Category: Trade Union

Brid-Smith - CopyDeputy Brid Smith has called on the Department of Education to withdraw threats it has issued to teachers in the ASTI.

Teachers are been told they must sign up and agree to substitution and supervisor duties by tomorrow or face been taken off the payroll.

Brid Smith said today: “this is the worst example of bully boy tactics and intimidation I have seen in a dispute in years. If any employer in the private sector behaved like this it would be outrageous, but the fact that this is the Government makes it even more so.”

Deputy Smith said that the dispute cannot be resolved by intimidation and bullying. “The ASTI are absolutely right to fight for equal pay for equal work and I support them 100%. This is a cheap attempt to rail road these workers that will not succeed. I will be raising these outrageous moves in the Dail.”

In the meantime Deputy Smith urged the union and its members not to be moved by these tactics and also urged Minister Bruton to deal with the substantive issue of equal pay for equal work. “It remains an insult to all public sector workers that a large cohort of newly recruited workers are paid significantly less than their senior colleagues for doing the same work. It is unjust and cannot last. Piecemeal restoration is not good enough. These workers could be suffering these discriminatory wage levels for years to come. This cannot be accepted any longer.”

dub-busA number of Dail deputies including Richard Boyd Barrett and Brid Smith staged a protest outside the Department of Transport Office on Leeson Lane, Leeson Street, today to highlight what they describe as the ministers “astonishing silence and indifference” over the current bus dispute in the capital. 
The deputies were joined by workers from unions representing Dublin Bus workers.
Deputy Smith claimed the minister seemed fond of high profile interventions such as those in the Rio Olympics but seemed untouched by the impact of a mass transport strike in the city. 
Deputy Boyd Barrett added that Minister Ross’s claim that he would not use the government’s chequebook to solve the dispute rang hollow in the light of the Apple tax scandal and the fact that his department had consistently cut the funding to Dublin Bus over recent years. “Whatever about taking the chequebook out if he simply pledged to restore funding to its previous levels this dispute would be over”.
DublinbusBrid Smith TD today welcomed the overwhelming vote for strike action by Dublin Bus drivers and members of the NBRU .
Noting the huge majority in favor of industrial action in pursuit of a pay claim, (over 96% voted in favour), Deputy Smith said the vote reflected the anger not just of bus workers but also reflected a wider sentiment among many workers who have also faced years of pay freezes, cuts and austerity taxes.
“I’m delighted my former colleague in the NBRU have given their union this mandate. After eight years of cuts, concessions and stealth taxes they very much need and deserve a decent pay rise. Unfortunately the Labour Court recommendation was an insult to a group of workers that are effectively owed 6% from past pay deals that were never honored, let alone a decent rise to reflect the sacrifices and cuts they have endured on top of that since 2008”
Deputy Smith also noted that Dublin Bus had returned to profit over the last three years, posting over 23 million euro in profits since 2013. “Given that this comes on the back of huge Government cuts in subsidies to the whole CIE group its a remarkable achievement, paid for both by the workers and the travelling public via fare increases and increased productivity, and only possible because of the work of those drivers and other Dublin Bus workers. Neither the Government nor the company have any excuse not to make a decent offer and pay these drivers” she said. “All talk of a recovery is meaningless unless workers can share in it and unless we raise wages across the economy. Profits and GDP rises will not butter any bread for ordinary workers, we need pay rises and a sharing of the wealth after years of austerity”

Pays tribute to the work of the Migrant Rights centre Ireland for their work opposing the Bill

Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin spBrid Smith TD has said that she is delighted that a proposed Fianna Fail bill concerning Au Pairs has been rejected by the Dail in a vote this afternoon. Deputy Smith said that this Bill would have left vulnerable young migrant workers without any protection or access to the states Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

Deputy Smith paid tribute to the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland for their sterling work in opposing the Fianna Fail Bill.

Deputy Smith said “Our amendment to Fianna Fail’s ‘Au Pair Placement Bill’ urged TDs to allow workers continued access to the WRC to hear their grievances over low pay and long hours. There have also been reports of some of the worst examples of gross exploitation in the sector.”

Deputy Smith continued to say “the Au Pair Placement Bill is ill designed and could have had horrendous consequences for people working as Au Pairs as their work is already undervalued. This Bill talked about pocket money and light domestic duties; it doesn’t reflect the reality of domestic work today and seems instead to hark back to some idealised past of Au Pair work as something a student did as a rite of passage. 

“I Au paired myself when younger but an unintended consequence of this bill would be to remove protections and laws from the most vulnerable of workers. We have a child care crisis in this country which can’t be dealt with by legislating to allow people to import cheap child care dressed up as cultural exchange.

“The recent cases before the WRC give lie to that argument and exposed an industry which unfortunately is dominated by gross exploitation. We must stand against that.

“I would like to say well done to the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland for their work on this matter. Migrant workers have rights too and as workers they should have equal access to the mechanisms of the Workplace Relations Commission.”

Drastic measures required due to short fall in funding and staffing levels

Brid-Smith-2a-241x300People Before Profit fully support the decision of the Psychiatric Nurses Association members to go on strike in reaction to chronically low staffing levels in hospital and community services. The members of the PNA have voted by a margin of 87% for strike action.

People Before Profit Industrial Relations spokesperson, Bríd Smith, said “the levels of staffing in psychiatric wards at both the hospital and community level are disastrously low. It is quite clear that the past government and the current government, have totally disregarded the importance of mental health services. What we in People Before Profit are saying is that the mental health budget should be doubled from 6% of the health budget to 12%. We are also calling for a massive increase in the field of mental health nursing.

“The PNA nurses are absolutely right to vote for strike action and further more I would call on all unions involved in the delivery of the health service to follow suit and ballot for strike action. A united front would pile real pressure on the government to implement the changes that are required for the health service and end the recruitment embargo.

“It is quite clear that the recruitment embargo needs to be stopped and new nurses should be employed immediately. We need to bring the numbers of mental health staff up to 12,000 immediately to deal with this situation. The embargo on recruitment has been disastrous for the health service in general and for mental health services in particular.

“Pay for nurses is also a massive factor that needs to be addressed if we are to stop nurses, newly qualified and current, from going to the UK. People Before Profit will be putting forward a motion in the Dail during Private Members Time to repeal the FEMPI legislation which has capped the pay of nurses and implemented a two-tier pay structure in the health service, and amongst all public servants.  We need to recruit more nurses and pay them properly.”

People Before Profit will today propose a motion to the Dail to abolish the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest legislation (FEMPI). FEMPI is the most anti-worker legislation in the history of the state.
The motion has been signed by Anti-Austerity Alliance- People Before Profit TD’s (Bríd Smith, Richard Boyd Barrett, Gino Kenny, Paul Murphy, Ruth Coppinger and Mick Barry), Independents 4 Change TD’s (Joan Collins, Clare Daly, Mick Wallace and Tommy Broughan), Catherine Connolly TD, Seamus Healy TD, and Thomas Pringle TD. The motion is also supported by Senator Gerard Craughwell.
The emergency bill was brought into law in 2009 and has had untold consequences for workers.
The government is continuing with the old policy of austerity when it comes to the pay and conditions of public sector workers, while at the same time saying that the economy is in recovery. It continues to hide behind a supposed “Financial Emergency” in order to pursue the draconian provisions of this legislation, supported by the trade union leadership.
People Before Profit spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Bríd Smith TD, said “The FEMPI legislation, from its inception in 2009, represents an attack on workers. People Before Profit believe FEMPI should be repealed immediately. We are tabling this motion to the Dail, with the support of other parties of the left, in a bid to claw back some of the ground lost by workers when they were sacrificed by the Fianna Fail/Green and Fine Gael/Labour governments along with the EU- Troika.
“Recently we have been told that the country is in recovery. We welcome this, but what we have seen when we look closely is a recovery for the rich and for the banks that caused the financial meltdown and which is having disastrous consequences for our society.”

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People Before Profit are holding a press conference today to highlight a motion that they are putting to the Dail to abolish the Financial Emergency in the Public Interest legislation (FEMPI).

Where: Buswell’s Hotel

When: Wednesday, 1st June (Today)

Time: 10am

The motion has been signed by Anti-Austerity Alliance- People Before Profit TD’s (Bríd Smith, Richard Boyd Barrett, Gino Kenny, Paul Murphy, Ruth Coppinger and Mick Barry), Independents 4 Change TD’s (Joan Collins, Clare Daly, Mick Wallace and Tommy Broughan), Catherine Connolly TD, Seamus Healy TD, and Thomas Pringle TD.

The motion seeks to abolish FEMPI totally.

There will be in attendance at the press conference workers who have been affected by FEMPI, Bríd Smith TD, Richard Boyd Barrett TD, Gino Kenny TD, Clare Daly TD, Seamus Healy TD, Ruth Copinger TD and Senator Gerard Craughwell.

  • No change to disastrous policies of privatisation in key areas of social housing , health and vital infrastructure

  • No change – No serious commitment on inequality, wealth distribution or women’s rights

In a statement today, Richard Boyd Barrett who spoke on behalf of AAA-BPB in the Dáil today, has said that the new programme for government shows ‘no sign of the much triumphed ‘new politics’, but instead is filled with the construction of the same failed policies of the last government.

Richard Boyd Barrett stated that it was particularly alarming that there was no change in the fundamental direction of policy in the areas of health and social housing and vital infrastructure. He said in these key areas, the new government intends to continue and accelerate the same policies of privatisation and reliance on the private sector that produced such disastrous crises in housing and in the public health service and vital infrastructure, such as water.

Richard Boyd Barrett has condemned the programme’s failure to honour the clear democratic mandate of the Dáil to immediately abolish water charges and the failure to clearly commit to a referendum on Repealing the 8th amendment.

Richard Boyd Barrett said, “For all the rhetoric about new politics that we have heard over recent weeks, and there is more of it to be found in this programme for government, we have instead a continuation and in many cases acceleration of the same policies of privatisation and reliance on the private sector that have already produced such disastrous crises, in housing, our public health system and crises of vital infrastructure, such as water services”.

In a wide range of areas where there are acute crises, the government has fudged and kicked the can down the road to committees, commissions and reviews.

In all these areas, particularly social housing, health, water, infrastructure, womens rights and poverty, we don’t need talk and we certainly do not need more privatisation. What we do need is a major increase in direct public investment in all these areas – there is simply no change- just half measures and worse, misguided measures.

The failure of this government to simply honour its mandate on water charges and abolish them is outrageous. 

The failure of the programme to commit to a referendum on repealing the 8th amendment is an utter scandal and insult to women and families affected by fatal foetal abnormalities.

Given the dramatic increase in child poverty,  poverty generally and inequality in our society, it is a travesty that there is no over-arching commitment to greater social equality or the redistribution of wealth in a fair way in this country”.

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.”

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.”