Michael O Leary is the poster boy for the Irish rich. He said things they dared not say. Above all, they loved his refusal to recognise unions for thirty two years.
But their big hero has been broken. Co-ordinated strike action by pilots across national borders has brought O Leary to his knees.
Being a pilot is regarded as a high status job. Many would even regard them as ‘middle class’ and not the sort of people who join unions.
Capitalism, however, continually uproots and erodes working conditions. And none more so than Ryanair.
This is a company who operates a policy of bogus self-employment. Over half the pilots of Ryanair fell into this category. It meant that they were not covered for proper sick pay, holiday pay or maternity pay. Small wonder that these ‘middle class’ employees wanted union protection.
The defeat of Ryanair opens the way for a massive unionisation campaign. If the bully boy of Irish capitalism can be defeated by workers – then so too can every little thug employer.
O Leary said that ‘hell would freeze over’ before he would recognise a union. He claimed that Luas drivers could be ‘trained in five minutes’. He denounced RTE as a ‘rat infested North Korean union shop’. He praised Shane Ross for his handling of the Bus Eirann dispute.
In all his deeds, O Leary stood out as the most anti-union employer in Ireland.
But as this upper class prat eats humble pie, workers need to press home their advantage and launch a major drive to unionise. Here are some immediate targets we should go after.
Hotels: The bosses of the hotel industry act like mini O Learys. They broke the unions and have pushed down wages to rock bottom levels. Hotel and catering workers need a union.
Building bosses: There are hundreds of building bosses who are not paying the legal pay rates. They are breaking the law with impunity. Workers need to sort them out with strong unions.
Multinationals: Since the 1980s, multinational firms have gotten away with an anti-union policy with the connivance of the Irish state. This needs to change.
We need a full scale recruitment drive to bring the workers in these sectors into a union – and many more workers beside.
And we need a push to change the law so that companies are forced to recognise unions as soon as any group of workers want a right to collective bargaining.
People Before Profit has been to the fore in supporting the Ryanair pilots. Out TD, Brid Smith, has been highlighting the abuses workers face.
We believe in strong fighting unions. If you agree and want to join People Before Profit, text join to 0872839964.