Gregor Kerr

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The Programme for Prosperity and Fairness - a crap deal for workers

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Around Christmas once every three years of so we enter into a special mating season in the industrial relations jungle. The mating of three unlikley species, the goverment, the bosses and the trade unions takes place. This spectacle is so spectacularly ugly to witness that it's never covered by TV cameras. Each mating season is given it's individual name and this time in 2002/03 attempts were under way to sire a son to the 'Programme for Prosperity and fairness'.

'Justice' and 'Equality' in action - one law for the rich and another for the poor

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Just in case you had any illusions about the fairness or impartiality of the Irish 'justice' system:- On the same day as 'celebrity chef' Tim Allen was allowed to buy himself off a prison sentence for the possession of child pornography, five Romanian men were jailed after a court found that "it was reasonable to infer that they intended to commit an offence in a shop in Co. Wicklow last November". Allen's sentence of a nine-month prison sentence was reduced to one of 240 hours community service on the payment of EUR40,000 to a child welfare charity - proof, if proof is needed, of the fact that there is one law for the rich and another for the poor.

Democratic deficit in SIPTU and INTO

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At the October general meeting of my union branch, Dublin City North INTO (Irish National Teachers Organisation), the district representative on the CEC (Central Executive Committee) told the members that the union leadership was in the process of lodging a claim for a pay increase to compensate for inflation. However, he said, he couldn't possibly tell us what the amount of that claim was, as this was confidential. The members were effectively being told 'don't worry your heads, your leaders will decide what's best for you.'

Migrant deaths due to Fortress Europe

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They are the sort of deaths which rarely merit more than a passing reference in the mainstream media - a battered ship which sinks in the Mediterranean, a stowaway found dead in the cargo hold of a ship or plane, a nameless asylum seeker who takes his/her life, no longer able to take the pressure in one of the EU's many 'detention centres'. Now and again, as with the 58 Chinese people found dead in the back of a truck in Dover in June of this year, the cases are so horrific that they cannot be ignored. Then they become big news for a day or two only to sink off the political agenda just as quickly.

Partnership fight provides real opportunity for return to activism in teachers' unions

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THE BATTLE AGAINST the latest "social partnership" deal - The Programme for Prosperity and Fairness - in the teachers' unions has thrown up the best chance for decades for the building of a real rank-and-file oppositional group within the three teacher unions. Activists in all three unions - the INTO, TUI and ASTI - have united in "Teachers Against Partnership" and delivered a strong message to the leadership of the unions that passivity among the rank-and-file is coming to an end.

Corruption Tribunals Investigations - It's all so inevitable

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The Sunday Tribune of 7th March 1999 reproduced a photograph taken in the grounds of Dublin Castle in June 1990. Beaming at the camera, without an apparent care in the world, are the then 12 Prime ministers of the European Union, along with their foreign ministers. They had indeed plenty of reason to feel satisfaction with their weekend's work in Dublin - their idea of closer European political union was being discussed and we were all about to be embarked on the road to European Monetary Union and the wonders of the Euro.

The Socialist Party, the Anti-Racism Campaign and the anarchists

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IN AN ARTICLE in issue no.3 (Autumn 1998) of the Socialist Party magazine 'Socialism 2000', written by John McCamley, it is stated "The [anti racist] movement has to be national, support has to be well organised and coming from all corners of Ireland. We would have to act fast. There won't be time to make decisions on every single issue at weekly meetings so there would have to be some sort of co-ordinating committee. These are the simple facts and nothing to do with an attempt by anyone to "take control" of the movement in an undemocratic way. There are ongoing discussions in the anti-racism movement on what direction to take from here.

Tremendous victory for anti-racism campaigners - Deportations halted

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THE GOVERNMENT'S PRO-DEPORTATION policy has been severely dented. Members of the Anti-Racism Campaign, in the immediate pre-Christmas period, halted at least four potential deportations.

Unions Against Racism

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The fight against racism has many fronts. Trade Unionists form a very important section of the fighting force - especially those in the public sector who are in daily contact with refugees and asylum-seekers.

Activists in the Irish National Teachers Organisation have taken a number of important initiatives in recent months.

Corruption ...it's business as usual

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Recent months have seen the banking and financial sectors in Ireland coming under scrutiny as never before. On the one hand there have been allegations of offshore accounts designed to dodge tax being set up for favoured customers and of money being illegally taken from people's accounts through various guises such as charging interest and bank charges not actually due.

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