Workers demand their due
Aer Lingus received a barrage of blows from its employees this
week, the latest in a growing list of Irish companies to receive
wake up calls from their workforces.
Flights ground to a halt following a 24-hour strike by cabin crew
members, but this was just the beginning. Baggage handlers
yesterday refused to work, while catering staff resumed after
stoppages, but only temporarily. Clerical staff at the company
have also served strike notice and are set to take strike action
next week, if their demands for a wage increase are not met.
Pilots have voted to resume their ban on working rest days and,
while union officials are set to meet with company management
today, they are not optimistic that there will be a positive
There is added significance here when we consider that Aer Lingus
employees work for a semi-state company and, as with ESB and CIÉ
workers, the teachers, the nurses and the junior doctors, their
strike action is a direct and damning indictment of the failures
of that state. And there's more to come.
On Tuesday night it emerged that the inflation rate has remained
at 6.2% for the month of September. Even Finance Minister Charlie
McCreevy has admitted that this rate is likely to increase in
October. As the costs of food, clothing, housing, transport,
health and education will continue to rise in tandem, there will
naturally be demands for wage increases. According to certain
elements of the political establishment, however, the modest
demands of workers are the greatest threat to our `glowing
While those same elements, including disgraced former Taoiseach
Charles Haughey, called on the workforce to `tighten their belts'
during the hard times of the 1980s, they are now calling on that
workforce to `tighten their belts' as the ecomomy booms at an
unprecedented high. The logic of this seems that economic growth
is dependant on the subsistence of those at the lower end of the
economic scale, but they cannot be allowed to reap the benefits
of this growth, because to do so would cause the downfall of that
This ludicrous logic is becoming increasingly apparent to the
people who keep this economy going. And, as a fresh budget is
around the corner, it would also be ludicrous for McCreevy to
expect a few tax cuts will placate these workers.
People want more. People are rightly concerned about health care,
education, the rural/urban divide, the gap between rich and poor
and all the problems that flow from it.
The 26-County government needs to realise thatb it is not just
the workers that should work tfor the econpomy; the economy must
also work for them.