Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Day of Action

Today all Irish public workers were on strike. Although a more positive spin was put on it by calling it a squeaky clean, gung ho, 'day of action'. The issue, as is the case with most of these things, is heated. Those who called for today's picket lines did so because they believe that with all the cutbacks in government due to the recession, their salaries and pensions are carrying more of the burden than others. I am mostly ignorant of the differing views so cannot make any assertions but I can tell you what I heard on the radio and how the day of action affected me.

Public workers here are the same as at home, think postal workers and other government officials who have extreme job security and a nice pension at the end of your duty to your country and government. So far, so good.

From my miniscule knowledge the problems are these: 1) higher level officials of the government are not taking the same pay and pension cuts as the lower level people such as teachers, public health nurses, and the like 2) private workers who are losing their jobs due to the recession, while given huge 'redundancy' packages relative to the US, are not protected or compensated in the way the public workers and so they wonder, why complain??? at least you still have a job 3) is the same argument across the world and time eternal, it is why revolutions happen and it is this: why are the little people having to pay the bill for the 'fat cats' who got us into this mess in the first place (or something to that effect as I've heard ad nausea on both sides of the Atlantic since this whole thing blew up).

Now to how it altered my day…I can speak freely and from the heart here. My kids were home from school today and thankfully I don't have a job to get to and babysitters to arrange. You should know that it rained non-stop 100% of the day. You should also know that swine flu, or H1N1 as the politically correct US prefers to call it, is on the 'rampage' here at the moment and vaccinations are only being meted out in waves of most necessary first and anyway the public health clinics who do the shots were on strike.

Taking all these things into account you can understand why the following occurred today: the one and only, state-of-the-art, American style shopping mall was jammers. I went there because I couldn't go to the park or the seafront and I didn't want to expose my kids to wall-to-wall swine flu free for all at some play jungle. There are probably five to seven thousand parking spaces underground at this mall. At 12:30 this afternoon the entire red car park was full. The adjoining green car park was practically full but that did not stop us from sitting in an underground, ventilated traffic jam praying for a free space. My first thought was, recession? Someone should tell all these people. But then I realized that everyone was here for the same reasons as me. There was nowhere else to go.

We were all there with our kids in tow, prepared to slog through the mall instead of sit another day inside the four walls of the house while the kids bounced on the sofas and drove us demented. Better to release them onto the public and catch a break for a couple of hours. It was mayhem but the kids loved it. They took a notepad and wrote down their wish lists as we made our way through the enticing Christmas displays. They whinged because they wanted ice cream but for the most part they were actually quite exceptional. We got some family Christmas shopping done, long lists taken down, and killed 3 hours.

On the way home, the radio news told me that they are planning another 'day of action' for next Thursday. The kids are already off next Friday for an inservice day so that makes it a looooong weekend. Pray for better weather, at least no rain, and I can handle it. But I am totally fecked if it is lashing from the heavens and there's nowhere else to go but Dundrum.

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