Are all pigs really equal?

The Voice of Reason

The Government’s recent job protection programme involves a €200 a week subsidy towards employees' wages. At first glance this seems a solid measure to protect employment. However all is not as clear-cut as it seems.

It is more spin than substance. It applies to the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors and excludes all other industries. It is limited to €250 million and has no timeframe. As a policy it is long on rhetoric and short on detail.

At its core it substitutes possible dole payments with employment subsidies. It is revenue neutral for Government as it helps avoid the payment of redundancy. A win-win situation you might think.

However under scrutiny it is exclusive and unfair. It discriminates against certain business sectors and its employees? The sad reality is that job losses in the retail, non-manufacturing and indigenous sectors are completely ignored.

In the light of the sad news of the closure of Tom Hogan Motors last week it is apparent that this policy is a smokescreen that ignores businesses such as this and does little to benefit overall employment levels. This is not an acceptable situation.

In the Tom Hogan Motors’ situation it is especially poignant as this was a business that exhibited best practice in all of its operations. It failed because of systemic neglect and a lack of Governmental support to the industry. Indeed Government policy destroyed motor sales volume in its ham-fisted implementation of an essential emissions based VRT system. They pandered to wealthy lobbyists at the expense of the industry.

The 190 employees of Tom Hogan Motors have every right to ask why are they excluded from this job protection programme, when the Government is hugely complicit in the closure of their business. Are their jobs viewed as being of a lesser importance than those of someone from an export oriented, manufacturing or knowledge based industry?

If so why? They have paid their taxes. Are they not now entitled to the full protection of the state?

Perhaps Tom Hogan Motors doors would still be open if an equitable and inclusive enterprise policy were in place. This policy is absolutely unfair and does nothing to curb unemployment. It excludes vast numbers of people whose jobs are at risk and places others at a higher priority. It exhibits a poor understanding of the complex issues at hand.

Our enterprise and employment policy emphasises the knowledge led, internationally traded, services sector. And it is correct that it should do so (to a certain extent ), but not at the expense of other business sectors. The bottom line is that we need an inclusive policy on enterprise that supports all sectors of industry.

More than 75 per cent of Irish business is private or family owned and it accounts for only 11 per cent of exports. This ratio is skewed and indicates that indigenous and domestically oriented business needs to be nurtured not ignored. These are the businesses with a real commitment to this country.

Government favouritism for certain industries, for special favours, and for buddies should be a relic of the past. One form of worker should never be favoured over another. This is blatant discrimination. It does not reflect well on the philosophy or thought processes of the policy makers.

George Orwell’s Animal Farm where all pigs are equal, but some pigs are more equal than others springs to mind.

And we know what happened to them!

Postscript: Mary Coughlan was in Boston Scientific taking advantage of a convenient photo op and then her entourage drove right past the workers of Hogan’s just as they got their devastating news. Way to go Mary – That’s real commitment to enterprise and employment!

Pearce Flannery, founder of acclaimed business advisors Pragmatica is widely regarded as Ireland’s premier business consultant, business coach, and motivational speaker. He is a board member of Autopolis, a leading automotive consultancy with offices spanning the globe.

He enjoys a high profile with a reputation for straight

talking and innovative thinking. His socio-economic blog is hugely popular.

Contact Pearce: [email protected]


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