Just the threat was enough...SIPTU members at Dublin's Mount Herbert Hotel won an extra 112.50 pounds a week after threatening to strike when the service charge was abolished.
There are lots of things to explain this dissatisfaction. Partnership deals, the Industrial Relations Act which makes it almost impossible to have an effective strike, huge salaries for the national officers of the union while some members survive on poverty wages, increasingly fewer possibilities for ordinary members to have a say in how their union is run... to name but four.
It is time that members who want more democracy, a serious fight against low pay, resistance to job losses, and an end to collaboration with the bosses, came together. On our own we are hardly noticeable but together we could start to make waves and open up a debate about what sort of union we want.
As a contribution to this, a few SIPTU members have started publishing a bulletin called SIPTU Fightback. It's not affiliated to any political party nor does it have any hidden agendas. Its aim is to help break down the isolation of activists who often don't meet with others from outside their own job or branch. It is hoped that this will be a first step towards creating a grassroots movement within the union that can challenge the idea of 'social partnership', organise assistance for fellow workers in struggle, and build a militant trade unionism that is based on participatory democracy and doesn't back down in the face of aggressive employers.Copies of the bulletin may be had for a 32p stamp from SIPTU Fightback, 22 Melrose Avenue, Dublin 3.
12,000 'home helps' all over the country who look after the elderly and disabled are paid poverty wages. Employed by the Health Boards - stuffed with TDs, county councillors and wealthy professionals - they get as little as £1.70 per hour in the SHB area.
This is after a 30p rise on the £1.40 an hour reported in Workers Solidarity no.51. The Southern Health Board say's it "hopes" to increase wages to £2.00 per hour.
The highest starting wage is £3.50 in the Midlands and the highest 'top of the scale' wage is £4.00 in the Eastern and Midlands areas. The average female industrial wage is in excess of £5.00 per hour, and for men is over £7.50.