This article is from the July 2004 edition of Socialist Voice.
Another rotten partnership deal
Negotiations for the second half of the current three-year social partnership deal have concluded with another pro-business and pro-government agreement. After 18 months workers will be lucky if they come out with a 1% rise!
By Susan Fitzgerald
The leaders of ICTU have once again thrown away an opportunity to get a decent pay rise for workers. They went into negotiations with the government and the employers against the background of the Fianna Fail / PD coalition getting a hammering in the local and European elections.
The union leaders should have walked away from the partnership process and abandoned their coalition with the government and the employers and formed a new coalition with their members to struggle against the government and the employers for decent pay rises.
What have they come back with? A 5.5% pay rise over 18 months. Inflation is on the rise again for many reasons including the rising price of oil. All PAYE workers had their taxes increased in the last budget because McCreevy didn't adjust the tax bands for inflation and there are now more workers paying tax at the highest rate than at any time since the late 70s.
Bin charges are going up annually in some areas by up to 30% a year, new stealth taxes have hit all working class people, water charges are set to make a come back, electricity and phone charges have increased, hospital and prescription charges are up and the list goes on and on.
The government is crowing that low paid workers who earn 351 euro a week or less with get an extra half a per cent rise. If you earn 351 euro a week then this will get you the extraordinarily large pay increase of 1.75 euro a week - before tax!
SIPTU did their usual messing about at the start of the talks process saying they wouldn't do a deal unless the government abandoned its plans to break up Aer Rianta.
But Jack O'Connor and the rest of the spineless leaders of SIPTU have signed a deal which includes the break up of Aer Rianta.
Union members will be balloted on this deal during July and August and a special conference of ICTU will be held on 1 September.
The Socialist Party will be campaigning for a no vote. The alternative to social partnership is for the unions to lead a real battle for decent pay rises through free collective bargaining and to take up the lead from the working class and get stuck into this government on all of the issues that made workers vote against Fianna Fail and the PDs on 11 June.