Category Archives: Politics

ictu women’s conference – day 2

ictu womens conference
Day 2
march 4 2016
We start the second day with Motion 10 detailing changes to sick leave entitlement, seeking that any pregnancy related sick leave will not be counted against entitlements under current Public Service Sick Leave provisions, as austerity cuts were not just pay and pensions but also changes to terms and conditions.

Motion on Austerity and the impact of Women
Calling for a fight against Austerity and for equality. Organise women’s lobbies to highlight disproportionate impact of the cuts on women, develop a women led political campaign based around key industrial demands, provide political education courses including training on how government works

Motion on Child Poverty – set goals to end child poverty by 2025 by investing in education and working with relevant agencies, including food. 1 in 5 children go to school hungry, some startling figures for a modern “recovering economy:

Motion 15 on reproductive health and justice calling for support of repeal the eighth campaign, harrowing personal story was told. Hugely emotional hearing about how more than 10 people who travel daily to the uk for abortion. The motion called on ICTU to continue to support Trade union campaign to repeal the 8th amendment, lobby political parties to commit to a referendum and support a vote on the issue and encourage the mobilisation of trade union members on the issue.

Motion 16 calling on ICTU to lobby Government to address gender pensions gap of 39% leaving many women living in poverty. Gender Pay gap results in lower pensions for women, austerity has worsened this as pensions were postponed in return for putting food on the table.

Motion 17 – Violence against women and girls calling on ICTU to campaign to introduce legislation similar to Violence against women and girls act in Wales and to work with affiliates and employers to develop workplace policies on domestic violence. There was an all island survey over 10 years ago on the impact of domestic violence in the workplace where one third of people said they had experienced cases and this had an impact on their work. Legislation in Wales places a duty on Ministers and Public Bodies to introduce, monitor and evaluate strategies to tackle violence against women and girls, a more pressing requirement is to have active policies in the workplace, ensuring these places take a stand against this horror. Narrative needs to move from why does she stay with him to why doesn’t he stop

Motion 18 – Equal Marriage calling on ICTU to fully support Civil Marriage Equality campaign in Northern Ireland as it is the only part of the UK and Ireland where gay and lesbian couples can’t marry. After the success of the Marriage Equality referendum down south it has helped highlight the absence in this in Northern Ireland.

Motion 19 supporting the work of Women’s Committee endorsing the programme of work that was produced prior to conference. The programme has three parts – women Organising for decent work – women in society – Women in trade unions. as this co-ordinates with other congress campaigns. There is a notable absence of women negotiators

Motion 20 was about the new Workers College which is in the process of being set up. It called on ICTU to ensure that gender balance is part of teaching, participation and relevant training.

Motion 21 was similar but went a step further calling on a specific training and mentoring training programme for Women Trade Unionists. This will help empower women activists to be confident in pursuing a career through the trade union movement which should help achieve an acceptable gender balance which is missing

Guest speaker Montserrat Mir Roca, ETUC confederal Secretary spoke about Breaking the Glass Walls, paying tribute to the mothers and grandmothers have done to help with todays situation, though there’s a lot of work left to do. Austerity policies effect vulnerable people more. Not acceptable that companies are paying below minimum wage. Poverty and exclusion exists all throughout Europe, not just the poorer countries. There is a European Commissioner on gender and ETUC are looking for European Gender equality strategy. ETUC priorities include looking at gender pay gap is still a big problem, sometimes you can have good legislation but it doesn’t always get implemented. Also the representation of women at higher level positions in union and other organisations. There is still a need to advance work life balance arrangements, including implementation of parental leave directives. This year will see a push to highlight violence against women through a “safe at work, safe at home” programme. €370 million lost in gender pay gap throughout Europe per annum, this is not just a trade union demand it is economic.

And that was that – 21 motions and not one speaker against but a very inclusive conference. There was a strong feeling of solidarity for all speakers to motions, encouraging people to speak

niallhope

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Zine of the week – Ablaze

ablaze

Zine of the Week
Ablaze
buy here
 

I picked up Ablaze *11 last week and have been enthused by its writings. SO much so that I did a radio show featuring solely bands that were in it. Karren has a a style of expression that is exciting and she wants you to like her bands. Wants you to know all about them. Not only are there some great interviews but there’sa breakdown of music and releases in there too. So we get the Sleaford mods talking about their outlook on British music scene and then get a critical analysis of their recorded output.

It’s just great. Want to know about Indian Music scene, mostly the post rock of aswekeepsearching well read ablaze. Want to remember Stereolab or read about Sleater Kinney and their conneciton to Sky Larkin? Read ablaze. Want to know about upcoming diy riot grrl influenced bands? Read ablaze. Want to know about Catalan diy band Trebat? Read ablaze. There’s so much in it. Buy for sure

The following piece is taken from Ablaze with the permission of both the editor Karren and the band Thee Faction. Thee Faction are proudly wearing their politics on their sleeves. They want this world to change and they are trying to use music to help effect it

Posterity Not Austerity
Thee Faction

There’s a bit of a myth around Thee Faction, which predates the current line up, but
suffice to say that some of the band have been doing their thing since the 80s, while some of us answered the call more recently. This incarnation is a direct response to the election of the 2010 Conservative government while our musical roots are in earlier influences. One is radical soul: that time in the late 60s/early 70s when the likes of the Staples Singers, Curtis Mayfield, and later Motown and the O Jays, put aside singing about love to write songs about the political struggle. Another influence is The MC5, for much the same reason, but we’re not promoting rock
cliché or looking for our next fix: we blend that aesthetic with the homegrown RnB of Dr Feelgood and the original punk/pub scene. Thee Faction are an urgent, wired-up
attack rather than some smug cod-blues lethargy. With Brass Kapital on horns, the
influence of the early Dexys sound comes into the mix too, alongside everything
from northern soul to hard rock.

The 80s hang over all of us, politically and musically, because we’re ruled by
people of that generation, and in pop-culture terms that was a deeply politicised
time, between Thatcherism and the Cold War. Everyone from Springsteen to the Style Council raised money for the miners, and it was standard for pop bands (Communards, Blow Monkeys, Fine Young Cannibals, Frankie, Depeche Mode) to write political songs and use soviet-chic sleeve design. But the underground scene aside, those bands were all supported by major record companies: the revolution was monetised. The situation now has us swimming upstream. Every month someone else in the media bemoans the lack of politics in pop music – or as is implied by omission, all music. We know therwise because we play events with political folk artists (Robb Johnson, Grace Petrie), political hip hop (Akala), political punk (TV Smith, Shocks of Mighty), political indie (Colour Me Wednesday, The Tuts) and socialist bands which defy categories like The Hurriers and the Protest Family. If that’s not pop enough, well, Thee Faction have been compared to Robbie Williams and One Direction as well as The Clash and Redskins. (We’ve been known to sugar the subversive pill). There are plenty of bands putting politics into pop formats, loosely defined (veterans like ADF and Anti-Flag, relative newcomers like Sonic Boom Six, brand new groups like Fight Rosa Fight) but whether their music becomes popular will always be partly down to media exposure, a media that still treats them as a novelty or just invisible.

There’s an element of music hall in Thee Faction. There are pseudonyms, there are parodies, there is an acknowledgment of the ridiculousness of being in a band, and in a revolutionary rock band. We’re from Reigate, because every band should be from somewhere. We’re Guild Socialists, or Marxist Leninists, or libertarian Left, depending on which album or song you listen to. There’s a punk rock “fuck you” in being everything the capitalist West hates. But our rhetorical refusal to take ourselves seriously has been countered to a degree by other people insisting on doing it for us. We’re asked to play benefit gigs and union rallies, political conferences and fundraisers. And while there’s no Faction party line – with 9-plus members all with their own stance on things we’re bigger and more democratic than some splinters of the Fourth International – we’ve bashed out a consensus: a united front, with guitars. We want politics in our music and we want fun in both. We want a progressive music & arts scene in every town, a counter-hegemonic culture promoting a different view and a different world. In Gramscian terms, we’re living through a war of position. Which side are you on?

How do we get through this – how does anyone get through a crisis? You do a combination of things. You reflect and regroup before you reassert. You remember who you are and what you believe. You link with others who feel the same, and take steps to re-assert control over your life and the world around you, with ideas and action. Without getting too inwardly-focussed, selfhelp is obviously important, in the sense of reminding yourself that you’re not alone. Enabled by a strong support network, you can make a start at taking on the world. The We Shall Overcome crew (Joe Solo, The Hurriers, and the hundreds of others who organised gigs and fundraisers for WSO on the first weekend of October 2015) have been very clear on this point: there is a great need, for our sakes as individuals, and as a political community, for a combination of progressive charity support (e.g. for foodbanks) and political solidarity work (with all those affected by cuts) alongside a collective assertion
of anti-austerity values. Small actions such as benefit gigs or demonstrations can obviously be good in themselves (there’s that idea of ‘temporary autonomous zones’ to help activists recharge their batteries) but are better still when they help to foster the spirit of solidarity, demonstrate it practically, have the potential to win converts, put our values into practice and spread the feeling of hope. At the same time, we should all join things that this government hates: libraries, community groups, campaigns, trade unions, political parties, however imperfect most of them are. If Labour aren’t for you, join the Greens, or Left Unity, or the solidarity Federation. If you can’t join PCS, join the IWW, or vice versa. To an extent some of these measures are survival strategies, ways to cope or alleviate symptoms, if only the personal feelings of powerlessness and meaninglessness, of a deeper social problem. Whether it helps on a more abstract level for us to feel more empowered, or less alone, if the fundamental root causes of our problems go unchallenged, is merely a philosophical conundrum: people don’t live in the abstract, and we must protect our morale in the real and present moment, which is one reason why these small actions matter. Challenging larger social problems begins with such small steps.

However, we must prepare to go beyond survival into selfdefence and from there to intervention in political struggles. That in turn involves ideas, including an analysis of our current situation and of what kind of society we want instead. It is not enough to be anti-austerity, or anti-capitalist or anti-globalisation: we need to know and communicate the positives of what we are for. Ethical ideas such as social justice lead to political theories of socialism, despite the doubts some have over such labels. The fundamental question is still now as it has been for generations: what that socialism should look like – and that’s up to all of us. When people say that socialism is dead they may effectively mean, from historical example, that Leninism has failed to come to terms with democracy, that anarchism failed to counter power, that ‘social democracy’ is bankrupt. But socialism is the realisation of democracy and equality, it is something that has.not. happened. yet. and it cannot die as long as we aspire to those ideals. Anyone dismissing it as outdated should be reminded that “democracy” is pretty old, too. Those who claim that putting social justice back on the political agenda is a reversion to the politics of the past imply that right-wing politics are something new – but dog-eat-dog is the oldest rule in the book. The political norm or mainstream is not fixed, it changes. The centre is subject to unequal pressures from different directions; things fall apart, it cannot hold

There can be no more swings to the Right. Mainstream politics has now swung so far rightwards that a backlash has taken off in an organisation – the Labour Party – that many of us had given up on. Her Majesty’s Opposition now has a leadership and a membership committed to an anti-austerity programme; there’s just the awkward matter of the current parliamentary party being in opposition to that. Tens of thousands have joined Labour as a gesture of support or with the desire to get actively involved – and many outside the party have vowed to step up their activism and pile on pressure from the Left. Will those politics resonate with the small number of right-wing voters in key marginals who have recently dictated election results? Probably not, but they can and should be made to resonate with the 16 million stay-at-home voters, and many of the millions of protest-vote UKIP supporters. Because issues around housing, employment, and the cost of living sustain most protest votes, and this is the natural domain of the Left. If these issues don’t drive the politics of the labour movement then it has reneged on its duties. All progressive political activism puts pressure on mainstream politics, although for obvious reasons you won’t hear governments shouting about it. The Tories famously dropped the Poll Tax because of extra-parliamentary pressure, and more recently compulsory Workfare has largely gone the same way. (After antiworkfare demonstrations changed company policies, Cameron whinged that businesses should “stand up to Trotskyists”!) In the 90s a massive ongoing road-building programme was quietly abandoned due to policing costs from anti-road campaigns, and successive governments have been forced to reform policing in response to community struggles against institutional racism.

Not all campaigns are successful, but the examples show what can be possible. Some activists demand the impossible, some demand the immediately achievable, and at each point on the evolving spectrum between the two there is a dynamic, dialectical relation between public support for the status quo, and public support for change, as well as a question mark over who constitutes the ‘public’ and who gets to ‘represent’ their views – so that no political situation is static, change is a social fact and people who state that ‘things won’t change’ or ‘human nature this or that’ are not paying attention to history or the world around them. One thing is for sure, though: if we do nothing, our situation will worsen. If the 99% don’t put pressure on the political mainstream, the 1% alone will. The rich, big business, city lobbyists and special interests will run the world as long as we let them. Take heart in the knowledge that together we can – we have and we will again – stick a spoke in their gears today, and grab the steering wheel tomorrow.

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Claiming Our Future – Annual Assembly Dublin

In an age of interesting political departures one that has been prevalent is Claiming Our Future.  They are a national non-party-political civil society network that comprises individuals and organizations from a broad range of civil society sectors. Established in 2010, COF aim to make real the values of equality, environmental sustainability, participation, accountability and solidarity.

 

It’s annual event is on January 23 in Dublin which will be looking at the following amongst others

  • Introducing the Draft Workplan
  • Event on New Perspectives for Civil Society
  • Robin Hood Tax (FTT) Campaign
  • Cap the Gap

http://www.claimingourfuture.ie/events/2016/01/23/annual-assembly/

Should be interesting in this election year

niallhope

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ICTU Women’s Seminar 2015

ICTU Women’s Committee hold a seminar and conference on alternate ears. As last years conference was in Wexford it was the turn of the NI members to host this years Seminar.

It was two days, not of motions but of workshops and keynote addresses, an attempt to empower, inform and entertain delegates. As with previous years PSEU had a strong delegation in attendance.

After being welcomed by both the Joint Chairs and Belfast Trades Council who reminded us once more “Let us be the change we want to be in the world”, In fact Kerry Fleck from the trades Council went on to speak eloquently and passionately on the effects of austerity on Workin class women and how there are now a plethora of active women’s groups in Belfast. Kerry reminded us of the change in discourse of groups like the IMF who are calling for an increase in the minimum wage and that inequality is the achilles heel of neoliberalism.

Ethel Buckley from SIPTU spoke of the Ethical Work Initiative and of the involvement of President Michael D Higgins in pushing this valuable campaign. #ethicswork is their hashtag
David Begg then gave what is his last official speech as general Secretary of Congress befor Patrica King takes over on International Womens Day this weekend. David spoke of the “widening gap between rich and poor which may threaten economic and political stability….and so it should” He pointed to the Nordic countries as the most economically and social cohesive models and said that “our mission is to project ideas for a different, better, fairer, society.” On international Womens Day this year there will be women leaders of ICTU, TUC, ITUC and ETUC which is a great achievement for the movement.

ICTU President John Douglas reiterated this theme, these are the most challenging times in our history and welcomed the fact that Patricia King is taking over – “Patricia is the best trade unionist on the isand of Ireland” John opined.

Zuzanna Muskat-Gorsta from the ITUC spoke eloquently in her non-native tongue on Gender Equality. “From Poland it is deeply risky to say, ‘I’m a feminist”.. Zuzanna echoed Naomi Klein’s recent thoughts that climate change is strongly linked to Global Inequality and that Green Jobs is the way forward. We also heard how that Gender Based Violence is increasing and amongst that Forced Labour and human trafficking in a violent act.

The seminar split into workshops and the perception of women in Public Life heard of groups in both North and South that are sing education to help equalise the balance of gender participation in Political Life. Some startling figures came out. 16% of dail seats are held by women – an all time high! and 96th in world ranking. 0% of Senior Judges in Northern Ireland are female.
Belfast Lord Mayor then spoke of the way she never though of gender until becoming Lord Mayor and how suddenly her clothes seemed as important to print media as her actions. The office run Lord Mayor for a Day internships and Joanna gave an inspirational speech on disability and her hopes for the future.

Caroline McGuigan of Suicide or Survive gave the keynote address for the afternoon. This shows how the Seminar is different from so many. Suicide and mental health is a strong concern for society and obvioulsly then for trade unionists. We all konw people looking for help and were reminded that we need to listen to people because they are experts. http://www.yourmentalhealth.ie is there to assist people. Voices from the floor said how people are flat in the workplace, austerity has beaten them down. We have to try and assist in whatever way we can.

The day finished with a screening of Inez: A Challenging Woman – this documentary gave a short insight into the work and battles of human rights activist and trade unionist, Inez McCormack, ICTU’s first Woman President and trailblazer for many. It is a sad yet inspirational tale as, like so many other tributes, we wait for the people to pass away before celebraitng their life. The respect for Inez amongst people at the Seminar is palpable and it was a great way to celebrate her achievements.

****************
Day 2 had less time allocated but was no less informative. Annie Campbell from Womens Aid NI detailed awful statistics around Gender Based Violence. According to PSNI stats there’s 1 doemstic abuse incident every 19minutes with 1 domestic abuse crime every 41. IN the time it took me to write this there were 2 incidents and 1 crime. 2.5 times more domestic abuse than burgalry with over 95%directed at women. Austerity is bringing challenges as it can lead to unsustainability.
It’s hard when this is just a topic at a conference attended by hundreds of union activists to understand the severity if this issue but with these stats you can be sure there are victims and perpetrators as members of all unions in attendance. Awful.

The final piece before the wrap up which was given by PSEU’s Melissa Brennan was a panel discussion with guests from cosc, womens aid, white ribbon campaign, cpsu and Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. There was a varied discussion on violence perpetrated by men and howmen avoid vulnerability. Most comments from the floor related to the proposed upcoming visit to Ireland by Juien BBlanc. Blanc has been denied access to the UK and Singapore. He was deported from Australis and is planning on speaking at a €2,000 per ticket event in Dublin in June. He is a self proclaimed ” leading international coach in dating ” and all impressions are that he condones violence. His social media diatribe is insulting and if he does make it to the country you can be sure there will be a strong presence outside the event.
http://www.dailyedge.ie/julien-blanc-barred-from-uk-1788904-Nov2014/

http://www.ictu.ie

niallhope

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what difference does a fortnight make

So I go away for 2 weeks and purposely avoid news. I had great excitement in store when I sat down after a 2 week drought (no not the weather damn you, but that is all over the print) to absorb what has happened in my absence.

Frozen Blackberries are carrying hepatitis A, one down for the vegans. Mad Cow disease was found in Beaumount hospital, 1-1 unfortuntaley it could have been passed on to anyone operated on with the same utensils, 2-1

Former Taoiseach Sean Lemass accidentally killed his 2 year old brother in 1916, current Minister of State for Jobs owes €2.5 million along with his wife, to Danske Bank. At least they know what it feels like for the thousands of householders unable to pay back their debt. In the meantime the National debt has risen, despite all the Austerity measures (watch that story grow before the budget) and political parties have been having a right old spat over abortion legislation that the people voted by referendum to have enacted over 20 years ago…….

Unions have been quietly creeping over the line for Haddington Road agreement in the face of legislation to cut their pay and implement longer hours. Surely this is the most anti-worker act since trade unions have entered into the negotiating world. Oh hang on, ireland is yet to enact legislation guaranteeing a worker access to a trade union. The referendum to abolish the Seanad is being held in October, hopefully there will be a date on its abolition so either way the people can decide. The Senators and TDs have all gone on Summer holidays from Leinster House. They held their end of term parties in various establishments around the area. Thankfully no newspapers had front page pictures from 2 in the morning which would have been the case for Junior cert students. There was some stories over antics in the Dail after some drinking (but not excessive mind you) during the debate on Abortion legislation. Strange that people can so openly drink on the job as they decide the laws of the country.

There may be a new political party, maybe 2 one on the right and one for equilibrium on the left. Really nothing has changed austerity is still the buzz word.

The sun gets mentioned everywhere, people just can’t handle it shining, it even made the editorial of the Irish Times.

Thankfully peace talks continue in Colombia and may resume between Israel and palestine. Overall a quiet period eh? I just dont want to mention Anglo Irish Bank and the billions of euro in its entrails.

msculturie

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ICTU BDC Day 3 July 2013

Day 3

Day 3 ICTU conference July 2013

“History will look back on this being a defining conference for the trade union movement” David Begg told us at the end of this session. A session that saw a further 14 motions pass almost unanimously, including 2 emergency ones. I don’t think that is the history defining moment the General Secretary of congress meant. Nope, it is the motion that allows ICTU to look at the way the trade union movement is organised. This could see a streamlining in the number of unions in this country but it still needs us to address the issues facing working (and increasing numbers of unemployed) people.

Derek Keenan from ICTU youth committee explained that the “demographic time mob is exploding as young people are not becoming members. Sections of youth identify more with Michael o’Leary than 1913. The era of Social Partnership has allowed our movement to become self serving. the movement needs to show a radical way. It is imperative that we become relevant to young workers.”

Today we heard that the extent of casualisation in the workforce is unsettling. It’s not just in areas like retail. Where people may get a minimum wage but don’t work enough hours to earn a living wage. The teaching profession sees “employers lying for loopholes to avoid contracts” so the TUI told us. Teachers are working on zero hours contracts, they are experiencing bullying in the workplace and it suddenly seems a different profession. IBOA general secretary Larry Broderick spoke eloquently on the banking profession. It seems that the banks are out for three things, Larry told us.
1/ Screw customers
2/ screw staff
3/ screw the country.
Recent calls for a banking enquiry ring hollow for the IBOA as they have Ben calling for it for years.

There were more calls for us to “Apportion blame for what has happened to those responsible. Develop the toolkit through NERI.” Eoin Ronayne from CPSU told us. “If Govt aren’t listening then we need to look at how we are doing business.

David Evans, president of TUC in Wales, paired a similar story, only the Welsh assembly aren’t looking to privatise services. “People are struggling and day to day communities see this crisis worsen.

And then we came to what could have been the elephant in the room. FEMPI or Financial Emergency Measures Provision Act . Jimmy kelly from unite explained “govt agrees here is a war going on and this is an opportunity to unite the organisation” Eoin Ronayne exclaimed “this is nota public sector issue. It is incumbent on the movement to see the repeal of this legislation. What is next?” Dave Hughes from INMO was similar speaking about precedent. “Every negotiation will have this threat”. And so it continued, speaker after speaker bemoaning the fact that govt legislated and this needs to be repealed. “This is akin to blackmail” said Pat King of ASTI. Even unions who voted yes to croke park 2 were in agreement. PSEU’s Tom Geraghty was windering why this was needed as unions will be in Haddington Road, however “the sort of change we will be seeking is through sheer hard work of trade union leadership”

The issue of Private v Public Sector arose and words were used to deal with it. One only hopes that “best strategy is the be united under one agreement” or when an injury to a “shop worker is akin to an injury to a nurse is akin to an injury to a building worker is akin to a teacher” will really be the case when we get back to the reality of dealing with our employers.

Conference continued in the vein of suggesting a united trade union movement in the future. Many questions were raised, a lot of discussion around how to get people involved. The best answer is to try and involve them. Engage with the membership and they will feel you are relevant, be involved in communities, let people see that this organisation representing 800,000 people (and their families) is a real social movement. We can become the media, start with blogs and twitter and social media. Work into union mags, work towards a newspaper, create your own tv.

As NIPSA put it so much better than me “There is still an echo of Jim Larkin in our movement and still some fight. We are facing a significant fight. We have to change direction and not accept any more attacks”

Hope

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ICTU BDC Day 2 July 2013

And so it continues. Day 2 of ICTU conference saw us listen to and unanimously vote on 17 motions, only one motion had a dissenting voice and that was down to requesting stronger wording from the proposers. 28 motions so far and one that stirred up debate?

Today saw some interesting contributions from guest speakers. Unfortunately the Tanaiste, Eamon Gilmore, couldn’t make it as planned as conference was told he had a more pressing engagement in the European Parliament. Martin McGuinness, Northern Irelands Deputy First Minister spoke eloquently on Northern Society. He had to be careful as Peter Bunting from ICTU had laid down a pretty good marker. There were strong contributions and the reminder that the “reality is for our members is that you will see landrovers on the streets as they go home. Sectarianism hasn’t gone away and we need to deal with that”. We also heard how “Poverty is increasing day by day” and how it is important for the trade union movement to “Take responsibility and make our communities, society and workplace better places”. The real question that kept appearing is HOW to do this?

Some startling figures appeared throughout the day. 10,000 older people in Ireland face the spectre of abuse. 35% of women have been on the receiving end of physical or sexual abuse. Again a real symbol of society is how it treats the elderly and more vulnerable. Foodbanks are a common experience in SCotland and the Scotish TUC have been visiting these. We were treated to a class in George Orwell “He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future” and were told to “deepen the relationship between communities and union”. “Trade Unions are still here because of our enduring values of collectivism and solidarity” and we need to stay here.

There was a lot of discussion around Equality and Community. Trademark came in for special mention for the work they do in bridging gap between the union movement and communities. “There is a huge and unacceptable gap between men and women at decision making roles in Trade Unions” Considering women make up 52% of the membership it is still a disparity that needs work on. “There is a myth among women that we are ok. We are not.” Patricia McKeown from Unison told the Floor that “Women have been fighting for Centuries. We have a long way to go”. The gender pay gap stands at just over 17% (59 days of a working year). One notable comment was “Let’s not just support this motion, let’s do something about it”. Another was “Let’s come back in two years and talk about what actions we have taken and not about the pain and suffering inflicted on members.” Messages for the incoming Executive Council who were being voted on today.

It is strange to hear that whilst Ireland recognises trade unions we still as a country allow employers the right to ignore and prevent their workforce from joining one. Collective Bargaining is in the Programme For Govt and poignantly 100 years after the lockout of 1913 this is still an issue for the trade union movement in Ireland.

Mandate promoted their Fair Shop campaign. Ironically their website is now down but hopefully that will be rectified soon. They spoke of what we can do as consumers and actively use places that recognise trade unions in the way the Fair Hotels scheme is run.

All in all another interesting day but what’s missing is the lack of real debate. Either we are all on the same page looking to engage or empower our membership or we like to talk the talk and walking the walk is representing the people who pay their union fees which can’t be done up here.

hope

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