ICTU’s David Begg is in a reflective mood. He admits that workers received no gains under the last wage agreement because inflation wiped them out. He even went so far as to say that 100% pay increases would not hugely improve people’s lives
‘ . . . if they can’t buy education or if they can’t buy health services the way richer people can.’
Now, if people’s living standards didn’t improve over the last three years – when GNP growth was strong, public finances were healthy and the economy was generating employment; if people weren’t getting a kickback then, what’s the chances now? Mr. Begg’s options aren’t encouraging. That’s why I suspect that the general secretary of ICTU, sitting quietly in whatever room allows him to ponder these issues in depth, is acknowledging, at least to himself, that the game is up, that the very motor of social partnership is grinding down, that a new model has to be put in place.
If only he and the rest of us could figure out what that model looks like.