Trade unions have vital role

Sir, – Responding to Niamh Bhreathnach's letter (November 15th) on the relevance of trade unions in Irish society, John Thompson (Letters, November 16th) claims unionisation is a drag on enterprise resulting in increased costs, reduced productivity and provokes a race to the bottom.

Curiously, Mr Thompson does not question the relevance of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC), the Irish Small and Medium Business Enterprises (ISME), and a host of other employer unions.

These bodies are the collective voices of Irish business leaders, providing advice, support, representation, lobbying and networking for the benefit of employers. They recognise how vital collective representation is to their members’ material advancement and economic well being.

Mr Thompson’s anti-trade union invective is primarily aimed at public sector workers, whom he claims routinely fall short of expectations. Any objective analysis would acknowledge the unfairness of this. We in Ireland have been fortunate with the standard of our public services. Indeed, it is generally accepted that it was the high standard of our public education system that drove much of the “Celtic Tiger”. Our teachers, nurses, gardaí, firemen, those working in the Civil Service and local authorities are being unfairly scapegoated by Mr Thompson.


Unionised workers were not responsible for the recession or the banking collapse which almost brought the country to the brink of financial Armageddon, but it was their unselfish sacrifices in voluntarily accepting wage reductions and cuts in social welfare payments which were pivotal in rescuing Ireland’s financial sovereignty from the troika. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6W.