ICTU boss David Begg, when he begins the partnership talks, will probably carry in his pocket, to be charitable to him, about 20% of the support of the Irish workforce. He represents approximately 30% of the workforce in a very vague way, or he can claim to, but that is even in dispute. How many of those support social partnership?
What about all those people who are not affiliated to ICTU? Where do the multinationals stand on this particular issue? Virtually none of their workforce is a member of a trade union.
On top of that none of them, as an employer, is represented at the talks Who does IBEC represent? IBEC’s paymasters are the big banks, AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank, the big monopoly, CRH, and who else?
The big paymasters of IBEC are the semi-States, Aer Rianta, Aer Lingus, the ESB, RTE, which all pay well over €100,000 a year into IBEC’s coffers. Can anyone tell me that these people somehow represent small business, the backbone of this economy, or the enterprise economy?
Whatever one’s personal feelings what can anybody say about the most successful company in this country in the past ten years? I challenge anyone to nominate a more successful, more profitable company than Ryanair. It will have no truck with IBEC. It is not a member and regards it as a complete waste of time, because it stifles enterprise. I consider it a pity that Ryanair does not deal with unions. I support the right of anyone to a member of a trade union if he or she can. However, Ryanair is the beacon of enterprise and success in this country, whose workers will not be represented at these talks.
We have heard from the Taoiseach in the recent days that he wants to see ten more years of this. The Taoiseach, for some reason, wants to tie people up to ten more years in this straitjacket. What will happen is that more and more employers, unions and workers will secede from it because it is not what it appears to be. This does not represent the new Ireland. It is the old-style Ireland, represented by Senator O’Toole and his old Tories in the unions, and by IBEC, which has nobody on its staff who ever turned a penny in the enterprise economy.