Strike Season

#821 more like.
Pure left wing claptrap


They get very little, but that’s actually part of the “privilege”, as only those with money in the bank (or their parent’s support) can afford to take an essentially unpaid internship to build up experience. Then later on, if you haven’t done the internships it becomes more difficult to get into certain sectors of employment. This is something that’s more highlighted in UK, Guardian goes on about it a lot. Not sure what sectors it applies to most, but cultural ones definitely (e.g. newpapers, media, theatre, etc.,).

However, I’d agree with you that the overall thrust is bigoted. It also shows either very poor awareness of how unions and IR negotiations operate, or else comes from a decision to conceal that information.

The bit that struck me in the last couple of days, when the radio-reporters are listing all the industrial disputes either in-play, or simmering on the back-burner, is that it’s all about semi-state or public sector. These are the sectors where the legitimacy is poorest, because of the public-service elements of the functions, as well as the government backing. When a worker in Diageo looks at profits and says “give me some more of that”, he is in the space of “reward for labour vs reward for capital”. If he wins more share, then profit is reduced, and capital owners suffer a little. But a bus-driver pointing at profits is different. The passenger can point at the profit and say “reduce the fare”. If the dividend is paid, it goes back to the state. If it’s not paid as a dividend it becomes reserves for future investment. etc.,

Meanwhile, the sclerosis fostered by over-active IR machinery means that productivity/innovation changes become harder and harder to implement. Every time someone in a company like Dublin Bus thinks of an idea like “wouldn’t it be more efficient if we…”, before even getting into the usual thing of working out the technicalities and feasibilities, they know they’re going to have to sit down with the Unions and work out how much the Unions will get paid for implementing the productivity improvement (EVEN if it doesn’t actually impinge on workers). It’s not just a barrier to improvement, it can be a ratchet on deteriorations. Management in a part of a business is poor (happens, you get the wrong mix in the local team, standards are allowed slide and so on). Then when you try to return standards to “base line” (e.g. enforcing sick-leave policies), that will be treated as if there’s a productivity increase being looked for. Obviously there’s a weaker union case for that kind of fight, but the fight will be had and it’s a real deterrent to trying to “make things better”. I’ve seen situations where the word “productivity” is simply censored from management vocabulary (the most visual way to do it would have been to put a swear jar on the table: you pay every time you use the word productivity).

Meanwhile, the modern union itself tends to become a corporatist entity too with professional administration, and to prioritise a narrower vision of the union-administration’s interests even ahead of overall worker interests.

Despite all that, I’m actually a believer in organised labour, but when it goes wrong it can really make work a misery.


Where do people (either left wing bloggers or right wing reactionary loons in my experience ) get off with mocking others for their names - Tristan Tarquin Fiachra etc ?
With a straight face the same muppet will bore the arse off you telling you about prejudice.
Someone who derides a NAME for being too ‘middle class’ or ‘working class’ is an instant w***er. A cuppa soup W***er


Some valid and important points with sound reasoning. Perhaps you might email that to the SIPTU and maybe hand out some copies to a few picket members? I’m fairly close to approaching some. I’ve already met one bus driver who didn’t really support the action.

Organised labour is useful alright but the who that gets to organise it that’s the real issue and informs the outcome and then the style that some become accustomed to very quickly.


Business is being hit badly in the city centre. Dublin Bus is the primary public transport network. I’d say easily some are experiencing 50% more or less in terms of down turn over. Not good.

Meanwhile, for the craic. I searched “japan train strikes”… I’m not sure they’ve ever had one but I could be wrong. It’s jsut not something I am aware of at this moment. I love trains and especially the Japanese train system, having used it over two short durations thus far in life. It was a joy.

It strikes me when the free market or quasi free-market hit Japan post-war they kind of took it and did a really good job of it as they could. Like to be the best at it, not just to be it but the best at this new system.

I found this quickly when searching. Reading the, it’s like a polar opposite universe… Competition, Co-operation, Diversity, Complexity, Technology, Economy & dare I say it, Profitability!

Imagine the train companies with retail interests are highly incentivised to keep it all running smoothly and in volume through their retail department stores and must level underground malls.

Here it seems to be a a fire and forget approach which gives no value at all. :frowning:


How accurate would these figures be for pay at Dublin Bus? - … Bus-Driver

Would they be better on the scratch? Is that on the table?


If you’re talking to a bus driver, either at a picket or elsewhere, ask them to tell you about the dispute and the key question I’d ask is “what will bring your back off the gate”. The degree to which that aligns with official union policy will be illuminating. (my suspicion here is that the alignment will be ok, around pay). Next thing is “how much compromise do you think there’ll be?”.

In other companies I’ve talked to guys who are gung-ho “we’ll go on strike”, but couldn’t actually answer the question “what will end the strike?” It was more just a way to punish the company, and get redress, without any coherent vision of what that would look like. You don’t want to be working on overall “vision” when you’re actually in the throes of dispute, it takes time. Also seen membership and leadership with very different views of the current world and different views of what the future should/could look like.

Going into dispute and on strike is dangerous for everyone, and it forces the schedule. Making the deals that sort it out is tricky and naturally time consuming, even once union-leadership and management agree, the union membership will normally have to vote. You discover then whether leadership is out of touch with membership and whether the negotiation has been well formed. Similarly, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility for government to cut legs out from under management and do side deals. changing out the negotiating teams/leadership is also time-consuming and costly.

There’s a whole chain of negotiation that has to function for the apparatus to deliver results. It can break down horribly, if that happens in dispute/strike then it’s like discovering on the motorway at 120kph that suddenly you’ve no steering or brakes.

Finally, on how unions are run. I can understand them wanting to have professional negotiators etc., and central staff (in SIPTU, whatever). But I think there should be some mechanism that the central-union staff end up “on strike” also when the workforce goes on strike (i.e. on strike-pay, etc.,). Just for alignment of objectives. Maybe they get the pay-increase too when the deal is done? Almost certainly not practical: a negotiator moving from one dispute to another could do a great job but still spend half the year on strike pay at that rate, and while they could collect pay increases it’d be hard to translate myriad working-arrangment changes to their day-to-day taks.

Anyway, just my rambling thoughts.




Apologies for the late reply but I dont have much time of late.

The point is that the ‘commercial realities’ (as one poster calls them) that underpin the reasoning behind seeking to deplete wages in the unionised labour sector are nonsense. They do not exist. As is quite obvious from recent events there is no commercial requirement for the implementation of austerity measures. Neither is there any real requirement to cut costs across the public sector other than in an attempt to satisfy a quasi-Thatcherite ideological bias that advocates on behalf of the 1% who run the planet.

Indeed, given that the primary requirement of what are deemed high public sector wages is basically to afford shelter in a rigged housing market, and given the following posted on the Pin yesterday…


…its hard to take any of these claims about ‘commercial realities’ seriously. Its all nonsense, dangerous nonsense at that.

Its quite clear that the entire Irish political and media establishment are actively advocating against the interests of the people of Ireland. Essentially, your Government and your media are agents of a globalised system of commerce and culture whose purpose appears to be to reduce the standard of living of working and middle class people across the board and redistribute wealth ever further into the hands of the 1%. The means by which this form of modern enslavement is being carried out are also quite clear. They have burdened the populace with the cost of busted banks as well as levying hundreds of millions of euros per year on the same populace to supports tax avoidance by stateless multinational corporations…and now (as evidenced above) tax avoidance by vulture funds engaged in the act of propping up high housing costs (the reason for high labour costs to begin with).

So, while the author of the above piece employs the language of antiquated Marxism, their base point stands. In essence, if the ‘commercial realities’ used to underpin arguments in favour of attacking the wages of public sector employees are, as already stated, absolute bunkum, then all that remains in terms of reasoning, is an attack on people’s standards of living with a view to accumulating more wealth on the part of the already rich. Thats all theres to it. Its simply a small, constituent part of an ongoing, concerted economic and cultural attack on those aspects of society that do not conform to the neo-liberal social and economic model. Theres a reason Thatcher took on the unions. That the author chooses to couch their argument in the language of the hysterical left is neither here nor there.

In making their mind up on issues such as this one, Irish people are essentially being asked to make a decision as to whether they think that people who drive buses should earn a decent wage or whether the arguments of people who have spent their lives robbing them on behalf of their masters are to be accepted. Simple as that.


^^ that’s a lot of words. Here’s a load more.

There are several ideas in play.

The first is that wages should be determined by “fairness” through some sort of system of central planning. So we think about a nurse or a bus driver or a banker, decide what that job is “worth”, and pay that. It’s clearly nonsense in the general case, since that would require communism. So the principal retreats to those areas of the economy in which competitive forces are not in play, i.e. the public sector. There are still several obvious problems, such as there being no way of determining what nurse vs train driver should earn, but more importantly even non-competitive areas of the economy compete for labour with other countries and other competitive parts of the domestic economy. So we have a recruitment crisis in hospitals because apparently we’re not paying enough to attract internationally-mobile consultants. It’s simply impossible to remove the idea of wage competition in an open economy, regardless of the competitive status of the employer.

So the reality is that the only workable system is for employers to compete for staff and for those less-demanding jobs which have a surfeit of labour supply to end up paying less.

That said, embedded in our society is the fairly reasonable restriction that you shouldn’t/can’t reduce people’s wages in nominal terms because people have sticky financial commitments and it plays havoc with their lives.

So if wages are sticky on the downside, but competitive at the margin, you end up with new entrants getting a better or worse deal than incumbents. This is entirely reasonable trade-off, and the alternatives are worse.

The problem with the public debate is that nobody actually talks about these fundamental issues.

The unions freely admit that they don’t give a fuck about grand economic arguments and they’re simply responsible for getting the best possible deal for their members using whatever means possible.

Management plead poverty, I’ve no idea why - it’s a stupid basis for argument. They should simply admit that their job is to pay people as little as possible just like everyone else on the planet, because that’s how capitalism works.

The public take sides based on how inconvenienced they are, how hard they think the job is, or any other irrelevant factor.

The politicians sit on their hands afraid to damage their re-election prospects by taking a position.

It’s infuriating.


… and it’s costing money and ironically loss of tax revenue.


There’s no requirement to cut costs - but we aren’t talking about cutting costs. We’re talking about increasing the wage bill by some 10%+

I do have sympathy for the drivers, in that housing costs spiralling have meant that the flat CPI index is actually not really all that helpful a gauge - living costs have risen. BUT this is an appalling way (big picture) of dealing with that. We should be concentrating on keeping costs of living down, not increasing wages, but the unions are an 800lb gorilla pushing in the opposite direction.

Ultimately it’s other low skilled workers who will lose out long term, while we all lose out short term.

(For my part I have to travel between 3 or 4 venues for work most days, and the bus strike is directly impacting my ability to make a living - time in transit goes through the roof, so my normal “downtime”, where I get deep work done, disappears. All I can do on those days is keep things ticking over, rather than actually making any real progress).


As far as I’m concerned it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. If you have the leverage to get more money you would be dumb not to use it. Everybody else does, I know I do - I have no concept of loyalty to employers be they public or private. I work on contract - I aim that every contract pays more than the previous and most of the time that works apart from the odd economic collapse.

I work for myself - I am my own union - I do my own negotiating and I am organised about - if I don’t win I walk away. If you are not working for yourself you are crazy not to be in a union - I fully agree that all unions are crap and lazy - but unions are democracies - they can be changed - when I started work in the 70s they weren’t great but they were a lot better than they are now.

Careful featherbedding by the government and employers has pushed union bosses into a bracket where they are now above the ‘little people’ - most of them earn 100k or more while the people they represent earn less than half of that. They are closer to the bosses than the workers. Workers need to challenge that - if your local rep is crap stand for their office at the next opportunity or vote for people who will represent your interests with the same vehemence as if you were negotiating for yourself.

I certainly have no desire to hand out my tax money for nothing but there are a whole lot of grasping hands there already that we barely mention - the lawyers, the army of consultants who produce bundles of unused reports and investigations at costs of millions, the professionals (including folks like me in the IT world) who get exorbitant fees for little effort etc… etc… Then there are the projects and tax aids given to the vested commercial interests ( construction, tourism, multinationals etc. etc.) - all of these put the bus drivers in the ha’penny please when it comes to greed. If you don’t give them money and they withdraw their labour - will you notice? But you noticed the bus drivers alright. The problem is if you give these guys money all they do is hang on to it - at least if you give money to people on low incomes they are more likely to spend it and stimulate the economy.


Pure whataboutery. I don’t agree with Irish Water pissing away hundreds of millions on “consulting” but that has absolutely nothing to do with bus drivers. Why don’t we pay bus drivers 100k? Or 200k? There has to be some rational basis for it, and the only rational basis is to benchmark against what they’d be earning doing approximately the same job in the private sector where price discovery happens.


Yes AND the benchmarking needs to include pensions.


Jesus you’d swear that Bus drivers didn’t get paltry pensions.
How about we ask about politicians and secretary generals pensions - is it something like early retirement and pension after 7 years.

The pseudo market ethic with toilet breaks being timed because some canny mcsavvy bus operator bullies his foreign staff into accepting it - that’s now the benchmark ?

How about we allow tendering of The Department of Transport’s responsibilities first?


False dichotomy. ALL of the above are grossly overpaid and overpensioned.


Dublin bus drivers are not “over pensioned”. More like private bus drivers are “under pensioned”


And the ‘rational basis’ for what we pay the classes of people that I mentioned is? In general the rates we pay them are what they ask - ‘Market rates’ set by a number of cartels (or trades unions if you like) who don’t seem to come in for the same level of control and regulation that workers do when they organise. Look at how long it is since we were told to sort out the legal cartel and how it still hasn’t happened.

If we follow the rationale of the market then bus workers should get whatever they can successfully demand - a process they are going through at the moment - ‘price discovery’ if you like to call it that.


And the ‘rational basis’ for what we pay the classes of people that I mentioned is? In general the rates we pay them are what they ask - ‘Market rates’ set by a number of cartels (or trades unions if you like) who don’t seem to come in for the same level of control and regulation that workers do when they organise. Look at how long it is since we were told to sort out the legal cartel and how it still hasn’t happened.

If we follow the rationale of the market then bus workers should get whatever they can successfully demand - a process they are going through at the moment - ‘price discovery’ if you like to call it that.