Strike action to proceed at Newry, Mourne and Down District Council as last minute talks collapse after management fail to address workers’ pay equality

Kieran Ellison Unite Regional Officer

Members of all four staff trade unions, Unite, GMB, NIPSA and SIPTU, forced into picket lines from 6am tomorrow

In a joint trade union side statement and ahead of the industrial action, workforce representatives laid the blame for the ‘avoidable’ industrial dispute at the feet of council management who had failed to address their members’ legitimate concerns.

“The trade unions engaged with the council management team in last minute and intense talks mediated by the Labour Relations Agency to seek a resolution to this dispute. While some progress was made in relation to job evaluation, job descriptions and a timetable for the completion of the negotiations, we failed to secure what was needed in relation to pay equality.

“The dispute centres over how pay differences and disparities in terms and conditions inherited from legacy councils more than five years ago will be harmonised. Due to management delay in engaging with us on this issue, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council is now the last remaining council to resolve it. The point in contention is that for those workers whose pay grades are re-evaluated upwards, they will lose all pay progression accrued and will start at the bottom of the new grades.

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Queens University must avail of eleventh hour opportunity to furlough students union workers to avoid escalating campaign for wage justice

HMRC officials stand ready to receive application from Queens to furlough and backdate payments for student union workers ahead of midnight deadline

Unite legal department letter highlights that HMRC guidelines have been changed to remove any impediment to use of furlough in cases like this

Unite Hospitality organiser, Neil Moore, said:

“Zero-hours, and casual contract, workers at Queens student union have been left without pay since August of this year as a result of the refusal of university authorities to avail of government furlough supports for workers.

“This is not only callous, but inexplicable. The university can access wage supports under the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme without any cost to itself.

“We understand that HMRC are standing ready to receive and process a last minute application from the university. It is not too late for Queens to do the right thing, furlough their workers and relieve some of the financial hardship our members had to endure.

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Disgraceful Queens University decision leaves zero-hours workers facing impoverishment

Official University response to collective grievance offers no hope to workers, 45 percent of whom have had to lost their accommodation due to financial hardship

Unite Hospitality organiser, Neil Moore, blasted the response of Queens University to a collective grievance raised by zero hours employees at student union facilities which have had to close temporarily due to Covid restrictions.

“The response received this evening from Queens University authorities is among the most callous we have received from any employer during this pandemic. They flatly refused to avail of government furlough payments under the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme to obtain pay supports for casual and zero-hours workers at student union facilities.

“Almost half of these workers are students trying to work their way through college; they can’t access income support benefits – leaving them facing a real financial crisis. In a recent survey, 92 percent told us the loss of this work had affected their studies already. Many are genuinely concerned that they won’t be able to continue into the next semester.

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Workers’ expertise critical to improving road safety

Driving instructors and motor mechanics make submissions to RSA

November 23rd: Unite members working as driving instructors and motor mechanics have made submissions to the Road Safety Authority’s public consultation on the Government’s Road Safety Strategy 2021 – 2030.

Commenting, Unite Regional Officer Jean O’Dowd said:

“Safer roads depend on highly trained drivers operating road-worthy vehicles. The experience and expertise of Unite members working as driving instructors and motor mechanics is central to improving both driver training and vehicle road-worthiness.

“In their submission to the RSA consultation, Unite’s Approved Driving Instructor branch has made proposals for improving governance and guidelines for learner drivers, as well as the quality of instruction, testing and training”.

Davy Kettyles is Unite Senior Regional Organiser, and added:

“Road worthiness issues are a factor in many collisions, and in their submission Unite’s Mechanic Branch has highlighted regulatory gaps and called for a legislative framework in line with best practice in the EU to govern training, qualifications, new technology and the provision of continued professional development. Ensuring that motor vehicle repairs are carried out to the highest possible standards will help protect all road users”.

Concluding, Jean O’Dowd said:

“Unite’s evaluation of the 2013-2020 strategy indicates that a number of targets and goals were not met.  Engagement with the workers tasked with training drivers and maintaining vehicles is critical to ensuring that the 2021-2030 strategy fulfils its promise and improves road safety for all users”, Ms O’Dowd concluded.

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New look Unite the Union Champions Cup to be played in 2021

November 20th: The Football Association of Ireland and the Irish Football Association have announced an expanded Unite the Union Champions Cup format for 2021, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of the 2020 tournament.

The new format will see Shamrock Rovers and Linfield joined by the next top placed teams in the 2021 League of Ireland and 2020-21 Northern Ireland Football League seasons for a four-team tournament, with the regionalised semi-finals and the final scheduled for late 2021.

The sponsorship for the postponed 2020 event will be rolled over to benefit participating clubs in the 2021 competition. The new format has been welcomed by the FAI and the IFA as they continue to work together for the benefit of the domestic game on both sides of the border with the key goal of achieving long term benefits for all clubs.

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