ColumnistsPaddy Murray

Paddy Murray: Unions making the public pay for their greed isn’t fare

Paddy Murray: Unions making the public pay for their greed isn’t fare

What kind of people, do you think, would target schoolchildren and make their lives difficult? Or pensioners and make things hard for them.

Or people with hospital appointments or people who can’t afford cars or ordinary shoppers?

Well, you know the answer. It’s Siptu and the NBRU and the unions representing bus drivers in Dublin.

The Labour Court, which includes trade unionists in its make up, has recommended a pay rise for them.

But it’s all about maintaining the differential or parity or some other words trade unionists trot out every now and then to justify their existence.

Sick people will miss long-awaited medical appointments. Some workers will have to give up a day’s work or take a day’s holiday. Some children will miss school, all so bus drivers can get more pay.

More pay, by the way, which will be financed by you and I either through higher fares or more subvention funded by more taxes – or maybe more cutbacks in the health service. It doesn’t seem to bother the unions which it is.

I heard one union official talk about Dublin Bus being in profit. Profit? It gets €70 million a year from the State!

Anyway, a wiser man than I had an enlightened view of unions a long time ago.

He was talking about the ESB. And what he said was fair, decent and right on the nail.

“Looking back, we know what happened in the sixties was a social revolution. The trade unions formed a different view of their role and staked their claim. Their cause was proper.

“There was an unjust division between blue-collar and white-collar workers and it had to go.”

And under his stewardship, it did. But he also said this:

“Some of the strikes today are a total abuse of power. People are using their muscle sometimes in breach of written agreements. And the public are the victims, as they so frequently are.”

The words were spoken by my father Thomas, who had been Chairman of the ESB from 1959 to 1974, when illness forced him to step down.

Those words appeared in an interview which appeared in Pioneer magazine in November 1978, the month he died.

But he was right in what he said then.

And it’s still right today.

Saints and media spinners

Christopher Hitchens once called Mother Teresa “a lying, thieving Albanian dwarf”.

Germaine Greer has called her “a religious imperialist”.

This week, the contrarians and attention seekers all joined in, with desperate attempts at click-bait, to attack the nun who was canonised by Pope Francis last Sunday.

She was, a London Independent columnist said, “a woman who preached virtue in suffering rather than trying to alleviate it”.

Former Indian supreme court judge Markandey Katju said Mother Teresa was “a reactionary, semi-educated, a fundamentalist, fanatic and a fraud”.

And his compatriot, Dr Aroup Chatterjee, was given yet another soap box, this time by the New York Times, to continue his attacks on the late nun.

She was even attacked for “not looking the least bit like a woman”.

She was an easy target.

And those who attack her forget, or choose to, that India gave her a state funeral, such was its gratitude for her work.

I don’t really know what problem people have with the woman now known, in the Catholic Church at least, as Saint Teresa of Calcutta.

I don’t know what has sparked the vitriol and bile being spat out.

I’m wondering what good they think they’re doing. And I’m pretty damned sure that few, if any, of those now engaged in bitter attacks have done as much as she did for those less fortunate than themselves.