Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Back to the blog-My reasons for joining the strike today.

I've been a long time away from this blog so apologies to those who've continued to check in. I took a long break after the local elections (thanks to all who supported me by the way in retaining my Borough Council seat) and I'll write more about this in the coming days.

For now it's time to address a very difficult issue-that of today's public service strike. Those who believe that we in the public service strike at the drop of a hat should examine the track record of my own union, the Irish National Teachers Union which has been on strike twice in sixty years-in 1985 and 1946, and not at all since I began my teaching life in 1987.
In the meantime, my union has fought hard to secure a reasonable rate of pay by European teaching standards, particularly for young newly qualified teachers(if they're lucky enough to get a job). In the past twelve months however we've had a huge amount of that gain taken back from us to pay for the sins of the uncontrolled bankers and the property developers who borrowed from them to build tax-incentivised houses and hotels that nobody wanted.
Yet in the twelve months since the wheels came off the celtic tiger wagon, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it's the doctors, nurses, firemen, civil servants and teachers who've bankrupted the country and not the crew who should have been admitted to gamblers anonymous.
It seemed that Brian Lenihan was getting the picture when he declared in April that almost half of the now-famous €4 Billion he needed to find would come from increased taxation on the wealthy but in the past month it's become clear that all the necessary money will come from cutbacks-in our pay, but more importantly in child benefit, social welfare rates, in health services, in rural transport schemes and loads of other public services.
A simple question for Brian-why no new taxes in the middle of a crisis?-why let the super-wealthy off scot-free? Who's callin the shots here? The crew from the tent at the Galway races again?
The nonsense that passes for certainty is also riling me and most other public servants. It goes something like-'Sure everyone's lsoing their jobs and everyon's taking a pay-cut. We're all in in together and we must all take the pain.
Well tell that to Seán Quinn's children with their multi-million pay-offs from their Daddy's companies while the bank that they virtually own is being kept afloat by me and you.
Compare and contrast our approach to that of Obama where US spending on education is being trebled this year to ensure that the recovery comes quicker.
It's time for a fairer country and in my view a turning away from the free-market capitalism and neo-conservative meanness that has almost destroyed our society as well as our economy.
That's why I'm standing up for fairness today. Neither my family or I can take the loss of a day's wages easily but I believe I owe it to my lower-paid colleagues and those who will come after us to make a stand. Come and join us if you can.