society as we all strive to fight our way through difficult economic times to hopefully a brighter place for all.”

Arnotts chiefs informed pension Trustees that they won’t be putting any more funds into current scheme Picture:Infomatique (CC BY-SA 2.0)


AFTER many requests by the union over the past nine months, a meeting has finally been arranged with management at Argos about a review to the current national agreement. Divisional Organiser Willie Hamilton told Shopfloor: “It was a matter of some regret that the employer has taken so long to respond to a reasonable and legitimate request by the union to engage in discussions directly relating to our members’ terms and conditions of employment.” He pointed out that Mandate was

MANDATE members at Sarsfield Credit Union in Limerick have welcomed the Rights Commissioner’s decision to award payment of the 2011 Christmas bonus. At the hearing, credit union representatives had argued that the gratuity or “Christmas box” was made at the discretion of the Board and was subject to re-

Argos meeting scheduled

ARNOTTS have given notice to Pension Scheme Trustees that it will cease making contributions to the current pension fund from December 7. Under the provisions of the Trust Deed, the ceasing of contributions by the company requires the Trustees to wind up the scheme. The company has advised the Trustees and unions representing members of the fund that neither the company nor the controlling banks will support the level of ongoing contributions required to fund the scheme in an application to the Pensions Board. While the scheme is in deficit, the deficit is not substantial in pension terms, approximately €24 million on an FRS17 basis, on an asset base of around €130 million. In circumstances where the controlling banks are not prepared to back the company in supporting the existing pension scheme, the Trustees will be left with no choice but to wind up the scheme. The structure of the Arnotts’ Staff

Arnotts cease making pension contributions
Pension Scheme is somewhat unusual in that it is termed a “shared risk” scheme, i.e. the employer and the employees share the funding risk on an equal basis. This means that the Arnotts balance sheet shows a liability relating to the staff pension scheme of €12 million (50% of the €24 million deficit). In the event of a wind up of the scheme, this liability is removed from the Arnotts’ balance sheet, thereby benefiting the company and the Irish Banking Resolution Corporation to the tune of €12 million, while significantly disadvantaging the current and deferred members of the scheme. If the decision to wind up the scheme goes ahead on December 7, it will mean that under the current priority ranking in a wind up situation, pensioners will have the first call on the assets of the fund. In the case of the Arnotts Fund, this will account for up to €100 million of the assets, leaving only €30 million for distribution to the actives and deferred, resulting in a coverage AFTER a series of meetings, negotiations at local level in Brown Thomas have broken down. In accordance with agreed procedures, all issues in dispute have now been referred to the conciliation services of the LRC. A Mandate source told Shopfloor: “Despite the fact that the em-

Brown Thomas pay talks collapse

rate for actives and deferred pensioners of between 40% to 50%. Mandate has written to the CEO of IBRC, one the banks that currently owns Arnotts, asking that for the institution to support a resolution to the pension crisis in Arnotts – a resolution that will see the loyal, longserving Arnotts’ staff receive their pension promise to date. Mandate’s Michael Meegan pointed out there was a moral obligation on Arnotts’ bankers “to do the right thing” and support the funding of the deficit in the Arnotts’ Staff Pension Fund. In the meantime, Mandate has asked Trustees to defer their decision to wind up the scheme until April or May of next year when there will be a clearer understanding about sovereign annuities and the rules for priority ranking which may be changed. The purchase of sovereign annuities along with a change to the priority ranking could result in the coverage rate for active and deferred pensioners being greatly improved from the present 40% to 50%. ployer was prepared to offer a 2% pay increase, the union’s national negotiating team felt the company’s demand for the effective abolition of the existing group commission scheme was disproportionate and therefore unacceptable.” The conciliation conference is on December 11.

y December 2012

Ballot over Debs proposals
UNION members at Debenhams are set to vote on a set of proposals that will represent – if accepted – a third consecutive set of cost stabilisation measures. Mandate Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light pointed out that the proposals reflected the reality that Debenhams’ business in Ireland has continued to struggle. He said: “However, this time around we have not only staved off an attempt by management to actually cut members’ wages in retaining current levels, but we have also got a commitment for a 2% pay increase that will be applied from September 1, 2013. “Obviously, members are disappointed that the increase could not be applied sooner. “However, they realise more than any why it had to be deferred to September 2013. “All in all the proposals represent reasonable progress and the aim now is to steadfastly build on the current situation when the parties meet again in August 2013.”


John Douglas

General Secretary Mandate Trade Union


Retailers have gone too far...

NOV 24, 2012


Picture: Carl Mark O’Neill


ASK yourself these questions: why should it fall on the Irish State and Irish taxpayers to subsidise low wages and sub standard contracts of employment to the tune of tens of millions in welfare payments each year to workers employed by major profitable multinationals? Is it not the responsibility of employers to offer decent jobs and decent incomes to workers who do a fair day’s work? Is it not reasonable to expect that employers – particularly large profitable ones – offer contracts of employment which allow workers a decent standard of living? Is it not reasonable to expect that workers know what their hours are and how much they earn each week, and that this income is constant and does not vary at the whim of a local manager or budget diktat from head office? Surely major retailers should give something back in the form of decent jobs to the communities in which they trade? Surely, it is the socially responsible thing to do? If workers are given decent jobs and a decent income, they too can become consumers and spend their money in local businesses, thereby creating even more economic activity and even more jobs. But, sadly, it seems that the majority of major retailers have no interest in giving workers decent jobs and or decent incomes. Their actions over the last decade in casualising their workforce into the lowest-commondenominator jobs has meant that for the majority of retail workers employment does not offer a living wage. Shareholder value and profit margins have been put far ahead of any concern for workers and their families. The culture of demanding maximum flexibility across working days and working hours while offering minimum commitment to workers is shameful, and is causing untold misery and financial strain to retail workers. Scheduling workers’ hours like some “just in time” delivery system means not only do workers not earn a decent income from that employment, but they are unable to seek a second job to supplement their earnings, trapped by an employer who only sees them as a cost to be controlled 24/7. In short, it is a modern form of slavery. We must go back to the future, we need to demand decent jobs and decent contracts, decent training and career prospects. The flexibility agenda has gone too far, workers deserve and demand respect, they are entitled to know in advance when they work and how much they earn – they are entitled to be able to plan for the future. A decent job and a decent income are basic human rights. In Mandate we intend to put these rights firmly on the agenda with Government and with every employer.

MANDATE has contacted auditors KPMG about redundancies following the closure of JJB Sports. Mandate official Jonathan Hogan met with Judith Johnston of KPMG to discuss the restructuring exercise and agreement that followed May 18 talks with JJB management at the LRC. The LRC document was accepted by a ballot of Mandate members at JJB Sports on the basis of an agreed
December 2012

Mandate meets JJB auditors
redundancy package, guaranteeing them the 15% rebate as well as their statutory entitlement. Ms Johnston could not confirm they would be able to make the 15% payment to members of staff who had left before the business went into liquidation. However, she said she was committed to looking into the matter. In order for KPMG to process these payments, they need details of those


who accepted redundancy at that time. Meanwhile, Ms Johnston confirmed to Michael Meegan of Mandate that KPMG have been in contact with the Department of Jobs Enterprise & Innovations on the issue. The department has agreed to assist KPMG in identifying those who had taken voluntary redundancy. After this is done, KPMG will confirm to Mandate if the 15% payment will be made.

Shopfloor is published bi-monthly by Mandate Trade Union. Mandate Head Office, O'Lehane House, 9 Cavendish Row, Dublin 1 T: 01-8746321/2/3 F: 01-8729581 W: Design & Editing: Brazier Media E: Shopfloor is edited, produced and printed by trade union labour

Picture: John Chaney 3

Rights Commissioner rules DIY firm should pay staff what they are owed
MORE than 100 payment of wage claims have been lodged with the Rights Commissioner’s service by Mandate on behalf of members at DIY chain B&Q . Earlier this year, B&Q unilaterally removed the summer/winter bonuses and the zone allowances for Dublin staff as part of its Business Recovery Plan. Subsequently B&Q management wrote to staff confirming the company’s support for external dispute resolution procedures amid Mandate claims that in doing so it is pre-empting the outcome of outstanding payment of wages claims. In a letter sent to staff in October, B&Q chief Diarmuid Walsh said man-



agement “fully respects these decisions to externally challenge the changes and seek a resolution”. The company stated: “It is likely that any decision from the LRC will be appealed to the Employment Appeals Tribunal and we would like to reassure that we fully intend to support this external process to its conclusion.” Mandate Industrial Officer Jonathan Hogan has since written to Mr Walsh expressing the union’s disappointment that the DIY chainstore had “pre-empted the appeals process before the Rights Commissioner’s recommendation has been issued”. Mr Hogan reiterated Mandate’s offer to use conciliation services at

claims lodged
the LRC on a without prejudice basis to resolve the dispute, but pointed out that the claims would proceed as planned if a settlement was not reached. B&Q responded to the union’s position by reassuring staff that “reaching and applying a fair and equitable solution for our colleagues” was one of their “priorities”. The firm added that whatever final decision was made about the removal of the bonus and zone allowance, it would “apply the decision to each and every individual affected by the removal”, regardless of whether the individual had lodged a payment of wages claim. Mandate claim B&Q are attempting to use subtle union-busting tactics – DECENT JOBS NOw! Mandate National Coordinator Brian Forbes, back centre, joins representatives from the Coalition to Protect the Lowest Paid in front of a statue of James Connolly in Dublin last month in that the company will not directly deal with formal correspondence from the union. A union source told Shopfloor: “Instead they revert to the staff assuring them that no payment will be made until the entire third party route has been exhausted and in the event that they are found to be in breach, they will pay the outstanding monies in full to all affected, including nonunion members.” Meanwhile, on November 2, Mandate received positive news from the Rights Commissioner’s service, outlining how B&Q had been in breach of the Payment of Wages Act 1991 and that the firm should pay what is owed to staff. Mandate Assistant

General Secretary Gerry Light wrote to the company on November 16 advising IBEC, as the company’s representative, to confirm whether or not they will pay what is owed as recommended by the Rights Commissioner’s service for the first case lodged in July 2012. In the letter, he also insisted that the employer confirms by November 30 whether they agree to use the July 2012 payment of wages claim as a test case to resolve the other outstanding zone allowance complaints. He added that failing this, the union would instruct the Rights Commissioner’s service to apply the complaints individually and independently.


IN LINE with an agreement reached in 2006, Tesco committed itself to putting in place an updated time and attendance (T&A) system significantly reducing – if not eliminating – the need for line managers or payroll clerks to make manual adjustments. Following meetings of the T&A implementation group in April and October, it was agreed that the current operation should be looked at so that any issues need-

Management to review T&A payment claims
ing to be addressed could be identified. A number of concerns were raised about the non automatic calculation of public holidays, sick pay, holiday pay and overtime payments which has resulted in the mis-calculations of monies for some workers. Mandate representatives raised these concerns with management in October and were told that all claims would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Tesco management insist they want to pay their employees the correct amount but, according to the union, the non-automation of the system “has consequently been detrimental to some of our members’ pay” .

MANDATE has advised management at B&Q that the distribution of a new company handbook – which workers are being asked to sign for – “must be in no way construed by the company as acceptance of any new terms which may be in the new handbook.” The union points out that changes contained in the handbook, differing from the older 2009 edition, have not been highlighted. These include the requirement to produce a GP certificate on the third day of absence instead of after the third day. Mandate has requested that B&Q confirms the changes and their implications as required under Clause 9 of S.I. 146 of 2000. This states: “The consequences of a departure from the rules and employment requirements of the enterprise/organisation should be clearly set out in procedures, particularly in respect of breaches of discipline which if proved would warrant suspension or dismissal.”

Union query raised over new B&Q handbook

The T&A working group are still in talks and Brendan O’Hanlon and Jonathan Hogan, of the Mandate sub-group, are currently reviewing similar T&A systems to establish what types of payments these automated payment systems can accommodate. It is understood outstanding payment claims for members are currently being processed.

y December 2012

US unions stage Black Friday strikes

UNI Commerce ha s called on its affi across the world liates to dig deep to su pport striking walmar t workers. A spok esperson said: “This is a cr itical moment fo r the US labour movemen t. soring of individu we are urging the sponal the action will ha workers who because of ve less money to support their families in the run-up to Ch ristmas.” Sponsor a walm art https://www.wep worker at... ay dont-let-walmar .com/donations/ t-silence-worker s-supportworker-leaders-w ho-are-calling-fo r-change
THOUSANDS of retail workers marked Black Friday – the traditional big sales day after the Thanksgiving holiday – by staging demos at walmart stores across the US in a massive show of strength. Demos, organised by pressure group Organization United for Respect at walmart (OUR walmart) and supporting groups, were held in 100 towns and cities across the country. walmart, with 2.2 million employees, is the biggest retailer in the US. After managing to go nearly 50 years without a strike – in just a month-and-a-half, stoppages have spread to stores in 12 cities. Simply put, walmart workers are fed up and determined to fight for the right to unionise and to secure a living wage and decent benefits.

Sponsor a US striker

December 2012



Pictures: OUR Walmart; UFCW (CC BY-NC 2.0)





y December 2012

December 2012



Identifying the ‘triple-bind’ that traps retail workers
MANDATE has called for concerted Government action to help eliminate the three "traps" of income, flexibilty and low skills that consign thousands of retail workers, trapped in low-paid ‘precarious’ work, to poor quality employment and the distinct possibility of being sucked into the ever deepening poverty trap. The union made the call as it unveiled a new set of policy proposals, entitled What Needs To Be Done!, on the issues facing retail workers in Ireland at a meeting with Oireachtas members, Senators and policy advisors in Leinster House on November 28. Mandate National Coordinator Brian Forbes told Shopfloor: “we told them that many thousands of retail workers are caught in a ‘triple-bind’ situation.” He added: “It has become clear after examining all the evidence that workers in retail are being subjected to ‘precarious’ work because they are caught in a flexibility trap, an income trap and a low skills trap. “They find themselves in jobs that don’t provide them with a decent living wage but are then denied by the prevailing circumstances today in retail the chance to either get a second job or even qualify for social welfare support.” The union’s previous policy document, Decent Work? What Needs to be Done? came from a body of research presented at Mandate’s delegate conference earlier this year. A survey of members carried out by research firm Behaviour & Attitudes found that: l 39% of Mandate members reported a drop in take home pay over the last year, with an average fall of €109 a week; l Since 2011, on average, retail workers’ hours had declined by 4.3%. For part-time workers the decrease was 5.6% and for student workers it was 12.9%; l Most Mandate members are on part-time contracts working an average of 22 hours per week. Over half of these work their hours over at least five days. This research also revealed that six in 10 Mandate members were willing to work extra hours to make ends meet but that under half of parttime employees who asked for more hours got them. Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light said: “Both bodies of research conducted by Mandate shows clearly that Ireland’s labour market crisis will not be solved with a more-jobs-at-any-cost strategy. “we need to look at the quality of jobs that are being created – otherwise, we will just increase the number of working poor. The new proposals Mandate placed before the policy makers show clearly the road map required for lifting thousands from poverty wages and challenge once and for all the reality of the working poor in Ireland.” Policy analyst Camille Loftus, who helped develop the recently launched What Needs To Be Done! proposals, also outlined and reinforced the reality of retail workers in precarious work being caught in a flexibility trap, an income trap and a low skills trap. She said: “The flexibility trap occurs where precarious workers don’t get enough hours to earn a living wage, but can’t get another job. “This problem is made worse by the structure of the PRSI system which incentivises employers to create precarious part-time jobs rather than full-time jobs.” Mandate has proposed that the higher rate of Employer’s PRSI be raised to €450 as a short-term measure and called for a revised working hours code of practice to help workers get the hours they need to make a decent living. with regard to the income trap, Ms Loftus also pointed out that many retail workers were caught between two stools when their hours are cut. “when workers have their hours cut, but not the number of days they work, they can’t claim any of the Jobseeker’s payments.” The union has argued for a reform of the system so that people can qualify for a payment if they experience a minimum 20% loss of employment. She added: “In addition, we are looking for a temporary cut in the number of working hours needed to qualify workers for Family Income Supplement (FIS) from 19 to 15 hours per week and the introduction of a refundable tax credit for low paid workers.” Ms Loftus said that the union was also calling for effective training support system to be put in place to help deal with what she dubbed the “low-skills trap” . Mr Forbes added: "Mandate's Decent Work campaign continues unabated and many more lobbying sessions with decision makers are planned over the coming months to challenge the notion that flexibility and casualisation of employment creates decent jobs and decent income. “All the evidence points in the opposite direction. Decent work helps to create a fairer society and we aim to promote that concept to policy makers everywhere and convince them of our arguments on behalf of low-paid workers in retail throughout the country."


AN ALL-PARTY delegation of Northern Ireland politicians and trade unionists has spent a week in Colombia and shared their experiences of the peace process in the North. The Justice for Colombia-organised visit, which started on November 5, coincided with the launch of peace talks between the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas. Key players in the local peace

By John O’Brien

NI trade unionists join Colombian peace delegation
movement, including Colombians for Peace – the civil society organisation that helped pave the way for the negotiations, welcomed the visit which was also covered extensively on national TV. The delegation included politicians from the DUP, Sinn Fein, Ulster Unionists and SDLP, including DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson and Paul Maskey MP of Sinn Fein. They were joined by NIPSA General Secretary Brian Campfield, NICICTU Chair Pamela Dooley and UNISON Regional Secretary Patricia McKeown. The delegation met with President Santos and addressed the plenary session of the Colombian Senate and Congress. Many of those involved had direct involvement in the negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement and shared their first-hand experiences with their Colombian counterparts. They met with trade unionists, victims’ groups, former FARC hostages, imprisoned human rights defenders and jailed guerrillas, as well as paying a visit to the Cauca region – dubbed the “epicentre of the Colombian conflict”. Patricia McKeown said: “We hope that our experiences may be helpful to the Colombian peace process. Colombia remains the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist, with 20 colleagues murdered so far this year. “We hope from our experience to demonstrate the vital role that civil


‘Decent work helps to create a fairer society and we aim to promote that concept to policy makers to convince them of our arguments on behalf of low paid retail workers’


society needs to play in any peace process.” Meanwhile, the critical need for a ceasefire was demonstrated after a leading member of teachers’ union ASOINC was murdered. Ariel Adolfo Camayo Valencia, 34, a geography and social sciences teacher at the ‘Manuel Jose Mosquera de Paniquita’ school in Totoro, was gunned down on his way home from work on October 26.
Justice for Colombia (Ireland) is a campaign committee of the ICTU Global Solidarity Committee. For further details contact

y December 2012

HOUSING and homeless charity Focus Ireland has warned that repeated cuts to funding have pushed families and single people to the brink of homelessness. Last year it helped nearly 7,500 people compared with 6,500 the previous year – recording a 18% rise in demand for its prevention services. The charity points out that the continued failure to provide affordable housing means many people are forced to remain living in temporary accommodation that is both unsuitable to their needs and which can cost the State €30,000 a year. Advocacy Director Mike Allen said: “Rising unemployment and cuts to some welfare supports have pushed many people even deeper into debt. “We are already seeing more people than ever seeking Focus Ireland’s support as they are at risk of losing – or have already lost – their accommodation purely for economic reasons as they are drowning in debt.” Research published by the charity last month showed how the cuts in rent supplement forced some people into homelessness. The study, titled Out of Reach: The Impact of Changes in Rent Supplement, also revealed that people have to pay ‘top up’ rent payments just to keep a roof over their heads. The charity warned that further budget cuts to rent supplement would see more people become homeless and also force many more households deeper into debt – putting them at greater risk of losing their home. The Government has cut the maximum rent limits nationwide under the Rent Supplement Scheme by an average of 28% in the last three years. It claimed this move would force rents downwards and save the State money. However, Focus Ireland’s research indicates this approach is failing to drive rents down. The real impact of the cuts has

Welfare cuts: Penneys staff deserve charity warns ‘no strings’ hike in pay of rising risk of homelessness
been to force tenants – already struggling on welfare or low incomes – to make under-the-counter payments from their own meagre resources to landlords to keep a roof over their heads. As you read this, decisions taken at Budget 2013 will be known. Hopefully the Government will have acted to protect the most vulnerable. Whatever the outcome, the reality on the ground is that there are still up to 5,000 people homeless and more people at risk than ever before of losing a place to live. Worryingly, one in seven of those who use homeless services is a child. Focus Ireland believes that there must be action taken to deliver better access to housing: l The Government should invest €400m next year building social housing in the capital to help create jobs and reduce homelessness, l No further cuts in Department of Environment or HSE funding for homeless services, l No further cuts to Rent Supplement limits, l Maintain social welfare payments for people of working age, and l Ensure that family and child income supports are not reduced for low income families. ALMOST nine months after Mandate presented a claim in writing to Penneys, management still refuses to concede a 3% pay increase. It follows two meetings with company representatives and IBEC on the issue. Management made it clear at the meetings that such an increase would only be considered if the union and its members were willing to make significant concessions across a wide range of established terms and conditions of employment. Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light told Shopfloor that what made management demands “all the more deplorable and unacceptable” was that Penneys – unlike many other retailers – had actually grown its turnover and profits during the worst of the economic recession. Mr Light said it was clear there was a lot of anger among Mandate



Retailer has done ‘fantastic business’ this year
members at Penneys about the way they were being treated by management. “They feel they – more than any other workers employed in the retail sector – should receive a nostrings-attached pay increase. “They simply cannot understand why other employers whose businesses are clearly not performing as well as Penneys have agreed with the union to apply pay increases for their respective workers.” However, Mr Light revealed that Penneys management – after initially declining an offer to attend an early hearing at the conciliation services of the Labour Relations

By Rebekah O’Neill

Commission – have now agreed to do so on December 19. He said: “Our members have worked so hard to drive the fantastic business performance during the course of the year.” Mr Light added that it was unfortunate that Penneys management “had not deemed it appropriate to willingly do the right and just thing for their workers” . He reiterated that the union and its members were determined to extract the “full value of the pay claim” during future talks at the Labour Relations Commission, adding, “and this means full retrospection to when the claim was first served” .

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To find out more about Focus Ireland’s work, log on to www.focus or call 1850 204 205. You can follow Focus Ireland on twitter @focusireland or like it on facebook charity.


Union Representatives Introductory Course
The Union Representative Introductory Training Course is for new shop stewards/union representatives. The course aims to provide information, skills and knowledge to our shop stewards/union representatives to assist them in their role in the workplace.

Doing your bit...

wINTER time can be a particularly difficult time for people who are homeless and there are lots of ways for people to help. You can give up your time and help volunteer or you can donate in a number of ways via the website or simply via text. Text Key to 50300 which will cost you just €2 with the full amount going to Focus Ireland. said the news had come as a “serious blow” to staff. He told Shopfloor: “They find themselves unemployed at a time when the pub trade is in difficulty along with also the potential for a long wait for entitlements such as redundancy. We will continue to protect members’ interests locally as well as nationally.”

AFTER the sudden announcement that the Kinsealy Inn pub in Swords is to close, Mandate has sought an urgent meeting with management and the liquidator. The union will seek to establish when members can receive their entitlements as well as discussing the possibility of re-employment. Industrial Officer David Miskell
December 2012

Course content: • Background to Mandate. • The role and responsibilities of a Shop Steward/Union Representative. • Examining disciplinary/grievance procedures. • Developing negotiating skills. • Representing members at local level. • Communication skills/solving members’ problems. • Organising, Recruitment and Campaigns. • Induction presentations. Certification and Progression: Members who successfully complete this course will obtain a Mandate certificate. They may progress to a Union Representative Advanced Course and to other relevant training courses offered by Mandate.

Kinsealy Inn meeting sought

If you are interested in this course, please contact your Mandate official or Mandate's Training Centre at 01-8369699. Email:



Picture:Infomatique (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Grim: Former headquarters of the East German secret police in Berlin

By Ed Teller
IF wE break the words political economy up and look at their constituent meanings we find the word ‘economics’ comes from the ancient Greek oikonomia, “management of a household, administration” and the word ‘politics’ from the ancient Greek politikos, ”of, for, or relating to citizens” . So, in essence, political economy means the management of production and distribution in society. However, economics today is presented by the establishment media and the education system today as a neutral science – one that merely requires technical knowledge and study so as to understand, and thereby conquer, the market system. It does not study the means by which wealth is created or how

Economic analysis you won’t find in the FT...
things are produced. It does not study the relations created and exploited in the production process, or the system of control this gives rise to. In short, it presents the world as one class sees it – the capitalist class. Political economy, on the other hand, is concerned with the study of production, exchange, distribution, the consequent social relations, and the whole range of political ideology and laws that evolve and relate to the basic economic system. Political economy is not by definition left-wing or right-wing. However, its great proponents: Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, Joseph Schumpeter, etc, through their analyses, identified and exposed the different classes involved in the production process and their relationship to each other. This means there is a different poThis website has been set up to present the economics that benefit the majority: working people, young people, the unemployed, and those who can’t work. Economics is political, and those forces that claim to represent the majority – trade unions, community groups and political parties – must project a consistent analysis of economics and a vision of how it could work for the majority. This website will present the ideas of a number of historically important thinkers, present a contemporary analysis from a variety of sources including interviewing economists, and hopefully store a number of reports and articles that will serve as resources for groups fighting for an economic system that serves people, and not the other way around.

litical economy to strengthen the different classes engaged in capitalist production and this website is clear in expressing its support for the labouring class. It will promote the political economy of working people – Marxism, so named after the great political economist Karl Marx.

Picture:dalbera (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Picture:Michael Berlin (CC BY-SA 2.0)

MANDATE has slammed global retailer IKEA for applying double standards in the way it deals with unions in different national jurisdictions. Brian Forbes, National Co-ordinator for Organising, who has spearheaded the union’s bid to organise the 500 workers at IKEA’s Ballymun store, above, told Shopfloor: “IKEA have applied double standards across the world to their dealings with unions. “In jurisdictions where they are not obliged to recognise or collectively bargain with unions they, in the main, will fail to do so.” Mandate has been trying to organise in IKEA Ballymun since 2009. Despite the best efforts by the company to keep them out, the union has been moderately successful in gaining members and slowly increasing density levels. Mr Forbes added: “workers in Belfast have a union and workers in Dublin are being denied that fundamental right. This is because of the lack of protection to union recognition and col-

DIY giant’s ‘double standards’ on unions

lective bargaining for workers in the Republic. USDAw, our sister union in the UK, has a recognition and collective agreement with IKEA and we can’t even get an access agreement.” It is understood the union has met with management in Dublin as well as representatives from IKEA’s global HR department to try and secure reasonable access to workers without company interference but with no agreement being reached. Mr Forbes said: "The company is displaying text book union avoidance tactics in their dealings with us and have created the misguided illusion to their staff that unions are bad. “Proof of this came when organisers were met with consistent statements from some staff at IKEA on three key messages – (a) IKEA does not recognise unions, (b) IKEA has no agreements with unions, and (c) there are no unions in IKEA. “All three of these statements are inaccurate and extremely misleading but staff believe the company line.”

Picture: sethshoen (CC BY-SA 2.0)

SENIOR officials at IKEA have expressed “deep regret” after it was revealed that the multinational had benefited from the use of forced labour to make furniture products in East Germany from the 1960s to the 1980s. It follows a study by auditors Ernst & Young of nearly 30,000 documents from IKEA and German state archives. The report, released on November 16, concluded that managers were aware of the possible use of prisoners – some of them dissidents – in manufacturing its products. The report authors pointed out that some measures had been taken to prevent this, but that they had been insufficient. Jeanette Skjelmose, a sustainability manager at IKEA, said: "We deeply regret that this could happen. Using political prisoners in production has never been accepted within the IKEA Group. "At the time we didn't have the well-developed control system that we have today and we clearly did too little to prevent such production methods."

IKEA’s ‘deep regret’ over forced labour revelations


y December 2012

TRADE union membership now stands at about 30% of the workforce. All our main unions are going to great lengths, through specific organising campaigns, to drive this figure upwards. But unions are fighting with one hand tied behind their backs, because of the absence of the right to statutory trade union recognition in the workplace. Anti-union companies know what is at stake. In 2007, Ryanair took a Supreme Court case to avoid union recognition for pilots working at the company. The Supreme Court found that "Ryanair is perfectly entitled not to deal with trade unions" and further "nor can a law be passed compelling it to do so", complying that statutory union recognition would be unconstitutional. Five years later, as we stand on

2013 must be the year trade union recognition is brought in
Picture: Labour Party


the eve of the 100th anniversary of the 1913 Lockout, we are no closer to establishing the legislation that is required to establish statutory trade union recognition. In this, our Republic falls far short of what is basic elsewhere. In the North of Ireland, major employers

such as IKEA are statutorily obliged to recognise trade unions, which they can avoid here. The programme for government gave hope that statutory recognition would be established. There is a commitment to ensure that Irish law on workers’ rights to engage in col-

By Patrick Nulty TD

lective bargaining is consistent with recent judgements of the European Court of Human rights. I have twice asked Enda Kenny directly, during the order of business in the Dail to give a date as to when we would see legislation of trade union recognition brought forward.

He was evasive and indirect on both occasions, giving no indication that the issue is on his mind. And so, we have a fight on our hands as we head into 2013. The right to recognition needs to be pop-

‘Our Republic falls far short of what is basic elsewhere...’

ularised and consistently campaigned for. The Labour Party, down through the years, has expressed support for statutory recognition and included commitments to introduce the necessary legislation in election manifestos. Now is the time for a major campaign to make sure that the party makes good on its pledges, and to win allies for legislation within the party. The possibility of the need for constitutional change is no excuse not to act. The constitutional convention, which has a mandate to discuss issues other than those in the terms of reference they have been set, could examine the issue if required. 100 years after our forbearers fought a major popular struggle about the right to trade union recognition, this is a campaign we must advance in 2013.

December 2012



Housing policy built on sand?
THE popular impression of NAMA is that it currently owns the ghost estates that litter the countryside, but this is not the case. There are about 10,000 housing units on its books – 9,000 apartments and 1,000 houses. However, about half of these are currently occupied. This means that out of the 254,000 vacant housing units in Ireland today, only 5,000 are in NAMA. That works out at about two per cent overall. So every time RTE shows images of a ghost estate on the news while talking about NAMA, it is certainly not giving you the full picture. NAMA’s property portfolio relates mainly to commercial property – office blocks, hotels and golf courses – and to green fields on the outskirts of our towns and cities which had been re-zoned but never developed. If you are one of those who bought land or speculated on hotels and commercial property, then you’re one of those who partied. If you did not, then you’re paying for those who did. There are 11,500 loans belonging to 850 borrowers in NAMA 180 of those borrowers account for almost 90% of the value of those loans and these borrowers have their loans managed directly by NAMA – the other 670 (accounting for approximately 10% of the value of the loans) are still managed by the various banks. None of those loans relate to mortgages. They may be secured on the back of residential property, but they are not failed/broken mortgage loans.

€500m a year goes to private landlords... why not build instead?
MANDATE General Secretary John Douglas has asked why the Government pays private landlords more than €500m each year on social housing for people on waiting lists when the money could be better used building homes and adding to the national social housing stock. Blasting the privatisation of social housing by successive governments, he told Shopfloor: “You have to question the logic of paying more than €500 million to landlords as opposed to investing in building or securing new social housing stock. “This second approach would not only generate rents to the State but also create thousands of much needed construction jobs.” Mr Douglas, right, acknowledged that rent allowances paid to landlords for welfare tenants had been cut by 28% since 2009, saving up to €22m, but pointed out that Focus Ireland had raised concerns that this had forced many tenants into sub-standard accommodation and – in extreme cases – homelessness. He said: “The Government through NAMA owns thousands of vacant housing units and develop-


By Dr Conor McCabe


‘The lack of supervision and standards in Irish construction means that the very foundation of NAMA’s Irish portfolio is, quite literally, unsafe’

The chairman of NAMA, Brendan McDonagh, told the Dáil Public Accounts Committee in October 2011 that not only must NAMA meet certain financial objectives, it “must also meet certain social objectives” as well. There are around 100,000 households on the social housing waiting list, yet we know from the 2011 census that there are over 230,000 vacant housing units in the State. Furthermore, the cost of Ireland’s rent allowance scheme is around €500 million a year. The Irish government is paying private landlords half a billion a year in rent, while hundreds of thousands of housing units lie empty, slowly rotting away. In December 2011, NAMA an-

The most profitable part of the portfolio is overseas. According to the Dáil Public Expenditure Committee, 80% of NAMA’s cashflow‘s currently generated from the UK in the form of debtor repayments and asset sales. NAMA continues to sell off these properties, despite rising prices in London. It will not be long until NAMA is left with a multi-billion euro debt in one hand, and Irish commercial junk in the other. The complete lack of supervision and standards in Irish construction means that the very foundation of NAMA’s Irish portfolio is, quite literally, unsafe. The legislation which created the body states quite clearly that NAMA is required “to contribute to the social and economic development of the State.”

nounced with much fanfare and congratulatory back-slapping that around 2,000 housing units would be made available for social housing. This was put forward as evidence that NAMA was fulfilling its social remit, that it was not just about a bailout for bankers and builders. The Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, said at the time that the move was a “welcome Christmas boost to those most vulnerable in society.” One week later the Government announced a 23% cut in capital funding for social housing – a reduction of €118 million in the annual budget. In May 2012, in a response to a parliamentary question by Sinn Féin TD, Dessie Ellis, the Department of the Environment confirmed that of the 2,000 housing units identified by NAMA for social housing, only 1,000 were actually habitable, and of these only 700 were to be made available to local authorities. Not only does NAMA hold a fraction of the vacant housing units in the State, of those it does hold, the majority that are vacant are unfit for human habitation. The hundreds of thousands of empty housing units in Ireland remain under the remit of the State’s banks. These are a financial time-bomb, along with the rapidly-rising arrears and defaults in Irish mortgages. We need to start looking at the problem of housing in this country, not only in terms of provision for social needs, but also in terms of the crippling national mortgage debt which is a deadweight to any chance of growth and sustainability in the future.

Picture: Infomatique (CC BY-SA 2.0)

ment land acquired from banks and developers. “Surely it makes sense to finish these housing units and allocate them to those families languishing on local authority house waiting lists? “Private landlords are not in business to provide social housing, rather they are in business to make profits.”

Tempest redundancy deal
MANDATE has agreed redundancy packages and redeployment options with the Arcadia Group after it was announced that Tempest at the Omni Park shopping centre in Santry was to close. Industrial Officer David Miskell told Shopfloor: “we are happy that a good deal has been agreed on various options available for our members. “There can be no doubt that the news was a great shock to staff and this is a very difficult time. “However, we believe that in the circumstances a good set of options have been agreed.”

Why I’m in Mandate...


y December 2012


ade y tr Wh is ism io n un ue! iss ass cl a
Picture: avlyxz (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Gerry Light

Assistant General Secretary Mandate Trade Union

THE era of the Celtic Tiger has had a profound impact on union organising in Ireland. For many years, union negotiations with government left a deficit in union participation. Many members had little interaction with their union, apart from seeing their subs being deducted from their wages every week. It left the movement a little worse for wear after Social Partnership collapsed. The state of affairs has been worse in the case of young workers. There has been a general decline in the ‘passing down’ of union tradition from parent to child in Ireland. Celtic Tiger cubs have had little experience of union activism. Nothing of its history is taught in schools, unless you studied History for the Leaving Cert. Even then, it was possible to pass the exam without paying too much attention to the simplistic, school taught history of the 1913 Strike and Lockout. Industrial unrest was absent from conversations in the family home. And so, Ireland’s youth had no idea about this alien concept of the “trade union”. Second and third-level students’ unions had little to mobilise over. With no real threat to education grants or no prospect of fees being reintroduced, these unions stagnated and its students never saw or felt the necessity to act as a collective. They

By Aideen Carberry

Time is short – we must act now to engage young people
History lesson: passing down of union tradition within families seems to be on the wane

December 2012



never felt the need to activate their generation for a cause. Important work was done on the issues of mental health and awareness. However, these campaigns often involved a small number of people, and did little to activate students as a coherent group. Many may see the issue of low youth participation in trade unions as unfortunate, but ultimately not detrimental to the movement. Yes, it’s sad that we’ve lost these people to our cause but the movement will go on regardless, we will find a new generation to take in to the fold and teach about the power of the collective. There are also those who believe that, yes, it is important that young people join our unions, but we needn’t go out of our way to organise them. We’ll keep doing what we are doing. The young workers will join when they join. However, there is a more serious side to the lack of young people in Irish unions. Studies have shown that people who reach 40 without ever having been a member of a trade union are unlikely to ever join. This will, no doubt, have a knockon effect in terms of passing on the tradition to members of your family. And, in turn, affect union membership and participation as a whole. There are several reasons why younger workers don’t join unions. Younger people tend to be in an employment for far less time than an

older worker. They are a generation of workers who are unlikely to stay in the same employment very long. They are a transient workforce. This is particularly true of the retail sector. They can also be apathetic towards the movement. They feel they do not need them as they are well educated and can fend for themselves. As the role of work changes due to the recession, employers are asking more and more from their employees. And it is for this exact reason that young workers should be mobilised and recognise that as a group of workers they are far more likely to be affected by these changes. They are entering the workforce on different terms and conditions than the people who came before them, and they must feel that their rights as a young workforce are being fought for, before there is a generational divide in workplaces. There is also a real danger that as the workforce ages and exits employment, and a newer, unorganised one emerges through the ranks, that the rights fought for throughout the history of the union movement will be eroded. This is not a case of organising a group of workers for the sake of it. Bringing young people in to the trade union movement, and making it relevant to their lives, will be vital to the survival of the union movement itself. It simply cannot wait any longer.
Aideen Carberry is a Mandate organiser

LIKE most other retail businesses, Dunnes Stores have faced and continue to encounter significant challenges as a result of the prolonged economic crisis plaguing this country. Unlike most other responsible employers in the sector, they have not dealt with the industrial relations difficulties which inevitably result from such an environment by going down the route of constructive engagement with workers and their chosen representative, Mandate Trade Union. In fact the degree of disengagement from the union chosen by management at Dunnes is totally at variance to the approach adopted by other retail employers. Other employers proactively engage with us and have also gone so far as to award actual pay increases to their respective workforces – despite this difficult economic climate. As a direct consequence of the series of national strikes in the 1990s, a comprehensive national procedural agreement emerged. It was hoped at that time that this would allow for the relationship between Dunnes management and the union to grow in a way that would benefit the many thousands of our members employed by the retailer. Unfortunately this has not been the experience – as witnessed by our many attempts in the years since to deal with issues both at national and local level. Constantly our members continue to be denied access to representation by full-time union officials while management consistently refuses to engage either directly with the union or at the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court in respect of national issues. Some years back, we took a case to the Labour Court basically accusing the company of non-fulfilment of their obligations under the 1996 National Procedural Agreement. The Court essentially ruled that the parties to that agreement should comply with their respective obligations contained within it. Despite subsequent union requests for management to so engage, they have steadfastly refused to do so. We even suggested that the company attend with the union at the advisory services of the Labour Relations Commission to discuss the relevance of and, if necessary, possible changes to the agreement. Once again management declined this offer. As we are about to enter another Christmas and New Year season, we are absolutely determined that 2013 will bring a significant shift and improvement in the quality of the working lives of our members at Dunnes. Increasingly our members at Dunnes have been asking the hard question of the union as to how we are going to respond to this intolerable style of management and the degree of intolerance show both to them and their union. We have put together a specific strategy that will target all aspects of how we engage with Dunnes Stores. This strategy will be focused and sufficiently resourced in an effort to bring about best practice on industrial relations, organising, recruitment, campaigning and training in this employment. It is envisaged that the plan will be launched early next year. In essence the strategy is only a means for potential improvements into the future. It will remain an empty vessel if our current and future members in Dunnes decide not to get on board and drive it forward with enthusiasm.

Time is up for Dunnes

Picture: avlyxz (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Ireland must lead the way in ratifying rights convention
THE MIGRANT Rights Centre Ireland has given its backing to the International Trade Union Conferation’s ‘12 by 12’ global campaign calling on governments to ratify ILO Convention No 189, so that domestic workers have stronger protection. Launched in December 2011, the ITUC campaign is seeking to get 12 countries to ratify ILO Convention No 189 by the end of 2012. Campaign organisers have already mobilised trade unions and domestic worker organisations in 73 countries. ILO Convention No 189 recognises the right of domestic workers to: collectively defend their interests through trade unions; protect their right to a minimum wage in countries where it exists; guarantee a monthly payment and access to social security – including in the case of maternity; guarantee one day off per week and regulate their working hours. In essence, Convention No 189 recognises domestic work as any other work and ensures that domestic workers are treated as any other worker under labour legislation. In Ireland, domestic workers have urged Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton to take action by bringing laws here into line with the international convention and to commit to introducing new international labour laws protecting people working in private homes. Domestic work is one of the largest


By Marco Natale

ILO chief Juan Samavia with jubilant domestic workers after Convention 189 was passed

and fastest growing sectors in the world. There are more than 100 million workers employed to do work in someone else's house all over the world. Some 80% of these are women and girls – and many are migrants or children. They clean, cook, do the laundry, provide care to children and the elderly and lots more. They provide essential caring roles in society, yet their work is underval-

“I wORKED from morning to night 17 hours a day, seven days a week for over 10 years without payment. I never had holidays or was allowed take a day off. I was mistreated by my employer. “I felt helpless in my situation and didn’t know where to go. I wasn’t allowed to have any contact with my family for over 10 years and I am still searching for them now. “My only private space was to think and be alone for some time in my bedroom, where I thought about my family and think about my situation.” – Olajoke is a live-in carer who moved to Ireland several years ago. ued, underpaid, and not respected. It is estimated there are more than 10,000 people employed in private homes in Ireland. A total of 40 cases of forced labour, involving women working in private homes, have been registered since 2008. Countless numbers of workers are forced to stay in inhumane and undignified situations and many are denied their most basic human rights.

Olajoke’s story, it happens here too...

Even if they play an important role in community life, domestic workers’ rights are often neglected. Mistreatment, exploitation, violence, and abuse are frequent and often go unpunished. In many countries, the great majority of domestic workers are excluded from labour legislation and social protection schemes. Many are denied the right to form or join a trade union. By supporting the ’12 by 12’ campaign, we can help Olajoke, and others like her, in their fight for equality and recognition. Ireland has to play its part, especially in the light of its role of the EU Presidency in 2013. We are calling on the Irish Government to be among the first to ratify Convention No 189 in Europe. We have the potential to pull millions of domestic workers out of poverty, exclusion, slavery and abuse. Let’s show our commitment to protecting human rights by supporting the petition that will be handed to Minister Bruton. Sign at and show your support for domestic workers’ rights.

Trade union delegation meets DoSP officials over Bill concerns
A TRADE union delegation has met with the Department of Social Protection officials to highlight unions’ concerns over insolvency, particularly difficulties that have arisen in securing redundancy entitlements and wages. Industrial Officer David Miskell represented Mandate at the meeting where he was joined by representatives from SIPTU and ICTU. He told Shopfloor: “Insolvency can involve liquidation, receivership, bankruptcy or petitions to wind up companies. “However, increasingly employers are simply walking away without putting their companies into receivership or organising their affairs, meaning that employees cannot claim their arrears of wages or holiday pay. “If an employer just walks away without putting their affairs in order and leaves their company in legal limbo, we are seeking that – similar to the redundancy payments scheme – outstanding wages can be paid from the same fund. “In addition we are seeking changes to the New Insolvency Bill. where employers are invoking personal insolvency, employees should be treated as preferential creditors, so that payment in full is protected. “Also these employees should have access to the Social Insurance fund if the employer cannot pay.” Mr Miskell added: “These changes are particularly important for workers in small companies who are left short-changed on entitlements by employers who simply disappear. “Mandate, along with our colleagues in SIPTU and ICTU, will continue to campaign on this issue to ensure that members are not out of pocket as a result of suspect activities by employers.”


Defending domestics

MRCI set up the Domestic workers Action Group in 2003. MRCI set up the Domestic It now Action Group 200 workershas more thanin 2003. It members who work200 now has more than as nannies, housekeepers, and elderly members who work as nancaregivers in Ireland. It actively nies, housekeepers, and eldcampaigns for the rights of erly caregivers in Ireland. It domestic workers both actively campaigns for the nationally and internationally. rights of domestic workers both nationally and internationally.

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y December 2012


Balladeer of Hard Times
American Recordings and releases from Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and many more). Under Lost Highway Bingham released Mescalito in 2007. A record filled with hard-hitting lyrics such as: Mostly good folks have tried and tried, To make a livin on your minimum wage, You’re coming up short nearly every day, And what's enough and what's the cost, You can't stand up cause all is lost, You roll us up and your doors are locked, There's a poor boy livin on every block. (Hard Times) Well, I've been workin in the goddamn sun, With just for a dollar a day, Been workin for a dollar a day, I been workin for a dollar a day, Man, I never understand why all my money, Goes down to man at the bank, And all he does is sit and think, About the money that I'm gonna make. (Dollar a Day) Ryan has something to say and this does not endear him to the establishment. In his next record, Roadhouse Sun, released in 2009, he challenged authority even more openly in a number of songs including Change Is and Dylan’s Hard Rain. This last track is a tribute to and continuation of the theme of Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall tracking the continuation of the past in the present and the repetition of hard times. But by far the most overtly political tune is Endless Ways in which Bingham says: You want more money, in your hand, You want more blood from a foreign land, I'm a gonna stand up, and say my name, Cause everybody's tired of your endless ways. More mainstream recognition came to Bingham on the back of his collaboration with producer T Bone Burnett for the 2009 film Crazy Heart writing and performing The Weary Kind and I Don’t Know for the soundtrack. The Weary Kind is a beautifully sad song about regret and remorse accompanied by a calming acceptance. This – the title track from the movie – won Bingham an Oscar, a Golden Glove and many other awards. Bingham claims Junky Star – his brilliant third album – is the saddest and most melancholic of his album. Its final track All Choked Up Again was written in the context of both his parents dying. While certainly musically it is the lowest tempo, it still includes biting political commentary such as arguably its best track Depression about this never ending economic crisis and the consequences on an emotive level for working people.

Ryan Bingham: lyrics that pack a punch

Lab Court rules over Shoezone redundancy payouts
THE LABOUR Court has awarded a group of Shoezone workers made redundant earlier this year an ex gratia payment of one week for each year of service on top of their statutory entitlements. The workers were made redundant in May when Shoezone closed its store in the Nutgrove Shopping Centre, Dundrum. A dispute arose following the closure when Shoezone bosses informed Mandate they were no longer in a financial position to pay redundancy terms agreed previously with the union. After local and national talks broke down, the issue was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A full conciliation hearing was heard on June 8 with the firm steadfastly refusing to honour the terms of the redundancy package which had been agreed with the company after it had closed other stores. Given that there was no prospect of a deal being brokered, the matter was referred to the Labour Court and a full hearing was held on September 7. The Court, after hearing detailed submissions from both sides, found the firm should honour the terms of the redundancy package negotiated with Mandate and Shoezone workers with varying lengths of loyal service were awared an ex gratia payments one week’s pay for each year of service.


THE United States, like every country, has a great tradition of producing progressive patriotic working class songwriters from Woody Guthrie to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. This list should of course include many others such as Steve Earle, Robert Johnson and Pete Seeger but arguably should also today include Ryan Bingham. I was lucky enough to see Bingham in Whelan’s a couple of weeks ago for the very reasonable price these days of €16.50 and was blown away by the energy and passion he brought to country music. Lyrics critical of government and the religious right tackled issues such as minimum wage labour, homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction and racism. Born in New Mexico in 1981, his family moved around a lot in his early years. And from a young age Bingham took to the rodeo and bullriding scene that took him around the country. Bingham released a number a number of self-release albums – Wishbone Saloon and Dead Horses – before being signed to Lost Highway Records (famous for Johnny Cash’s

By Gareth Murphy

December 2012


Bingham’s latest album, Tomorrowland, released in September, combines country with heavier almost grunge styles – it’s this that gives his live performances incredible energy and passion for what is still unmistakably still country music. Some of the stand out songs on this album, released on his own label, are Western Shore, Flower Bomb, Guess Who’s Knocking and Rising Of The Ghetto. Despite a heavy touring schedule and time spent in the studio Bingham has found time to perform at protests and marches memorably in support of trade unionists and trade union rights in Wisconsin, signing these lines from the song Direction of the Wind: There’s no time for propaganda, or media filled with hate, no time for scripted messages that slither around like snakes…Yesterday is gone, so that a new day can begin, and it seem there’s been a change in direction of the wind. I think we can safely say this is one vote for sure Mitt Romney didn’t get! I highly recommend going out to your nearest unionised retail outlet and picking up any one of Ryan’s four acclaimed albums.

Ex-employees of Josef Jeans still awaiting severance pay
MANDATE members who worked at Josef Jeans, a fashion retailer that went into liquidation in July, are still awaiting their entitlements, including redundancy sums and pay arrears. The union has contacted the liquidator who has yet to confirm when Mandate members will receive what is due to them. Industrial Officer David Miskell has lodged legal claims for all outstanding entitlements and is awaiting a hearing on the issue. He told Shopfloor: “It is disappointing that it has taken so long to secure monies. “However, we will pursue all available avenues to ensure that members are paid.”



Spend your money w
EACH day as consumers we are faced with a bewildering diversity of choice about what to buy and where to shop. Major retailers spend hundreds of millions, billions even, on high-end advertising and eye-catching branding to try and persuade you – the shopper – where you should spend your hard-earned cash. But one option we tend to overlook as shoppers is choosing to Spend Your Money Where Workers Count. In the run up to Christmas, at the New Year and beyond, Mandate is launching a new and exciting campaign that could revolutionise the way you shop. This is designed to give you – the consumer – the valuable option of spending your money and supporting retailers that respect the rights of their employees. Welcoming the innovative new drive, Mandate General Secretary John Douglas said it was designed to “promote a value” for retailers by highlighting the advantages of “respecting workers and offering them a decent living income”. He added: “Fair Shop is a modern ethical consumerism campaign. It is built primarily on the principle of putting workers first for a change. We would call on consumers to shop with a conscience, back the campaign and support workers’ rights.” The idea behind Fair Shop is not new – in fact, you could say it’s a 100 years old. Just look at the archived minutes of the Twentieth Annual Trades Congress held in the City Hall, Cork, in May 1913. One of the motions debated at the congress concerned “Trades Union Shops”. According to the records, delegates T Johnson and A Doran argued for the need for unions to use the ethical buying strength of consumers to further workers’ rights. We feel sure comrades Johnson and Doran would have wholeheartedly thrown their backing behind the current Fair Shop campaign. Nowadays, Fair Shops recognise their employees’ rights to join a trade union and afford them full collective bargaining rights. We believe these rights are fundamental and basic and well worth supporting with your spending power. One of the key objectives of Fair Shop is to support and promote quality employ“Disagreements happen from time to time but Fair Shop transcends the day-today drudgery of industrial relations and acknowledges those employers who ‘do the right thing’.” And we hope Ireland’s 800,000 trade union members, their families and supporting organisations will also “do the right thing”.

ww.fair w

ment in the retail sector by encouraging consumers who care about workers’ right to choose Fair Shop companies and their local stores. Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light told Shopfloor: “As many trade unionists will undoubtedly testify, very few – if any – relationships between an employer, their employees and their union is ever perfect.

‘This is an ethica campaign built o putting workers

NO EXCUSES! The new website will feature a Fair Shop location finder as well as special Fair Shop promotions


y December 2012

where workers count
They can make an informed choice by checking out a Fair Shop in their local area and by making ethical purchases on a regular basis. In recent years, there have been increasing assaults on workers’ rights, pay and conditions of service by many unscrupulous employers. Mr Light said: “These employers have sought to gain an unfair and financial advantage over those competitors that do respect their employees’ entitlements. “This approach needs to be challenged across the retail sector by the spending power of thousands of ethically-minded consumers.” As trade unionists and as responsible citizens we should be making the “informed choice” each time we make a retail
December 2012

al consumerism on the principle of first for a change’





purchase.Fair Shop not only provides the information needed by consumers to make the choice of spending money where workers count much easier but it will also demonstrate to retailers the importance of recognising the rights of workers to join and be represented by a trade union. Our use of collective and individual consumer power has the very real potential to improve conditions for workers across the retail sector and Fair Shop provides the basic information required for you to make those ethical purchasing decisions. Over the coming months and in the years ahead, Fair Shop will develop brand recognition and strength by working alongside Fair Shop retailers and by encouraging 800,000 workers and their families on this island to shop Fair. Our intention is clear, we wish to acknowledge those employers who ‘do business’ with their employees on issues such as pay, decent contracts and terms and conditions and we jointly commit with these employers to support and promote quality jobs and decent work in the retail industry in Ireland. Describing the initial reaction to the

campaign as “fantastic”, National Coordinator Brian Forbes told Shopfloor: “Already many Fair Shop-nominated employers seeing the value in the initiative have been talking to Mandate about developing brand awareness and promoting joint actions.” As an integral part and the driving force behind the Fair Shop initiative, a new website – – has been launched. The site is compatible with all modern Smartphone technology and will run regular Fair Shop promotions that will only be accessible on the site. It will also feature a list of Fair Shop employers and supporters. Added to that the campaign will also have dedicated Facebook and Twitter social networking pages. Mr Forbes added: “Importantly from a consumer’s point of view – the site will host a Fair Shop location finder so you have no excuse for being unable to locate a Fair Shop locally. “Fair Shop is about making the informed consumer choice and about putting workers and responsible employers first for a change. “It’s plain and simple....It’s about Spending Your Money Where Workers Count.”

1913 motion on ‘Trade Union Shops’
Mr T Johnson, proposed, and Mr A Doran (Belfast), seconded, and it was agreed: “That we call on all Trades Unionists and their families to make inquiries when purchasing goods, not only in regard to the conditions under which those goods were produced but also in regard to the conditions in the particular distributive shop in which they are purchasing and to ascertain from the assistant on all occasions whether he or she is a Trades Unionist.”


ICTU economist: Govt must act after ‘chilling’ jobless figures
ICTU Chief Economist Paul Sweeney has described the underlying unemployment figures as “quite chilling” and said they underlined the need for urgent Government investment in jobs. He said: “The new figures show a tiny fall in the jobless rate, down from 14.9% to 14.8% and nobody could possibly take comfort from that. “In addition, when you look beneath the headline data the picture that emerges is quite chilling. “Again, we see a further fall in employment and even less people at work in the economy. “This downward trend has not altered, which makes it abundantly clear that official policy must change. It is vital that investment is not cut further but increased. “There are also other worrying indicators, such as a male unemployment rate that is some three percentage points above the national rate.” Mr Sweeney, below, also warned that total investment in the Irish economy is now at the very bottom of the EU 27, below that of Greece. “Ireland’s investment level no longer covers the replacement of capital. It is unheard of in any developed economy – that investment would be allowed to fall to the extraordinary low levels that now pertain in Ireland.”



400 garment workers die in series of factory fires in under 3 months

Talks kick off over review of PCC agreement at Superquinn
TALKS have started with Superquinn management over conducting a review of the current PCC Agreement. Mandate representatives made it clear that members expected a “full and timely” restoration of the Christmas Bonus payment. They also outlined a number of issues for discussion – including pay increase, restoration of increments, banded contracts and profit sharing – in ongoing discussions. For their part, management have indicated they want the possible introduction of a new pay scale for new starts to form part of the talks. A Mandate source told Shopfloor: “while the trading position facing the business remains challenging, it is apparent – based on financial figures presented – that a considerable amount of revenue has been generated over the last 12 months which has been reinvested into the areas of capital expenditure and marketing.” It is understood talks may stretch into the New Year.


Mandate Trade Union with the VEC network is offering a programme of Training Courses called Skills for Work. Skills for Work offers members the opportunity to get back into education at their own pace with a wide range of courses to choose from. Each course has 6 – 8 participants and may be held locally and outside of working hours. Some of the courses include:

Adult Education Courses for the Workplace
This course is ideal for adults just learning about computers and confidence for communicating online. Please tick the box or boxes of the courses which interest you and return this form with your details to: Mandate’s Organising and Training Centre Distillery House, Distillery Road, Dublin 3 Phone 01-8369699, email Closing date Friday 11th January 2013

THE Clean Clothes Campaign, along with trade unions and labour rights organisations in Bangladesh and around the world have called on international clothing brands to take action after the latest in a series of fires claimed the lives of 100 garment workers in Bangladesh. Many of the workers jumped to their deaths trying to escape from the six-storey building. Others, unable to escape the flames, were burned alive. The tragedy at the Tazreen Fashions factory in Dhaka comes just a few months after 300 textile workers died in two blazes in Pakistan on September 11. According to Tazreen Fashions’ website, the factory produces garments for a number of well-known brands, including C&A, Carrefour, KIK and Walmart.

Brands must act after blaze horror
The Clean Clothes Campaign has claimed leading retailers in the West have failed to address safety concerns highlighted by previous factory fires in developing countries. The group has joined with unions and labour rights organisations in developing a sector-wide programme for action. This includes a programme of independent and transparent inspections and an obligatory upgrading of the buildings supplying participating brands. The programme for action also includes calls for a review of all existing laws and safety regulations and a commitment to pay prices that can cover the costs involved as well as the direct involvement of trade unions in worker training on health and safety.

The Clean Clothes campaign is now renewing its demand for brands to sign on immediately. Ineke Zeldenrust, from the Clean Clothes Campaign, said: “Together with our partners in Bangladesh, the CCC is calling call for an independent and transparent investigation into the causes of the fire, for full and fair compensation to be paid to the victims and their families and, importantly, concrete action from all parties involved to prevent future tragedies. "As we yet again mourn the loss of scores of garment workers in Bangladesh, we demand that brands step up their game. “Tragedy after tragedy underlines our belief that simple, cosmetic changes to existing programmes simply aren't enough. Action needs to be taken to address the root causes of these fires.”

For those who want to brush up on their writing and spelling skills while you develop personal and interpersonal skills which are important for dealing with workplace situations and improve communications in everyday life situations Perhaps you’d like to brush up on your everyday maths, including home budgets, tax and weights/measures.

Communication Skills/ Personal Development and Effectiveness Maths

Picture: ICTU

Communication through Computers


Workplace Location Phone


Courses are free and open to members who have not achieved Leaving Certificate or who have an out of date Leaving Certificate. You can also achieve a FETAC Level 3 Award. Skills for Work is funded by the Department of Education & Skills

y December 2012

THE Social Welfare & Pensions Bill 2012 was signed into law on April 30 this year. Section Four of the Bill contained an unprecedented and hugely controversial change to the One-Parent Family Payment. This was to reduce eligibility for the payment to the age of seven years for the youngest child, by 2014 for new applicants and by 2015 for those already on the payment. This proposal was not flagged in advance with OPEN or any of the lone parents organisations and came just 10 months after the current government had already reduced the age of eligibility to age 14. To add insult to injury for our families, lone parents had already received the brunt of the social welfare cuts in Budget 2012. With support from Mandate, the ‘Seven is Too Young’ campaign (involving Barnardos, the National Women’s Council and OPEN) had vigorously opposed the introduction of the Bill, and thanks to a groundswell of opposition from lone parents across the country, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton did make a very important commitment when introducing the Bill in the Dáil: She said: “I am undertaking tonight that I will only proceed with the measures to reduce the upper age limit to seven years in the event that I get a credible and bankable commit-

Quality child care costs but it’s an investment for us all
ment on the delivery of such a system of child care by the time of this year’s budget. If this is not forthcoming, the measure will not proceed.” OPEN and our campaign partners are asking – where is this plan? To be clear, the Minister referenced “Scandinavian” child care throughout her speech and we fully support the introduction of this kind of child care. Since the late 1980s, our founding groups have fought for changes which would allow lone parents to attain economic independence, as many have already done in Nordic countries. Some of the elements that signal “Scandinavian-style” provision are that it is high-quality, universally available, affordable, is part of the education system and is combined with family-friendly policies such as paid paternity and maternity leave. Who wouldn’t want this system? It means that everyone pays something, depending on ability to pay and it means that every child gets the same experience. It is, however, supported by a level of taxation which would be higher than we are used to here. Quality has a cost – in OPEN we see this is as investment in all children and all families. Our Government has regretfully chosen the path of austerity which is just not compatible with the development of such a system. We don’t doubt the commitment of individual
Minister Burton: commitment
Picture:Labour Party (CC BY-ND 2.0)


By Frances Byrne

THERE are more than 20 Community Employment projects in Dublin’s North Inner City delivering a wide range of essential community services to thousands of local residents, from infants to the elderly, and providing support for the most vulnerable groups. These include child care services, crèches, drug rehabilitation programmes, elderly care, after school programmes, early school leavers and youth work services, community recycling services, Travellers groups and adult education. CE also provides crucial opportunities for people who have been long-term unemployed so they can experience the dignity of paid work
December 2012

Why we need our CE services
and move on to education, employment and other activities in the community. A former CE participant, who now has a full-time job, told Shopfloor: “Being able to go on to a CE scheme has been brilliant for me and for my family. The work that CE does is really important for this community – for the sake of our children and for the future of this area. We need our CE services.” Anna Quigley, speaking on behalf of NIC CE projects, added: “Dublin’s North Inner City is saying no to the cuts the are putting our children at risk.” She outlined how the cuts that had already affected the CE sector in the past year. These incude: l Changes to eligibility criteria have made participation on CE less viable for lone parents and for people on disability benefits; l Training budgets for participants have been cut by 50%; l Materials budgets have been reduced by between 25% and 50%. Some examples of the impact cuts have had include: l A number of crucial crèche, childcare and after-schools services are now facing the prospect of severe reduction or closure of services by the end of the year; l As the community continues to struggle with a serious drug crisis, the very limited drug rehabilitation opportunities that are in place are being diminished even further; l Youth services working with young people are at risk. They have already been affected by serious cuts in mainstream funding, are having to cut direct frontline services; lAs well as the devastating impact on services, there are fewer and fewer opportunities for long-term unemployed and lone parents in the North Inner City to access work experience, training and crucial adult education services. This is at a time when long-term unemployment is continuing to rise – and is at a staggering 61% of overall unemployment. The NIC CE project has now called on Govern-


‘Our Government has chosen austerity which is not compatible with developing a (quality) system’

ministers in the cause of children, but – with respect – we ask where will the resources come from? So, while we agree with the Minister’s ambition, it is time to acknowledge that it will not be possible to fulfil it by 2014, when these changes are due to be introduced. Therefore, we are urging the Minister to make this clear and keep her promise: no further changes until the Government is in the happy position to tackle the childcare system effectively for all families. This is an important point. The Minister was very clear in her public announcements and at a meeting with Barnardos, the National Women’s Council and OPEN, that there would be no special scheme for one-parent families. We support this 100% as such a development would be – as Minister Burton herself said – very stigmatising. It would also cause resentment among other families; which is the last thing we need as a society, which is already showing growing divisions. Lone parents have been disproportionately affected by a series of harsh austerity budgets. Our families now face huge uncertainty. In this context, it is vital that the Government halts the so-called reforms. The age of eligibility of the youngest child is now 12 years for new applicants. This is low enough. Seven is still too young.
Frances Byrne is CEO of OPEN, representing lone parent groups in Ireland.


ment to: l Recognise the crucial role of CE in service delivery by providing adequate budgets for materials and running costs; l Provide supports for lone parents and people on disability benefits to re-engage on CE; l Put in place a training budget that is realistic in light of the need for the long-term unemployed to compete in the labour market. Anna Quigley added: “The message needs to go out loud and clear to the Minister and to the Government – we are now at crisis point in our CE services in the North Inner City and immediate and urgent action is needed.”


Remembering a century
By Padraig Yeates
NEXT year marks the Centenary of the 1913 Lockout and the birth of the modern trade union movement in Ireland. Before the Lockout, unions tended to represent skilled and better paid workers who followed the leadership of John Redmond and believed Ireland’s ills could be solved by Home Rule. After it, the socialist message of Jim Larkin and the younger generation of trade union leaders had changed the political agenda for ever. The unskilled, the semi-skilled and the low paid – people barely surviving in the worst slums in Europe – had been mobilised and shown what they could achieve when they organised and campaigned together. The story of the Lockout is well known. In the first half of 1913 Larkin’s new Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union won a series of battles securing pay rises across a spectrum of occupations, ranging from dockers in Dublin port to farm labourers in the countyside. The President of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, William Martin Murphy, decided that Larkin’s triumphal march must be stopped. When the labour leader began recruiting his employees in the Dublin United Tramway Company, Murphy sacked any man suspected of union membership. When the tram crews went on strike to bring their pay into line with rates in Belfast and Bristol, Murphy locked them out. Within days he had persuaded 400 other employees to lock out members of the ITGWU and of other unions who refused to dissociate themselves from Larkin’s union. Murphy and his allies were not just opposed to Larkin’s attempts to secure better pay and conditions, they were violently opposed to his socialist message and the social solidarity values he championed, ranging from votes for women to free health cover and a slum clearance programme. They saw these as a violent attack on Irish Christian values and, of course, as reforms that would mean higher taxes for the city’s business elite. The employers might well have succeeded quickly given the ruthlessness with which trade union labour throughout the city was laid off. By the end of September 1913, a third of the city’s population was living on the breadline. Police brutality reinforced the employers’ economic offensive but this backfired on August 31 – Bloody Sunday – when hundreds of innocent people were seriously injured in baton charges on O’Connell Street to prevent Larkin addressing the crowds.


DO you have a family or community experience of the 1913 Dublin Lockout? Or have you come across stories showing how the Lockout affected your family, your workplace, your trade union, your community and Dublin society, even many years afterwards? Now more than ever, we need to learn the lessons of 1913, because we’re still dealing with the same issues: anti-union employers and media, anti-union policies from a right-wing government, and poverty – this time arising from the

On lookout for Lockout memories, photos, letters...
Naked aggression: iconic image of the police attack on Dublin workers on August 31, 1913. Hundreds were injured during the vicious baton charges

Picture: © RTÉ Stills Library

forthcoming budget cuts which will mainly affect, as usual, lower income earners. An exciting new trade unions project to collect people’s stories and memories of the Dublin Lockout – the 1913 Alternative Visions oral history project – is looking for people to tell their Lockout stories, or to share photographs, letters and other memorabilia from the Lockout. The idea is that then these memories and items will be collected and shared with future generations, to show the suffering and hardship
Picture: SIPTU

William Martin Murphy, left, and Jim Larkin

When delegates to the British Trades Union Congress conference met in Manchester next day, they pledged unconditional support to Dublin’s workers. During the next five months more than £100,000 in cash, food and fuel was sent to the city by British trade unionists, the Labour Party, Socialist Party and Co-Operative Branches. Schoolchildren, religious congregations – even stokers on Royal Navy battleships – held collections for the

people were experiencing, and why they tried to do something to improve their conditions, even when it had terrible consequences for them and their families. If you are interested in helping by sharing memories or old photos, letters and other material from the time, please get in touch with the team leaders, Ida Milne and Mary Muldowney, at or by contacting Mary (0877988330) or Ida (0872207994) directly by telephone.

locked out workers and their families. Without that support the unequal struggle would have ended quickly, with Dublin’s employers receiving subsidies from the British Shipping Federation, Lord Iveagh and other secret sympathisers. The power of the nationalist press, including William Martin Murphy’s Irish Independent group, and the major churches was harnessed to demonising and isolating the workers and their families. If the Lockout did

y December 2012

By Therese Moriarty

end in defeat, the employers’ victory was short-lived. The outbreak of the First World War saw the labour market pendulum swing back towards the unions as labour shortages emerged and a bloodied but unbowed movement got back into its stride. Next year a series of events is planned by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to commemorate the Lockout in ways that allow members to participate. Last September an Oral History project was launched to provide training that will help trade union and community activists to retrieve the folk memory of their organisations before it is lost. On November 6,
December 2012

THE ‘appointed hour’ anticipated with such excited language was half past one in May 1912, when the Shops Act came into force. Irish shop workers won a weekly half-holiday, beginning at 1.30pm, a daily dinner break of 45 minutes and a half-hour for tea in the afternoon. Local authorities were given the powers to regulate and enforce these new working hours. In the August 1912 edition of the Drapers’ Assistant, the monthly journal of the Irish Drapers’ Assistants’ Benevolent and Protective Association (IDAA) – Mandate’s forerunner – ‘Augstine’, a union member, recorded how she spent that momentous halfday. She wrote: “Today, thought I, as I quickly dressed for business – when the appointed hour strikes, the grey clouds of work shall split asunder, and we shall see Freedom standing against the azure floating beyond, joyfully beckoning us into the sun-washed streets, away to laughter-haunted glens, down to the coast where the foam-flecked waves break in sweet symphonies on the golden sands. “Shoving a last hat-pin into my hat, I left my home and hastened to work, carrying a lighter heart than I had done for many a previous Saturday.” Across Ireland IDAA members took

Carrying a lighter heart... what 1912 Shops Act meant for retail workers
excursions and outings to celebrate that first half-holiday. The law was a long time making its way on to the statute books of the Westminster parliament. It even disappeared from the House of Commons business, and only reappeared on the agenda after intense political lobbying, especially by the shop workers’ unions in Britain and Ireland. The shop workers’ campaign to win early closing and a weekly halfholiday had taken very much longer. Their dynamic and innovative fulltime official, Michael O’Lehane (1873-1920), had put shorter working hours, early closing and the weekly half-holiday, high on the programme of the Irish union from its beginning in 1901. He knew too well, that behind the polite and well-turned out shop worker were harsh, and even dangerous, working conditions. O’Lehane had contracted typhoid working as a young apprentice in Limerick. When he recovered he moved to Dublin, found work at Arnotts among like-minded men and women prepared to form their own union. In a dozen years their Dublin organisation had grown across the country, with branches in every main town as well as the cities. By 1912, there were more than 4,000 members and Michael O’Lehane headed

of struggle...


‘Power of press and churches used to demonise the workers’
President Michael D Higgins launched the 1913 Lockout Tapestry at Liberty Hall. This involves dozens of volunteers in creating a narrative of the Lockout that must be completed in time for the centenary next August. On December 15, the ICTU is sponsoring the James Plunkett Short Story Competition in partnership with the Writers’ Union and Dublin City Council in honour of James Plunkett, author of Strumpet City. From next month we will be announcing more projects that unions and individual workers can join in what will be a memorable celebration of Ireland’s greatest – and continuing – battle for workers’ rights.

the Irish trade union movement as president of the Irish Trade Union Congress. In their long campaign the union quoted efforts that went back to 1864, and an Irish Draper’s Assistants’ Early Closing Association based in Eustace Street, Dublin. The IDAA agitation of 1911 and 1912 was imaginative and intense. In 1904 Dublin members had paraded on foot and on bicycles through the streets, wearing white sheets with a clock whose hands were always pointing to two o’clock, ‘the magic hour’ of their call for Saturday afternoon closing in the larger stores. They held meetings, collected parliamentary petitions and lobbied MPs. IDAA delegations attended the House of Commons twice to lobby the government and O’Lehane himself met with Churchill, then a member of the Liberal government guiding the law through parliament. O’Lehane joined with the British union, the Amalgamated Union of Shop Assistants, to organise a petition from MPs of all parties to support the bill. In 1912 O’Lehane recalled how they had been dismissed as dreamers, and their call for early closing and a half-holiday as too extreme. The shop workers and their union saw the 1912 Shops Act as a first step in winning a charter of reform of their long-standing grievances.


An appeal from the frontline: the labour market pendulum swung back towards unions after the outbreak of the First World War

WITHOUT even the least hint of irony, David Cameron on a recent visit to the North declared that the Lough Erne golf resort outside Enniskillen would be the latest venue for the “Group of Eight” (G8) summit in 2013. The G8 is a forum for the governments of the world’s largest economies (minus two of the actual eight largest economies by nominal GDP – China 2nd and Brazil 6th – but that’s a different story…) The subject set to dominate discussions at the gathering of leaders will be the dire straits of the world’s economy. But the irony referred to earlier will not be lost on many – that this 2013 summit is being held at a venue that is itself a high-profile casualty of the global economic slump. A severely wounded symbol of the capitalist system entertaining those who seek to promote the very ideas and ideology of the broken system that brought the hotel to its knees in the first place. The palatial surroundings of the Lough Erne resort are currently in the hands of the receivers and have been on sale for £10 million for the past 18 months. The hotel – which is being hawked for sale at a third of its estimated original value – is much like the spectre of Global Capitalism itself... in administrative limbo. World leaders are coming to Ireland on June 17 and 18 next year to talk about how their policies are failing and to discuss ways of propping up global capitalist markets in a hotel that has gone bust because of the very system they seek to protect. Priceless! The hotel sits in the window of

PM resorts to irony in choice of G8 venue...

Mandate National Coordinator

By Brian Forbes

Picture: The PM Office (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) 21

the G8 estate agent waiting on some benevolent millionaire to pluck it from off the bargain shelf and put it back up on the property A list once again. The circle of life, capitalist style. So the Lough Erne summit will return the G8 to its roots. From its origins at the Chateau de Rambouillet in France in 1975 to the Chateau of Despair in 2013. From the cosy fireside chats in their first G8 get-together to the golfing and spa splendour of the economic equivalent in Ireland of Craggy Island. The busted flush of capitalism knows no shame and its obvious deficiencies will be glossed over while Obama, Cameron et al reinvent the truth. They will continue to spoon more capitalist medicine into the dying patient at the summit – despite that very same cure accelerating the patient’s demise. “Driving” home their message of private profit by “massaging” and “manipulating” reality is “putting” a whole new “backspin” on things at the golfing and spa capital of the North. You have been “Fore” warned! (Too many golf puns! –Ed) And finally: “It’s like goldy or bronzey, only it’s made of iron” – Baldrick’s definition of Irony.

Picture: One Tree Hill Studios (CC BY-SA 2.0)





1. An organising and campaigning union: 2. Modern and effective training:
Mandate is focused on building an activist base to protect and improve employment conditions. Through better organised workplaces and the power of the collective strength, we will deliver justice for working people. Mandate provides free courses to help you learn new skills, improve existing skills and develop you and your prospective career. We negotiate agreements with employers to pay for attendance at courses and also to provide reasonable time off for employees to attend them. Mandate is a progressive campaigning union fighting on issues that really matter to our members, their families and society in general. Mandate campaigns challenge social injustice at all levels of Irish society. Highly trained and skilled Mandate officials provide professional advice and assistance, where appropriate, on a variety of employment issues. Mandate health & safety representatives are trained to minimise the risk of workplace injuries and ensure that employers meet their legal obligations at all times.

Pressure check: Researchers have warned of the impact increases in chronic ill health will have on Ireland’s health and social care system

3. Campaigning for success:

4. Protection at work:

5. Safety at work:

6. Better pay:

7. Legal protection:

Year on year, Mandate campaigns for and wins pay rises for its members. Mandate also campaigns to close the widening gender pay gap in Irish society. Mandate has won significant legal compensation for members who are injured as a result of an accident at work.

Mandate has secured pension schemes with a variety of retail employers and will campaign to secure mandatory pension schemes for all members working in the private sector, partcularly those on low wages. Mandate has won agreements with employers on respect and dignity at work policies and procedures. Mandate will continue to campaign for tougher laws to make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex, race, age, disability or sexual orientation. Membership of Mandate protects you and strengthens your voice in your workplace.

8. Mandatory pensions:

9.You’re less likely to be discriminated against:

10. You’re less likely to be sacked:

Together we’re stronger



CHRONIC or long-term health conditions present a major public health challenge and are responsible for many deaths, reduced quality of life, as well as costs to the health and social care system and the economy. These burdens are expected to rise as the population increases and ages. The Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) – along with the HRB Centre for Diet and Health Research at University College Cork and the Centre of Excellence for Public Health Northern Ireland at Queen’s University Belfast – used national health survey data and population estimates and projections to estimate and forecast the prevalence of chronic health conditions among adults. The research that IPH has published to date relates to chronic airflow obstruction, coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, musculoskeletal conditions and stroke. It suggests that large numbers of adults are currently living with chronic conditions. In 2010, for example, among adults aged 18 years or over, it is estimated that over the previous 12 months: • 423,000 (12.7%) had experienced high blood pressure, • 106,000 (3.2%) had experienced diabetes,

New data points to sharp rise in chronic illnesses by 2020...
• 82,000 (2.5%) had experienced chronic airflow obstruction, and • 395,000 (11.9%) had experienced lower back pain or any other chronic back condition. It is important to note that these numbers relate to those who have had their conditions diagnosed and don’t include undiagnosed disease and so are an underestimate of the total number of adults with these ailments. Data on physically measured high blood pressure available for adults aged 45 years or over suggests that the majority of people with high BP have not been diagnosed. The research also forecasts large increases in the numbers of adults living with these diagnosed conditions by 2020. The percentage increases in the number of adults are forecast to be: high blood pressure 24%, diabetes 28%, chronic airflow obstruction 23%, lower back pain 15%. The increases are mainly due to Ireland’s ageing population because these conditions are more common among older people. These findings have significant implications for individuals and their families, the health and social care system and Ireland’s economy. But it’s important to remember that we can take steps to reduce our risk of developing these conditions. Lifestyle factors such as eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, not smoking and limiting alcohol intake have an important role to play in preventing chronic health conditions. Social and environmental factors are also important. For example, poverty influences access to healthy diet, the built environment and transport influence physical activity, education influences health choices and behaviours. It’s crucial that prevention programmes also address these social determinants of health. Chronic health conditions are a large and increasing burden in our society. A greater focus on prevention and promoting healthier lifestyles would reduce this burden. Good information on the prevalence of these conditions can help plan the way forward and highlight areas where intervention is needed most.
The Institute of Public Health in Ireland – – produces figures on the number of people living with chronic conditions on the island of Ireland. Briefings, technical documentation and data tables can be accessed on

Picture: campdarby (CC BY 2.0)

y December 2012


A RECENT survey by Behaviour and Attitudes found that trade union leaders were the least trusted of 16 professions to tell the truth – with the exception of, unsurprisingly, politicians. Trade unions have an image problem – and we must look to ourselves for the remedy. I would argue that the degree of trust enjoyed by any group in society is directly related to its level of engagement with that society – the degree to which we engage in dialogue, rather than seeking to impose a monologue. This is especially true at a time when civil society as a whole is under threat from a prolonged austerity regime which is increasing inequality and social divisions while postponing any hope of economic recovery. The past few years have exposed divisions which were previously masked by property-fuelled prosperity, governmental patronage and the illusion that social partnership gave trade union representatives of working people a seat at the Cabinet table. Solidarity is the first casualty when each group in society is forced to defend itself from threat – and, since the onset of the economic crisis, the threats are very real. The absence of solidarity creates a vacuum which vested interests are only too eager to fill, manufacturing divisions between unionised and un-unionised workers; between part-time and full-time workers; between those in work and the unemployed; between public and private sector workers – and between trade unions and other civil society groups. These divisions will only be overcome by trade unions working in equal partnership with other civil society groups and individuals. That sometimes means listening rather than talking. There are many, but by no means

Forging alliances is the way forward
all, in the trade union movement who assume an automatic right to speak on behalf of all workers and civil society itself. This assumption can detach trade unionism from the many struggles people find themselves in – and not only the 80% of private sector workers who are not trade union members. It detaches us from the struggle of the unemployed, pensioners, social protection recipients, people with disabilities, religious and ethnic minorities, own-account workers – the shifting kaleidoscope of groups who, along with trade union members, have borne the brunt of successive governments’ austerity policies. If we want the trade union movement to regain the trust lost in re-




Online every month

cent years, we will need to reach out to all these groups and focus on what unites us. We will need to integrate our own demands with the demands of other groups in struggle. We will need to recognise that many groups, particularly in the community sector, have developed different ways of consensus-building and mobilising – and we will need to be prepared to adapt accordingly. In the process, we will actually strengthen the trade union movement and make it a more hospitable space in which to engage. An example of this is the Coalition for the Protection of the Lowest

‘Trade unions have an image problem and we must look to ourselves for the remedy’

Paid which included four unions along with a broad range of civil society groups. They came together to campaign for increasing the national minimum wage and protecting low-paid workers’ rights under Joint Labour Committees. This was a case of different groups, with different broader aims, coming together over an urgent issue of common concern developing a common consensus-based campaign. This should be a template for future struggles. The Dublin Council of Trade Unions acted in a similar way when it first proposed the recent anti-austerity march in Dublin. We worked with other organisations to actually organise the march, but beyond that, we welcomed all groups who have suffered under austerity, ranging from the elderly to migrants – a broad coalition both formal and informal. The DCTU didn’t so much lead the march as provide a space for all other groups to participate on their terms. That is another way that trade unionism can act – as a facilitator and enabler. Dialogue, consensus-building and partnership take time. There are no quick or easy wins. But, as we saw on November 24, the results are worth it. The trade union movement has more power than we sometimes credit ourselves with. But that power does not lie in numbers alone. It lies in its ability to bring together a broad coalition of groups, first in dialogue, second in trust, and finally in action. We need a new partnership – a partnership of the powerless, a partnership of shared values, a partnership of people over vested interests. In this way, we can realise in action the obvious truth James Connolly uttered a hundred years ago: “The cause of Labour is the cause of Ireland”.

Workers’ rights are for life... not just for Christmas!
YOUTHCONNECT is now in its second year of operation – and what a first year we had. A total of 200 visits were conducted across the country to 155 individual schools, almost 400 lessons were delivered to 10,000 students. And we aim to surpass those numbers this year. Already 60 schools have had a visit from us since September with another 30 visits scheduled before Christmas, delivering around 200 lessons in all. So before Santa fills his sack and makes his rounds, we hope that another 3,000 students will know the difference between what is good – and not so good – in the world of work. And although that is good news and we are making great progress towards our ambition to meet every second-level student in the country, there is much more for us to do. Time and again I have made the point in Shopfloor and in other union journals that we need to continuously alert students to their rights, provide supports to them and ensure their early working experience is a good one. While that starts in the classroom, it certainly shouldn’t end there. It is crucial that they can get support when they enter the workplace,



By Fiona Dunne

Backing: Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex phones Vita Cortex workers with this advice...



MANCHESTER United manager Alex Ferguson made a surprise phone call to the Vita Cortex tell workers on February 13 to and them he supported their fight seto “stick in there” until they cured victory. The sporting legend expressed the his admiration and backing for workers' stand for justice. inHe told them he had been at volved in the apprentice strikes and the Clyde shipyards in 1961 going understood what they were through in their battle to secure agreed redundancy terms. SIPTU organiser Anne Egar described it as a “magical moment”

‘demand deficit’ Congress: Jobs plan fails on

came two days after more than so I'm delighted but everyone 5,000 people marched in solidarity to hear Sir Alex endorse the them here – even the Liverpool FC with the Vita Cortex workers Last workers’ stand and reassure guys – are saying 'fair play'." acthrough the centre of Cork. that they would succeed if they is month, veteran human rights the Speaking at the rally, organised stick together and fight for what tivist Noam Chomsky emailed for by the Cork Council of Trade just. workers to voice his suppporton in Unions, Anne Egar praised the She said: “When someone like their “determination to carry workers’ “stamina and principle” Alex Ferguson tells you perseverthe face of suffering and oppresyou and vowed they would not sucance and teamwork will see sion”. cumb. win out, it is of course a huge His January 19 email concluded: The Vita Cortex workers are and boost." hope that your courageous “I entering their third month occupymodel Vita Cortex worker Jim Power, the honourable actions will be a to deing their former workplace on who spoke to Mr Ferguson, that will inspire others as well Road, Cork. scribed the phone call as a "masof succumbing passively, Kinsalefacility was closed on act instead The sive boost". and wish you the greatest success December 16 with management "He spoke about his involvein this just and crucial campaign strike claiming they could not honour ment in an apprentice boys' for basic rights.” in agreed redundancy terms. in Glasgow and told us to 'stick The call from the Man Utd boss there’. I'm a Man United supporter Page 3

Perseverance and team work will win out in the end

Picture: CC braveheartsports


Page 2
CONGRESS general secretary David Begg has praised the tude and resilience” of Vita “fortiworkers following the end Cortex of their epic 161-day sit-in. The 23 workers ended occupation of the Kinsale their plant in Cork at 2.30pm Road The sun was shining and on May 24. were cheers from family there members and supporters as they walked out together for the last time. It came after company bosses paid the staff an agreed sum as final settlement to the dispute. a David Begg told The Union “The extrordinary fortitude Post: and resilience shown by the workers securing this deal is an example in to trade unionists everywhere. “SIPTU – and its organisers – should also be justly proud of role they played in supporting the members at Vita Cortex.” Shop steward Sean Kelleher, a Vita Cortex employee for said: “Five months was a 47 years, time but I’m just glad wevery long never decided to walk away.” He said the workers wanted to thank SIPTU, the people of “and those further afield” Cork for their solidarity and support. SIPTU organiser Anne the Vita Cortex dispute Egar said should show workers “that if you stay together and never give up, justice can be achieved.” Jack O’Connor, the union’s general president and past president Congress, added: “The courage of and determination shown by the ers has provided inspiration workto people in Ireland, and abroad, are struggling against unfair who treatment. I wish to congratulate for maintaining their resolve them and achieving a successful outcome.”
Picture: Courtesy TV3 News

New Congress report charts pathway to economic recovery


This course is aimed at Health and Safety representatives
• Health and Safety Legislation • Role of Health and Safety Representative • Safety statements • Role of Health & Safety Authority • Occupational health Topic covered on course: • Identification of hazards and risk assessment • Accident investigation • Fire safety • Effective communications • Health and safety promotion

Health & Safety FETAC Level 5

regardless of whether they are there to stay because don’t forget – they are the workers and trade unionists of the future. If we have any hope of them participating fully in our movement, we need to support them when they most need it – even if they don’t realise it. Shop stewards, a core and vitally important element in the workplace, particularly in the run-up to the hectic Christmas season, may notice the recruitment of many more young people than is the norm. When we meet young people in the classroom, it is frightening how little they know of the world of work and what is expected of them. Some may look for advice, but so many more won’t because they may be too frightened or don’t know who to ask. These situations may call for providing some unsolicited advice and support and making the first approach. Remember, as trade unionists we know the value of solidarity and helping each other out, but unfortunately not all of our students and young people do. So let us be the first to offer a supporting hand and a listening ear to some of the most vulnerable workers this Christmas and let their first work experience be one full of joy – even if it’s only a seasonal one.

MAY 2012

Produced in association with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions

December 2012


Saf e firs ty t wor at k!

Certification and Progression: Members who successfully complete this course receive a Fetac Level 5 component award certificate and may progress to other courses offered by Mandate. If you are interested in this course, please contact your Mandate official or Mandate's Training Centre at 01-8369699. Email:

Migrant workers must not be put out of sight or out of mind
WHEN most people think of exploitation of workers in modern Ireland, we tend to think of large factories or overworked students and immigrant workers in the retail and service industry. We are, by and large, unlikely to think of the outwardly respectable households of ‘middle Ireland’. Yet as you read this, there are many domestic workers who are being forced to work in the most appalling conditions. A conference in UCC recently examined the issue and explored the difficulties in protecting migrant domestic workers. The conference, which I attended, was organised by the Irish Human Rights Commission and the Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights, Faculty of Law, UCC. It would be hard not to be affected by some of the accounts of abuse and exploitation I heard at the conference. We were told about the story of Alem Dechasa, who left Ethiopia in January to make money working as a maid in Beirut for her young family. A video was shown of Alem being humiliated in the street, viciously assaulted, and then dragged into a car. Shortly after, she was brought to hospital, where she took her own life, unable to cope any longer with the abuse, violence and threats from her employers. Cattle would not have been treated in such a way. However, it would be naïve to think that such abuse and exploitation does not occur here in Ireland. It may not be as obvious, or visible, but it certainly exists. We heard the testimony of Mariaam Bhatti, who gave an account of her experience of exploitation in an Irish household. This involved underpayment of wages, physical and emotional abuse, being refused


By Senator David Cullinane

Union Representatives Advanced Course
The Union Representative Advanced Training Course is for shop stewards/union representatives who have completed the introductory course or who have relevant experience.

permission to leave the house and being given wholly inadequate breaks. She was also threatened with being reported to the Gardaí for being undocumented. It is difficult for migrant domestic workers to come forward if they are undocumented, or even if their status is unclear. Conversely, this makes such workers far easier to exploit. The courage it takes for people such as Mariaam to come forward is immense, and highlights the difficulty involved in protecting such workers. Far too often, when exploitation is hidden from public view, an attitude of “out of sight, out of mind” is adopted. That is simply not good enough. So what can we do to ensure that migrant domestic workers are properly protected? One obvious step is to ratify the ILO Convention on decent work for domestic workers. Deputy Peadar Toibín recently submitted a question on this matter, to which the Minister for Enterprise responded that the

matter was still being considered, and referred to existing employment rights legislation, and the voluntary Code of Practice for Persons Employed in Other People’s Homes that was developed under the Industrial Relations Act 1990. However, this does not in my view take adequate account of the very particular circumstances of migrant domestic workers. Ratification is essential. There is also a need for legislative and enforcement action. It is my view there is a need for legislation to criminalise forced labour, which would also be of use with regard to migrant workers generally. There is also a need to legislate for the recent High Court decision in Hussein v the Labour Court, which saw a worker who had been subject to horrendous exploitation being denied an award, because he was undocumented through no fault of his own. If this is not legislated for, workers are more likely to be even more hesitant to come forward and report their employer. There is a need, to

ensure that the new employment rights structures will have an adequate inspectorate to ensure the rights of such workers, and the ability to ensure these rights are enforced. A number of other suggestions arose from the deliberations of the conference. These included building on the EU Employers’ Sanctions Directive, and bringing in effective mechanisms to allow undocumented migrant workers to lodge complaints against abusive employers. Also allowing trade unions and NGOs to take legal proceedings on behalf of workers without revealing contact information, in order to protect them from removal during proceedings. These are certainly issues that should be considered at both national and EU level. However, there can be no question that action must be taken to stamp out exploitation of this kind. Just because it is not in our faces does not mean it is not happening. We must not adopt a philosophy of “out of sight, out of mind”.

Picture: Sinn Fein

Just the ticket for Xmas
Irish Rail is offering all Mandate Trade Union members a 10% discount off online web fares on If you are thinking of taking a weekend break, day trip with the kids or going home for Christmas? why not book the train! Irish Rail are offering a 10% discount off on-line Intercity fares valid from Monday 10th December 2012 until Friday 14th December 2012 for all members! Members can simply use code MTU1478 (input promotional code on payments page) from the dates above to avail of the 10% OFF the on-line fare. Remember, tickets can be purchased 28 days in advance of travel on
* Discount applies to all bookings, except special offers. Book up to 28 days in advance of travel. Terms, conditions, credit card and transaction charges apply.

• Understanding Mandate’s structures • Overview of Mandate’s rules • Industrial Relations institutions and mechanisms • Mandate’s Organising Model

Course content:
• • • • •

Negotiations & Collective Bargaining Understanding Equality and Diversity Developing induction presentation skills Introduction to Employment Law Identifying issues and using procedures

Certification and Progression: Members who successfully complete this training course will obtain a Mandate certificate. They may progress to the FETAC level 5 Certificate in Trade Union studies or other relevant training courses offered by Mandate.

If you are interested in this course, please contact your Mandate official or Mandate's Training Centre at 01-8369699. Email:



y December 2012

Hours per week



10-19 20-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45+ Variable Total



110.8 82.6



223.7 773.9 410.1 227.3 224.5 2,088.5

129.8 242.8 95.0 553.3 357.4 184.8 182.1 1,786.0


+19.0 +19.1 +12.4 -52.7 -42.5 -42.4 -302.5 -220.6

Hours worked by employees 2007-2012 (thousands of workers)

Data shows hike in part-time work
By Dr Micheál Collins
OVER recent years, the major focus of public policy has been on sorting out the banks and fulfilling the requirements of the bailout agreement with the IMF and EU. Unfortunately, limited attention has been given to the impact of the recession and the various austerity measures on workers and their families and communities. Issues such as the sharp decrease in income, increases in taxes and significant losses of jobs and work hours have played second fiddle to the focus on banking and keeping the Troika happy. A recent conference hosted by the NERI (Nevin Economic Research Institute) attempted to address some of this deficit by highlighting the impact of the crisis on workers. While the headline figures on job losses tend to receive a lot of attention (more than 300,000 jobs have been lost since 2007), the growth in the number of workers who are working but on reduced hours was also highlighted. Comparing the distribution of those employed by hours worked over the past five years (20072012) shows increases in the number of individuals in all categories working less than 35 hours per week and decreases among those on full-time hours (35 hours plus) – see table above. While much of this change is likely to be derived from those experiencing the loss of a full-time job, the increase in the prevalence of reduced hours of work is noticeable and has some implications for the likely nature and pace of job creation in the future. Overall, there was a 21% drop in full-time employment (-359,000 workers) and a 15% increase in part-time employment (+56,500 workers). The conference also highlighted the growth in underemployment – something which has become more commonplace in the retail, hospitality and administrative sector. Underemployment measures the number of part-time workers who are willing and available to work more hours than they currently have. This has increased by almost 50% since 2008 and there are now 135,200 workers classified as underemployed.

Dr Micheál Collins is Senior Research Officer at the NERI. Papers from the recent conference can be accessed at

December 2012


The scale of underemployment points towards two issues. First, when economic growth returns, reductions in unemployment numbers will be slow given that many of the early beneficiaries of additional work will be those already at work and seeking additional hours. Second, the structure of employers’ PRSI may be trapping some low-paid workers in underemployment – a feature of employment structures which is unsustainable and should change.

‘Sharp decrease in income, tax hikes, cuts to working hours and job losses have played second fiddle to banking and keeping the Troika happy’


Economy in a tailspin but Enda’s got it all in hand!
People’s Movement THE German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has made it clear he wants quick EU treaty changes to establish a specific eurozone Commissioner with the mandate to send national budgets back to national parliaments, if not within the eurozone’s fiscal rules. He said: “In one way or another, we’ll change the EU treaties.” That’s the German way! This would be an extension of the scenario outlined by Taoiseach Enda Kenny when pleading that Ireland was “a special case” because it had an EU remedy “imposed upon it” when the banking sector collapsed. He said: “Ireland was the first and only country which had a European position imposed upon it, in the sense that there wasn’t the opportunity, if the Government wished, to do it their way by burning bondholders. “The Irish public and Irish taxpayer were required to service the full extent of the debt.” It was a frank admission of the reality that the ECB forced a solution to the Anglo failure on a weak government and a terminally-ill finance minister, Brian Lenihan, to the advantage of predominantly French and German bondholders. But, the next burning of the Irish taxpayer, by contrast, is scheduled to occur on March 31 next year when the Government plans to pay back an outrageous €3.1 billion on AngloIrish promissory notes, essentially, to support the gambling debts of international bondholders. This money is coming from ordinary citizens. We have already witnessed more than €24 billion in ‘fiscal adjustment’ since 2008 – the largest budgetary adjustment seen


By Frank Keoghan

Ireland’s ‘hard grafter’ Enda Kenny gets to grips with European Parliament president Martin Schulz Picture: European Parliament (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Picture: WEF (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Union triple alliance on supply chain protection
TRANS-NATIONAL union organisations UNI, ITF and IndustriALL are to forge a strategic supply chain alliance to combat abuses of workers’ rights by “unscrupulous and irresponsible” multinationals. The move, agreed following a October 25 meeting between the


Fiscal pace man: Wolfgang Schauble

anywhere in the advanced economic world in modern times. The Irish debt crisis is a crisis of private – subsequently socialised – debt, not public debt. The allegedly ‘bloated’ nature of the Irish public service, now shown to be fictitious, or ‘generous’ welfare entitlements, did not cause this crisis. Budget 2013 will see spending cuts and tax hikes of €3.8 billion, with further cuts of between €3 billion and €4 billion each year for 2014 and 2015. We are facing permanent austerity! The deal much touted by Enda

Kenny would seem at best to extend the repayment period to 40 years and marginally reduce the interest rates charged by our partners in Europe! Then there’s the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) which Thomas Pringle TD challenged at the Supreme Court and the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg. The Government has committed us, without a referendum, to payments of up to €11.1 billion which can be called up by the unelected Board of Governors of the limited company that is the ESM. To contex-

tualise all these billions, consider that the HSE is Ireland's largest employer, with more than 67,000 direct employees, and another 40,000 in funded health care organisations with an annual budget of over €13 billion, more than any other public sector organisation. However, conservative calculations suggest specifically that the Anglo debt – for a bank that no longer exists – is €48 billion. That’s four health budgets alone! But the Irish government is also paying down unguaranteed bonds, issued by the banks, and therefore not legally the responsibility of the Irish state. The social price being paid is catastrophic, not least because the accompanying austerity policies are sending the economy into a tailspin – national income is already down over 15% from its peak level. The debts run up by the former Anglo-Irish Bank are not the responsibility of people living in Ireland – they are the responsibility of those who supported Anglo’s reckless lending. Both governing parties assured us before the last election that the bondholders would be burned, but they now lead the country towards disaster. As the largest democratic social solidarity organisations in the country, unions need to resume their leadership role in defending those values. A good beginning would be a call for the repudiation of the Anglo debt and pursue all legal means to ensure that it is declared odious and illegitimate and, in so doing, prevent its repayment. But Enda Kenny, has them on the run. “I’m a hard grafter and, as some of them found out,” he bragged after the June summit, “They shouldn’t tangle with me too often.” We’ll see!

three global unions in Copenhagen, is seen as an important step to create a sustainable, ethical and responsible supply chain across a range of sectors. UNI General Secretary Philip Jennings, pictured right, said: “we know the supply chain is riddled with worker abuses from the

factory through transporters’ right to the shop floor. Often a pyramid of shady subcontracting arrangements camouflages responsibility for unfair work practices.” Describing the new alliance as an “historic step” he added: “we , will pull together the power of In-

dustriALL in manufacturing, ITF in transport and UNI in retail. “Our combined forces will benefit the hundreds of thousands of workers in insecure jobs caught up in the web of sub-contractors created by sometimes unscrupulous or irresponsible multinationals.”


y December 2012

Mandate asks Solidarity good Dunnes chiefs to clarify case for everyone... to wind up firm
MANDATe has written to management at Dunnes Stores seeking a meeting to discuss possible implications for staff arising out of the current case before the Commercial Court to have the company wound up. In his letter, Mandate Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light stressed it was not the union’s intention to become embroiled in legal issues facing the firm. However, he pointed out the union represented thousands of workers at the retailer who were concerned about the issue. He told Shopfloor: “It’s important that the company’s senior management recognises the degree of anxiety among staff which has been caused by this court case and that they do everything in their power to quell this anxiety in a timely and appropriate fashion.” Mandate has sought a meeting with Dunnes Stores management. However, based on past dealings with the company, it is understood the union does not expect such a meeting to take place. Mr Light said: “In anticipation of a negative or, indeed, no response from the company to our request for a meeting, we are calling on management – with immediate effect – to let it be known what negative impact, if any, the current legal proceedings are likely to have on our members’ tenure of employment or established terms and conditions.” He added that in the event of a detrimental outcome from the case, the union would robustly defend the interests of its members. IT’S not often a Government admits that a key policy of theirs is not working. So when it happens we should take notice. For the Government has admitted that its employment policy is not working. In their pre-budget projections, contained in a dry and sometimes technical paper (which is why it hasn’t received much attention), the Government estimated the rate of unemployment in 2015. They estimated that 13% would be unemployed. When they came into office unemployment was 14.2%. In other words, unemployment will fall by only one percentage point over the lifetime of the Government. That is quite an admission of defeat. They also made an even more startling admission. By the time of the next election, there won’t be that many more people at work than when they took office. When they took office there were about 1,816,000 in work. By 2015, the Government estimates that there will only be 1,828,000 in work. This is truly astounding – they expect there will only be an extra 12,000 people at work in three years’ time. You might think this strange. After all, every week we see in the media ministers welcoming the latest multi-national company coming to Ireland to set up shop and create hundreds of jobs. And then there are the Government’s employment policies – the Jobs Initiative, the Action Plan for Jobs, etc. If all this is happening, why will unemployment remain so high and the number of those working still so low? One reason is that for every job the IDA brings into the country, one job is being destroyed. The problem is that we don’t get much news about these job losses – unless they are large. But every day businesses are shutting down. Each day in October, seven businesses went insolvent. In so many other cases, workers are being let go, or positions are not being replaced. A key contributor to this state of affairs is Government policy itself. Despite its insistence that jobs are at the heart of their strategy, they are in actual fact pursuing a job-destruction policy. ICTU estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 jobs were destroyed in last year’s budget – cuts in investment, social protection and public services, along with regressive tax measures such as VAT increases and the Household



By Michael Taft
Picture:Clementine Gallot (CC BY 2.0)

Oral History of the 1913 Dublin Lockout
Would you like your family’s story of the 1913 Lockout to be included in a book about the legacy of this key event in Dublin’s history? Even if you don’t have personal stories, would you be interested in talking about what the Lockout means to you?

December 2012


If you would like to know more please contact Mary Muldowney or Ida Milne at or call us at 087 7988330 (Mary) or 087 2207994 (Ida) Find us on Facebook at: Website:

Charge. ICTU’s think-tank – the Nevin Economic and Research Institute – estimates that another 30,000 jobs will be destroyed by the Government’s budget this year. It is easy to see why. Again, we will get another round of cuts and tax increases. This has important implications for those working in domestic sectors such as retail and hospitality. These sectors are reliant on people’s spending power. If people have jobs, if people’s wages are rising, if people have more money in their pockets – they are spending more. The opposite is always the case – less employment, long dole queues, falling wages and higher taxation; all these equal less spending. This directly contributes to job losses, and cuts in wages and working hours for those employed in retail and hospitality sectors. So, the key is to get back to work. The Government has admitted defeat. This could be a good thing if this leads to a re-

The ballon is going up on jobs in this country – Government must invest in employment

think on policy. Here are a couple of suggestions. First, increase investment. Investment increases employment and, therefore, spending in the domestic economy. Keep increasing investment until such time as normal growth returns to the economy (the more we invest, the quicker it will come). Second, start pursuing a wageincrease strategy. When a manufacturing worker gets a pay rise, he or she spends it in the service sector. When this happens, it raises everyone’s living standard. That’s why it is said, “your spending is my income”. These two simple steps won’t solve the crisis – many other things will have to happen. But this can make a start. That’s why in the trade union movement we demand that Government invests and supports people’s wage demands. That’s what solidarity is about. And that solidarity has the ability to raise the floor for everyone.
Michael Taft is an economic policy advisor with Unite


FOLLOWING talks with Boots Ireland management about the pay claim submitted in June 2012, the company has indicated they are not willing to apply a pay increase to workers earning more than the pay scale for their grade agreed in 2009. Boots said this was part of a “payrealignment” programme and affected members of staff who remained on the pre-2009 scale. The company wrote to employees directly on October 15 setting out its position. The letter stated: “Colleagues outside of the three-point scale are frozen and having reviewed the rates

No progress on Boots pay
of pay of this population, we do not believe that it is appropriate for this population to be included for a pay increase at this time. “It is for this reason that we want to conclude discussions with colleagues outside of the three-point scale before we would consider any movement on base pay for any colleague. “We will continue to keep you updated on this matter.” In November, Mandate wrote to Boots seeking confirmation about the company’s position in the light of the outstanding claim. The union is currently reserving its position on the matter until it receives a written response from the company. And Mandate intends to convene a meeting of the national negotiation team to discuss how the claim will proceed. Industrial Officer Jonathan Hogan told Shopfloor: “While there was agreement in 2009 for some incremental freeze of current pay rates and the introduction of a new pay scale, the freeze didn’t incorporate an indefinite freezing to include national pay increases. “The agreement specially allowed for annual pay reviews.”


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Europe needs youth ARANTEE GU
By John Lyons TD
WITH 69,916 young people on the Live Register and unemployment among those under 25 at more than 30% nationally, youth unemployment is clearly a big issue. Affecting not just our economy but also our society, it remains one of the biggest on-going challenges for this Government to solve. From Balbriggan to Ballinteer, behind every statistic there is a human story. While unemployment can be damaging to any person’s life, there are negative consequences particular to young adults. In addition to the obvious effects unemployment may have for a young person’s self-esteem, relationships and even health, experiencing this at a young age can also have a long-term effect on earnings – studies indicate that when returning to the workplace, an employee is likely to earn less than their equivalent counterparts for several years. At the end of October, approximately 25,000 under 25s who had been on the Live Register for over one year, were not engaged in any form of work, education or training, during this period. Technically referred to as NEETs (for Not in Education, Employment or Training), in reality these young adults are in danger of falling through the net. This is not just a challenge for Ireland. Across Europe, the number of young people unemployed is at 5.5 million and so the role of the European Union is crucial to how we respond. For these many reasons, I am campaigning with my Labour colleague Emer Costello MEP for the introduction of a new ‘European Youth Guarantee’. On November 26, we launched our campaign for this policy which would see every young person offered a work, education or training place within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving education. Far from being aspirational, this concept has recently been championed at European level by Labour’s political group the Party of European Socialists (PES). Gaining in momentum, the European Commission asked members in October to submit proposals for pilot ‘Youth Guarantee’ schemes. An application for funding was made to the European Commission for a one-year pilot scheme in Ballymun, to start in 2013. If this goes ahead, it would allow for the assessment of the guarantee idea in practice, while also helping us to put youth unemployment on the agenda during our presidency of the European Union. It is intended that the pilot would work with a target group of young unemployed people to give access to career guidance to identify an individual career plan for the young person. This would then be built on to help them into training, education, work experience or full-time employment. A successful pilot could also form the basis of a future ‘European Youth Guarantee’ in Ireland. Schemes similar to the ‘European Youth Guarantee’ have already been implemented in countries such as Sweden and Austria, and have shown that, with early intervention, young people are significantly less likely to become long-term unemployed. Such a scheme here could complement the Government’s work in rebuilding our economy by preparing our young people for the jobs targeted in high growth areas such as those identified in this year’s €2.25 billion stimulus package. Cynics may ask why a ‘European Youth Guarantee’ is needed. I believe that in tandem with the current services provided, we need a concerted youth employment strategy to deal with the dynamics relating exclusively to young adults, a strategy which will recognise both the strengths and vulnerabilities that their youth can bring. The need for young talented dynamic people in Ireland and Europe has never been stronger. No society can prosper fully with so many of its youngest bright sparks on the sidelines so we are campaigning for more opportunities for young people. By offering access to the tools that young jobseekers need to unlock their potential and realise their ambitions, the ‘Youth Guarantee’ can help turn the tide on youth unemployment in Europe. You can support our campaign by contacting me at john.lyons@
John Lyons is Labour Party TD for Dublin North-West



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y December 2012

ASSISTANT General Secretary Gerry Light has vowed that Mandate will ensure there is “no slippage” in defending the interests of Tesco workers in Ireland – in particular bearing in mind the consequences this would have on Tesco employees elsewhere. He made his comments at the UNI Tesco Global Alliance meeting in Nyon, Switzerland, on October 30 and 31. The forum provides a platform for Tesco workers and their representatives from many countries to gather and exchange views and information about their experiences of working for the world’s third biggest retailer. In addressing the meeting, Mr Light expressed concern at hearing of the plight of some Tesco workers and the way they have been treated by management in their home countries. He told delegates: “In relative terms it would appear that the terms and conditions enjoyed by Irish workers compare very favourably. “While it will be difficult to achieve the same outcome in different jurisdictions, Mandate is committed to expressing solidarity and support and working through UNI and its affiliates in helping those workers achieve the best possible outcome.” Mr Light also pointed out that based on what he had learned it was his union’s obligation to ensure that there was “no slippage” in defending the interests of Tesco’s Irish workforce. “If this were to happen, the knockon effect would mean even more difficult times and hardship for our international brothers and sisters working in the company.” Tesco is resisting organising attempts among its workforce in The Czech Republic and Poland, cutting hours, outsourcing jobs and keeping pay and benefits low. However, there was more positive news from Turkey. In July, UNI affiliate Tez-Koop-Is finally gained recognition as the union representing Kipa workers and entered into collective bargaining with Tesco Kipa. This major win came after a struggle that began in 2003. Some 4,000 of Tesco Kipa’s 7,600 employees were organised into the union, securing membership of nearly 60% of all employees. Elsewhere in South Korea and Thailand, the company is pushing employees to work longer hours and

is opening on important national holidays. Management expect employees to work rather than to celebrate. South Korea is also focusing on a problem recognised in the retail sector throughout the world that is now being dubbed "emotional labour". This is where a company attempts to regulate the emotional activity of its workforce through conditioning and discipline – to be happy and pleasant while suffering abuse at the hands of customers. UNI Tesco Global Alliance’s challenge will be to hold the company accountable to their own goals and policies at a national level. John Hannett, General Secretary of UNI's UK affiliate USDAW and UNIEuropa Commerce President, told delegates: "This was a positive and productive meeting with a variety of experiences being shared among Tesco unions.

Robbing the people to pay the banks
Repudiate The Debt Campaign

By Eugene McCartan

“Going forward it's important that we monitor industrial relations in all countries where Tesco operates so that we can build a list of best practices. “Naturally, labour relations takes on a different flavour in each country due to national and cultural differences, but there is no reason why Tesco's best labour relations practices cannot become the norm in all countries.” At the conclusion of the meeting, participants agreed to improve the communication flow between them and all regions undertook a specific piece of work to have implemented prior to the next group group meeting in London in October next year.
John Hannett: ‘positive & productive’

WHEN you hear that the Government is about to hand over billions of euro to bondholders, you have to ask yourself, where did they get the money from? We have no money for schools or hospitals. They have taken money away from pensioners and the unemployed, taken more out of your pay packet in levies and charges. All for what? “To get the country back on its feet,” they will tell you. Yet by March 31, 2013 this Fine Gael and Labour Party coalition government, supported and aided by Fianna Fáil, will hand over another €3.1 billion to bondholders. It is not just the bondholder who will get another €1 billion before Christmas nor the €3.1 billion due before 31st March next year. It’s the billions over the next 30 years or more. Austerity will be permanent. It’s about the transfer of wealth – money – from the people to the big banks of Europe (see table below). Where will they get this money from? From all the deductions in your wage packets, from your parents’ and grandparents’ pensions, from the sick waiting to see a specialist or to get a hospital bed, from the unemployed and the families now at the pin of their collar to keep a roof over their heads. Every euro given to the bankers and bondholders is a euro out of

2013 2014

Year Bank Bonds



Govt Debt

your pocket, one way or the other. It’s a euro from our hospitals, our schools, the sick, pensioners, from you and the person working alongside you. It’s a massive scam. The people appointed by the Government to represent us and to stand up for the “people’s interests” on the board of the banks, banks that the establishment bailed out with billions of our money, have one and only one priority under company law – to the company, and no-one else. The “people’s interests” have no legal standing. This is all just part of the windowdressing to fool people. It is claimed that those appointed to represent the people’s interests – many of them former politicians from all the main parties – have so far received €1.5 million in expenses. The CEOs of these same broken banks are getting bonuses, from €450,00 to €650,000 this year alone. The establishment politicians who have retired are living high on the hog, with fat pensions, while the rest of us must scrape by, looking for cheaper cuts of meat or keeping an eye out for special offers to get our families through the week. The wealth of our country is being hoovered up. The first call on all money raised in this state is the odious bank debt, and will be for generations to come. That’s to keep the big European finance houses going, to keep the financial specula-

Govt Deficit

€14,500,000,000 €10,400,000,000 €6,800,000,000

tors in the style of life to which they are accustomed. The Germans and the big businesses want to extract the greatest price possible if they are to give any relief on the debt (which is very doubtful). The price they want is that national governments and all future governments should have little – if any – control over their own national budgets or other fiscal matters. All powers in relation to these matters will be handed over to Brussels, to committees of “experts,” who will be elected by no-one and accountable to no-one. They will decide not what is in the people’s interests but what is in the interests of the rich and powerful, the corporations and the banks. Corporate lobbyists will decide our fate. You will be able to vote for whoever you like, but they will not be able to do anything. It’s the same as your boss handing over your wages and telling you what your spending priorities are – no ifs or buts, telling you how much you must spend on food, clothes, rent, or mortgage. Democracy has become an obstacle to what the big boys in Europe need. They can't afford to let us have a say, to convince people of the best way forward, talking to people and persuading them. Democracy is getting in the way of making profit – and lots of it.

Picture: USDAW


€40,973,468,897 €27,579,626,024

€11,300,000,000 €13,400,000,000

December 2012




Picture: Infomatique (CC BY-SA 2.0)

‘No slippage’ vow on staff rights at Tesco




By Fiona Dunne

HAVE you ever really thought about what solidarity is, what it does and what it can achieve? When you hear about trade unionists being shot, children working for well-known sports brands or textile workers doing 14-hour shifts but still not earning enough to feed themselves and their family, what do you think? That’s terrible? Isn’t it awful? Well, it is to be expected in that part of the world? Glad it’s not me? And how does it make you feel? Angry? Sad? Powerless? Well, if you think it is an outrage and you feel that you must do something and act in solidarity, then read on. The Global Solidarity programme of ICTU has around for many years and has been funded by Irish Aid for the last five. The core of the programme is development education but there are also two fundamentally important activities – raising awareness and campaigning. And all three activities work in tandem. Development education provides information about the global south but, more importantly, it is about understanding how the world works, the causes of global poverty, the institutions that act on the global stage and where the power balance lies.

‘If you come only to help me, you can go back home. But if you consider my struggle as part of your struggle for survival, then maybe we can work together’


it’s for


If we don’t understand the international arena, we can’t begin to change it and that is essentially what development education is about – transforming what is unfair, unequal and unjust and changing the rules to include all people everywhere in a fairer distribution of wealth, resources and access to services. There are a number of ways you can get involved in our programme. Become a Global Solidarity champion. A Global Solidarity champion is an advocate who will work with us to raise awareness and campaign to change the global rules. How? Ask your union to nominate you to our next Global Solidarity course held roughly twice a year. There you will learn about the international arena and its many complexities. Next course is set to take place in February 2013. Help us to pilot our new online Global Solidarity module in January 2013. How? Ask your union to nominate you to take part in this pilot by emailing your contact details to global Sign up to our regular ezine, which contains news, events and information on what is happening for workers around the world. How? Email us directly to with your contact details to become a subscriber [and it’s free]. Log on to our website – - and learn more about what we do and take part in some of our campaigns. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions Global Solidarity programme is funded by the Irish Aid section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

– Aboriginal wise woman

By Eoin Murray

ON February 14 last year, tens of thousands of Bahraini citizens, partly inspired by the Arab Spring movements in Tunisia and Egypt, amassed at the Pearl Roundabout in the heart of the capital Manama to demand freedom, democracy and equal rights. Government forces immediately cracked down on the protesters using tear gas, bird shot and rubber bullets. Ali Abdulhadi Mushamai, 21, was shot and killed, and became the first martyr of the Bahraini revolution– 14 other protesters were injured. The demonstrations gathered momentum with protesters occupying the Pearl Roundabout, setting up tents and camping overnight. Early on February 17, government forces raided the roundabout to evict sleeping protesters, firing tear gas, rubber bullets and shotgun pellets from close range (with varying reports claiming live ammunition was also used. Four were killed and hundreds injured in what became known as “Bloody Thursday”. On February 22, a reported 200,000 people took part in the “Martyrs’ March” in honor of those killed in the pro-reform uprising with

Deadly toll is mounting in Bahrain’s ‘Pearl’ revolution
Pictures: Al Jazeera English (CC BY-SA 2.0)

‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways: the point, however, is to change it’ - Karl Marx

Picture: AFL-CIO

This is a 6-week programme of lectures and debate aimed at people who want to explore a Marxist alternative to capitalism. The programme begins on Saturday 26th January in James Connolly House, East Essex Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2. Each session will last from 11am to 1pm and take the form of a lecture followed by discussion. The course will introduce participants to Marxism, concentrating on the philosophy and ideology of Marx and Engels. It will look at how we can use a Marxist approach in dealing with the economic, political, social and cultural chaos brought about by the capitalist systerm. The programme is designed to encourage active debate and participation. The areas covered will include economics, philosophy, culture, class and the state, race and gender, trade unionism and the European Union. If you are interested in attending or would like more information, please contact or (01) 6708707
Organised by the Communist Party of Ireland

Introduction to Marxism

the demonstrations intensifying into March.On March 14, 1,000 Saudi troops crossed the King Fahd Causeway into Bahrain to help defend the Bahraini regime. They were joined by 500 policemen from the United Arab Emirates. On March 18, the government demolished the Pearl Monument in the center of the Pearl Roundabout and set up a barricade to prevent further demonstrations at the site. Since then the government of

Bahrain has continued to target democracy activists, arresting and sentencing hundreds of people accused of involvement with the protests. Routine use of torture against rights activists by Bahraini authorities has also been reported. Despite the crackdown, Bahrainis continue to protest on a daily basis, met by US-manufactured tear gas, Apache helicopters, Humvees and other forms of lethal violence. Between February 14, 2011 and January 3, 2012, it is reported the Bahraini government has killed 55 people. The unconfirmed number of deaths now stands at more than 65. The Ireland/Bahrain Coalition has called on the Bahraini authorities to release all human rights and trade union leaders arrested in the last few months, and has asked the Irish Government to become more involved in bringing pressure to bear on the regime since Ireland has a significant business relationship with Bahrain. Ireland/Bahrain Coalition is a grouping of trade unions and NGOs, including the National Women’s Council of Ireland. For further information on the Coalition please contact Eóin Murray, National Women’s Council of Ireland, 2/3 Parnell Sq East, Dublin 1 or email


y December 2012

Poll shows sea change in Irish attitudes to same sex marriage
A NeW Ipsos MRBI poll has revealed broad public support in Ireland for same sex marriages. The face-to-face interviews, taken with a representative sample of 1,000 voters across 43 constituencies, have a margin of error of plus or minus 3%. The results show that if and when a constitutional referendum on the issue is put to them, 53% will support same sex marriage. A total of 30% of respondents said they would vote no, while the remaining 17% had no opinion. Women were significantly more in favour of the change than men with younger voters strongly and enthusiastically in support. The over 55’s were strongly opposed to any proposed change. Responding to the poll, Mandate National Coordinator Brian Forbes told Shopfloor: “These results show a real and demonstrable shift in how society and, in particular, various age categories within society view the issue of same sex marriage. “Perhaps it might demonstrate a progressive and forward thinking electorate on this important matter of equality. It appears the ‘will of the people’ is well and truly marching forthright in the direction of same sex marriage and, in my opinion, not before time.”
Picture: European Parliament (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Union Representative Fetac 5 Advanced Union Representative Fetac 5 Advanced Union Representative Introductory Tesco specific Union Representative Introductory M&S specific Union Representative Introductory Union Representative Fetac 5 Advanced Union Representative Introductory Union Representative Introductory Union Representative Fetac 5 Advanced Union Representative Introductory Union Representative Introductory

Union Representative Introductory

Course Title


January 14, 15, 16 January 21, 22, 23 January 28,29,30 February 4,5,6 February 18,19, 20 March 4,5, 6, March 11,12,13 April 8, 9,10 April 15,16,17

3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days

Course Duration

OTC* Dublin OTC Dublin Galway OTC Dublin OTC Dublin *TBC Cork Limerick Waterford OTC Dublin OTC Dublin OTC Dublin OTC Dublin OTC Dublin Sligo OTC Dublin OTC Dublin

Course Location

Union Representative April 22,23,24 Introductory Superquinn specific May 13,14,15

Health and Safety Elected Representatives Fetac 5 Union Representative Introductory Equality and Integration

May 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 5 days May 27,28, 29 June 10, 11, 12 June 17, 18, 19 July 10 3 days 3 days 3 days 1 days

Picture: Adkorte (CC BY-2.0)

*OTC = Mandate Organising and Training Centre / *TBC = To be confirmed Venue dates and times may vary


culture of our elite
HAVE you ever wondered what forces really control Ireland? who really makes the difference in deciding which direction our country takes economically and socially? The truth is the ruling class in Ireland differs quite markedly from that of other western democracies – they are not big landowners or large industrialists. ICTU Assistant General Secretary of Peter Bunting hit the nail on the head during a recent address at the Betty Sinclair winter School. He said: “They are rentiers, middlemen, greasers of palms and flatterers of egos. They have held sway for decades in Ireland, from the cattle exporters to Haughey’s Golden Circle and beyond the realm of the senses, with the millions being made by NAMA’s platoons of consultants, property valuers and legal eagles.“ It should be noted that ‘committee’ is the collective noun for a group of vultures. Perhaps the most concise description of the shadowy controlling forces picking at the carcass of our country, leaving us only the bones!

December 2012


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