Tuesday, May 23, 2006

My kind of Social Partnership

I generally glaze over when it comes to pensions and associated financial matters. However, Jim Power, the Friends First Economist could convince me to take out a different life assurance policy every day and start my own additional voluntary contributions. He's just so interesting, straight forward, articulate and ... well lets face it, incredibly sexy.

I've heard Jim's polemic on Social Partnership several times now. How it is a cosy club for non-elected special interest groups to get to make all the key decisions and ignore the fact that there isn't really a true social partnership. Jim is most convincing. It is a joke - agreeing not to strike (and being rewarded for it) in a small open economy with near full employment and where wages get bid up/down by the market. Social partnership has brought us years of industrial rest but at the price of benchmarking. The 'one size fits all' model just doesn't work for sectors which are so radically different and so differently competitive. Jim argues that the unions want to have an additional negotiation clause for those industries which are doing very well. The unions have been the real winners ; Employers have allowed there competitive base to be eroded and the Catholic Church are still setting the agenda.

Then I thought. I remember when the country was held to ransom by the trade unions. I remember how two or three unions regularly competed with each other for the mantle of defenders of the working class and at the same time, really couldn't give a tinker's curse for the plight of the workers. I remember having a shit salary, tiny pay rises and no prospect of getting another job. I recall wage restraint for years on end for the prospect of 'jam tomorrow'. I remember how US companies wouldn't set foot in Ireland 'cos of it's militant unions.

I remember that in previous partnership agreements a clause was put into effect that allowed employers who couldn't pay the chance of opting out. If a hardship clause could be invoked by IBEC surely it was reasonable to implement a 'time of plenty' penalty also. I notice how despite programmes for prosperity, partnership & peace and sustaining progress we've done nothing about social housing, the poverty trap or the plight of family carers.

I know the current talks performance is all about posturing and pretending to solve an intractable problem. Jim is right, they'll come to an agreement and everyone will slap each other on the back. Crisis averted. However, I'm just glad enough people woke up to the fact that 'win/lose' is always less satisfactory than 'win some/lose some'.

So I wonder who has gained most from Partnership? I wonder if Jim is really just rattling the sabre outside of the tent on behalf of IBEC so that Begg and the boys agree any deal is better than no deal.

Also I wonder why I even care, and why at 23:35 on a Tuesday night I'm writing about social partnership and not snuggled up in my bed. But then when Jim tells it, you've just got to listen. Balance of payments ..... interest rate hikes ....... market economy ....... I'm melting at his feet. Damn those Munster men, they'll send me to a home for the bewildered!


Blogger Coastal Aussie said...

Those Munster men sure do have an amazing way of bewildering a woman.

You sound like you're coping well though. It's great to read your entries.

10:40 a.m., May 24, 2006  
Blogger Laughman said...

Hi Paige,

I'm a Munster man and I forgive you.

Mind you, after last Saturday's events in Cardiff, I could forgive Attila the Hun.

Sorry to hear about your recent troubles. May I recommend a holiday in West Cork?

10:46 a.m., May 24, 2006  
Blogger Omaniblog said...

Excuse me Laughman. It is entirely inappropriate to take advantage of young wan Paige's spirit to inveigle her to holiday in West Cork. I suppose you'll be there to show her round. Cute whoore... It's not that kind of partnership she was after.
Paige, who is this guy? I never heard of him. Is he one of those people you can find on 106FM?
By the way, I'm still waiting for guidance on what radio to listen to after 9.
Thanks for reminding me what it used to be like.

8:36 a.m., May 26, 2006  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

Laughman, thanks for the sympathy and suggestion.

It was being inveigled to West Cork once before that left me in the state that I'm currently in!

Omani, you've waited patiently for the Radio guide part two. (I thought you were just being polite!) So I'll try to finish it very soon. I'm slightly worried that my draft has been leaked to the new controller of programming at RTE radio. Some of my recommendations have just been axed!)


2:26 p.m., May 26, 2006  
Blogger Omaniblog said...

Rattlebag... rattlebag...rattlebag.

We love you Rattlebag.

1:00 p.m., May 27, 2006  

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