SIPTU's Regions:
Dying on their feet?

The news that no Region in the Union is to hold an election for the incoming Regional Committees, because nominations have not exceeded places (up till now a happy coincidence exclusive to the Dublin Private Sector), must deepen the doubts of many about the value of these structures. In some cases the number of nominations was less than the number of places, necessitating co-options to fill up places.

The obvious observation to be made about this situation is that if the Regions had any real role, if the RECs had any power, there would be competition for to get on them. As if the RECs' powerlessness needs any more confirmation. After an initial period of nervousness on the part of the Union's establishment, when SIPTU was first founded, when both the leadership and the new Regional Executive Committees thought their Regions had power (a few decisive tussles soon clarified the situation), the RECs, the Regional Conferences and the Regions have long-since amounted to expensive talking shops,

'The outgoing Dublin No.2 (Private Sector) REC initiated a discussion into its place in the world which lasted over several meetings. No-one dissented from the pronouncement of the Committee member (not the present writer) who kicked off the process, that the REC was "a toothless tiger". Strike sanctions, for instance, are seldom brought to the RECs now; just already-processed applications for rubber-stamping,

Out of 304 delegates entitled to attend the No.2 Region's Conference in Dublin in October, 165 registered on Saturday morning (the actual attendance was probably higher as some delegates didn't register again on the Saturday. Entire Branches stayed away from some of the proceedings (through no fault of the 'smooth operators' of the organising committee, or the cooking of our members in the Burlington) and missed the sparkle as well as the tedium.

At least one Branch, the Education Branch (Region No.1), has a policy for abolishing the Regional structure. If present trends continue this minority position may become the accepted wisdom, whether or not many other Branches take a similar stand, simply because the Regions will have withered away.

Des Derwin

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