Category: Workers Rights


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.”

luasIn a statement, People Before Profit TD, Richard Boyd Barrett has conveyed his party’s full support to the Luas drivers in their battle for proper pay and conditions.

Today People Before Profit will be holding stalls across the country and will visit pickets at the depots in Red Cow and Sandyford in support of the Luas workers.

Richard Boyd Barrett said “People Before Profit fully support the Luas drivers in their fight for fairness through strike action this weekend. These drivers are ordinary people who provide a vital public service for the people of Dublin and who have to work in situations, with pedestrians and cars in close proximity to the trams – protecting the safety of millions of passengers and pedestrians every year. Thankfully, due to the diligent work of the Luas drivers, accidents have been at a minimum since the creation of the Luas.”

“The Luas drivers have families to raise, mortgages to pay and like other workers have had their real take-home pay slashed under the impact of austerity. What they are looking for, after five years of a pay freeze and crippling austerity taxes, is a 5% per year pay increase over five years- this is entirely reasonable.

“Currently, the Luas drivers’ pay ranges from €33,000 for a 39 hour week in year one and €42,247 after 9 years. I think that their pay claim is quite reasonable when you consider the increased cost of living, taxes and levies which are being imposed on ordinary workers like Luas drivers, nurses, bus drivers, Gardaí etc. The previous government and the current caretaker government have been talking about recovery for a long time now. If we truly are looking at recovery then we must have proper pay restoration for workers across the board. These workers are right to demand a share in the so-called recovery. I would also say well done to the drivers for standing up for new entrants who are being proposed to be paid a lower starting salary for doing the same work.  People across the country have rightly expressed outrage when the same two tier pay structure was imposed on new entrant nurses and teachers – it is equally unjust to demand this of new entrant Luas drivers.”

“We also must point out that Transdev is a very profitable multinational company. Their revenues are up due to increased passenger number and rising fares. According to the LUAS website, 2015 ‘has been the most successful year for Luas to date in terms of the number of passenger trips. In 2015 the number of Luas passenger trips reached an impressive 34.6 million. This means that an additional 1.99 million or 6.1% more trips were made in 2015 compared to 2014.’ If the company are having difficulties paying wages then I would suggest that their business model is questionable at best.

“The Luas was one of the good things to come out of the Celtic Tiger period. At the moment the company, Transdev and Veolia, are running it into the ground.

“What we need is solidarity from other workers across different sectors in Ireland. People Before Profit believe that a victory for the Luas workers is a victory for all workers because it would represent a huge win for working people who have seen their earnings savaged in recent years and would present an opportunity for other workers to make a stand for the increased pay which they deserve after years of austerity.”

People Before Profit launch Decent Jobs: Employment and Labour Rights Manifesto

State must play a role in creating jobs

pbp employment doc

Click to read Policy

People Before Profit held a press conference this morning launching their Decent Jobs: Employment and Labour Rights Manifesto. Attending the launch were Richard Boyd Barrett TD, Cllr Bríd Smith and Cllr John Lyons.

Richard Boyd Barrett said- “The current government are claiming that there is a recovery underway. What they are conveniently forgetting is the deterioration of wages and conditions of workers and the neutering of union representation since the Celtic Tiger. Under the guise of competitiveness we are seeing a race to the bottom. This is making life unaffordable for workers through the cost of accommodation and regressive charges like property tax and water charges.

“Many workers in Ireland today find themselves in precarious and low paid jobs. New teachers for example spend an average of seven years on insecure contracts before being made permanent. There is also policy, directly endorsed by the government, of age discrimination. New entrants to the public sector are paid less than those starting before January 2011.

“We have also seen Ireland become one of the standard bearers of low wage economies. In 2014 the OECD reported Ireland as having the second highest level of low-paying jobs; second only to the US.

“People Before Profit propose a different vision for our economy and our workers. Increased pay is what is needed for workers which in turn will boost the economy.

“We believe in strong unions that are based on empowering the grassroots. The political control of unions like SIPTU by the Labour Party must end. We have proposed a number of measures that we feel will empower the unions to make effective representation for their members.

“We feel that a fairer recovery is possible. The recovery that is being boasted about by the current government is not being felt by the vast majority of our population. A recovery based on low wages, the casualisation of labour, precarious contracts and substandard conditions is not a real recovery. We are campaigning for a recovery for the 99%- those who got sold out by this government and the previous Fianna Fail-Green Party government. We are calling and end to the exploitative JobsBridge scheme and other similar models which make young people work for free with no guarantee of a job at the end of it. We believe that work must pay.”
Continue reading

Why does Labour support emergency laws to shackle unions?

howlinThe Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) legislation of 2009 was the most anti worker legislation ever passed in this state, targeting public sector wages and conditions. The recent 2015 bill, supported by Fine Gael and Labour, cemented these attacks on public sector workers in legislation for a further period.

Under the recently agreed Lansdowne Road Agreement, paltry pay increases were agreed for public sector workers, which will run until 2018. Meanwhile changes to working conditions introduced over the last few years and the Pension Levy remain in place. The recent FEMPI legislation puts these increases into law, but also allows the government to punish workers who are outside of this agreement by imposing draconian measures such as pay cuts in the form of delayed increments.

pbp lab 1

Read more by clicking on image above

The government is continuing with its 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 most of the trade union leadership.

People Before Profit supports TUI members in their recent protest and ongoing campaign against the chronic underfunding of the Institutes of Technology (35% cut to sector- €190m – between 2008 and 2015) and against the precarious employment status, income poverty and associated exploitation of many academic staff.

The new FEMPI legislation punishes unions and workers such as teachers in the TUI who have not signed agreements such as the Lansdowne Road Agreement, by withholding the promised restoration of pay for substitution and supervision hours.

The FEMPI legislation from its inception in 2009 represented an attack on workers. Rather than voting for this legislation, People Before Profit believe FEMPI should be repealed immediately. Trade unions should be seeking to have all the provisions of previous agreements, from Croke Park to Haddington Road to the Lansdowne Road Agreement, reversed.

In a statement, People Before Profit has labeled Budget 2016 as having nothing in it for disadvantaged young people.

What we should have seen in this budget is the restoration of the Jobseekers rate of €188 to all Jobseekers under the age of 26. What we see now is the continuation of young Jobseekers trying to live off inadequate income.

The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) have said that ‘overall, this budget neglected to support and respond in an adequate manner to the needs of young people’. Indeed, we can see that youth unemployment in this country is at 20.6% for under 25s. This doesn’t even take into account the young people that have been forced to emigrate from this country. The NYCI also point out that 30,400 young people emigrated in 2015, with 223,600 under 25s leaving since the crisis began in 2008. These people have left because there is no hope for them here.

The fact that there is no rent certainty in this budget shows the attitude of this government. This is a government of the landlords. Young people with inadequate incomes are having a terrible time with regards to the increasing cost of living and rents that are going out of control. We have a housing crisis and without rent certainty we are going to see many more people being plunged into homelessness. A huge proportion of these will be young people.

In this state we have 1,500 children experiencing homelessness. For the government to not address homelessness in a meaningful way in this budget is a disgrace and it will have major negative effects on the youth in our society. This government have consistently chipped away futures of young people. We need to ask ourselves what kind of a country we want to live in. Either we can have a country as we do now, for the bankers and developers to get rich again, or we can choose a country that looks after its youth and all the other vulnerable groups in our society.

 

Tax Justice to fund action on housing, health and inequality

PBP - Pre-Budget Statement 2016

Click here to read in full

At a press conference today, the People Before Profit Alliance presented its pre-budget statement for 2016. 

The central theme of PBPA’s budget was the need for emergency action and increased spending in areas such as housing, the health service and to address income and wealth inequality.

PBPA believe shifting the tax burden to ensure a greater tax contribution from the corporate sector, those on higher earnings and those with significant personal wealth can generate the much needed funds to address the crisis in our public services and growing poverty and deprivation.

A summary of the measures proposed in the PBPA budget statement include:

  • Abolish property tax; water charges; and the USC for salaries below €70,000
  • Reverse the cuts to social welfare and end age discrimination
  • Expand Health funding in all areas.
  • Restore the jobs and public services that have been run down
  • Emergency programme of social housing and investment in rent support and homelessness
  • Invest in Education and develop proper child care facilities

Full Statement available here: PBP-Pre Budget Statement 2016

Speaking at the launch LtoR: Cllr Brid Smith, Ailbhe Smyth, Richard Boyd Barrett TD

Speaking at the Pre-Budget launch: Cllr Brid Smith, Ailbhe Smyth & Richard Boyd Barrett TD

poster conferenceTonight is the first event of the People Before Profit ‘A Radical Alternative Vision of Ireland’ policy programme. This event is an opportunity for people to contribute their ideas for an alternative Ireland.

The event will take place in the Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Sq. West, Dublin 1. The event will run on Friday 18th, Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th September.

 

Tonight’s event is the launch of Mike Gonzalez‘s book ‘The Politics of Water’ starting at 8pm. This will provide a great insight to the issue of water across the world and the opposition to privatisation of water which provides a context for the anti-water charges movement in Ireland.

 

Mike Gonzalez is an author and Professor of Latin American Studies in the University of Glasgow

There are a number of plenary sessions throughout the weekend which include speakers like People Before Profit TD Richard Boy Barrett, Independent TD Clare Daly, Anti- Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy, People Before Profit councilors Gerry Carroll, Bríd Smith and John Lyons and author Kevin Ovenden.

 

There are also a number of workshop events throughout the weekend which include topics such as housing, disability, youth forum, TTIP and Tax Havens, Northern Ireland, poverty, low pay, the arts, and racism and immigration in Ireland to name but a few.

 

The event will close with a final plenary session titled ‘Building a New Left’ including speakers Richard Boyd Barrett TD, Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy, Ailbhe Smyth and Cllr Gerry Carroll.

Plenary sessions:

Saturday 19th
11.30am- 1.00pm- Plenary: Pro-Choice- Why we are fighting for a woman’s right to choose.
Speakers:
Ailbhe Smyth- Chair Repeal the 8th Amendment Campaign, Convener of People Before Profit,  feminist and LGBT activist, and former UCD academic.
Clare Daly TD- Independent TD for for Dublin North and Repeal the 8th Amendment campaigner.

Fiona NicFhearghais- People Before Profit Belfast representative and SWP organiser for West Belfast

2.00-3.30- Plenary: Greece, Spain, Ireland- Debt austerity and resistance
Speakers:
Kieran Allen- Author and lecturer in UCD

Kevin Ovenden- Author of a book on Greece and Syriza, Escaping the Labyrinth.

 

5.30-7.00- Plenary: An alternative economic agenda- for people not profit.
Speakers:
Brian O’Boyle- Lecturer in Economics, St. Angela’s College, Sligo
Tom O’Connor- Lecturer in Economics and Social Policy, Cork Institute of Technology
Professor Terry McDonagh- Professor of Economics, National University of Ireland, Galway

Goretti Horgan- Lecturer in Social Policy in the University of Ulster, member of the Board of Directors of the Northern Ireland Anti-Poverty Network

Sunday 20th
12.00-1.30- Plenary: The battle against water charges- where now?

Speakers:

  • Cllr John Lyons- People Before Profit Councillor for Beaumont-Donaghmede and general election candidate for Dublin Bay North
  • Cllr Bríd Smith- People Before Profit Councillor for Ballyfermot/Drimnagh, general election candidate for Dublin South Central, member of the Right2Water steering group.

3.00-5.00- Plenary: Building a New Left
Speakers:

  • Ailbhe Smyth
  • Richard Boyd Barrett TD- People Before Profit TD for Dun Laoghaire, part of the Right2Water campaign
  • Paul Murphy TD- Anti-Austerity Alliance TD for Dublin South-West, part of Right2Water campaign
  • Cllr Gerry Carroll- People Before Profit Councillor for West Belfast

Link to full event programme:

http://www.peoplebeforeprofit.ie/2015/09/a-radical-alternative-vision-for-ireland/

People Before Profit has condemned the EU’s blackmail of Greece
 In the last two weeks, the EU engaged in a silent coup to break the radical left government of Greece. They imposed humiliating terms of surrender on it in order to spread a message of fear across Europe. That message is ‘lie down and accept reality as we define it’

The EU’s dealing with Greece has revealed its true nature. It has become an undemocratic machine for imposing economic terror on any government that moves beyond the neo-liberal consensus. It has succeeded in frightening the leaders of Syriza – but at the cost of awakening the hatred of millions across Europe.

The Irish government played the role of a cheerleader to the EU bullies – but it did so at the cost of throwing away an opportunity to a write down of Irish debt. That debt will now hang around the necks of Irish people until 2053 – thanks to Kenny’s involvement in punishing the Greeks.

Some of the media framed the issue as ‘the Greeks looking for more money’. The reality, however, is that none of the original €7.5 billion that the Greeks requested was to be used to fund public services. It was only used to repay back previous loans. Greece had been put on a treadmill of austerity from which it cannot escape.

The Troika originally intervened in Greece to safeguard wealthy private creditors in 2012. In return for a haircut on their loans, these investors got EU institutions and the IMF to fund a Greek loan that guaranteed them re-payments. These ‘loans’ triggered further austerity and created the latest crisis.

So the issue was never about Greek people begging for more from other people in Europe. It was always about a devious mechanism to make the Greek people pay for debts to wealthy bondholders. Which is precisely what happened the people of Ireland.

People Before Profit hopes that many Syriza MPs will vote against the deal – even if it means a split in their party.

We hope there is a huge response to a call for a 24 hour general strike against this deal.

But whatever happens we are confident that this deal is not the final word. The Greek people who voted NO a week ago are not as cowardly as their leaders and resistance will inevitably re-emerge

For us in Ireland the lessons are obvious.

The government says that there can be no further discussion about breaking from austerity if a country wishes to remain in Europe.

We say the exact opposite: there can be no future for an EU that operates as a concentration camp for opponents of austerity.

It is time to re-assert the value of democracy against the silent tyranny of an EU that is now based on a vicious combination of bureaucratic control and neo-liberal economics.