Tag Archives: Trade union movement

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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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 Conference Belfast July 2013

Day 1

It was with some trepidation and excitement that I attend my first ICTU conference. I have been involved in trade unions in various shapes and guises since entering the workforce in 1987. I have stepped up this involvement in recent years and have been on the edge of the ICTU family. This was my maiden voyage to the biennial event that is their policy making and shaping event.

I read the documentation with great interest and my first impressions is that nothing was too contentious. It gave a chance for the membership to rubber stamp their feelings on austerity but also helped get some ideas out there between the rhetoric and enable rank and file union members to organise within their trade union.
As Paddy Mackell – Belfast Trades Council stated in his opening address to the packed Assembly Rooms.
“Current Economic Situation has completely failed working people”. He then went on to make some interesting statements including quoting Dr Conor McCabe “We don’t need an onshore tax haven”.

And that set the tone for Day One. ICTU outgoing President Eugene McGlone explained that ICTU has a combined membership of nearly 800,000 people.
“It is our responsibility to ensure 3/4 million people (ICTU membership) are listened to”, we need to “Create a climate for change” and “Create a fuller understanding of the need to organise” and that we should ensure that “Solidarity works to our benefit”
As the Trade Union movement in an integral part of our social fabric we should engage with it however “the movement must always be responsive to our class, we’re manifestations of our communities.”

The reference to class is very interesting. The trade union movement came from a class structure and the need to ensure that the working class were dealt fairly by their employer. It is arguable in Irish Society today that class structure is still there. Where is the line between Working and Middle Class? Do the working class aspire to break from their structure to be part of a middle class? Are workers there to be represented no matter what their standing is in society? It is one that I don’t know the answer to and no doubt has many academics scratching their middle class heads.

Anyway this conference isn’t gonna provide the answers to class in Ireland. However ICTU General Secretary David Begg did try and provide some answers to the route that society is heading. He told the audience that we are at a “critical juncture in the economic situation…this is a crisis which could have been avoided….there is irrefutable evidence that austerity isn’t working.” David pointed out that personal expenditure is down by 3% in the last 12 months and many other facts relating to the austere policies spreading through society. He asked “how can policy makers deny this” and stated that “Solidarity is the cement that binds us together”. As the trade union movement has been stating since 2008 there is a better fairer way and “Now is the opportunity to press our case for alternatives way forward.”
SIPTU President Jack O’Connor also spoke eloquently of austerity “One sided austerity has utterly failed, there is no disguising this matter.”
Mick O’Reilly from Dublin Council of Trade Unions was as vociferous and emotive as Jack when he called on members to “have the courage to resist Austerity”. DCTU are trying to involve Community Groups and in a candid speech Mick stated that “we don’t have all the answers” but “we have to explain to our members what is happening. We can use policies as a weapon”. Mick called on the “trade union movement to be transformative and develop our own media.” He called on government to “Repudiate the debt and start organising.” In a statement of fact he recognised that “Our members are not clammering at the door looking for industrial action but we have to show them the confidence to do this.”

There were calls for workers to be more involved in running society, socialise the economy with the creation of worker led businesses. The obvious was stated many times “Huge despair and disillusionment amongst trade union membership. We need to give our members the information”

From a Public Sector perspective it was noted that due to the ban on recruitment there has been very little employment of the Disabled in society as the Public Sector is the only real employers of people with disabilities. Eugene Mc Glone said in relation to Haddington Road Agreement “No Govt should have the power to legislate away our terms and conditions” . The reality is however that they do and no proposal was put forward to counteract this.

There was a closed session on the future of trade unions in Ireland which will eventually lead to some change in structures and there was recognition that working members can be educated in their roles by retired workers. Value needs to be put on the knowledge and work of retired workers, they are today what our future is tomorrow.

All in all an interesting day. You can’t but be moved by some of the rousing talk given at the podium. What that will equate to in the coalface of the workplace is the burning question. However the direction of the trade union movement is that austerity isn’t working and the family that is ICTU will continue to try and press this home at every opportunity (verbally at least). I took from the day that we need to engage the union membership with our work, they are the union and they need to know this, we are the media and we are the conduit for this information.

hope

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Hope show the sixth

I’ve had an intersting week. I am finally settling ijn to my new house and the dust is getting a bit clearer. This week was union activity week and we were looking at ways our union can reach out to members. It is hard to find actions that say YOU are the union, get involved and make things happen. Just like the real world.
With that in mind I put my radion show online last night. Remember too that you can do this if you wish

billy bragg – there is power in a union
joe solo – little red songbook
Bluetip – LMNOP
Seein Red – Waste
Flies on You – slashing it down
We were evergreen – Summer Fling
Former Cell Mates Jumping At Shadows
Mika Miko – The Dress
Henry Rollins / Chuck D – Rise Above
Mike scott – Sweatshops and slaughterhouses
TV Smith – True Believers
The Redneck Manifesto – Click
Los Campesinos – There are listed buildings
The Mob – No Doves Fly Here

hopeshowNumber6

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Global Solidarity Summer School – day 1

“Knowledge is power and I’m looking forward to bathing in know,edge and spreading it after the weekend” is how ICTU President Eugene McGlone ended his welcome address today at the 4th annual Global solidarity summer school in Wexford.

Eugene’s words came after Minister of State Joe Costello opened the summer school with words about his area of responsibility for trade and development at the department of foreign affairs.  The minister is putting the finishing touches to a white paper for Irish aid which is a result of extensive consultations with civil society in Ireland. Minister Costello spoke about how he intends there to be a summer school for Irish aid in the future. He also spoke on how the trade union movement has a role in bonding society together.  This was a common theme through the afternoon as delegates were poised with the question of how do we make the union movement relevant. One way is through participation in society as a whole and be active in campaigns, campaigns like the one that will replace the millennium development goals which are up in 2015. As Ireland takes on the eu presidency for the first half of 2013 this small country could have influence on what will replace these goals.
The global solidarity summer school had approx 80 people all trying to find ways that they can help make a difference. These people are a starting point, a chance to go back to the wider trade union movement in general and Force change upon it.  Discussions took place around Colombia where one of the Colombian delegation that travelled with an international group this year has been missing since April. There was also talk about Palestine where jack o conor from siptu is on the record as saying “what’s happening in Palestine is the greatest crime to humanity over the past hundred years”.
Roland Munck from dcu posed the question to delegates “what is global solidarity “. Is it just stopping the race to the bottom? is it about decent work for all? is it stopping forced child labour?  Or is it more?  He suggested we can’t look at one country in isolation and that globalisation is not only about capitalism spreading its wings it can be about organised labour too.  It made for a good debate and the question is there more to global solidarity or is it just good to have friends is one that will provoke reaction from all involved in trade union activism. Judith kirton-darling spoke of solidarity being a two way process, where workers in Latin America support their European colleagues in the battle against Austerity
The range of speakers was really impressive, visitors from the TUC in Britain and the wider trade union movement were in attendance.  Judith, as mentioned above, is a member of the ETUC and Jeffrey Vogt was over from the ITUC. There was talk of the Cuban 5 and how Irish trade unions could work with sister unions in the us to get these people freed and allowed to see their families. The diversity of opinion from the floor meant that we could have been talking al night about the inequalities of the world but one thing was for sure the people in attendance on this wet Friday afternoon want to try and engage with the wider trade union movement and society as a whole to see if we can really make this a better and fairer world for all.

www.ictu.ie/globalsolidarity

niallhope

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