Today’s column in the Irish Times by Fintan O’Toole has the potential to start yet another ball rolling on a debate regarding the type of society we the citizens of this country want – one where the market dictates and profit is king or one based on decency and the common societal good.
Last night’s protest by locked out Greyhound workers highlighted the ‘race to the bottom attitude’ of exploitative employers – those who view their workers as units of cost and not partners and colleagues in a mutual enterprise. Mutual respect and dignity does not enter the equation when a profit has to be turned, bottom line.
These workers are providing a public service, a service that impacts on each and everyone one of us and on every aspect of city activity, particularly when it isn’t carried out. Under local authority management it worked very well, to quote Fintan O’Toole it was ‘a small but significant part of humdrum urban existence’. Now it is a free for all and we all pay more for it – both workers and those whose rubbish is being collected.
The big picture question that arises now and is what part of the emergency motion proposed and passed at last night’s Dublin City Council focused on is whether or not going forward private waste collection is viable and sustainable? To ascertain viable and sustainable, two key questions need to be posed:
- Can the operation as it currently stands offer drivers and operatives a living wage with decent terms and conditions including a progressive wage and career path?
- Can the above be afforded at a reasonable cost to the ‘customers’ – the householders of this city?
If not, then we need to bring waste collection back to where it rightly belongs – local authority management. Here, in the grand scheme of local authority services, supports and provisions, it can be reasonably and collectively subsidised from the various taxes and charges paid by the citizens. This way of operating returns accountability, transparency and dignity to our waste collection services across the city. This way of operating returns a sense of community, decency and common humdrum good to us all, workers and householders alike.
Support the workers
Please add your support to the workers via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/greyhoundworkers and, if you are a Greyhound customer, call LoCall 1890 989 998 (press 3) and ask that ‘The workers be allowed to return to their jobs on their agreed conditions of employment while talks take place aimed at achieving changes that assist the company but are fair to its employees‘. Thank you!