NO to Croke Park 2 and NO to Austerity..... For ALL?
Friday, April 19, 2013
I was full of admiration and respect this week for those Public Servants who had the courage of their convictions to vote a resounding NO to the proposals put forward in the Croke Park 2 (CP 2) agreement, which would have seen their pay cut yet again. They also said NO to the bullying tactics used by this Government desperate to secure agreement.
I also respect those who voted 'yes'. I am in no doubt that most of them did so feeling that it was the only way to avoid an even worse fate and for fear of loss of earnings they cannot afford, due to any resulting strike action.
This 'no' result is important and is a potentially huge opportunity for all workers and everyone affected by austerity and cut-backs in this country.
I feel that Public Servants have been treated appallingly by both recent Irish Governments. The previous Fianna Fail led coalition reneged on an existing pay agreement prior to legislating for and forcing a huge pension levy on us in 2009 and then coming back for more pay cuts in 2010. The current Fianna Gael/Labour Government have also reneged on an existing agreement, Croke Park 1, which had achieved huge savings and still had 14 months to run. We know more savings can be made, talk to and involve the staff - they'll have solutions. Despite promises to the contrary and stating that they always stick to their deals, they recently forced agreement from Trade Unions to recommend more pay cuts via the CP 2 agreement to it's members. Who could ever trust them again when as recently as September 2011 Minister Howlin et al promised he wouldn't ask for more pay cuts?
Public Sector workers know they have to contribute but feel they've already paid their fair share. They face constant anti-Public Sector sentiments from the general public. It's now time to stop being an easy target and to make a stand against the also constant austerity measures. We know that a lot (but not all) Private Sector workers have made huge sacrifices and have been treated poorly too. There is now a huge number of workers across BOTH sectors who have been massively affected by austerity, haven't we ALL had enough?
Both recent Governments have engaged in divide and conquer tactics, not only between the Public and Private Sector but also within the very diverse Public Sector. It serves them well. God forbid that we could all find a common platform and stand together to protest against the constant austere cuts being levied on us all, which only result in less spending in the domestic economy and loss of even more private sector jobs. It is estimated that the pay cuts in CP2 would have meant a loss of 3000 such jobs.
So what happens next?
The Government insist that the savings of €300 million included in the budget must come from pay roll. Why?
Instead of Minister Howlin bullying Public Servants into pay cuts they simply cannot afford, Labour should have stood up to Fianna Gael's bullying at budget time, when they threatened to impose a 3% Social Welfare cut if Labour insisted on a 3% wealth tax.
Ironically it is estimated that the proposed wealth Tax would have brought in about €305 million.
Why should low-mid income Public Sector workers pay to protect the rich? Indeed why should ANY such worker pay?
In 2009 I wrote a blog post on the MacCarthy Report (attempting to dispel some PS myths!) and followed it with my A Nation Dividing post. I totally stand over the content in these posts. In both I touch on the massive cost to the exchequer in the Black Market Economy, estimated in 2009 to be costing €461 million per week.There will be yield in most audits these days so we need to resource Revenue, as we did in the 1990's, and let them tackle tax avoidance. I also wrote about the difficulty in accepting a job when social welfare entitlements are compared to diminishing wages and the costs incurred in going to work. I still believe this and felt vindicated by a brief comment made by an employer on last Tuesday's Prime Time programme on RTE.
So, what are the Government going to do now the ball is now in their court? Part of their bullying tactics was to threaten to legislate for an across the board 7% pay cut, which would mostly affect low-mid income earners. Will they have the neck to do that? Or will they revert to the usual divide and conquer tactics and try to tweak the untweakable to bag a majority 'Yes' vote in round 2?
While I fear the latter part of me really wants them to try force the 7% cut, so sparking a massive response.
Just think about it.
A substantial number of workers, almost 300,000 people, have stood up to this Government and said NO - we've had enough and we cannot take any more.
If we're very clever and stop comparing the incomparable shades of green on the other side of the fence,this could be the start of something good for everyone.
Look, there's been lots of protests here and there against cuts, particularly with regard to Property Tax. None are having effect. None.
How about we knock down those damn fences and join forces? Who cares who precipitates the mass revolt and gives the ordinary person a louder voice? It has to start with one very large group so why not Public Servants.
How powerful would that be?
I guess we'll never know.
PS: I know this won't be well received by some and no doubt I will receive a right bashing myself! But you know what, that's fine. I wrote it with best intentions at heart trying to find an inclusive way forward. We're all entitled to our opinions. I will respect yours but please understand and don't be offended if I don't respond. I really feel so sickened by the level of constant anti- Public Servant sentiments that I made a decision sometime ago not to engage or respond. I hope you understand.x