Thursday, August 7, 2008
The Workers flag is deepest white -
Irish TU bureaucracy ride to war?
‘Possibly the end of social partnership’ intoned Jack O'Connor of SIPTU following the collapse of wage talks with the Irish government and bosses.
‘This isn't a phoney war’, one of his colleagues assured us.
That comment indicates that the bureaucracy are aware of the scepticism that will greet any war cries following decades of social partnership. But is it true? Will the bureaucracy do a U-turn and launch class war against the Irish capitalists?
There are reasons to doubt this.
Social partnership hasn't collapsed. The current social partnership deal, towards 2016, was built over a ten-year time period precisely to avoid embarrassing issues such as pay cuts breaking the umbilical connections between the bureaucracy, bosses and government.
In case we get confused, union leaders immediately rowed back. O’Connor indicated that relations with the social partners remained good and ICTU leader David Beggs indicated that he remained hopeful that social partnership could be preserved and that the failure to agree a deal did not mean the end of social partnership as a project, going on to remark that 'under certain circumstances', the bureaucracy would agree a wage rise below the rate of inflation.
In the good old days the bureaucracy used to keep the fact that they were preparing to sell out a secret. This crowd tell us up front!
The trade union leaders intend to stage a pantomime. The want to move into limited, staged confrontations that they hope will strengthen their hand when they go back to the table in September. Workers can take advantage of the pantomime and aim to win the confrontations, but only to the extent that they organize independently of the bureaucracy rather than following blindly behind them.