Let’s talk employment and employment policies. Obviously, this will always be the catch all important election issue, and I am no exception to this rule. When I voted in 2011, I was unemployed. Since then, I’ve had several jobs, none longer than 9 months, before landing my current part-time gig, which is permanent insofar as there is no set end date at the present time. That’s great, but it is part-time, and there are plenty of weeks when my net earnings are less what I would earn if I wasn’t working at all, which is frustrating to say the least. My second job recently came to an end because my employer went out of business (I’ll only say that it was a retailer).
I want more work. I want stable work. I want to be paid more, in line with my experience and qualifications. I want to feel like my decision to ignore social welfare payments as much as is practical is not a mug’s game.
How do the parties’ employment policies look to me? This is based purely on employment related policy I found on the internet. I’m aware that many other things tie into employment, but I’ll get to them, hopefully.
Fine Gael go down a nice and easy route, with a policy page that is just a section of brief bullet points. 7% unemployment within the short to medium term seems like a doable objective, but those numbers are always fuzzy, and a 200’000 new job objective by 2020 seems like a figure plucked out of thin air. While it won’t benefit me, the note on apprenticeships is a welcome idea. FG bang the drum on supporting self-employed and start-ups, but I’m not sure my trust in them is strong enough to take that at face value. And the final point, on the Corporation Tax Rate, is one that I welcome.
Fianna Fail have a little bit more substance in their equivalent. A big emphasis on the reduction of taxes and rates for start-ups and unemployed. To a layman like me in such issues, this reads as a little confusing, so it won’t do FF any electoral favours in that regards. But I can get a sense of a certain commercial populism: I doubt the entirety of these plans are viable, in terms of decreased tax yields from businesses.
Labour’s website lacks any brief summation, aside from trumpeting job growth during their time in government. Not exactly great stuff. The lengthy policy document includes the pledge for full employment by 2018, an utter fairy tale, that makes the party sound truly desperate.
Sinn Fein are a bit better, and even avoid getting too out there in their summation. Increasing the minimum wage a bit is a good idea, as is the destruction of zero hour contracts, which I experienced first-hand in the last 12 months. The parties call for action on low-income employed is something to take note of.
Renua have a lengthy document. Simplicity seems to be beyond them, unless it’s for dealing with crime. Revising upwards only rent reviews for SME’s is a good idea, but I’m not sure they should namedrop FAS as something to complete the demolishing of without talking about any proposed reforms of its replacement. In the end, they’re parroting Fine Gael more than they might care to admit.
The Social Democrats too seem to struggle with summations, and their employment policy is in two different sections of the attached manifesto. There’s a certain deregulation feel hidden in some policies – reducing bureaucracy can easily turn into a free for all when it comes to revenue and taxation I think – but they also commit to ending zero hour contracts as well as the excellent living wage idea.
AAA-PBP don’t have a single website. AAA has nothing on jobs specifically aside from criticising the governments record, while PBP’S statements on employment amount to “End tax haven status – new development model – tens of thousands of new jobs”. It’s not enough guys. It’s too underpants gnomes for me.
I’ll leave it there, since I don’t feel the need to look at the single seat parties or the Independents. If I was to rank the above based on my positivity to what was said, relative to ease of access and understanding, and to my trust that some of it would be implemented if the party in question was to be in government…well, I just don’t know. I liked Fine Gael’s straight forwardness while distrusting their intentions, I liked some of the minutia of Sinn Fein’s while deriding their basic economic shallowness. In terms of the smaller parties, I suppose the Soc Dems would get my endorsement, with reservations on a few issues.
In the end, I’m not totally opposed to the maintaining of the current tax schemes on SME’s, but feel that greater allowances in the first 12 months of business, the reformation of regulation in regards banks relationships to SME’s, and a commitment to increasing the minimum wage and reducing or getting rid of zero hour contracts are necessary steps for a more vibrant employment market.
Sinn Fein and AAA-PBP are the vote getters with this though. The populist elements will win out, and while I don’t think the jobs record will harm Fine Gael as much as some think it will, Labour’s delivery of its current policy isn’t going to do them any favours. Fianna Fail could stand to be a bit different from FG if they want to turn this into a vote-winning issue, in my opinion
A brief link-dump of a few things I found interesting this week.
–This discussion on the housing crisis echoes many of my own concerns. There seems to be a real inability for the current government, either party, to actually face up to the prospect of controlling rent prices, especially in Dublin, where the situation has been allowed to grow way out of control. And as for more homes, and its connections to the homelessness issue…Alan Kelly’s impossible-to-build micro-houses tell you all you need to know about his failure in office. The failure to match Rent Allowance to the rise in prices, and the legalised stigma surrounding it are other gigantic failures of the current government. More to come on this.
-Down far on this round-up piece from RTE is a brief mention of the Greens and party leader Easmon Ryan.
“He added that despite numerous media debates in the past 24 hours, climate change was not raised and it was a priority for his party.”
Climate change should be a much bigger issue at this election, at every election in every country, than it is, and it’s a shame that only the Green’s have the gumption put it front and centre. More to come on this too.
–This blog post talks about the stupidity of the suddenly rampant term “fiscal space”, and how the governments use of the term is a serious mistake. I hate terms that suddenly jump into the public sphere just as votes are called – remember “fiscal compact”? – and this one was a doozy, where government parties painted a target on themselves, and were deservedly burned for it.
-Lastly, this RTE piece by political analyst Sean Donnelly is an interesting look at the efforts to get “bonus seats”, that is, arranging candidates and inter-party transfers in constituencies to the point where a party can get a higher percentage of seats than they did of the actual vote. PR-STV inherently makes this quite hard, in direct contrast to the UK’s moronic FPTP system. But it can be done. Fine Gael won 16 seats more than their vote share indicated they would win last time out (never forget that Kenny dragged three other FG TD’s with him in Mayo, an astonishing feat). The flip side is also true, with Sinn Fein having a poor record, with two seats less in the 31st Dail than they should have had with their percentage of the vote. They rarely run two candidates per constituency of course, and it’s probably more reflective of the left side of the spectrum in Irish politics, which has a subpar track record when it comes to transferring on general ideological lines.