A tripartite agreement between the government, bosses and a labour union after marathon talks earlier in the week is promising to revolutionise the labour market. The Prime Minister termed the deal “historic”, explaining the agreement had gone much further than the stringent reforms which had been imposed by the bailout Troika last spring. In essence, the deal has laid the foundation for easier and cheaper sackings, fewer worker subsidies, a reduction in leave and bank holidays and support for ailing small and medium enterprises. The majority of stipulations contained within the new labour legislation will come into force in 2013.
That's right, Senate President Therese Murray used the r-word yesterday while addressing the fiscal plight facing the MBTA."I think the pressure is on for us to come up with a revenue (solution). ... We've done the reforms," Murray told a group of political and business leaders gathered for the quarterly meeting of the North Shore Alliance for Economic Development at Salem State University.Her comments came in response to complaints from representatives from Salem and Gloucester regarding proposed cutbacks in commuter rail service. Under one scenario being considered by the transit agency, all weekend and late-night service on the commuter rail system would be discontinued.The MBTA is currently conducting a series of hearings on proposals for fare hikes and service cutbacks at which users of the system can have their say. (There's one Wednesday, Jan. 25, at Salem's City Hall annex; another Tuesday, Feb. 7, at Lynn City Hall. Both are at 6 p.m.).But Murray made it clear that maintenance of service will require new revenue. The question that will likely be debated this spring is whether that new revenue can come entirely from fare hikes, or whether it will require an increase in taxes. The MBTA currently receives a penny of every 6.5 cents raised by the sales tax, but there's been talk recently of a possible gas-tax hike to help fund public transportation.It appears Murray is bracing for this discussion and will make the point that there have already been significant reforms — new employees can no longer retire after 23 years with full pensions and health benefits for life — so now it's time to talk about revenues.
During this recession, stimulus was just passed out to the cities and towns and in turn was used to pay pension responsibilities. How much can the taxes and fares continue to be raised to support these government programs and bureaucracies that we can not afford. Time for this country to take a good hard look at pension reform and right to work states.