Lessons from the era of Social Partnership for the Irish labour movement
in Ireland under austerity
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This chapter examines the ideology behind the partnership between labour and capital in Ireland in order to throw light onto the role that Irish trade unions have played in the unopposed implementation of the austerity agenda. It argues that it is not possible to fight back against austerity and turn trade unions into democratic organisations concerned with organising workers unless the labour movement challenges the hegemonic political economy of the capital within their own organisations. The political economy of labour followed to its conclusion implies the end of wage labour, to go beyond it, and in that way to end capitalism. Trade unions, particularly the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU), gave in to the neoliberal version of capitalism in order to achieve the first Social Partnership in 1987. Social Partnerships in Ireland were preceded by the economic crisis, intense industrial action and a rise in unemployment.

Ireland under austerity

Neoliberal crisis, neoliberal solutions


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