Union democracy

The state of the unions - the legacy of 1913 and the trade union movement today

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Having spent the early part of this week at the annual conference of my union – the Irish National Teachers Organisation – I’m struck by the view that unions today appear to be a different world entirely from that of 100 years ago.  My talk will focus less on 1913 and more on where the trade union movement finds itself today

Defeating Croke Park 2 – Every Vote Counts

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An analysis of the voting results on the first Croke Park Agreement shows that the votes of a few hundred union members in a couple of unions could decide the fate of the ‘Croke Park Extension’ deal currently being voted on by union members. Because of the bizarre - and rather anti-democratic - system of voting at the public services committee of the ICTU, a small margin in favour or against the deal in any particular union swings all the votes of that union either for or against. 

Marching will not defeat Austerity

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As general strikes and unrest erupts across Europe last week it is important to reflect on our recent day of action against Austerity. On the 20thNovember tens of thousands of people marched in cities across the UK against austerity and the recent passing of the devastating welfare reform bill. In Belfast, several hundred took part in a similar rally organised by the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Far from showing any potential power these ritual marches from A-B ending with various sound bites and pitfall speeches from our trade union officials serve to reinforce a pervading cycle of powerlessness and are solution to defeating austerity.

The trade union movement and the Lisbon treaty

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A number of weeks ago, a member of the INTO (Irish National Teachers Organisation) submitted a letter for publication in the union magazine ‘In Touch’. This was in response to a request in the previous issue of the magazine for members to write letters for publication.

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.'

'Partnership', trade unionism and anarchism

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As Partnership 2000 nears the end of its three year term, talks are underway by the employers' organisation IBEC, the government and the ICTU to draw up a fifth national 'partnership' agreement.

While the economy is booming and the fear of unemployment has receded in most areas, our unions are not exactly overflowing with militancy. In fact we have seen an offensive by employers. Nobody needs reminding about Ryanair.

Anarchists and the trade unions - Be active - be involved

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Trade Unions are important organs of the working-class. Gregor Kerr - a member of the Irish National Teachers Organisation who has been involved in campaigns against "social partnership" and in many strike support groups - argues that trade union involvement should form a central part of the political activity of all anarchists.

 

Ryanair: Airport closed down but SIPTU leaders run away from victory

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MARCH 7th saw Dublin airport closed down. Clerical staff, loaders, fire fighters, mechanics, catering staff, cabin crews, computer operators, even the airport police walked off the job. When the 39 Ryanair baggage handlers who have been fighting for recognition of their union, SIPTU, were effectively locked-out; thousands of workers from all the different airport companies came out in a great display of solidarity. Taxis, buses, An Post, delivery vans refused to pass the pickets. The airport was completely shut down, for the first time ever.

This is Not SIPTU - Syndicalist Swedish SAC

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CHRISTMAS saw many emigrants return for the holidays. One was Ciaran Casey who went to Sweden twenty years ago and is currently International Secretary of his union, the Central Organisation of Swedish Workers (SAC). This union describes itself as syndicalist and libertarian socialist. Workers Solidarity spoke to Ciaran and learnt

Vampires in America

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PART OF THE old Eastern European legend says that a vampire must be willingly invited into the house of its victim, and once invited in has its victim in its power. Members of the Teamsters Union (America's largest general trade union) might well ponder this legend.

The Teamsters invited government intervention in the 1980s to help ensure free elections and oust corrupt Mafia controlled officials who had held power for decades. In 1989 a "mutual consent decree" was put in place creating an Independent Review Board to facilitate the democratisation process. The Board was made up of one union representative, one government representative and one 'impartial' outside person, who was to be agreed by both sides. The Board was to be disbanded once free elections took place inside the Teamsters.

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