“Irish workers are alone in Europe..”

An odd argument from Jimmy Kelly, Unite’s regional secretary, in favour of a No vote on the Lisbon Treaty.

“Irish workers are alone in Europe as having no legal right to representation by a union,” said Mr Kelly.

“Irish workers are alone in Europe as having no provision for pension protection.

“Irish workers are alone in Europe as the only ones whose right to fair pay and employment security are considered by their government as obstacles to economic recovery.”

Doesn’t that indicate that the problem, such as it is, lies with Ireland? Not with the EU? And not with the Lisbon Treaty?

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  • Mack

    Anti-government more than anti-Lisbon by the sounds of it..

  • Its stange alright. Trade union density (the proportion of the workforse in a union) in the South is second only to Sweden in the EU as i understand it.

    You would think he could tell domestic from European issues also!

  • Arrrgh…

    Should of course read ‘strange’, ‘workforce’ and ‘I’.

  • Mack


    Trade union density (the proportion of the workforse in a union) in the South is second only to Sweden in the EU as i understand it.

    I don’t think that is right. Trade Union density is around 35% in Ireland (21% in the private sector).


    Vs 80% in Denmark, 78% in Sweden, 74% in Finland, 70% in Cyprus, 59% in Malta, 55% in Belgium, 46% in Luxembourg, 44% in Slovenia and 35% in Austria.


    What’s more union density has been declining..

  • OC

    That the RoI worker gets screwed doesn’t surprise me.

    But it must have been their relative low cost that allowed the RoI to be the first major location where American jobs were outsourced to, thus screwing the American worker.

  • Mack

    OC –

    Or perhaps it was unfettered access to a free-trade market of half-billion souls that persuaded American firms to locate operations on this side of Atlantic in the first place. Increasing revenues and their ability to pay wages to American workers?

    It’s not a zero-sum game, far from it…

    But it must have been their relative low cost

    Certainly, relatively low cost compared to other rich European nations, this Deloitte survey from 2007 showed that Irish workers had the second highest net income in Europe, but ranked 9th on cost (behind the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Finland, Sweden).

    Hardly a case of Irish workers being screwed..

  • Mack

    Sorry this survey –


    See also


    (The UBS survey doesn’t cover employer costs, but Irish workers clearly aren’t being screwed)..

  • Thanks Mack. I’m clearly out of date!

  • Coll Ciotach

    So bad is the social provision for workers in the free counties that a huge percentage, (40% comes into my mind, can someone confirm this), are not taxed and the social security for the unemployed is between 2.5 and 3 times the provision across the border. Which has lead to the strange new epidemic of what I call dole smuggling were people from the occupied counties cross the border and claim the higher rates. A crackdown on this has been reported in the news today

  • Mack

    Coll Ciotach –

    It was around 40%, the income levy changed this slightly and a portion of those now pay less than 1% tax. A median earner in Ireland pays 4% income tax compared with a 20% OECD average.

    Ronan Lyons has a couple of good blogs on the subject –



  • Were the proposition correct (see previous comments), it would surely be an argument for full involvement in the post-Lisbon EU, including all the provisions of the social charter.

    Of course, the putative incoming Cameroonie UK government would argue workers do not deserve such rights.