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Saturday evening at the Tom Johnson Summer School

Posted on June 16, 2013 at 11:04 AM


Saturday evening - Tom Johnson Summer School 

In this latest post Ciara Galvin, Labour Youth, writes about the early evening session Challenging Social Divides : Classism in the Centenary of the Lock-Out' in the Tom Johnson Summer School.

We started one speaker short in the third section of today, a panel on challenging societal divides and classism in the centenary of the lock-out. Trade union organiser Ethel Buckley of SIPTU and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton spoke at the session chaired by LY Secretary Siobhan de Paor.

Ms. Buckley started with a description of class in the US in the last 40 years. In the 70s, the top 10% of earners there owned 9% of the wealth. Now, after savage anti-union activity, the top 10% own 40%. The average worker there has to work for a month to earn what their CEO receives in an hour. She raised the point because we are seeing a similar phenomenon on this side of the Atlantic as well, especially since the recession.

Minister Burton spoke about her work to date in the Department of Social Protection, and what they are looking at for the next 2 1/2 years and beyond. She expressed concern about contracts now offered, with zero working hours guaranteed, and a possible solution in an income guarantee scheme for low earners. She also spoke about youth unemployment, and the Youth Guarantee scheme which she brokered agreement on with other European ministers in February. Minister Burton commended the work by Labour Youth and the Young European Socialist (of which LY is part) for all their work over the past 2 years pushing for the guarantee, which she sees as being promising, though acknowledged that 6bn euro  is a relatively small budget.

Historian and author Pádraig Yeates, who had been delayed in Dublin, arrived just as the minister had to leave unfortunately. He gave an interesting analysis of the depth and breadth of the 1913 lock-out, speaking about the various measures workers and their supporters took when the employers led by William Martin Murphy tried to break their strike. Interestingly unemployment benefit was first introduced through unions under Lloyd George. Then during the first world war (to ensure industrial peace), labour disputes  in war industries were resolved by collective bargaining.

It was a very interesting panel discussion with plenty of time allocated to questions from the floor, which stimulated lively debate from the floor, augmented by the debate on twitter feed for the weekend #tj13.


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