Éire go Brágh

Foreign Direct Investment is a mistakeThe people of Waterford are to lose a further 575 jobs.  Talk Talk announced closure last week giving only one months notice to staff – the minimum possible – even though some have 10 years service.  Some workers were left to hear the news through social media or news reports as they were not present for the announcement.

It seems that even IDA and Government officials were unaware of the closure plans, something difficult to believe given the preparations that had gone ahead to move the call centre abroad and an earlier round of layoffs and pay cuts.

However, the snubbing of our Government by this multi-national corporation is no more surprising than its non-recognition of the right of staff to join a Trade Union to defend their interests – notwithstanding the unwillingness of Trade Union leaders to honestly do that.

This closure creates particular difficulties for people in Waterford, following as it does the loss of Waterford Crystal, the Iron Foundry, ABB Transformers and the job losses at Teva Pharmaceuticals and GlaxoSmithKline.  It is expected that the closure will have knock-on impact locally.

Talk Talk is a company with growing revenues, close to €2bn, it boasts that both its profitability and market share are increasing.

The company explanation for closure is dishonest

Management claims that demand for the call centre has reduced because customers are choosing to transact online – they say business has not fallen off.  However, while this might be an argument to reduce staff it cannot be accepted as the reason for closure – the company still needs a call centre.

The real reason for closure is that they have  already opened a new call centre operation in the Philippians where labour costs are about 10% of those in Ireland.  This has become known as ‘the race to the bottom‘; globalisation of industry looks for the lowest costs and the highest profits, working people everywhere loose out.

Conflicting sets of interests

The contradiction is between demand of private owners to maximise profits and the needs of the workers to earn their living – the public interest to maintain a stable economy is in conflict with the demands of private shareholders.

These conflicting interests are exasperated due to globalisation, so long as the interests of private owners is placed over the public interests we will continue to lose.

We are not following our own strategic economic interests

Talk Talk highlights once again the mistake we are making through reliance on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).  Such corporations have no ties in Ireland, they pay little taxation and are heavily subsidised with public funds.  Time after time these companies have shown that they have no loyalty to any community, FDI is a short-term ‘investment’ and offers no sustainability.

Many, including the workers at Dell in Limerick experienced similar re-location by a foreign corporate.  They are now witness to the scandal that up to €10 million of the funds set aside to assist them have been returned unused to the EU!  By contrast, at the time Dell were given a €55 million subsidy by the EU to support their re-location to Poland – the EU supports globalisation!

Of course, all government personalities have expressed the urgent need to help Waterford – suggesting University status for WIT, “action plans” to encourage new investors etc.  Local Labour TD Ciara Conway tells us that workers can avail of the same ‘European Globalisation Fund‘ as did the Dell workers (ah, it’s not so bad then!).

Is it not evident that politicians like Ms. Conway, and her government colleagues, are enthusiastic supporters of this dependence on FDI and of blind service to foreign capital of all kinds?

Ireland needs its own economic plan, not that of the ECB/IMF

This scandal is like salt in the wound, because neither this government nor the last have any plan to develop our own domestic economy or resources, of which we have plenty.

Developing native industry has sustainability, because at least it has a stake and interest in the country.  However, the policies being imposed on us by this government, and their predecessors, are causing whole-scale damage to the domestic economy.

The people must have the say!

These policies on economic planning, cutbacks and bailouts are proposed and carried out without any consultation of the people … when last did your local constituency TD call a public meeting to seek a mandate on how to vote in Dáil Éireann?  When was the last time the budget proposals were summarised and distributed to every household for discussion prior to meetings with local representatives, where decisions would be taken?

It seems clear to us that to begin solving these problems in the economy we must first get rid of the vested interests who every day disregard our needs or who seem to think that service of their own private interests is actually the same as doing good for the people too!

As outraged as we are over Talk Talk, and all the others, we must turn our attention to the main problem … we must work for the empowerment of citizens as opposed to the political parties.

thefuture Initiative is dedicated to bringing about actual change in Ireland, we invite concerned citizens to contact us, to share experiences and to cooperate in this effort.

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