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Howlin using ‘threats’ and ‘bully boy tactics’ to force through Bill to cut pay

30 May, 2013 - by Kathryn Reilly


Speaking during the Seanad debate on the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2013 Senator Kathryn Reilly accused Brendan Howlin of using ‘bully-boy tactics’ and ‘threats’ to get public sector workers to support the Beggars Bush pay deal.

Senator Reilly said:

“I can understand Minister Howlin’s reluctance to name these proposals after the place where they were negotiated.

“But Beggars Bush is a more appropriate name. Not only because your policies of austerity are making beggars out of us, individually and collectively.

“But also because Beggars Bush was a former British army training barracks where the bully boy tactics were taught to the British garrison until these tactics were defeated by republicans in 1922.

“Today Beggars Bush is home to the Labour History Museum, which celebrates the long and hard struggle by ordinary working men and women for fair pay and decent terms and conditions.

“How ironic it is that this is the same location where a Labour Party Minister effectively concluded an agreement that will undermine the pay and working conditions of low and middle income working women and men.

“That the same Labour Minister saw fit to ignore his own proud tradition of defending worker’s rights and instead sought to adopt the bully-boy tactics which dominated Beggars Bush at an earlier and darker period of our history is truly remarkable.”

ENDS


Note to editor: Full text of Snr Kathryn Reilly’s second stage FEMPI speech below

Minister, the dictionary definition of bullying is “the use of superior strength or influence to intimidate someone, typically to force him or her to do what one wants.”

The Bill before us today matches that definition word for word.

This Government unilaterally and arbitrarily decided to cut €1bn from the public sector pay bill.

You did this without any assessment of the impact of these cuts on our public services or the communities who depend on them.

You are trying to present these cuts as a “reform” but the reality is very different.

The €1 billion figure you are looking for has nothing to do with improving our public services.

It represents the failure of this Government to reach its own growth targets as originally projected in the Troika programme.

You missed your own growth targets because the policies of austerity are strangling the life out of the domestic economy.

And what is your response?

Is it to invest in jobs and people to stimulate demand and growth?

No it is not.

Your response is to once again reach into the pockets of low and middle income families and take yet more money from them.

And the result?

More families pushed into poverty and financial hardship.

Further depression of domestic demand.

More damage to already strained health, education and community services.

Minister, your policies of austerity are simple not working.

They may be keeping the European Commission happy. But they are hurting hundreds of thousands of struggling families across the state.

This is why overwhelming majority public sector workers rejected your proposals.

In rejecting Croke Park 2 they were not only defending their own pay and conditions, they were defending our domestic economy and our public services.

Despite your threats of unilateral pay cuts they sent you back to the drawing board.

And so you have returned with the appropriately named Beggars Bush proposals.

I can understand your reluctance to name these proposals after the place where they were negotiated.

But Beggars Bush is a more appropriate name. Not only because your policies of austerity are making beggars out of us, individually and collectively.

But also because Beggars Bush was a former British army training barracks where the bully boy tactics were taught to the British garrison until these tactics were defeated by republicans in 1922.

Today Beggars Bush is home to the Labour History Museum, which celebrates the long and hard struggle by ordinary working men and women for fair pay and decent terms and conditions.

How ironic it is that this is the same location where a Labour Party Minister effectively concluded an agreement that will undermine the pay and working conditions of low and middle income working women and men.

That the same Labour Minister saw fit to ignore his own proud tradition of defending worker’s rights and instead sought to adopt the bully-boy tactics which dominated Beggars Bush at an earlier and darker period of our history is truly remarkable.

Maybe it is this choice that led the Government to railroad the legislation through the Dáil this week; to avoid the inevitable sense of shame that Minister Howlin and his Labour colleagues must feel at having abandoned not just public sector workers, but the proud labour tradition of defending workers’ rights.

Minister, Sinn Fein is opposing this Bill for one very simple reason.

Its intention and purpose is to threaten ordinary public sector workers into supporting the proposals negotiated at Beggars Bush.

It is not about cutting the excessive pay of over-paid public sector chiefs.

It is not about introducing pay equity within the public sector.

It is not about clawing back the excessive pensions to former politicians and senior civil servants who ruined our economy and society.

It is, simply put, a threat in law. Sign up to Minister Howlin’s latest slash and burn raid on the public sector or else!

Well Minister where I come from we were taught to stand up to bullies and by opposing this Bill today that is exactly what we are doing.

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