Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The SIPTU Moment: Are We On The Brink of Industrial Armageddon?

Croke Park: Fine Stadium, No Deal.
The rejection of the Croke Park agreement, coming as it does the week of Margaret Thatcher's death, presents the government with a tremendous opportunity.  Combined with Labour's shattered confidence, here's what could happen now*.

Enda Kenny announces in the Dáil that he has formed an agreement with Micheal Martin (resurgent, forgiven, and hungry to get back into power) to form a Randian Correction Coalition that will over the next two years restore the fortunes of the country.  The alternative would be at least ten more years of pain. Ireland announces a unilateral re-designation of the national debt in its various layers, and enters negotiations with its debtors to formalise those arrangements.
 Public sector pensions are going to be more than halved, to a premium over the minimum wage, with small increments for seniority.  Existing pensions will be reduced by 10%; pensions due to mature within the next five years will be reduced by 20%; between five and ten years 30%, and so on.  The current contributions that public sector workers are making however will not be eased, but rather will be retained as a tax.

All family home mortgages taken out between 2004 and 2009 will be reduced on a sliding scale by up to 60%, peaking with those mortgages taken out in Dublin in early 2008, from a fund that will be created by the public service pension contributions. this will only apply to families whose only property is the family home.

A solidarity tax for non-public sector workers of 2% on all earnings over €100,000 (per family - double incomes get taxed in aggregate, not individually) will also contribute to this fund.

Core pay for public servants is cut by a straight 5% for all earning over €50,000.

At the same time, the unions go into free-fall.  There are ballots across the nation for strike action, most of which are upheld.  The government refuses to pay any wages to any striking workers.  The government plays hard, while the union leadership is weak, and as it forces through the mortgage re-designation legislation, it concurrently insists that bank repossessions happen within 90 days of initial missed repayments.  

Within six months, strikes will be broken, Unions will be decimated, and the new leadership will sue for industrial peace in the corrected environment.  Ireland will emerge with a debt to GDP ratio that is manageable, a public pay bill that is significantly smaller, a union lobby that is emasculated, and while people will feel hurt, we will for the first time in six years have some hope for the country.  This is a war, and so far we have lost every single battle.  Something's gotta give.

* = definitely won't happen, but wouldn't it be gas...

No comments: