Workers in every sector of Irish industry today are labouring under the shadow of an uncertain future.
The pace with which new developments are taking place in the areas of technology and industrial practice are intensive and rapid.
The activities of some foreign companies in these areas are reaching crisis point — as far as workers are concerned, to use the excuse that rationalisation in mergers and takeovers for the survival of a plant or factory serves only to illustrate that the workers are mere pawns in the interest of the company’s long-term plans.
As Irish men and women, our records of coping with difficulties should encourage all of the employers, workers and unions to work together for the welfare of all.
However, it is essential that there should be a national will to do whatever is necessary to come to grips with a new national pay deal.
This will call for a degree of real sacrifice, perhaps over a number of years. The sacrifices may have to be accepted by everyone in the form of a lower rate of growth in living standards and in changed patterns of work and of work organisation.
That is the difficulty which must be faced up to by everyone in terms of discussing the facts and the options open to us in terms of ensuring that whatever burdens are to be borne are shared equitably among all groups of society.
We are faced today with serious choices and grave responsibilities.
To these there are no simple shortcuts.
There are certainly no soft options, but it is my conviction that if we as a nation can work out a strategy and an acceptance of it, we could then have the foundation for real progress.
Michael J Stokes PC