The more social and workplace partnership becomes a sick but dangerous joke (see this issue for more examples) the more our leaders press on with its promotion. Presently there's an indoctrination offensive on workplace partnership. All and every kind of local bargaining (in so far as P2000 allows it) is being dubbed partnership.
The Union have established a 'Partnership and Work Re-Organisation Team' to move along workplace partnership under Chapter 9 of P2000. Now "education and training courses for officials on participation and partnership which will be held over the period April - June will be immediately followed by one-day workshops for shop stewards" in locations across the country right up to December (Report, No. 6, Spring 98). What a waste of time and resources.
Where were the shop stewards meetings to discuss Ryanair, union recognition, the Budget, or the national minimum wage?! Opponents of the programmes and of workplace collaboration with your own downsizing, should use them as ideal opportunities to bring the arguments against workplace partnership with the bosses to other SIPTU shop stewards. SIPTU Fightback will be producing a special issue with a large print run to help place the facts before these "workshops".
The newly launched joint campaign between SIPTU and some of the main 'voluntary groups', for more concessions for those on lower incomes in the next (1999) Budget, is to be welcomed and supported by all SIPTU activists (in so far as we'll be asked to do something apart from posting cards).
A campaigning union, that's what we want. Opponents of the Programmes have all along answered the argument that the unions should be concerned with the social wage and 'community' issues as well as wages and conditions, by saying "yes, by campaigning on these issues". The significance, for the value of these Programmes, of having to campaign on tax and social issues in the middle of P2000, is not lost on us, though others seem to be blissfully unaware of it.
The campaigning 'voluntary' groups are the very groups that have signed up to P2000 (telling us moderation will deliver) and in fact call themselves the 'Community Pillar of Partnership 2000.' SIPTU's Roisin Callender said "What's new about this campaign is that it links up most of the social partners."
Again, can we point to the significance of this. These (or the people they purpose to represent) ARE our social partners: the unemployed, the poor, the disadvantaged. The 'partners' outside this campaign, the employers, the government and the ranchers, are NOT our allies.
A couple more gripes before we say get out there and ..... post your cards. Where's the national Minimum Wage? O.K. so that's kind of obsolete (except for dates and strings) but the campaign was agreed before the Commission's report was published. The campaign's aims are entirely within the blinkered strategy of P2000: give pay rises through tax concessions.
And if we were cynical, which of course we're not, we'd say this looks awfully like the Dublin Council of Trade Unions' campaign on the national minimum wage. Stealing a march; up another road? Never! Though it's certainly not true that "there has never been anything like this before" (Mike Allen, INOU). Several of the 'voluntary groups', including the INOU, joined the Dublin Council of Trade Unions (as did SIPTU and the ICTU) in campaigning for a national minimum wage.