Monday, July 6, 2009

Sinn Féin supporters the workers! Or do we?

The media in the south today have been full of the industrial action taken by electricians who are members of the TEEU. The constant message seems to be how greedy and stupid these men are in taking such action at a time like this. Yet we all know that people do not go on strike for nothing and clearly the electricians have grievances that need to be addressed.

All day I have waited for Sinn Féin to issue a statement attacking the media response and showing our support of the workers, but none has yet appeared. I have waited for the leadership to say that the electricans have a right to protect their pay and working conditions, that workers need to fight back against the attacks on them by the government and employers etc. None of this is rocket science, but rather what any left wing party should say.

The Socialist Party have a long piece on their website saying why the electricians should be supported. The SWP have a large piece as well, but where is the Sinn Féin statement?

If we cannot even get off our arses and support the electricans in a natioanal strike, then is it any suprise that other left wing parties made gains at the last elections and we did not.

Anyway for those who wish to know why the electricans are striking below is a leaflet distributed to members of the TEEU explaining what is happening and asking workers to support the current strike action.

National Strike
Implementation Date - Monday 6th July 2009
The last pay increase applied to contracting electricians was on the 1st April 2007 - € 21.49. This increase is based on the rates of pay in 16 companies employing maintenance electricians’ using an arrears reference period from 1st September 2005 to 1st September 2006. The net effect of this is that the current rate of pay for contracting electricians is up to 4 years behind everyone else in the Irish economy.

The TEEU’s attempts to have the agreed rate of €22.5 4 (4.9% increase) applied from the 1st April 2008 were frustrated by some employers using the law courts; this has since been resolved in favour of the TEEU. However, since then the employer bodies ECA & AEC I have refused to apply the
agreed pay terms.

The increase due under the agreement from the 1st April 2009 is * €1.44 per hour giving a new hourly rate of €23.98(6.37 % increase) but the employers have again refused to implement the terms of our

NO. The employer bodies are pursuing a 10% pay cut in the 1st of April 2007 rate of €21.49 and if they were to succeed this would reduce the rate to €19.34 and would equate to a pay reduction of 21.2 7 % in real terms.

NO. The employer bodies are pursuing significant changes to our agreement that include:
Analogue agreement: The abolition of the existing analoguesystem.

Qualified Electricians: Employing people in the industry to do electricians’ work and who do not have qualifications that satisfy the employer, will be paid 25 % less than the agreed electricians’ rate.

Travel Time: Travelling time and bus fares to be abolished.

Overtime: No overtime will be paid until after 39hrs have been worked in a week.

Shift Pay: A major reduction in shift pay.
Country Money:
● Hours of work may be altered at the employers’ discretion.
● The employer could exercise the option of renting accommodation.
● Visiting home allowance to be abolished.
Tools: Members to supply significant amount of own tools:
● Cordless Drill & 2 batteries
● Digital Multimeter
● Compensation for loss of tools partially abolished.
* The rate and percentage specified is our calculations that were submitted to the ENJIC and they are not yet agreed .
● Rates to be reduced to: 2nd Year – 40%, 3rd Year – 60%, 4th Year – 70%
● No pay increase if an exam is failed.
● Pay reduced by 10% if transport is provided and used outside of working hours.
Spare time working: Workers found to be engaged in nixers, foxers or homers etc would be liable to immediate dismissal.
Mobile phones: Mobile phones may not be used for calls or texts during working hours without prior agreement. Infringements would carry a penalty of a deduction of 15 minutes pay.

Future basis of the Agreement: The current three signatories to the agreement would have their names removed i.e. the TEEU, AECI & ECA and each electrician will be required to sign an individual contract of employment.

The union has already balloted its members for official strike action; we have been to the Labour Court which recommended that the employers sit down with the union to negotiate an appropriate pay increase in the current economic climate, which the employers have refused to do.
While we do nothing, the employers are attempting to undercut each other by putting pressure on our members to either take a pay cut or work a number of hours each week without wages. This foolish tactic by them is to undercut compliant companies, drive down wages in the industry and this can have only one result; reducing wages down to the national minimum wage and destroying the competiveness of the industry.
The union is calling on all contracting electricians to back the call to action on the 6th July 2009. It is only by united action that our agreement can be retained into the future and restored for any members who have so far been affected by cuts of any description.

The TEEU is engaged with the employer bodies at the Electrical National Joint Industrial Council (ENJIC) pursuing a resolution of the current dispute. The employers need to get the message, not just from the union’s negotiating team but from every member on every site that they are in breach of our Registered Employment Agreement and that it must and will be restored .
For further information please attend at your next branch meeting
Eamon Devoy
General Secretary Designate.
June 4, 2009.


  1. I watched Vincent Brown last night and saw Clare Daly of the Socialist party supporting the electricans and putting forward their case very well.

  2. This is rediculous. Have you contacted 44 Parnell Sq to ask what is going on?

  3. arthur morgan is the spokespserson on union issues i think. or most statements ive seen in the aprn or elsewhere came from him any way.

    bit poor allright. two memebrs of the cumman in my local area are electricians. say it's similiar around dublin.

    press office again.

  4. Sorry that you felt the need to delete our earlier comments.
    Here is a good article on this issue:

  5. Sinn Féin today issued a statement on the dispute and it is below. Good statement but our td's should have been on the picket lines with the workers, or at least expressed their support far sooner. If we are serious about our left wing policies then that is the least we should be expecting our leadership to be doing.

    Employers must pay agreed rate before any new pay arrangements can be talked about – Ó Caoláin.July 7, 2009

    Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called on the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) and the Association of Electrical Contractors Ireland to pay the increase in wages owed to electricians agreed in April 2008. Deputy Ó Caoláin said only when the terms of the existing agreement have been delivered can the employers body expect the workers representatives to negotiate new pay arrangements.

    Speaking today as electricians escalated their strike action Deputy Ó Caoláin said, “It is completely unrealistic of the employers groups to expect the electricians to accept a 10% pay cut when they themselves have refused to pay the increase in wages that was agreed last year.

    “How can the employers group expect the workers representatives to deliver in the future when they themselves have refused to live up to their commitments thus far?

    “Only when the terms of the existing agreement have been met can the employers’ body realistically expect the workers representatives to negotiate new pay arrangements that cater for the current economic situation.

    “We all recognise that we are living in a different economic reality than when this agreement was made. However, the employers groups would have been paid for the work done by the electricians and they have failed to honour the agreement to pay the increase to the workers. They must not be allowed to use the economic recession as an excuse to line their own pockets with previously earned money that rightly belongs in the pocket of the electricians.

    “The electricians have done what was asked of them and as such they should receive what is owing to them. There is now a need for dialogue and I would urge both sides to engage in negotiations to find an outcome that is acceptable for everyone.”

  6. Socialism or barbarism,

    not sure of which comments you are referring to. However, as I made clear in my first post on here, I will not publish all comments. If I feel they add to the debate I will, if not I don't.

    Your post today gave an excellent link to your analysis of the situation, so i posted it.

    If you want to check out my ideas for this blog have a look ath my first post below.

  7. Thanks. We have run a detailed series on Sinn Fein which you might want to visit at our site.
    This statement by Sinn Fein, while on the surface is welcome, is a cause for further concern for socialists. The underlying premise is that if the employers pay what they agreed for the past that workers will accept pay cuts for the future this 'different economic reality'.
    This 'reality' is grounded on neo-classical economics which assumes (unproven) that wage increases cause wider inflation. Socialists do not agree with that. We believe that wage increases instead bite into the surplus value exploited out of worker's labour. In fact, as known to the classical economist Ricardo about 200 years ago, there are some commodities which are inflated and some deflated by wage increases - the overall impact however is nil.
    Right now there's a generalised deflation caused by overproduction but that will eventually pass. The labour struggle of the next five years/decade in the republic will come back to a central issue - wage restraint in inflationary times. That means one thing - lowered standards of living.
    It's critical that socialists are clear that wage restraint will only lower the real incomes and standards of living of working class people. Pandering to big business demands for 'restraint' or even worse the 9% cuts targeted by the IMF (they forget the lack of restraint for bankers, shareholders, etc) will end up in accelerating the more negative aspects of globalisation. The race to the bottom.
    Of course, getting out of that race requires a commitment to socialism. Do you expect such a thing from Caoimhghín?

  8. Barbarism,
    I expect Caoimhghin to support working people and help to defend their interests and i expect all of Sinn Féin to do the same.
    In relation to the statement being a concern for socialists, well I disagree. It calls on agreements to be kept and workers and management to negotiate from there. To me organised workers defending their interests, but having realistic obtainable goals and objectives is what we need.

    To me my approach to socialism is laid out in the post I referred you to earlier. It says

    I no longer believe in a revolutionary road to socialism in any country where people have the right to vote and a parliamentary democracy is in place. In such countries alternative avenues for pushing social and economic reforms exist and I feel that socialists should pursue those avenues.

    Yes, I am aware of who controls the media and economic power in such societies, but to me the price of a socialist revolution is too high and unlikely to gain the support of the people.


    I don’t really know the difference. If social democrat means that I support parliamentary democracy and advocate that working people organise parliamentary parties (and any other form of organisation they wish) to push for change, then yes I am a social democrat. If by socialist you mean the same thing, then yes I am a socialist.