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Friday night - address by SIPTU President Jack O'Connor - Tom Johnson Summer School 2014

Posted on June 20, 2014 at 09:16 PM

Jack O'Connor addressing Tom Johnson Summer School 2014

In this post Shane Folan posts about the speech delivered to the Tom Johnson Summer School by SIPTU President Jack O'Connor.

Continuing the great speakers on the programme for this years Tom Johnson Summer School was SIPTU President Jack O'Connor. He started off thanking Labour Youth for the work done with the Young Workers Network, and in particular the work that labour youth have done in opposing zero hour contracts and opposing precarious work in our country.

He told us of a conference he attended recently of international trade unions, and what he saw and heard there from comrades from other countries painted a very worrying picture. The right to join a trade union and the right to collective bargaining are being attacked across the world. Delegates from the USA, Australia, Greece, Spain, and Portugal told of how the governments were mobilising against trade unions and the right to collective bargaining. He told us how he was proud to stand up and tell the world that our government, as a result of labour's agenda I'm government were strengthening the right to collective bargaining during the current term of government.

He then went on to talk about the position of workers in the hospitality industry, and how labour in government were working to protect the people in this industry, who are some of the most exploited workers in our economy. He was telling us how the employers in this sector must have been rubbing their hands with glee when they found out they would not have to engage in collective bargaining and they were getting a VAT decrease in the same month. The right would argue that these measures would increase employment and allow better conditions for the workers. This couldn't be further from the truth, as 3/4 of the money saved through this vat decrease went straight into the pockets of the employers, with the remaining 1/4 going back to the consumer.

He finished off with an impassioned call for all labour members to stand up for the rights of collective bargaining, saying that we fight every day for equality. To win a fight, we must organise. We must equip ourselves with the tools of collective bargaining to gain greater equality in our society. We must show that equality is no only morally superior, but economically superior too. Labour must continue to push forward the agenda of equality, and solidify collective bargaining as a weapon towards that end.

It was a very stirring speech that deservedly received a standing ovation, and it sets us up very well for the rest of the summer school.

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