Dublin Lockout - when transport workers staged a five month long strike for the right to unionise in the face of ruthless employer and state intimidation - the Irish Times poses the question ‘who needs unions now?’ to a group of today’s Irish workers.
An interesting analysis notes that unions ‘have been to the forefront of the struggle not just for better working conditions but in issues such as female suffrage, slum clearance, universal healthcare and free education. Societies with strong unions have higher levels of equality and political activism.’
It goes on to argue that although social partnership is now discredited, it was ‘good for workers but bad for unions’ with the strengthening of workers’ individual rights reducing the need for workplace organisation. Although independent studies show that 'more than 70 per cent of Irish workers want union representation' with demand highest among low-paid, young and unorganised workers.
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