The SIPTU leadership does not respect
The SIPTU leadership has caved in to
Labour Party pressure and has come out for a Yes vote on the Lisbon Treaty. The
decision was made without any democratic involvement of the wider membership.
However Most of SIPTU members, are likely to vote No.
Once again, the union leaders have shown
their spineless and cowardly side. During the last referendum, the union's
National Executive Committee issued a statement where they 'decided to insist on
a government commitment to legislate for a right to the benefits of "proper
collective bargaining" (including prohibition of discrimination against workers
seeking to exercise that right) before lending its support to the
This demand arose because of a Supreme Court
case taken by Ryanair which effectively dismantled the weak provisions of the
Industrial Relations Act 2001 which would have forced companies to engage
with unions via a Labour Court procedure.
In December 2008, after the referendum was
defeated, SIPTU President Jack O Connor stated that 'It is critical that the
wounds inflicted on social infrastructure protecting people's rights at work by
a number of controversial decisions are addressed... Any formula for
presentation to the Irish people which does not address these issues
comprehensively is doomed to failure'.
SIPTU made two demands as its price for
- That domestic law be changed to
guarantee the right to collective bargaining.
- That measures be taken to reverse the
damaging effects of the Laval, Viking, Ruffert and Luxemburg judgements of
the European Court of Justice.
In the intervening year, NOTHING has been
conceded on either of these two issues.
The government has introduced no legislation
to establish legal rights to collective bargaining. Matters have actually become
worse as there has been a return to an older pattern of employers rushing to the
courts to get injunctions against workers.
At an EU level, the unions did not
even get verbal concessions. According to the Daily Telegraph, 'Mr Cowen
had asked for a legally binding promise upholding 'social progress and workers
rights' as a key concession to buy off Irish trade unions', but following
'crisis talks' and 'emergency meetings' with French President Nicholas Sarkozy
and Brian Cowen. the trade union friendly 'legal guarantees' were
Yet despite the failure on both fronts,
SIPTU has caved in to the political establishment.
The justification for this abject act of
cowardice is even more incredible. It states that the Labour Party has given a
clear commitment on 'collective bargaining rights' when it is next in government
and this is sufficient to allow them to change their minds on
The three main leaders of SIPTU - Jack O
Connor, Joe Flynn, and Brendan Hayes - are members of the Labour Party. Indeed,
a Labour Party membership card is almost a condition for promotion within
So here we have union leaders asking their
party leader for a promise - and this is deemed sufficient to use the name of
the union to call for a Yes vote.
Yet Eamonn Gilmore once stated that the
Lisbon Treaty was dead and that last year's vote of the Irish people should be
respected. But he went back on that.
The SIPTU leader's recommendation is
therefore based on a pathetic promise from a politician who has already a
record of breaking his commitments.