Own Our Oil is an Irish group of citizens with no political affiliation, who are deeply concerned that deals cut between previous Irish governments and oil and gas exploration companies are depriving people of Ireland of what is rightfully theirs.
Our mission is to change the terms relating to licensing and oversight of Ireland’s offshore and onshore oil & gas. We need (your help) to act now and we need you to be the driving force to bring about change urgently.
Unemployment falling to 13.7 percent. Employment increasing by 20,000. THe CSO’s new Quarterly National Houshould Survey should be good news. So why isn’t it? When we dig a little under the numbers, what do the numbers tell us about the kind of economy that is emerging? Why should we be concerned?
First, let’s run the headline numbers.
On the face of it, these are positive numbers: employment up by 20,000 over last year – returning to the level of employment in 2011 while unemployment has fallen by well over 1 percent. But now, let’s look at some numbers below this headline.
(a) The Rise of the Precarious Work
Probably the most disturbing aspect of the CSO release is the rise in precarious work. This can be seen in the rise in under-employment.
The economy is still shedding full-time jobs. In the last year, the numbers working full-time fell by 6,000. The difference was largely made up by an increase of 17,000 in precarious work (a 12 percent increase) – people working part-time but wanting more work.
Some might argue that when the economy is on the floor, the first work available will be part-time and that this will turn into full-time work once recovery sets in. Let’s hope so but there are grounds for questioning whether this is part of a normal post-recession pattern or a more qualitative change in the nature of work.
Precarious work is part of an employer strategy to minimise costs. Courtesy of the Government’s policy to cut employers’ PRSI on low-paid work, employers are offering part-time jobs to cut their PRSI bill. They may have full-time work available but they are breaking them up. This ultimately costs the State through part-time unemployment supplement, lost tax revenue, higher Family Income Supplement costs. But it also costs employees: over one million people suffer multiple deprivation experiences in the state. Of this, approximately half live in households where there is at least one income from work. No doubt, this is concentrated in the low-paid precarious sectors.
It is also a policy to discipline employees. If you are depending on getting extra hours you don’t want to go around trying to organise your work-mates into a union, or complaining about working conditions, etc. The employee must keep quiet, suffer anything the employer throws at them, all in the hope that they will more hours on the next roster assignment. The Government could end this by implementing the EU Directive on Part-time work – which would give part-time employees the right to any extra hours in a firm when it becomes available – but so far they haven’t indicated any willingness to do so.
So there is a very real possibility that we may be entering into a period where precarious work becomes the norm and not just a feature of a weak labour market.
(b) The Weakness of the Market Employment
Over the last year agricultural, fishing and forestry employment increased by 16,000. This is a good performance for this sector. But are we getting a true picture? The CSO has recently starting re-adjusting their samples to align them with the 2011 census. This will be phased in over the year. In the meantime they provide a caution about interpreting trends in this sector. In the survey for the last quarter they state:
‘In the case of the Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector it can be noted that estimates of employment in this sector have shown to be sensitive to sample changes over time. Given the introduction of the sample based on the 2011Census of Population . . . particular caution is warranted in the interpretation of the trend in this sector at this time.’
So we have to be careful about this 16,000 job improvement. We may find that previous estimates of employment in this sector in the past were under-stated and, so, the total level of employment in the economy.
So how can we look at this. The following breaks down employment in three sectors: agricultural/fishing/forestry, the market economy and the non-market economy. The non-market economy includes public administration, education, health and other sectors (recreation leisure) – these are dominated by public sector employment.
Nearly 2,000 jobs were lost in the market economy, an improvement on the 2011-2012 figure which showed a loss of 8,000. We have, though, still to bottom out in this sector which employs 63 percent of the labour force and is the driver of value-added and exports.
Just to note, the increase in non-market employment is not related to the public sector which has been losing jobs. There was, however, an increase of 8,000 in the health & social work sector – driven by the private sector.
(c) Increase Due to Rise in Self-Employed
The employment rise in the last year has been almost entirely due to an increase in self-employment.
As seen, while employment rose by 20,000 in the last year, this was due to the rise in self-employment – which made up 16,000 (there was another small increase in assisting relatives of 2,700).
Of course, this increase in self-employment is to be welcomed (better than a decline). But the question here is how long-term this work will be and to what extent the numbers have been impacted by the CSO’s sampling adjustments. Many, believing they won’t find work, will try their hand at own-work. This can be tenuous and low-income with an eventual high-failure rate. One insight is that the number of self-employed who, in turn employ people, actually fell over the last year by over 3,000. This was made up by a bigger increase in the numbers of self-employed without employees.
Meanwhile, PAYE employment has stagnated over last year – recording an increase of only 4,000; still, better than a decline. However, when we strip out the numbers on Government schemes (Community Employment, Jobsbridge, etc.) the number of non-scheme employment rose by only increased by 1,700.
* * *
So what do we have? We have some good headline news but much of this melts away when examining the details.
Full-time employment is still falling
Employment in the market economy is falling
Precarious work is on the increase – substantially so
The number of employees remains much the same as last year – especially when those on Government schemes are taken into account.
The main growth has been in the self-employed sector – but not in that part of the sector which employs people; that’s still falling
Some of the increase might be due to statistical factors unrelated to what is actually happening the economy.
Then there’s the question of emigration. With the labour force actually falling by over 9,000 (despite new entrants from education), much of the decline in the unemployed numbers will no doubt be due to people searching for work elsewhere.
This is not a good news story. At best, it’s mixed. And to the extent that it presages permanent changes in the labour market – namely, the rise in precarious employment – it is depressing.
Shale Gas Benefits and Costs
Tamboran’s desk-top study suggests their operations might give the Republic (the equivalent of) 12 years of current gas consumption, 600 local jobs by 2025, and potential tax revenues up to €4.9 billion. (Tamboran Resources Press release 1st February. 2012)
Up to €4.9 billion equals an average of up to €140m per annum over 35 years – would that cover the cost of adequate regulation, inspection, legal fees and road repairs, social costs, to mention just some?
Set against current and planned/potential employment and foreign exchange earnings for food, drinks, and infant formula the above potential shale gas benefits are negligible. And it should be borne in mind that in 2011 the United States Geological Survey downgraded the Marcellus Shale gas reserves estimate by 80%. The original estimates were supplied by the industry.
(Bloomberg August 23rd 2011)The British Geological Survey has put the likely recoverable Shale Gas in Lancashire at less than 0.47 trillion cu. ft., which is 1/400th of Quadrilla’s stated estimate of 200 trillion cu. ft. (Guardian April 17th 2012).
Employment in Tourism is an important element in the rural and national economy. The NW & Borders region alone shows 15,432 employed, and nationally c. 178,000 employed. (Failte Ireland)
If only a 2% sales drop (from current figures) in the above industries’ earnings occurred over the next 35 years it would mean a loss of c. €8.2 billion. and job losses of 6000. A 5% sales drop (from current figures) would cost €20.5Bn over 35 years with 14,500 jobs lost. In addition, projected growth in sales and employment would be lost.
With our dependence on our clean green image, it is prudent to question if the losses might not be far higher. Moreover, to increase shale gas revenues by expanding the regional coverage will surely have the effect of correspondingly greater losses in exports and jobs. Energy alternatives
In addition to our commitment to the inevitable move towards renewable sources, we need to consider the following.
40% of our energy is used in domestic dwellings. That is a huge amount, and offers a big, clean, and safe opportunity. An investment in conservation measures could employ thousands who are already skilled at building, without any environmental risks, and help meet our emissions reductions commitments.
The energy benefits to be derived from conservation are permanent.
Household energy costs will be cut, freeing up money for spending with consequent jobs multiplier effects.
There is optimism and enthusiasm for long-term sustainable growth in revenues and employment from Ireland’s Agriculture and Food Industry.
This is dependent on preserving Ireland’s reputation as a green, clean environment.
There is at present insufficient independent scientific data available anywhere to make a decision on shale gas. In the meantime, the Precautionary Principle must apply.
The gas will still be there in 20 years time.
Given the controversy surrounding the shale gas industry, there should be no requirement on the part of Irish people to prove anything.
Can you imagine working for a company that has just 635 employees, but has the following employee statistics? 29 have been accused of spouse abuse, 7 have been arrested for fraud, 9 have been accused of writing bad cheques, 17 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses, 3 have done time for assault, 71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit, 14 have been arrested on drug-related charges, 8 have been arrested for shoplifting, 21 are currently defendants in lawsuits, 84 have been arrested for drink driving in the last year – and – collectively, this year alone, they have cost the British tax payer £92,993,748 in expenses! Which organisation is this?
It’s the 635 members of the House of Commons. The same group that cranks out hundreds of new laws each year designed to keep the rest of us in line. And just to top all that they probably have the best ‘corporate’ pension scheme in the country! If you agree that this is an appalling state of affairs, please pass it on to everyone you know.
The anti-austerity march on Saturday will give people the chance to tell the Government that it’s time to change economic direction. By Michael O’Reilly.
Austerity is costing jobs.
When the Government published their Medium Term Fiscal Statement last week, they all but admitted that their employment policy will fail. When they took office the unemployment rate was 14.2%. Now they accept that the unemployment rate by 2015 will be 13%. In other words, the Government admits that the unemployment rate will hardly change while they are in office. This is a devastating admission.
Since the crisis began, Ireland has suffered one of the worst collapses in employment of any EU-15 country. We are up there with Spain and Greece. While the numbers at work in Ireland have fallen by over 15%, the Eurozone average is less than 2%.
Much of this job loss is due to the collapse in the property market. From the peak, the numbers at work have fallen by 350,000 – the construction sector has made up 45% of this job loss. However, in the last year, 80% of job losses have come from non-construction sectors. What was initially a crisis in the construction sector has now spread throughout the economy.
Austerity measures are continuing to drive down employment. When the Government cuts investment, it cuts the number of people at work on capital projects; when it cuts spending on public services, it cuts the number of people employed directly by the public sector and people in the private sector who got work through procurement contracts; when the Government cuts social protection, it cuts demand in the economy, putting further pressure on domestic businesses and their employees.
In short, when the Government cuts spending (or increases taxation on low-average income groups), it drives down economic activity. Why should anyone be surprised that the numbers at work are continuing to fall?
The Government‘s jobs policy ignores what’s happening in the labour market. There are about 30 unemployed people for every job vacancy. Increasing the skills of our workforce (both employers and employees), retraining people, getting young people back into education – all these are necessary to increase our capacity to grow. But these will come to nothing as long as there is no demand for labour – as long as 300,000 people are competing with each other for a relative handful of jobs.
According to the Government, the prognosis is not good. They expect there will still be fewer people at work in 2014 than when they took office. How can we begin to turn this around?
First, we can begin to drive investment. Investment not only has the capacity to put people back to work in the short-term, it increases the capacity of the economy to grow in the future. This will continue to increase employment in the medium-term. Investment in next generation broadband, a modern water and waste system and energy-efficient buildings (we have one million buildings in need of retro-fitting) could directly employ tens of thousands of people, with more jobs created downstream. Most important is investment in education – from early childhood all the way through to life-long learning; this is the single most important long-term investment.
Second, we can stop digging ourselves into a bigger hole. While we have to repair our public finances (and investment will help by driving up tax revenue and reducing unemployment costs), we should ensure that budgetary measures are ‘growth-friendly’. This means taxation measures on high-income groups and their unproductive capital and property. This will have less impact on domestic demand than cutting spending on public services and social protection, or hitting low-average income earners through taxation.
Third, we must start driving up wages – in particular, those of the low-paid. Corporate profitability has returned over the last two years. Many businesses are struggling – not because wages or taxes are too high but because not enough people are employed and have too little money in their pockets to spend. Increasing wages in enterprises that can afford it will increase tax revenue for the Government and increase spending in the economy.
This is not the complete solution to unemployment. But it is a start. It is the programme that the Dublin Council of Trade Unions is calling for. And it is one of the reasons that we are asking people to come out on Saturday, 24 November.
We can defeat austerity. We have a programme that will grow jobs and living standards. And if we have the people, the Government will have to listen to us.
Michael O’Reilly is president of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions.
The newly created position was filled last week without any public any public advertisement or recruitment process. Miss [Carol] Hanney (top) will continue to enjoy her current salary scale, which starts at €91,765.’
He said retrofitting buildings, including schools and local authority housing, would ultimately be self-financing in energy savings.
Mr Devoy also voiced concern about the plight of 2,800 redundant apprentices.
He said they were trapped in the system, as they are unable to complete their apprenticeships, but said they could at least seek jobs abroad if they could complete their training.
The general secretary acknowledged progress in reducing the number of apprentices in this position from 10,000 two years ago.
However, he said the hidden tragedy remained that thousands of young school leavers are denied access to training and potential careers because opportunities in traditional crafts had been largely closed off.
AMONG the most damaging effects of the cutbacks in education is the casualisation of teaching and lecturing. Ironically, this is exacerbated by the abuse of legislation intended to protect employees against abuse. Many teachers and lecturers are experiencing severe income poverty because they struggle on fixed-term – which is to say temporary – contracts in part-time positions, mere fragments of jobs.
To make matters worse, these teachers and lecturers are routinely jettisoned or have their hours, and pay, reduced from one year to the next, a situation completely at odds with the common yet completely erroneous depiction of public servants as some rare breed of protected species in terms of tenure and job security.
We estimate that 30 per cent of second-level teachers are employed on a part-time basis. Local management has, in some instances, sought to play God by varying the working hours of teachers and lecturers on an arbitrary, whimsical basis.
As if this were not enough, there has been a savage, sustained and disproportionate attack on the pay of new entrants to the teaching profession since 2011.
Newly qualified teachers enter the teaching profession after an unpaid training period of five years, soon to be six at second level. It takes an average of a further five years to secure a level of permanency. Even then, this is very often only permanency in part-time work that sees them, in many instances, earning considerably less than the average industrial wage.
In the wake of the cynical elimination of qualification allowances, a teacher who enters the profession today is automatically
22 per cent down on the 2010 starting salary of a colleague with identical qualifications.
The principled struggle against casualisation and associated pay cuts that the Teachers’ Union of Ireland and other teacher unions are engaged in is one that, in the interests of this country and its young people, must be won.
A race to the bottom eventually impoverishes everybody and deprives the country of one of its most important competitive advantages: a high quality, highly regarded public education system.
TUI’s annual congress this year prioritised the plight of new entrants to the profession, committing the union to campaigning to have the divisive differential in the salaries of teachers doing the same job rescinded. The concerns of new entrants must be afforded priority in negotiations about pay and in any national agreements that may emerge.
Parents and communities also need to be aware that hundreds of teaching posts have been lost as a result of cutbacks in recent years and that the equivalent of a further 700 full-time positions have been taken out of the second-level system this September as a result of a cut to guidance-counselling provision.
Invariably it is vulnerable teachers in fixed-term positions on part-time hours who suffer first when such cuts take effect.
For students and schools, casualisation and cuts create instability. For example, they often result in students being taught by a succession of teachers in a given subject area over the course of the Junior or Leaving Certificate cycles. In terms of consistency of provision, this is undesirable, unacceptable and damaging.
In order to protect our students, our high-quality public education system and the integrity of the profession on which it relies, the TUI is seeking, as a first step, an end to the attrition that is causing casualisation.
We are asking the Department of Education and Skills to work with the education partners to put in place a system whereby teachers have an opportunity to secure sustainable jobs that allow them to develop as professionals and make an even more valuable contribution to the schools and communities that they serve.
Now more than ever, teachers need jobs, not hours.
John MacGabhann is general secretary of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland, which represents more than 14,000 teachers and lecturers
The HSE West has confirmed that it has dismissed three people in the past 12 months in response to persistent absenteeism.
In a report outlining measures tackling absenteeism in HSE West Mr Rogers added that cases involving 10 staff members were at an advanced stage in disciplinary procedures. He also confirmed that 412 reviews of sick leave had taken place with individuals where the trend had caused concern to managers.
Mr Rogers said the various measures were “an assurance about how serious we are taking this issue right across area west”.
NEW FIGURES show no slowdown in job losses. The number of people at work in the April-June period fell by nearly 14,000, the biggest three-month fall in a year, according to the Central Statistics Office. The figures appear to dash hopes that employment growth is at hand.
They show there were 1,783,400 people employed on a seasonally adjusted basis in the second quarter, meaning there are 357,000 fewer people at work since employment peaked in 2007.
Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton last night acknowledged the continued fallout from the collapse of the “bubble economy”, but said “the sectors on which we will build the future economy are now showing signs of growth”.
The CSO’s quarterly national household survey is the most comprehensive source of data on employment across the economy. It shows the downward trajectory in job numbers remains broad-based, with most sectors continuing to shed labour.
There were 13,700 fewer people at work in the April-June period compared to three months earlier when seasonal fluctuations are stripped out. Slightly larger numbers left the labour force entirely in the second quarter. This kept the rate of unemployment stable at 14.8 per cent of the labour force.
The survey shows employment in the construction sector has fallen below 100,000 for the first time since the bursting of the property bubble. It fell by another 4,000 on three months earlier to stand at 99,300. Five years ago, 273,000 worked in the industry. The construction sector has accounted for almost half of the total job losses since 2007.
The financial, insurance and real estate sectors employed 96,100 people in the April-June period. This was a decline of almost 4,000 over the quarter is a new post-crash low.