Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Irish Social Partnership Unravelling?

Dear Colleagues,

Back now refreshed from two weeks in an extremely rainy Ireland.

Whilst over their it was clear that the economic slowdown and looming depression were taking their toll on the long-standing social partnership agreement between the trade union movement and the state.

An interesting example of this was reported in the Irish Independent and like similar stories there reports on employers renaging on pay agreements established under this partnership.

Although have similar examples of this historically in the UK do you think that it is something that UK unions should return to or if anything resist?

As usual, your comments are welcome.




Tony said...

As a long-standing SIPTU rep I think it's a wee bit hasty to claim the demise of social partnership.

We all know that trade unions quite rightly make a noise when agreed wage demands are disregarded. So what?

It doesn't mean that a normally positive state of relations between the state and the trade union movement are crumbling.

Although we haven't witnessed huge membership growth in Ireland nor have we seen the haemorrhaging of membership you've had in the UK.

Also, we were better placed than you to benefit from the new EU accession migration from an organising perspective.

Social partnership only looks shaky from the short-term perspective of the slow-down not the longer-term view of employment and economic growth.

T. McKenna

Jenni said...


Whilst your last blogger might be right in the case of Ireland I don't personally don't think formal, documented partnership is the right appproach in the UK.

Whilst we may have benefitted from minor schemes like the ULF and UMF the bigger picture is one of a disastrous treatment of public sector workers and a tendency still to favour corporate interests at the wider public.

In any case, anythin we did with New Labour would only be cancelled out by the Tories.


Alan said...

I agree with the last comments. Partnership - either with the employer or the government can never work beacuse the relationship is an unequal one.

My experience of partnership agreements with employers is that they look nice but when the crunch comes e.g. redundancies the employers act as they have always done.

If you look at partnership agreements with the government like the current one in the NHS it has not stopped contracting out, the creation of a two-tier workforce or the deterioration of terms and conditions.

If you have a union like the RCN considering industrial action because of a dispute on nurses pay you know the situation is bad.

We should stick to straightforward collective bargaining and knowing that it's us and them.

See you in September Ian for the TUC. You can get me that drink you owe me.

Alan C