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High Wealth, Low Pay & the Social Wage

Posted on June 14, 2016

Jimmy Kelly, Unite
Jimmy Kelly, Unite

Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly on the key role of the Social Wage in raising living standards

Employer groups and right-wing politicians repeatedly insist that the economy cannot afford wage increases and that the recovery is still fragile.

But a recent report from Unite has revealed these claims have little foundation in fact.

The Truth About Irish Wages includes a detailed comparative survey of wages in the EU-15 and found that ours is a low-waged economy, compared to the EU-15. 

The report also revealed that we have high levels of wage inequality, low living standards and ultra-low pay for workers in sectors such as hospitality, retail and wholesale, compared to their European counter-parts. 

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People Deserve Better from Government

Posted on May 20, 2016

Patricia King - Congress General Secretary
Patricia King
Congress General Secretary

General Secretary Patricia King outlnes the key policy prioriteies that Congress has put to the new government. (The full document Policy Priorities for Workers is available to download ) 

The new government may fall short on numbers, but it cannot afford to fall short on ambition. 

Their ambition should be as big and bold as that which inspired the revolutionary generation of men and women we are now commemorating. 

Too many lives have been scarred over recent years; too high a price paid by working people – and those denied work – for a crisis not of their making.

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Permanent link | Categories: Policy Prioritiesnew government

Life Savers Denied a Living Wage

Posted on April 29, 2016

Stevie Fitzpatrick, CWU
Stevie Fitzpatrick, CWU

Stevie Fitzpatrick - General Secretary of the CWU - highlights the case of 999 Emergency Call Operators, who have been denied a living wage and union rights by their employers 


Every day of the week 999 Emergency Call Operators save peoples’ lives.

Often they are the last and only hope for those on the other end of the line and it is their calm and professional conduct under intense pressure that ensures emergency help – police, medical, fire – gets to where it is needed and quickly.

They are a core part of our national front line response and without them the emergency services simply could not operate.

That should be pressure enough for these workers.

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Posted on April 18, 2016

Sharan Burrow, ITUC. Pic Horst Wagner (ITUC)
Sharan Burrow, ITUC. Pic Horst Wagner (ITUC)

Sharan Burrow - General Secretary of the ITUC - says a new report on human rights could finally force FIFA to do the right thing for workers in Qatar

Thousands of workers building the 2022 FIFA World Cup facilities and infrastructure in Qatar are forced to live as modern day slaves. They are housed in squalid conditions and survive on poor quality food and insufficient water.

Temperatures in the slave state of Qatar can sometimes reach 122° Fahrenheit.

These bonded workers are paid badly and often receive no money for months on end. No worker can leave an unsafe or abusive work environment or even exit the country without the employer’s permission.

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Permanent link | Categories: FIFAQatarWorkers Rights


Posted on April 08, 2016

Peter Bunting - Peter Bunting addresses the 2015 ETUC Conference on situation in Northern Ireland
Peter Bunting
Peter Bunting addresses the 2015 ETUC Conference on situation in Northern Ireland

Peter Bunting, Congress Assistant General Secretary looks forward to the Northern Ireland Commitee conference in Derry

We gather in Derry on April 12-13 for our Biennial Delegate Conference  to debate, discuss, take stock and plan for the future.

The key themes for BDC 2016 are Decent Work and  a Fair Income – both in work and in retirement.

These are the essential components of any civilised society, along with the provision of high quality public services that meet every citizen’s needs.

The Congress Charter sets out the key elements required to make Northern Ireland a better place in which to work, live and raise a family. A strong economy cannot exist without a fair society.

The Charter identifies five key principles which I believe can achieve that goal. They are:

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Permanent link | Categories: NICPeter BuntingBDC 2016


Posted on March 16, 2016

Dr Peter Rigney
Dr Peter Rigney

Dr. Peter Rigney looks at the problems that bedevil childcare in Ireland and outlines how we can move to a high-quality, acessible and affordable model

‘Policy failure’ is a polite term used to describe the inability or unwillingness of governments and assorted lawmakers to deliver solutions to pressing problems, or to anticipate and avert disaster.

The banking crisis and our resulting economic collapse was a policy failure of epic proportions, even if a succession of inquiries and reports has, as yet, failed to apportion blame and suitable punishment.

The homeless crisis is another, more recent example of a systemic political inability to act decisively when there is pressing and obvious social need.

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Permanent link | Categories: Childcaresocial policy


Posted on March 07, 2016

Patricia King Womens Conference
Patricia King Womens Conference

To mark International Women’s Day, Congress General Secretary Patricia King looks at how far we have to go to achieve real equality


Gender inequality remains a persistent feature of life on this island.

Women are disadvantaged in work and still carry a disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care work.  Women are also severely underrepresented in the political, economic and administrative systems.   

Women are specifically referenced in the Irish Constitution - but there is no reference to gender equality and no reference to fathers. 

The highly controversial 8th Amendment recognises foetal rights as equal to the rights of pregnant women. Consequently, provisions for women’s reproductive health are highly restrictive. 


But women are over-represented among people on Low Pay and in precarious work.  

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Permanent link | Categories: International Women's DayEqualityGender Pay Gap


Posted on February 08, 2016

Patricia King - Congress General Secretary
Patricia King
Congress General Secretary

General Secretary Patricia King looks at issues of concern for workers ahead of General Election 2016

At the peak of the housing bubble, one television advertisement caught the public imagination and became a part of everyday conversation.

It featured a commuter on a bus who gets to his feet and nervously admits: “I don’t know what a tracker mortgage is.”

The advertisement worked because it tapped into a general sense of bewilderment at the range and complexity of financial products then on offer, each one promising greater riches than the last.

As we now know, people were right to be both bewildered and suspicious, while those who designed these complex financial offerings were proven to be disastrously wrong.

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Posted on January 29, 2016

Niall Crowley - Convenor with Claiming our Future
Niall Crowley
Convenor with Claiming our Future

Niall Crowley puts the case for the Financial Transaction Tax

We have the soap up and running. Rebellion has been playing, with mixed reviews, to big audiences. We’ve already had the first of the pomp and ceremonies in Dublin Castle. Our political leadership got the chance to mix it with the military in all solemnity. We’ve got that feeling going again, the drug of independence is running in our veins.

But the high never lasts too long. Something will always arrive to spoil it. If it’s not multinational tax loopholes, it’s Shannon airport and US military aircraft landings.

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Posted on January 22, 2016

Esther Lynch:   - ETUC Confederal Secretary
Esther Lynch:
ETUC Confederal Secretary

ETUC Confederal Secretary Esther Lynch on the strange case of the Spanish workers known as the ‘Airbus 8’, who face trial next month on charges brought under a Franco era statute

Even now, four decades after his death, the ghost of Franco still haunts Spanish public and political life.

In 2011, a map revealing the existence of more than 2000 mass graves containing over 120,000 victims of Franco’s ‘White Terror’ was published by the Spanish government. 

To date, only a small minority of those graves have been excavated. 

In addition, it is estimated that a further 20,000 died in the purges and revenge killings that began with the triumph of Franco’s Falangist forces, in 1939.

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Permanent link | Categories: Right to StrikeFracoSpainAirbus 8

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