Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Irish Postal Strikes: Initial Research

Initial research is showing that looking at the Irish Post Office strikes is going to be complex. I've been starting from keywords of "privatisation", "labour", and "strike".

Some Wikipedia articles, as good starting points:

Privatisation
Strike Action
Labour Relations

And a note on the right to strike in Ireland, from the US Department of State's Report on Human Rights Practices:

"The law provides for the right to strike, and this right was exercised in both the public and private sectors; however, police and military personnel are prohibited from striking."


I'm not yet certain if the right to strike is included in US law, or if it only applies to private companies. The Wikipedia article on Strike Action above says:

"The Railway Labor Act bars strikes by United States airline and railroad employees except in narrowly defined circumstances. The National Labor Relations Act generally permits strikes, but provides for a mechanism to enjoin strikes in industries in which a strike would create a national emergency."


Generally speaking, it looks, at least initially, as though strikes are far more acceptable at a policy level in Europe than in the US, especially for something as wide as the postal service. There have certainly been postal strikes here before, some lasting several weeks. I'll be looking into the effects of these past strikes next.

7 Comments:

At Wednesday, November 09, 2005 2:01:00 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Katherine F. here, posting from work...)

The Wagner Act (dating from, I think, the 1930s) grants US workers the right to unionise, and I think that also includes the right to strike, but it's one of those laws that gets ignored by sufficiently powerful employers, and many, many people who would benefit from being in a union aren't aware that they have a right to organise.

I suspect that the low number of strikes in the US is down to low union membership rather than any sense that striking is specifically disapproved of. That said, there's a bit of a vicious circle in that the smaller and weaker the unions are, the less willing they are to rock the boat.

 
At Wednesday, November 09, 2005 5:18:00 p.m., Blogger grimcat said...

Generally speaking, it looks, at least initially, as though strikes are far more acceptable at a policy level in Europe than in the US, especially for something as wide as the postal service.

I'm assuming that you're referring to the National Labor Relations Act and its restrictions regarding strikes that could cause national emergencies.

-John.

Personally, I've seen quite a few strikes, though they are more local rather than widespread.

 
At Thursday, November 10, 2005 11:12:00 a.m., Blogger Drew Shiel said...

I'm assuming that you're referring to the National Labor Relations Act and its restrictions regarding strikes that could cause national emergencies.

Personally, I've seen quite a few strikes, though they are more local rather than widespread.


Essentially, if you look at national-level news sites regularly (TV station and newspaper sites), you'll see strikes being reported on European sites far more often than on US sites. Some digging around shows me that there are definitely strikes in the US, some quite large, and so it looks like the media are choosing not to report them - hence "more acceptable", rather than happening more. I'm going to look into that more in any case.

 
At Thursday, November 10, 2005 11:14:00 a.m., Blogger Drew Shiel said...

Katherine F. wrote:

I suspect that the low number of strikes in the US is down to low union membership rather than any sense that striking is specifically disapproved of.

Well, for most people, unions = striking - or so it seems to me, at least. And I get the feeling that unions aren't looked upon all that well by the American mainstream, or at least the media.

 
At Friday, May 26, 2006 1:33:00 p.m., Anonymous Will said...

Keep in mind that Unions are not universally legal; most regulation of workplace affiliation comes at the state rather than the Federal level in the US.

In many states, there is what is loosely termed as the 'Right to Work' -- essentially that while you are free to pursue employment opportunities anywhere you choose, and that employers can't 'close shops' for only certain unions or trade federations, employers are under no obligation to find a cause for termination.

 
At Saturday, May 27, 2006 1:38:00 p.m., Blogger Drew Shiel said...

In many states, there is what is loosely termed as the 'Right to Work' -- essentially that while you are free to pursue employment opportunities anywhere you choose, and that employers can't 'close shops' for only certain unions or trade federations, employers are under no obligation to find a cause for termination.

I've had to do some considerable amount of reading to get my head around this. "Right to Work" is a very misleading term, I think, and would be better replaced by "Right to Employ". The notion that an employer doesn't have to find a cause for termination of employment strikes me as very strange, and very feudal.

 
At Monday, June 05, 2006 1:06:00 p.m., Anonymous Will said...

wheras I tend to view Right to Work as the exactly appropriate name for it; to me, the state interviening to establish causal qualifiers is one of the greater perversions of the free market.

I suppose it comes from very different formative experiences. The US version of a labor market is very much less encumbered [people transition far more easily from job to job], but it lacks some of the implicit security gaurantees of long term employment

 

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