European Social Charter: Government must move to address criticisms

unite-white-out-of-redFebruary 26th: Unite today called on the Government to address recent Council of Europe/ECSR criticisms which found Ireland to be in breach of several provisions of the Social Charter. The breaches range from the lack of legislation ensuring that overtime work is paid at a higher rate, to the limited protection against unfair dismissal for workers in their first year of employment and the excessive work permit fees charged to migrant workers.

Commenting, Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly said:

“This report by the European Committee of Social Rights is disturbing, but it is nothing new: Ireland is regularly found to be in breach of the European Social Charter.

“Once again, the Council of Europe highlights what can only be termed a ‘minimum compliance’ approach to our international obligations. For example, the report finds that the maximum compensation in non-gender discrimination cases is too low to either make good the loss suffered, or dissuade those engaged in discriminatory practices.

“In terms of workers’ rights, the breaches identified –for example, the lack of legislation to ensure that overtime is paid at a higher rate and the limited protection against unfair dismissal in the first year of employment – again highlight the need to put workers’ rights on a level playing field with employers’ rights.

“Instead of trumpeting their ‘new politics’, Unite is calling on the Government to demonstrate a new commitment to the rights of all those living in Ireland by moving immediately to rectify the breaches highlighted in this report”, Jimmy Kelly concluded.

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Unite members prepare for strike as Bus Éireann talks collapse

unite-white-out-of-redUnion poses questions regarding failure to negotiate in good faith

Management and Minister share responsibility for ‘crisis of commitment’

February 21st: Speaking following this afternoon’s collapse of WRC talks between unions and Bus Éireann, Unite Regional Officer Willie Quigley said that management and the Minister bear joint responsibility for what he termed ‘a crisis of commitment’ to the company’s future as a public transport provider. Unite represents craft workers at the Bus Éireann.

“The unions went into these talks in good faith in a bid to avert a strike which no one wants – least of all Bus Éireann workers, or the traveling public which depends on the service provided by our members. However, it seems Bus Éireann management was not prepared to negotiate in good faith. The past number of weeks have been dominated by a campaign of leaks, threats and unilateral proposals. This behaviour continued into the WRC talks with the unacceptable ‘discussion’ document circulated by Bus Éireann.

“Bus Éireann management must be well aware that unions could not be expected to negotiate terms and conditions of our members without being given sight of potential non-payroll savings – or being given an opportunity to examine how such savings might be maximised. This raises several questions: to whom is management reporting? Who, if anyone, instructed them to adopt a negotiating approach which was bound to fail? And what, if any, is the agenda underlying this approach?

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Bus Éireann: Unite submission to Transport Committee highlights low PSO subvention, inadequate regulatory oversight and ‘Alice-in-Wonderland’ tactics

unite-white-out-of-redUnion says Expressway cannot be compared to commercial operation since it subsidises social transfers, PSO routes

February 15th: Trade union Unite, which represents craft workers in Bus Éireann, today appeared before the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport. In its submission to the Committee, the union highlighted the low PSO subvention to Bus Éireann, as well as inadequate regulatory oversight and what it termed ‘Alice-in-Wonderland’ management practices.

The Committee hearing occurred as the WRC invited unions to talks in a last-ditch attempt to avert strike action scheduled for Monday February 20th.

Commenting, Unite Regional Officer Willie Quigley said:

“We were grateful to the Oireachtas Committee for giving us an opportunity to reiterate some of the issues underlying this dispute. Unite also appreciates the Committee’s decision to write to the Minister for Transport, the Taoiseach and the acting CEO of Bus Éireann asking that they meet with the unions and withdraw the cost-cutting proposals to allow for negotiations without preconditions.

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Latest Labour Force Survey statistics highlight growth of low-wage economy

jimmy-and-len1LFS statistics show 5.5% fall in average full-time wages in Northern Ireland over past twelve months

February 15th: Unite the union’s Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly, responded to the latest quarterly Labour Force Survey statistics published today [February 15th] by the Office of National Statistics:

“The latest LFS quarterly statistics demonstrate the challenges workers face in Northern Ireland’s economy. While there has been a half percentage point reduction in the numbers unemployed over the past year, the rate is still higher than the UK comparator and is the second highest of any UK region.

“As a region, a far higher proportion of Northern Ireland’s potential labour force is outside the labour market. Only 70% of 16-64 year olds here are employed; the lowest proportion of any UK region and significantly below the UK average of 74.6%.

“Perhaps most significantly, the statistics in relation to average gross weekly earnings of full-time workers have shown a dramatic fall over the past twelve months. Gross earnings have fallen from £505 to £477 a week – or 5.5%. Taken in conjunction with mounting price inflation, the average pay going to Northern Ireland’s workers has experienced a sharp decline.

“There are now more and more just-about-managing working households – and a real growth in genuine working poverty. Evidence shows that members of trade unions have higher wages – workers seeing these statistics need to join a trade union to raise their take home pay”, Mr Kelly finished.

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Unite writes to Bus Éireann demanding withdrawal of letters, reversal of changes already implemented and publication of reports in advance of talks

unite-white-out-of-redMeaningful engagement only possible in atmosphere of trust and disclosure

Trade union Unite, which represents craft workers in Bus Éireann, has today (Thursday February 9th) written to Bus Éireann in response to management’s letter to unions yesterday.  In the letter, Unite Regional Officer Willie Quigley takes issue with management’s claim that they are prepared to ‘engage without preconditions’ and points out that the unilateral imposition by Bus Éireann of changes already in place constitutes preconditions, as do the letters dated January 18th and January 27th.  In his letter, Mr Quigley said:

“Your statement of willingness to engage without preconditions must be backed up by written confirmation from you by return that the letters referred to above are withdrawn and that the changes already imposed are undone”.

He added:

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