Archive for December 4th, 2008

04
Dec
08

Trade unions and Ryanair, not very likely

So it looks like Michael O’Leary is going to reinstate the Shannon-Heathrow link if Ryanair’s merger with Aer Lingus is successful. He’s also going to recognise the trade unions at Aer Lingus.

Details here
This sounds like scam to me, much like the fictitious prices on Ryanair adverts. He’s just telling us what we want to hear. The Michael O’Leary I know would sooner get into bed with Joe Higgins (in a literal sense) than permit his employees membership of a union. Now my flatmate points out that he would be required honour his promise now that he’s gone on record, but I’m not convinced. This is the man who shamelessly ripped off Munster fans who’d already paid for their tickets.

Aer Lingus is far from the best transnational carrier out there, but it’s not the worst either. And I for one would like to see their service protected (if improved a little). Now it’s clear that Aer Lingus has been severely mismanaged since it was privatised. These are the guys who tried to replace their cabin-crew with outsourced contractors with no personal investment in the company, and continued to sell itself as the airline that knows it’s the little things that make your flight enjoyable. Some sort of restucturing before the company is run into the ground is welcome. But is Ryanair really the answer? This is the airline that made its name by providing an openly shite service for next to nothing (even if “next to nothing” actually means five times what they say they’re charging). Surely we can do better for our national carrier.

04
Dec
08

New Lazer card

Bank of Ireland sent me a letter today (they actually sent in last week, but assuming it was just a statement I didn’t bother opening it until this morning) informing me that my ATM card is to be cancelled, making way for the fancy new lazer card contain within. I’m not sure I’m happy about this. I mean, the culture of banks offering services that people didn’t need or ask for is what got us all into to our current mess. But fuck it. If I don’t have to queue at ATMs when doing the Christmas shopping then who am I to complain.

04
Dec
08

Classism in a recession

Yesterday was sign-in day at the social welfare office, which meant filing up with my Finglas brethren to prove to the government that I still exist. I’ve come to hate going to the social welfare office. Not because of the snotty staff or the frustrating bureaucracy (though these are certainly issues), but because it involves interacting with my neighbours. Yes, I admit it, I’m a snob.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t feel any embarrassment about being unemployed, like it’s below me or something. I grew up in a fairly working class environment, so I can usually feel at home in such environments. But the proudly ignorant prattle of Finglas’ residents, with their borderline retarded accents, is destroying my faith in humanity. I really don’t think I can take much more tracksuits or gaudery jewellery before snapping.

Of course this is my problem and I have to deal with it. I don’t expect anyone else to tolerate my prejudice. I mention it only because it has gotten me thinking about Ireland’s class-structured culture in these recessionary times. For as long as I’ve been aware of such issues we Irish have been telling ourselves that we don’t have a major divide between the working and upper classes. It was a stick for us to beat those uppity English fuckers. It was also clearly a lie. Our class structures may not be as pronounced or overt as that of the English, but it’s certainly there. And we don’t have any right to be self-congratulatory just because England is more honest about it.

I’m not sure if it was always there or if our classism was a product of our recent affluence. As we concerned ourselves with designer labels and how much our property was worth (regardless of whether we intended to sell it or not), did it become easier to look down on people? Where once we saw the salt of the earth did we suddenly perceived chavism? Maybe a level of classism was always there, but became more streamlined during the celtic tiger years, or maybe there was no change at all and we’ve always been this way. I don’t know the answer to this. I can’t remember back that far.

If there was a change, what facilitated it? I always got the impression that the working class were seen as the source of much of Ireland’s racism and homophobia, which obviously became a major issue as the country became more culturally diverse. However, this is a fallacy as far as I can tell as the upper middle-classes can be as equally racist and homophobic as anyone else, or at least that’s been my experience. Maybe we can lay the blame with the working-class themselves, as un-pc as it may be to say it. Did they replace their previous honest, hard working ethic with one that was far uglier in the eyes of outsiders?

Whatever the truth, what happens now is going to be interesting. Are we going become more understanding and less judgemental as we become more frugal and thrifty? Will we become less likely to whisper, “typical,” when we see young fellas smoking joints on the bus (based on actual events)? Clearly not, if I’m anything to go by. Conversional wisdom would suggest that if our class culture is a product of the celtic tiger, it will be reverted now that the tiger has truly deserted us. I really hope so. I hope we (me especially) will recognise that scumbags belong to all classes. I’m afraid, however, that I’m just not convinced it’s going to happen.