Account for the Development of Social Partnership in Ireland. How Does It Relate to Theories of Corporatism Discussed in Your Course?

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In this essay the author will account for the development of social partnership in Ireland and also how it relates to theories of corporatism. Social partnership is a problem solving process, which facilitates and promotes structural change through a set of polices. This is done in order to maintain competitiveness in an ever-changing world. Social partnerships are made up of representatives from farming organisations, businesses, community sector and government. Social partnership provides a basis in which the procedure is managed. For example overseeing both groups agree on an item or topic that would be rolled out over a period of time. A social partnership process provides a flexible way in which unions, employers, and the community voluntary sector can raise issues of particular concern to them. Social partnership means employers and unions co-operate to improve working conditions and to give employees a greater say in how their company is run.

Social partnership came about in Ireland in 1987, when Ireland was heading for an all time low. It’s economy was in tatters and it couldn’t compete with the outside countries. It’s finances were out of control and there was a high rate of unemployment in the country. The process of social partnership involved the government bringing together members from farmer’s organisations (e.g. Irish Farmers Association), Business organisations, (e.g. IBEC), and from the community and voluntary sector (e.g. CORI). The working groups were set up under social partnership agreements, and the communications between key leaders within the background of regular social partnership review meetings provide a strong link of communication between the social partnership arena and between business and the government. This was done in order to get opinions and to agree on multi-annual programmes. We will now look at Ireland before and after social partnership came on board.

Ireland had suffered an economic depression during the 1950’s. This was due to problems within the country and the outside world. Employment in the farming sector was declining rapidly, but unlike the rest of Europe, Ireland did not have a strong industrial sector to provide jobs for those leaving the land, Ireland was a small fairly closed economy. Ireland did not profit from the industrial revolution, unlike its neighbouring country England, this was due to a number of reasons, which included lack of capital investment, lack of raw materials such as coal, iron, and intense competition from cheaper British imported goods.

Smaller businesses, for example clothing, footwear and furniture manufacturing, were dependent on the home market and suffered most from foreign competition. There was a tariff protection put on imported goods in the 1930s, for example on shoes, soap and glass bottles, however this had become inefficient. Ireland was unable to compete in the outside market; it’s industries were highly dependent on the home market. The cheaper imports coming into Ireland were having a major effect on the market; as a result of this an economic crisis occurred when the value of imports exceeded the value of Irish agricultural and industrial exports.

With the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 there was an increase in the price of imported goods and raw materials. As a result of this the Fianna Fáil government introduced severe budget in 1952, this included reducing peoples spending power and in doing so the government hoped that it would result in a deduction of importing goods into Ireland. With the high rise of unemployment and emigration, Ireland saw its unemployment peak in 1957. The unemployed were treated very harshly and were cut off their state benefits after six months; their only other option was to emigrate. This resulted in many rural areas in Ireland been populated with mostly elderly people.

By the late 1950s a new approach was taken in the economic policy known as the first programme for economic...
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