Archive for April, 2016


Workers Undertaking Legitimate and Legal Action Under Payment of Wages LegislationPeople Before Profit TD, Bríd Smith, has lashed out at Transdev and their Managing Director, Gerry Madden for a disgraceful and vicious attack on the Luas drivers. People Before Profit fully support the drivers in their legitimate pay claim and strike action and have organised solidarity actions with TDs from across the Dáil and the drivers.
Transdev, a very profitable multinational company, have threatened the Luas drivers with pay deductions of 10% if they continue the ‘work to rule’ that is currently being engaged in by the drivers. The Payment of Wages legislation does not allow for a company to deduct a workers wages when they are engaged in legitimate industrial action. This hostile escalation by Transdev was issued on the 26th April and is due to take effect on the 29th April. This is an attack on the Trade Union movement and all workers.
Deputy Smith also called for Minster Donohoe to intervene and assist the negotiations to help resolve the dispute.
Bríd Smith said “The escalation of this dispute by the company Transdev is a total disgrace and a nasty attack on the Luas drivers who are taking legitimate industrial action. The drivers are engaged in a ‘work to rule’. Transdev are now persecuting the drivers for this by threatening pay deductions of 10%.
“This ‘work to rule’ only involves drivers insisting on taking their full breaks which are allocated to them under their terms of employment. Breaks for drivers are a vital part of health and safety regulations. Gerry Madden knows that this is the extent of the work to rule and that health and safety regulations and the contracts of the drivers determine the right to full breaks.
“What Transdev are attempting to do is to break the drivers and smash the union. This is a very important dispute for the Trade Union movement and for all workers. The latest threats set a very dangerous precedent for all workers involved in pay disputes.
“The Minister has already said that he does not agree with these measures that the company may use to recover strike costs from the workers.
“Despite Minister Donohoe stating that he will not get involved in this dispute I am reiterating my call for him to do so in light of these serious threats to the drivers from Transdev.”

The movement of people power is very close to a victory on the issue of Irish Water and water charges.

DSC_0527Brad Smith TD said that we are not at the finish line yet but we are very close to abolishing Irish Water and water charges once and for all. Deputy Smith pointed out that after weeks of stalling and an elaborate political charade, the establishment parties of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are finally admitting that water charges are on the way out.

Richard Boyd Barrett TD pointed to the fact that Fine Gael, Labour, Fianna Fail and the Greens along with the EU/Troika have slashed capital investment in Ireland’s water infrastructure.

Gino Kenny TD said that democracy demands that the Dáil vote on the issue of water charges and for the issue to be removed totally from government formation talks.

Bríd Smith said “finally we can now see that the mass movement of people power has made a vital breakthrough in forcing the establishment parties to concede on the issue of water charges. Whilst this is not a total victory yet and we have yet to see the abolition of water charges, it remains a great day for the movement. People are sick at this stage of the political theatre being enacted by Fine Gael and Fianna Fail. We are calling for a vote to be taken in the Dáíl on the issue of Irish Water and water charges.

Richard Boyd Barrett said “the establishment, right wing parties have been colluding in trying to keep water charges alive in suspending them and creating various committees and inquiries. This is clearly an effort to surpass democracy by Fine Gael and Fianna Fail. The people have spoken loud and clear. We need to vote on water charges , so we can move on to the really urgent issues like housing and health.

“It is very rich of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Labour, the Greens and the EU to lecture Ireland on water conservation. These are the groups that slashed the capital investment by €1bn every year since 2008. The facts of the matter are that the leaks in the pipes have been ignored by these parties and the EU, so it is in fact them who have not prioritised water conservation.”

Gino Kenny said “it is the democratic mandate of the Dáil to discuss and vote on the water charges and Irish Water. Nearly 90 TDs, a majority of TDs, were elected on an anti-water charges mandate and to abolish water charges and Irish Water. The issue of water charges needs to be removed from the government formation negotiations.”

Brid-Smith-2a-241x300Bríd Smith TD has urged Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, to halt the sale of NAMA assets which include hundreds of housing units in Dublin and other urban areas.

Projects Ruby and Emerald are set to be sold to a consortium that includes Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs. While 80% of these are commercial, the portfolios contain close to 1000 housing units that could be used for social and affordable homes for those currently in dire housing need, the TD stated.

Deputy Smith also demanded that the minister instruct NAMA to make these units available to local authorities to purchase, stating that “We have the worst housing crisis in the state’s history yet this Government continues to preside over a situation where foreign banks, vulture funds and REITs can buy units at bargain basement prices while those most in need will continue to live in emergency accommodation or in grossly overcrowded and unsuitable places”

Deputy Smith continued to point out that the group of Dáil Deputies had, two week ago, tried to get the Minister to halt any further sale of NAMA assets to vulture funds until a complete review of housing units still owned by NAMA was completed.  “The units and sites currently owned by NAMA could make a big impact on the housing crisis. Instead they are just been used to bolster the profits of vested interests, NAMA has sold sites that could have developed over 20,000 housing units to private interests, who have built less than a thousand despite the dire need for homes. We suspect developers are hoarding land banks to speculate on future property price rises, regardless of the human suffering involved.”

IMG_0583In a statement, Richard Boyd Barrett TD for the People Before Profit Alliance has said “basic respect for Democracy requires that the issue of water charges is taken out of the government formation talks and simply put to the Dail.”

Deputy Boyd Barrett said also that the EU, Fine Gael and the Green Party were guilty of “stunning hypocrisy” on the issue of water conservation and water quality, pointing out that that the EU, the Fianna Fail/Green government and the Fine Gael/Labour government had all slashed the capital investment programme in water infrastructure from 2008 onwards, without any regard for the disastrous effect that this would have for water conservation and water treatment.

Deputy Boyd Barrett pointed out that it was the opponents of water charges who had actively and consistently opposed cuts in investment in water infrastructure – cuts which had done enormous damage to water conservation efforts and efforts to improve water quality.

Richard Boyd Barrett said: “It is a simple and straightforward matter of democracy to sort out the current road-block on water charges and government formation. The two issues should be completely separated.  All that needs to be done on the water charges issue is to allow the Dail to decide the matter and for TD’s to vote according to the mandate given to them in the recent general election. This would remove the issue from the current government formation talks and allow those talks to progress.

Allowing the Dail to decide the issue of water charges, for which it has a clear and specific mandate, would give real meaning to all the recent talk from both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail about Dail reform. The most reforming act Fine Gael and Fianna Fail could undertake is to allow the Dail to decide on an issue for which it has a clear mandate. It would restore public faith in the political system if, for once, all TD’s simply voted on an issue as they promised to before the election.

Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens would still be free to support the retention of charges but they would have to accept the fact that on this issue they are in a minority and that the democratic mandate given to a majority of TD’s requires that water charges be abolished. That’s democracy and it would finally put this issue to bed.”

Richard Boyd Barrett said also: “The current effort by the EU, Fine Gael and the Green Party to present themselves as champions of water conservation and water quality is an act of the most stunning hypocrisy and dishonesty. These are the very people who actually slashed this country’s capital investment programme in water infrastructure from 2008 onwards in order to bail-out private bankers and bondholders. The Fianna Fail/Green Party government, at the behest of the EU/IMF troika, butchered capital investment in water infrastructure and the Fine Gael/Labour government continued with those cuts. The current disastrous situation in terms of the failure to address leakage or improve water quality is precisely because of the austerity cuts demanded by the EU and enforced by Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, the Greens and Labour. If the EU had not demanded that we pay-out and tens of billions to bail-out bankers and bondholders, we would have had the money to invest in our water infrastructure and other vital services such as housing and health.  Anyone who was a party to these cuts has some neck now blaming the anti-water charge movement for the mess in water services. In contrast, we opposed all the EU inspired cuts in public spending and warned they would have disastrous impact on this countries vital infrastructure. Even now, we should tell the EU that we are going to hold back some of the €8 billion we are paying out every year in interest payments on odious private banking debt to fix our water infrastructure and, for that matter, to provide the social housing we so desperately need.”

Right2Water TDs announce joint motion calling for abolition of water charges and call on FF to honour their pre-election pledge

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At a joint press conference this afternoon in Leinster House, AAA-PBP, Sinn Féin, Independents 4 Change, the Social Democrats aswell as three independents, announced details of a joint Dáil motion calling for the abolition of water charges and called on Fianna Fáil to honour  their pre-election pledge to abolish water charges by supporting the motion signed by 39 TDs (see attached) affiliated to the Right2Water Campaign. The motion calls for the immediate abolition of water charges, the replacement of Irish Water with a national water board and a constitutional referendum ensuring the public ownership of water.

The press conference was addressed by Richard Boyd Barrett, People Before Profit, Brian Stanley, Sinn Féin, Catherine Murphy, Social Democrats and Joan Collins, Independents 4 Change.

Richard Boyd Barrett TD said, “The abolition of water charges is a simple question of democracy. A majority of TDs elected to the new Dáil gave clear election pledges to abolish water charges. It would be a betrayal of the democratic mandate for FF or anyone else to do anything other than vote now to abolish water charges.

The question of water charges should be taken out of discussions on government formation and simply be put to the Dáil to decide and all TDs should take seriously the mandate.”

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Joan Collins TD says; “The huge opposition to Irish Water, water charges and the installation of water meters was two fold. A rejection of the Austerity programme of the last Government and a huge opposition to the setting up, into the future, of the privatisation of our water services. I am appealing to Fianna Fáil to support this private members motion, that has the support of 40 signatories, and follow through on their manifesto commitment “to abolish Irish Water and water charges”. 82 votes, and possibly more,  for this motion would reflect the democratic mandate the people have given us and reflect the rejection by the people  of this Fine Gael  and Labour policy”

Catherine Murphy TD said; “During the Election campaign Irish Water came up as an issue on almost every door – it’s only 8 weeks since the election and that won’t have changed. The Social Democrats have said all along that

Irish Water is shorthand for the cumulative burdens that have been placed on households and left them feeling pauperised. Nothing short of abolition of Irish Water will be acceptable.”

Paul Murphy TD said, “The Anti-Austerity Alliance is happy to support this joint motion seeking an end to water charges and Irish Water. A clear majority voted against water charges in the general election. Now it seems as if a dodgy deal is being cooked up behind closed doors to prevent that mandate being fulfilled. Irish Water is suppressing the latest payment figures and FF and FG have colluded to prevent any discussion in the Dáil. People will have to take action themselves to force the change that was voted for, through a major mobilisation and, above all, through re-enforced mass non-payment”.

Laois TD Brian Stanley said: “Fianna Fáil made a clear commitment in their manifesto to ‘abolish Irish Water and end water charges’. There can be no equivocation from them now. They were elected on a platform of scrapping domestic charges and that is exactly what must now happen. Sinn Féin in government would scrap domestic water charges and have long supported the need for a constitutional referendum on the public ownership of water. It is not a commodity, it is a human right.”

Water charges should be disentangled from government formation talks
CgkkGtUXEAEiJAYIn a statement, Richard Boyd Barrett TD, of People Before Profit has said that the only satisfactory solution for the public in regards to Irish Water is the total abolition of water charges.
Deputy Boyd Barrett said that water charges should be disentangled from government formation talks and the issue of Irish Water for Fianna Fail is to honour their pre-election pledge.
Commenting on reports of an agreement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, Deputy Boyd Barrett said “anything short of complete abolition of water charges represents a betrayal of clear pre-election pledges made by the majority of elected TD’s to the 32nd Dáil, including Fianna Fail.”
Deputy Boyd Barrett pointed out that in the Fianna Fail manifesto, the precise wording on the section relating to water charges was headed- ‘Abolish Irish Water and end water charges’.
Deputy Boyd Barrett also said that “there is no reason whatsoever for the issues of water charges to be a stumbling block to government formation. The issue should be completely disentangled from talks between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.
“All they need to do is to allow the Dáil to decide and let all TD’s vote on this issue in line with the pledges they made in election 2016. On this basis water charges would be abolished. Fine Gael/Labour could still vote in line with their view but would be easily defeated because it is an easy majority. It is simple democracy if they are serious about doing politics differently.”

Following a meeting with Luas drivers organised last week by People Before Profit and attended by TD’s from a number of parties and independents, it was agreed that a cross party delegation would gather in support for the Luas workers, at Stephen’s Green Luas stop today at 1pm, who are currently engaged in industrial action against Luas operator, Transdev.

TD’s from across the Dáil will attend and distribute leaflets in support of the Luas drivers who have been victimised and attacked by Transdev.

luasSpeaking at the event People Before Profit TD, Bríd Smith, said that it was very important that elected representatives came out to counter some of the false claims that have been directed at the Luas workers.

The demands of the Luas drivers have been a question of debate since the beginning of the strikes. The drivers are looking for a 5% increase per year, over five years to counter the cuts that they have had to endure over the last number of years of austerity. They also refuse to accept a deal from Transdev that would see new entrant workers earn less than current drivers for the same work.

Deputy Smith said “People Before Profit fully support the Luas workers in their quest for fairness. These drivers have received serious threats from the bullyboy company, Transdev. Gerry Madden’s actions during this whole process have been an absolute disgrace. He refused to enter into meaningful negotiations with the drivers over pay and conditions. His latest offer to the drivers is much less than the Workplace Relations Commission proposed. It is an absolute insult and a slap in the face to the drivers. Transdev has launched an unprecedented assault on staff engaged in an ongoing and lawful industrial relations trade dispute. They have placed their staff on protective notice with threats of layoffs and short time working. This is despite the fact that the workers are in full compliance with the 1990 Industrial Relations Act.

“Despite repeated calls Mr Madden has refused to disclose his own salary and bonuses and those of the top Transdev CEOs in Ireland. 

“I am repeating my call for full disclosure of the earnings of the CEOs including Gerry Madden and the profits of Luas that have been repatriated to France since the operation began here in Dublin.”

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett said “Transdev have been presenting a false narrative during this whole saga. They would like the travelling public to believe that they are a company that do not make much money and are operating the Luas for the good of their hearts. This is not the case. Transdev’s parent company is Veolia, a massive French multinational. Transdev repatriate their Irish profits to this parent company so they can say they are financially vulnerable. It boggles the mind when I hear them suggest this. According to the Luas website, in 2015 the Luas increased its passenger numbers by 6.1%. This was their best year ever according to the company. We should also note that the fares have always gone up. They are making massive profits in this country. For this hugely profitable company to deny workers a pay increase after years of austerity is disgraceful.”

Deputy Gino Kenny said “I salute the drivers of the Luas for the service they do for Dublin in transporting tens of thousands of passengers, safely to and from their destinations. These drivers have a stressful job because they have to be one hundred percent concentrated in driving the trams through town with pedestrians and cars potentially going onto the tracks. In some cases it could be a matter of life and death. These drivers deserve the pay increase that they are asking for. These workers represent all workers across this country that have had their pay slashed and levies and austerity taxes imposed on them from the actions and greed of a few bankers and speculators. People Before Profit fully supports the Luas workers and all other workers who took the weight of austerity on their backs. Workers need a recovery and it is time the very profitable Transdev accepted these demands from the Luas workers.”

Ireland- No country for young people

Government figures on unemployment not consistent with reality

Jobsbridge and labour activation schemes have to go; work must pay

People Before Profit TD, Gino Kenny, has said in a statement that the governments figures for unemployment of 8.6% are illusory and not consistent with the facts on the ground.

According to the CSO the youth unemployment rate was 19% in January 2016.

Deputy Kenny also alluded to the issues that contribute to this figure- mass emigration, labour activation schemes and the casualisation of work is driving our youth from this country. There is blatant discrimination against the youth of this country in the form of the reduced job seekers allowance.

Deputy Kenny said “Ireland is no country for young people. Young people feel that there is no hope and no future for them in Ireland.  The youth in this country have been brutally affected by the austerity policies of the last government. The Fine Gael/Labour government, when taking office, promised a democratic revolution. They did the exact opposite, they sold the out the youth of our nation.

Deputy Kenny pointed to the issues facing young people in this country. “Mass emigration, 35,000 people per year; the cost of rents, college fees and the cost of living and precarious work are draining Ireland of our youth.

Deputy Kenny said “the reduced job seekers for under 25s is discriminatory. It makes the assumption that people under the age of 25 need less money for food, rent and other living expenses.

We have been told time and time again that we are in recovery. This is not true if you are a newly quailed nurse or a new teacher. 95% of newly qualified nurses choose to leave Ireland once they are qualified, this is unacceptable.”

Deputy Kenny pointed to the disaster that is Jobsbridge. “Jobsbridge is a scam which has been exposed. Companies using Jobsbridge have been taking on essentially free labour instead of hiring people and paying them a wage. These interns do the exact same work as regular employees. This is an attack on young people and worker’s rights which have been hard won over years of struggle.

We have seen in the Irish Examiner today that some of these interns have been bullied and verbally abused in their internships. I think the Department of Social Protection should release the names of these companies. Employers like these are the exact same as Transdev who are behaving disgracefully in regards to the striking Luas workers. They are bullies who knowingly exploit workers.

What should be done is that Jobsbridge should be abolished. Young workers should be given work that pays properly. This would be a good thing for the country because people with more disposable income will spend that money in the local economy.”

Bríd Smith appeals to Dankse Bank not to off load SME loan portfolio’s to bad debt agencies.

Brid-Smith - CopyIn an article published  in the Local News in Dublin South Central, People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith has warned that a plan by Dankse Bank to sell a portfolio of loans chiefly concerning Small and Medium Enterprises could have devastating effects for both individual firms involved and the wider economy.

The Dáil deputy has been contacted by a number of concerned SMEs who believe the giant bank is set to offload distressed loans in a portfolio to a number of bad debt agencies at a large discount. It is understood that this will result in immediate pressure on many struggling firms and could see businesses close with significant job losses.

Deputy Bríd Smith stated “I would fear that Dankse Bank’s move could have a profound impact on many of these small firms and would appeal to them to hold off any “fire sale”. We have seen what can happen in other areas where loan portfolios are sold and the pressure is for an immediate return to the new owners of the loans; foreclosures and home repossessions are happening as a result.”

“My information suggests that Dankse Bank is seeking to sell these loans to what are essentially bad debt agencies who will have no interests in helping small local firms survive.”

The Bank previously sold SME portfolios to both Bank of Ireland and Goldman Sachs.

Deputy Smith is concerned that other banks may follow suit; “There is an urgent need for the Minister for Finance to step in and seriously consider a mechanism where the State could acquire these loans with a view to insuring that these firms do not face the kind of pressure that will see businesses fail and jobs lost”.

The People Before Profit TD has organised a meeting on Friday 22 April in Buswells Hotel where representatives of a number of the SMEs will voice their concern and Deputy Smith will launch a campaign against the planned sell off.