11 March 2010 Edition
Nuacht na nOibrithe
Taxi drivers want Dempsey to pick up his job
TRAFFIC was disrupted in Dublin and other locations on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week by hundreds of taxi drivers protesting against Transport Minister Noel Dempsey’s refusal to meet them over the Fianna Fáil Government’s disastrous privatisation of the taxi industry.
Drivers say the huge influx of part-time and casual drivers is threatening full-time drivers’ livelihoods, including their ability to pay their mortgages and feed their families.
Irish Taxi Council leader Frank Byrne said the protesters were seeking full implementation of the 11-point-plan recommended by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, one that he said had been ignored by the Transport Minister.
Dublin City Centre commuter traffic was gridlocked on Tuesday evening as LUAS and bus users were caught up in the stand-off as taxi drivers blocked streets with their taxis on Tuesday evening. Members of the Irish Taxi Council had earlier occupied the Taxi Regulator’s office to try and force the Transport Minister to the talks table. The minister was washing his hands of responsibility, saying that the drivers’ grievances are a matter for the Taxi Regulator.
A spokesperson for the Transport Minister dismissed the protests, saying:
“Taxi drivers are working in a competitive, challenging environment which has affected earning power.”
SIPTU, the National Taxi Drivers’ Union, the Irish Taxi Drivers’ Federation and the Taxi and Hackney Drivers’ Association are scheduled to meet on Thursday.
Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor Dessie Ellis demanded that Transport Minister Noel Demspey intervene “as a matter of urgency”. Speaking during the occupation of the Taxi Regulator’s office in Merrion Square, Ellis said:
“I have spoken to the men who are engaged in the occupation and I am concerned about the potential for an escalation of this dispute. The situation for full-time taxi drivers has deteriorated seriously in recent months and for many drivers their livelihood is now at risk. This is what has led to today’s actions.
“Despite the deteriorating situation in recent months, Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey has done nothing to bring this situation to a conclusion. It is clear that immediate intervention from the minister is necessary to prevent a further escalation of this dispute.
“It is quite clear that the deregulation of the taxi licensing regime had been a complete failure. The minister needs to face this reality even if the Taxi Regulator cannot.”
Hospitals’ strike notice gives Government time for talks
THE Fianna Fáil/Green Party Government has been given a four-week window of opportunity to resume talks with unions about pay cuts with the notice this week of a two-day strike by 4,500 support staff at seven Dublin hospitals from 1am on Wednesday 7 April until 1am on Friday 9 April.
Support staff include porters, catering personnel, security, healthcare assistants and supervisors.
PAY AGREEMENT BROKEN
Hospital management has refused to honour the terms of the ‘Towards 2016’ pay agreement and continue to threaten to ‘outsource’ (i.e. privatise) the jobs of union members.
The hospitals affected are: Beaumont Hospital, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Tallaght Hospital, St Vincent’s University Hospital, St James’s Hospital, Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, and St Columcille’s in Loughlinstown.
Aer Lingus to jettison 670 jobs
AER LINGUS bosses announced on Tuesday that they are to sack 230 staff and lose another 440 jobs through voluntary redundancies after cabin crew staff rejected a restructuring plan despite its recommendation by their trade union, IMPACT.
The plan had been accepted by the airline’s other unions, including the pilots’ association, SIPTU, Unite and TEEU.
IMPACT officials were meeting Aer Lingus chiefs as An Phoblacht goes to press on Wednesday.
AIB bank chiefs walked away with huge pay-outs
AIB’s revelation this week that the bank bailed out by the taxpayers paid its top managers €3.6 million last year has prompted Sinn Féin to call on unions and rank-and-file staff at the bank to join the fight against excessive wages and bonuses at the top while staff get the sack and customers suffer branch closures.
The AIB annual report shows that former CEO Eugene Sheehy walked out the door with total pay and benefits of almost €900,000 last year even though the bank needed a €3.5 billion bail-out from taxpayers to survive.
New Managing Director Colm Doherty, who took over in November, was paid €833,000 in pay, pension and other benefits as a director.
AIB former Chair Dermot Gleeson, who retired at the end of June after being pelted with eggs by angry shareholders last year, took home €203,000, down from €475,000 the previous year.
Only Seán O’Driscoll, a non-executive director of the bank who is due to retire this year, waived his fee for 2009.
Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD hit out at the overpaid bankers.
“This government is throwing billions at banks whose management have shown time and again how incapable they are of running their businesses. The future of ordinary Irish taxpayers and business is being held to ransom by these banks and government policy, yet we have seen very few people being held to account.
“The news of this pay bill to top managers is disgraceful. This is money that is coming direct from taxpayers who have not only seen their rights and services cut by government to fund this pay but are about to be doubly hit by increased charges at the banks.
“Every manager who receives hundreds of thousands of euros in their salary is robbing the future of an employee in these banks. Staff need to take a stand against this and Sinn Féin will support them in it.”