A public meeting on jobs and economic recovery, accused by some of being an electioneering stunt by Fine Gael, turned out to be exactly that and disturbingly a bit more.
The public meeting, staged by Cllr J. Ryan with guests Mark Fielding from ISME and right wing economist Jim Power from Friends First and a local business woman, looked at solutions to the bank crisis, the economic downturn and routes to reverse unemployment and the social problems it causes. The posters erected by Councillor Ryan and his subsequent interview in the local press invited the unemployed and businesses to “come along and listen to the thoughts of the speakers”.
The most amazing thing about Mark Fielding of ISME was after having invited the unemployed and workers in– he then attacks them! He proceeded to complain that there was too much “red tape” when it came to protection for workers, that legislation protecting workers was far too much and that the minimum wage is too high.
He went on to pose the question – “Where are rights for employers Eh! Eh! Eh?” Public sector employees got a double dose of attacks. But there was not one idea about the economy, jobs and how we may escape the recession.
Jim Power the economist was up next. Nothing new here – re-hashing on how we got to this point and how long we are going to be in this state. A prediction from Jim Power was that the multinational job merry-go-round was over for us and that public sector pay levels were an “unmitigated disaster”. He also believed that there is a need to drive down costs which included wages, and to bring more workers into the tax net. Banks need to be more favourable to the SME’s, he said.
Enter stage left Ms Lorraine (Alexis) Sweeney. After a short speech on how successful and rich she was owning three hotels, she then related how she had to sack her chef. He was immediately allowed to “sign on” and receive rent allowance which left him receiving more than she was paying him, she exclaimed!
How did this incentivise people to work for her when they would get the same on the dole?. Her right-wing reactionary rhetoric ended by her saying that rent allowance was the downfall of the social welfare system and gave the balance of power back to the employee. This meeting gave a real insight into the right-wing, anti-worker politics of Fine Gael and what horrors working class people can expect when they are in government.