If TDs can get a £10,000 pay rise, why can't the rest of us?

Secondary teachers, rail signal workers and Aer Lingus cabin crew are just some of the workers who have taken on both their own bosses and the government. They aren't buying into the nonsense that we are all equal partners with our bosses and are all getting a fair share of the booming economy. Suddenly there is a chorus of very rich employers and their paid economists telling us that the great Tiger economy won't stretch to a wage rise that you might actually notice in your pay packet.

But not everyone is short of cash. The government has reported yet another record budget surplus (£3.5 billion this time). The Bank of Ireland and AIB are making over £2 million profit each and every day. Landlords, in an orgy of greed probably not seen since the days of the Land League, have forced rents up by an average 94% over the last three years. House prices have doubled, in Dublin they have trebled, since the first 'partnership' deal back in 1987. Profits are rolling in at an unprecedented rate.

And Bertie, Mary, Charlie and their pals have the bare faced cheek to expect us to believe that there isn't enough money around to give us decent rises. Needless to say, this hasn't stopped the Buckley report recommending that TDs get an extra £10,000 a year - and we haven't heard any of the usual media commentators and bosses' mouthpieces decrying this as "unrealistic" or "unsustainable".

Some opponents of 'partnership' inside our unions say that the PPF has been shown to be a sham when inflation outstrips pay rises (even allowing for the extra 2% + 1% lump sum compensation to be paid this year and next). They are right to insist that we should be getting more, but they are also missing the bigger picture.

All wealth is created by human labour. Even an apple on a tree is no use to anyone until it is picked. Bosses love to hide the fact that they get their wealth without actually 'earning' it. The whole working class (those who work for a living, those who are unemployed, their spouses, their children, retired workers) should make no apology for demanding more.

Every sensible trade unionist will be thinking about putting in a claim. Of course, 17 years of 'partnership' agreements have left many not knowing exactly how to go about this (especially in the public sector). Get advice from rank and file activists and committee members in your union about calling a special workplace or branch meeting and formulating a claim.

As well as trying to get things going in our own jobs, we can also explain to our workmates why they should support other workers who are fighting for better pay. That is the way to start building a movement within our unions to break through the wall of wage restraint and begin to take back some more of the wealth we create.

Alan MacSimóin

This page is from the print version of the Irish Anarchist paper '
Workers Solidarity'. We also provide a PDF file of the latest edition for you to print out and distribute locally

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This edition is No62 published in January 2000