Article from the May 2005 edition, the Socialist
paper of the Socialist Party, the CWI in Ireland.

"Partnership" swindle

by Michael O'Brien

A RECENT presentation at a trade union activists forum by Eddie Conlon of the Teachers' Union of Ireland provided further confirmation of how the life time of social partnership in Ireland has coincided with a transfer of wealth from working people to the rich.

In 1987, 77% of Ireland's national income went to wages, slightly above the EU average. In 2003, despite the workforce almost doubling in size, its share had declined to 55%, compared to an EU average of 68% and a corresponding figure of 66% in the US!

Between 1995 and 2003, profits and self employed income has increased by 189%, whereas wages and pensions have gone up 126%. You can only explain the phenomenon of a bigger workforce getting a smaller share of the wealth they create if you examine their "productivity" - or to put it another way - the rate of exploitation. For example, between 1995 and 2004 unit wage costs in the manufacturing sector have declined by 38% while output has increased by a whopping 142%.

So where does that leave social partnership? Many of our pro-partnership union leaders claim that this arrangement gives them influence over government policy in terms of social spending.

The anecdotal evidence of crowded A & E wards and schools falling to bits and pensioners and social welfare dependants coping with our high prices and stealth taxes is a sufficient answer. Between 1985 and 2003 government spending on services as a percentage of GDP has declined from 45% to 27% compared to an average decline of 45% to 42% in the EU.

Do you ever get the feeling you have been swindled?



More articles from this issue of the Socialist are listed here.

More articles from the SP archives of are available in our sitemap