Saturday, February 19, 2005

Unions & Social Democrats

Two current events, as symptoms of problems with the traditional workers' rights structures (in Europe).

This last Tuesday, my union achieved victory in getting a payraise closer to its demands than the employer's offer, averting a strike. (Tho' it's not that much; a general raise equivalent to €64.)

However, my employer is the Hungarian State Railways, which - beyond a few EU-supported renovation programs and a far-below-required investment into the replacement of the capital's overcrowded suburban trains - doesn't get enough money from the state to maintain services, much less to invest in what is needed to attract customers (for example more carriages for the well-frequented lorries-on-train [RoLa] services).

So while my union has recently taken on to include demands for sound railway policy and investment during protests, what it will actually pick a fight for is still just getting more money: because our payrise is not coupled with an investment funds rise, it just plays into the government's hand in its policy of creating a disaster to 'solve' it. I think this kind of short-term thinking is one of the reasons behind traditional unions' decline in the developed world.

Second story. In Social Democrat-governed Germany, the greatest private bank, Deutsche Bank, caused a storm of outrage with its plans to continue sparing by outsourcing/slashing 6400 more jobs - this after a record profit of €2.5 billion (pre-tax: €4.1 billion) in 2004!

As an example of brazen corporate greed and the hypocrisy of corporate explanations of outsourcing, this is dime of a dozen. What is more noteworthy that the government just last year appeased business with a string of employment law changes (Harz IV), expecting an improvement of the jobs situation in return - but apparently, corporations just thanked for the present and laughed in their face. Which is exactly what I expected.

If one tries to appease them, business will either have the Centre-'Left' implement the changes it wants with much less opposition than a conservative government would (Bliar's Britain), or go for what they can get without anything in return from this government while placing their bets on the takeover of the conservative opposition (Schröder's Germany).

1 Comments:

At 8:59 PM, Blogger josh narins said...

The Bush Budget, here in America, _zeroed_out_ Amtrak, our only passenger rail line.

I think it averaged 1 billion a year, and the only service expansion I know of in recent years was the much-faster New York City to Washgington, DC express trains (a new train and rails, perfect for bringing US Government and Business closer together).

 

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