Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Is this racist, or just incredibly stupid?

Fianna Fail councillor excuses exploitation of foreign workers.

A Louth County Council member, Jimmy Mulroy (left), who also happens to be an electrical contractor (according to the Indo), has suggested that lowly paid foreign workers in Ireland are "doing very well on Euro 8.50 an hour" - despite this being below the minimum wage.

Mulroy's logic, such as it is, is that pay in the workers' country of origin is lower than it is here. This is a statement that is so inherently stupid - even by Gombeen Nation standards - it hardly needs refuting.

Until Michael O'Leary introduces daily return flights to the EU accession states for the price of a bus fare, foreign workers have to endure the same high cost of living that the rest of us do. Looking at Mulroy's picture (Gombeen Man had not heard of him until now) it's safe to say that he is of a generation, many of whose number had to emigrate in order to find work... imagine the reaction in the 70s or 80s if a British councillor had called for Irish people working in Britain to be paid less than the indigenous workers, using the same reasoning?

Taken in tandem with the recent move of Irish hoteliers to reduce the pay and conditions of their staff, it is fair to assume that exploitation of foreign workers is far from being a rare occurence. But where are the unions? They are in a cosy 'social partnership' with the Government, that benefits cosseted public sector employees more than the workers who need it: those in the free-for-all private sector, many of whom are being exploited by unscrupulous Irish gombeen employers.

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Neo D Nietzschean Nihilist said...

Rascist or stupid? Probably both. Well done for pointing out Mulroy's absurd logic and reminding us Paddies that, in recent and less affluent times, this type of reasoning could of been used to exploit Irish workers everywhere from Berlin to Boston and other places besides. Given that Mulroy is an electrical contractor, an area not unknown to employ foreign nationals, I suppose we should be kind and assume he's not broadcasting a practice he engages in, but merely expressing some wish fulfillment.

By the way Gombeen Man, you get a points deduction for your closing remarks about cosseted public sector workers. I only drop by here occasionally to see what the lefties are saying, and I find meself reading a remark that wouldn't be out of place in a cosy rightwing boys club comprising McDowell, Harney and Shane Ross. I work in the health service, and let me assure it is not cossetted. It might be managed by idiots answerable to morons (Drumm and Harney)but don't let that suck you in to the cosy neocon agenda of "public sector good / private sector bad".

The Gombeen Man said...

Thanks for your comments NDNN. Yes, let's not jump to hasty conclusions about the good counicllor's business interests. I am sure he would not take those to the council chamber - such a thing would be almost unprecedented in Irish political life, surely? ;-)

Sorry NDNN, Gombeen Man has the utmost respect for health workers, who do a difficult and great job under difficult circumstances and work all the hours natural forces send.

Yes, it's the upper management tier and the political culture that allows consultants to enjoy God-like status and incredible wealth in Ireland compared with those in other European countries. Gombeen man feels that this is largely due to white-collar (which does not attract the same opprobrium as blue-collar) "restrictive practises" in the profession.

I suppose what's he's saying is that many civil servants have secure, 9 to 5 jobs, that haven't the same level of accountability as the private sector (teachers... when is the last time a bad one got sacked?) with good pay and conditions, and have Irish tests as means to hasten promotion and recruitment. Gombeen Man thinks that the unions should really be expanding their membership to include the ripped-off workers who really badly need protection and representation.
Sorry that I tarred all PubSec workers with the same brush! And keep up the good work!!!

sense_talking said...

Jaysus you need to wise up on how the world works..."Gombeen Man"....why are you imaging "the reaction in the 70s or 80s if a British councillor had called for Irish people working in Britain to be paid less than the indigenous workers"...it happened and with the same reasoning...fellow British citizens just didnt get up on their high horse and talk shite about it...trying to be PC!! Again get a grip on reality...foreign workers in Ireland are "doing very well on Euro 8.50 an hour" - despite this being below the minimum wage...they know exactly what to expect when they arrive here to work...in fact they TEND to have more money saved each week than the majority of Irish people..including those on much higher salaries...they tend not piss the majority of their wages away on drink etc and then complain about having fuck all.

When the Irish worked abroad in Britain, Germany, the US etc...we just like the many foreign workers currently working here...lived sharing rooms with one maybe two and sometimes three others...in order to save cash either to send home to family, or to save enough to go home at some point and buy property or setup a business...(just like what many of these below the minimum wage workers are doing now.)
If that didnt work out...at least it gave them (the Irish) a great platform and solidarity to make it in whichever foreign soil they happened to be on...many many have done just that, and would have no hesitation in paying slightly below minimum wage to new migrant workers. It worked for them.

Trade unions are the bane of the Government...many agreements put in place are now out dated (casepoint Aerlingus...the idiots in there are holding a potentially highly profitable Business and the country to ransom...way too much power for clearly unaqualified gombeens)...it is a new era...new strategies need to be embraced...and quickly...it is no time for head in the sand.

Strong bold decisions...will benefit us in the long run!!

The Gombeen Man said...

Hi Sense_Talking, welcome to the blog.

As it happens, Gombeen Man did indeed work in London in the 80s/90s (9 years in all), so it's something he has direct experience of. Including the living in poxy bedsits bit (one was 13 foot x 7foot I kid you not). I always worked for the going rate though, but would not blame someone who might work for less - be it out of desperation, ignorance of local laws, naiveity or whatever - but that's another issue.

I don't, however, recall any British councillor/politician speaking out and recommending Irish workers should be happy to be paid less than their British counterparts, on the basis that the cost of living in Ireland was cheaper than that in Britain. In fact, not even the National Front or the BNP would have come out with such b*ll*cks. And believe me, there would have been a rumpus if one did, both here and among the Irish community in Britain - of which I was a part. If you can cite me an example of a British public figure saying something similar, though, I'm open to correction.

I'm not writing from a PC perspective (a term I think is a bit hackneyed and now devoid of its original meaning - it originally refered to language: blackboard, black sheep, stuff like that), but from an employee's perspective.

My main point on this issue is that you have some gombeen shyster on a council, who runs a contracting business, officially sanctioning the idea of paying workers less than the minmum wage on the basis of where they are from, not the work they do. Why the f*** is it called a minimum wage then?? This pr*ck is supposed to be in politics and his party introduced the minimum wage.

I don't think that's in the interests of the foreign workers who are selling their labour for less than it's worth and are being ripped-off, and I don't think it's in the interests of Irish workers who are being undercut by a wage nobody could live on, long-term, in this country. I don't think its in the interest of inter-communal relations, as it breeds suspicion, resentment and racism. It is, however, in the interests of greedy, half-wit gombeen Irish employers who happen to be on the local council and how the power to effect legislation - albeit only local, thank f*ck. Maybe you don't find that offensive, Sense_Talking? I sure do.

As for the unions, I think they are too comfy in their social partnership quango with Government to bother protecting the rights of people who really need it - those, regardless of nationality, being exploited by unscrupulous employers.

marine101 said...

Foriegn workers are well aware of the exploitation that goes on.A few years back when i was working on a building site the foreign lads(Lithuanian,Bulgarian,Polish) were telling us they were aware of how Irish employers,especially in the construction industry,just love to do business under the table.Money into the hand,sometimes less than 8.50 but as they put it.."that suits us" ...it suits both employer and foreign national worker.Its a complex and dirty game.Employers in the construction industry get away with anything and everything..they are quite simply not being monitored.