South Africa: Workers Face the Backlash from Farmers 17:43 May 06 0 comments
Colombia: Represión armada contra corteros del ingenio La Cabaña 05:08 Mar 18 0 comments
El voluntariado en el ámbito social 19:04 Mar 16 0 comments
Aumenta la represión sindical en la Universidad Carlos III de Madrid 02:27 Mar 01 0 comments
Solidarity For Garment Worker Leo Vedél! 23:51 Feb 15 0 commentsmore >>
Recent articles by Alan MacSimoin
Le mouvement anarchiste coréen 0 comments
Irish Anarchist archive goes online 0 commentsRecent Articles about Ireland / Britain Workplace struggles
Irish anarchist analysis of Irish Ferries strike settlement deal
ireland / britain | workplace struggles | opinion / analysis Thursday January 12, 2006 23:42 by Alan MacSimoin - WSM - Workers Solidarity
Irish ferries - a great struggle but a terrible deal
The end of 2005 saw the occupation to two ferry ships to prevent them being taken over by security to facilitate the replacement of the workers on the ships. Over 100,000 workers left work and marched in solidarity with the occupation on a Friday in cities across Ireland. A settlement with the company was reached and the union declared a victory. But was this settlement really a victory?
Irish ferries - a great struggle but a terrible deal
On December 14th the three week dispute at Irish Ferries came to an end. SIPTU claimed that the deal protects a "threshold of decency".
Irish Ferries had offered redundancy to 543 crew members, who were to be replaced with staff employed on wages of just €3.60 an hour - less than half the national minimum wage.
The deal, drawn up with the help of the state's Labour Relations Commission, means a two-tier workforce with those staff who reject redundancy keeping their old wages and conditions but all new staff being paid just €7.65 an hour and having longer working hours and fewer holidays. Irish Ferries can re-flag its ships; a three year no-strike agreement and all disputes to be settled by binding arbitration.
This deal was not a victory but it was not a total defeat either. The Latvian workers have seen their pay doubled; they also have gained a month's paid leave for every two months they work, originally the company wanted one months leave for every three months worked.
But this is still a crap deal. SIPTU marine branch official Paul Smyth announced that the deal was "something every SIPTU member should be proud of." Does this mean that the minimum wage is now a "decent" wage?
The role that was played by the Seamans Union of Ireland, a small union with a long history of undemocratic practices and not upsetting the bosses, in undermining the strike should not be forgotten. While SIPTU members were occupying, the SUI started a petition in support of the redundancy deal. They just wanted their money and didn't care about the workers who wanted to stay or the Latvian workers. Now that they have their cash, they are not interested in recruiting and helping the Latvian sailors to improve their lot. Instead they are talking of winding up their union.
It was the militant action of SIPTU members on the ships and in the ports, and the huge numbers who marched on December 9th, which slowed down the attack on workers' rights. But we only slowed it down, we have not made the bosses back off. Roches Stores and the Examiner newspaper group are just two of the latest to replace staff with lower paid workers.
What is happening now is an attempt by the employers to boost profits by taking back hard fought for improvements we have won in previous years. Irish Ferries is just the most blatant example so far. If we place our trust in union leaders who prefer 'partnership' to combat, we will see a gradual erosion of most of the pay rates and working conditions we take for granted at present.
As more of these struggles break out, we will need to build a network of union activists to organise solidarity action in support of those prepared to fight back. And we need to show that this sort of attack on working people is part and parcel of capitalism. That's why we want to get rid of this system and replace it with one where power lies in the hands of those affected by decisions and where the economy is organised to satisfy human needs and desires - not to line the pockets of a small class of rich parasites.
From Workers Solidarity 90, Jan/Feb 2006
Thu 20 Jun, 09:19
Belfast rallies in solidarity with massacre against striking miners in South Africa 16:06 Thu 23 Aug 0 comments
"It is becoming increasingly obvious that austerity is not working” 13:55 Wed 25 Apr 0 comments
Belfast bus drivers take wildcat strike action to re-instate work colleague 15:07 Sun 22 Apr 0 comments
Live coverage of the N30 strike in northern Ireland 17:22 Wed 30 Nov 2 comments
Aer Lingus and Ryanair unite in attempt to crush union 22:00 Thu 27 Jan 0 comments
Ireland: Firefighters and Ambulance crews desert SIPTU 23:31 Sun 12 Dec 0 comments
Public Service Work-To-Rule in Ireland 22:40 Sat 13 Mar 0 comments
Protest outside German Embassy in Solidarity with FAU - Dublin Jan 29th 23:20 Wed 03 Feb 0 comments
24th November public sector strike in Ireland 21:42 Tue 01 Dec 0 comments
Reports from the pickets lines of the Nov 24th national strike in Ireland 22:49 Fri 27 Nov 0 commentsmore >>
Voting NO to Croke Park - what happens next? Mar 20 0 comments
Irish Trade Union Deal: What it is and how to fight it. Mar 03 0 comments
N30 Strike - Unite against the cuts - Solidarity is Strength Nov 30 0 comments
The cost of 'partnership' Sep 21 0 commentsmore >>
WSM welcomes Ireland's public sector strike and calls for further action Nov 27 Workers Solidarity Movement 0 comments
Support the direct action taken by Waterford Glass workers Feb 03 WSM, Cork Branch 1 comments
IWW commence build-up for major assault on NBS bosses Dec 10 IWW 0 comments
The Couriers are Revolting! now online Jan 09 0 comments
WSM Greetings to Independent Workers Union conference Apr 09 IWU 2 commentsmore >>