ITGWU complained to taoiseach about high unemployment figures

FitzGerald denied government itself could create “genuine meaningful jobs”

The Jim Larkin statue on O’Connell Street. The State was in deep recession in 1986, with unemployment running at some 17 per cent.  Photograph:  Frank Miller

The Jim Larkin statue on O’Connell Street. The State was in deep recession in 1986, with unemployment running at some 17 per cent. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

Trade unions told taoiseach Garret FitzGerald of their “deep dissatisfaction with the continued high level of unemployment” and what they saw as the absence of any major programmes to counter it.

Following its 1986 annual conference, the Irish Transport & General Workers’ Union wrote to the taoiseach on June 18th to notify him of the unanimous adoption of a motion calling on the government to “submit itself to the electorate”.

The motion noted the union had “year after year” deplored certain failures on the part of successive governments.

General president of the union John Carroll said the union was concerned about “unemployment on a massive scale” and said there was little evidence of the dramatic and imaginative plans needed to offer hope to the best part of a quarter of a million people out of work.

The national executive council was concerned the 1986 budget had done “nothing but present a cosmetic appearance” of concern for the PAYE sector. It had made “no provision whatsoever for job generation at a scale necessary to commit the community at large to the ongoing objective of full employment”.

Mr Carroll told the taoiseach the union had written in almost identical terms the previous year.

Just two years earlier, the threat of needing an IMF bailout hung over the FitzGerald government.

A briefing note prepared by the Department of Finance for the taoiseach’s reply to the ITGWU said it could not be accepted that the government’s policies to promote employment creation and reduce unemployment had failed.

In a lengthy response to the union on October 14th, the taoiseach told Mr Carroll it was “misleading” to suggest the government itself could create “genuine meaningful jobs” without creating an additional burden on the taxpayer.

He also said the government was satisfied that the youth employment levy created in 1982, although it represented a “substantial investment” of taxpayers’ money, was contributing substantially to job creation and generally provided a cost-effective and efficient way of reducing the burden of youth unemployment.