It started all with the LUAS Drivers who demanded a crazy increase in their salaries. They didn’t get what they wanted, but they got an increase. Next were the Dublin Bus Drivers, then the Gardai and in the meantime the TDs got also a nice increase of about 9,000 per year. Then the teachers. And they will all get less than they want, but importantly, they will get SOME increase.

With all this, is it a surprise that suddenly EVERYONE in the public sector wants more money? But is it justified? Or justifiable?On Friday FIVE (!!!) more unions announced that they will be looking for pay increases as the Irish Times reported here.

Many think that some of the pay increase demands are totally out of control, but in other areas it might make more sense. The problem however is that once the unions smell “blood” they will go after pay increases like a bloodhound. Justified or not!

Keep in mind that NOBODY needs a union unless there is a dispute, so it is very much in their interest to create a dispute! It justifies their existence and keep the union bosses in a very well paid job.

Any type of unrest is bad for the competitiveness of a country and damages the reputation. So it is in the interest of Ireland to sort out all unrest as fast as possible. An unstable period would be severely damaging in the context of attracting new investment from abroad. But it also doesn’t make sense to give in all cases. Where the salaries are too low, they should be increased, but where unions demand unjustifiable increases, the government should have the courage to refuse ANY increase.