Strikes in Ireland: a return to the bad old days?

One particular statistic we should probably not welcome back was revealed today: according to the Central Statistics Office, during 2009 a total of 329,706 working days were lost due to industrial action in Ireland. This is a massive increase over the equivalent figure in 2008 – in that year 4,179 working days were lost. I suppose that before we get too exercised about it, we should note that a significant proportion of these days were lost on one day – the national day of public service strikes on November 24. Nevertheless, that particular nuance will be lost on our international audience, who will only see and note the bottom line figure. This in turn is on a par with the average number of working days lost during the worst times of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

We may of course have strong views about the rights of public sector workers, or indeed about industrial relations developments more generally. But if we manage to recover a reputation for being strike-prone it will fatally undermine our attempts to secure international investment. It is something for the various parties to the social partnership discussions to ponder, should these get back on the road.

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2 Comments on “Strikes in Ireland: a return to the bad old days?”

  1. kevin denny Says:

    When the number of people involuntarily not working has risen rapidly, choosing not to work seems pretty idiotic, not to say selfish, to me. Shrinking the economy further isn’t going to help the employed or the unemployed. To me, it seems like a death wish. Clearly people are angry. I’m angry too but as Colm McCarthy pointed out “Anger is not a policy” nor indeed is shooting yourself in the foot.
    The negative signals it sends that you refer to only strengthens the argument.

  2. belfield Says:

    Agreed ‘Anger is not a policy’ but then again neither is seeking to displace responsibilty for failing to have policy on the scale we are seeing recently.

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