The inflation con - demand pay increases


Isn't the Celtic Tiger great! This year's pay increase, under the Programme for Prosperity & Fairness, is 5.5%. As we go to press inflation is 6.2%, and rising. When the economy was in recession we were told to tighten our belts so that the economy could recover. Now that it is booming we are being told to accept what is actually a pay cut, in order to keep it booming.

The union leaders are so friendly with bosses and government ministers (sorry, "engaged in partnership") that some of them don't even want to see us get cash compensation for what inflation has taken away from our pay packets. The SIPTU leadership has demanded an extra 5%, but say they are willing to look at "innovative" ways of paying it. Their idea is that part of the 5% be paid in savings or pension bonds, which can't be cashed for many years. This is little use to us; prices and rents are rising right now.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has bought the line of capitalist economists that inflation is caused by wage rises. Their argument is that if we get more than few pounds a week extra, the boom will end and galloping inflation will sweep down on us like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Yes, wages can contribute to inflation. But they are only one factor. Nobody from ICTU is talking about controlling profits, prices, rents, or dividends. Nobody seems to be pointing out that crude oil prices have risen. But the only sacrifice being called for is from the people who do all the work, wealthy idlers are being asked to sacrifice exactly.. nothing.

Ireland's inflation is the highest in the EU, yet our wages have been held down through 'partnership' agreements since 1987. So much for wage moderation bringing low inflation. What we need immediately is a wage rise to recover our spending power from the inflation that has already occurred. The bosses in IBEC fight their own corner very successfully, as do the farmers in the IFA. It's well past time for us to do the same, and this starts with saying goodbye to 'partnership' and demanding more of the wealth that we create.

This page is from the print version of the Irish Anarchist paper 'Workers Solidarity'.

This edition is No61 published in November 2000

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