Public have less than three-weeks to safeguard Belfast’s bus lanes and bus services

unite-white-out-of-redDrivers’ union urges public to bombard Department for Infrastructure email over opening of Belfast bus lanes to 4,500 private taxis

Questions must be asked over how unelected civil servants can reverse decades of public transport policy with minimal consultation

June 18th: Unite Regional Coordinating Officer, Davy Thompson, was scathing of proposals published quietly last week by unaccountable civil servants at the Department of Infrastructure which would reverse years of Executive policy and open bus lanes across the city to an estimated four thousand five hundred private taxis.

“With virtually no publicity whatsoever, the Department of Infrastructure quietly launched a mere three week consultation on proposals that would have the potential to transform the status of public transport in Belfast. Aside from a copy of the legal changes involved, the Department’s website provides virtually no documentation on what is being promoted as an ‘experimental’ and temporary proposal but one very likely to become permanent if it proceeds. They have offered no studies on the dramatic impact that this will have on bus services, there is no pro-forma to encourage members of the public to engage with the consultation and no public meetings to engage those who will be most affected.

“For decades, locally accountable Ministers have adopted consistent policies to promote public transport and the transition to a healthier and environmentally-sustainable transport system but now unelected officials in the Department of Infrastructure are seeking to overturn that and offer virtually no opportunity for members of the public to find out about their plans, let alone raise any opposition. Continue reading

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English Language Teaching: Unite tells Taoiseach “Don’t just tweet – legislate!”

unite-white-out-of-redJune 15th:  Unite, which represents English Language Teachers, said today that members were taken aback by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s Twitter reference to the ‘huge’ intangible value of English Language Teaching to Ireland, given the Government’s persistent failure to legislate for decent terms and conditions in the ELT sector.  Unite’s statement followed a tweet by the Taoiseach this week in which he pointed out that three European Prime Ministers had studied in Ireland, noting that “the intangible value of English Language learning in Ireland must be huge”.

Commenting, Unite Regional Organiser Roy Hassey said: “The value of our members’ work may be intangible, but they would like to see a very tangible improvement in their terms and conditions.

“Unite has long highlighted persistent labour abuses in the sector, including bogus self-employment, and we have called on the Government to ensure that the pending Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Amendment) Bill, which provides for an International Education Mark, also establishes minimum employment standards for English Language Teachers.

“We would welcome the Taoiseach’s assurance that, given his recognition of the huge intangible value to Ireland of the services provided by our members, his Government will move to address their concerns without further delay.  Our members’ message is very clear:  Taoiseach, don’t just tweet – legislate!”, Mr Hassey said.

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ICTU Women’s Conference hears call for abortion services to be provided free of charge following referendum

unite-white-out-of-redUnite says low-income women must be able to access reproductive healthcare

June 14th: Speaking at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Women’s Conference in Enniskillen today (Thursday), Unite Regional Equalities Officer Taryn Trainor said that last month’s overwhelming vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment must not only be swiftly followed by appropriate legislation, but that steps must also be taken to ensure that income is not a barrier to accessing reproductive healthcare.  Ms Trainor also reiterated Unite’s call for the decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland.

“Last month’s vote in the Republic to repeal the Eighth Amendment sent a clear signal that people in Ireland believe women should have bodily autonomy and access to the relevant healthcare services.

“In this regard, Unite is calling on Health Minister Simon Harris to confirm that women seeking a termination will be able to access services free of charge through the Maternity and Infant Scheme.  We are also urging the Minister to outline the steps he is taking to provide financial assistance to women forced to travel for a termination in the case of a fatal foetal abnormality prior to enactment of the legislation.

“Repeal of the Eighth Amendment represented a significant victory for women in Ireland.  Now the task is to ensure that income is not a barrier to accessing reproductive healthcare.

“We also need to continue campaigning for decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland.  Abortion services must be free, safe and legal throughout the island of Ireland”, Ms Trainor concluded.

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IAC Archaeology: Unite members to take industrial action

unite-white-out-of-redMembers of Unite Archaeology set to “dig in for decency”

June 11th: Unite, which represents commercial archaeologists in Ireland, today announced that members working for consultancy IAC Archaeology have voted to take industrial action on foot of the company’s refusal to engage with Unite regarding a pay claim, either directly or in the Workplace Relations Commission.

Commenting, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer Richie Browne said:

“Wicklow-based IAC is the biggest Irish archaeological consultancy, with offices not only in the Republic but also in Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester.  Yet despite the company’s healthy finances and the fact that revenue is growing at approximately 20% per annum, a site assistant with nine years’ experience and a Master’s degree in Archaeology can expect to earn just €12.50 an hour. Unite served a pay claim on IAC, but they refused to negotiate with Unite either directly or in the WRC.  Our members have been left with no alternative but to take industrial action”. 

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Unite welcomes overwhelming acceptance of proposals to revamp the pay structures in the NHS known as ‘Agenda for Change’

unite-white-out-of-redUnite lead Officer for the Health Sector in Northern Ireland, Kevin McAdam today welcomed the resounding decision by members across the service in England to accept changes to their terms and conditions that will carry with it a minimum increase of 6.5% pay increase over the next 3 years.

In welcoming the deal Mr McAdam stated “this is a positive step for the service and modernises pay scales that are out of date and no longer sustainable within a modern Health Service. Key features of the deal will see low paid workers lifted out of the poverty trap that has them dependant on overtime and benefits to get buy, pay scales reduced from eight years to 2, 3 and 4 years for different groups and will provide a minimum of a 6.5 percent pay increase for staff and up to 29 percent for some low paid workers over a three year period.

“What we need now is to ensure that the share of the 4.2 billion cost will make its way to Northern Ireland and from Department of Finance through the department of Health to the Agenda for Change staff it was sent from Treasury for. It took us eleven months for us to get a one percent pay rise implemented last year. Our goal is to ensure neither the politicians or the civil servants block this deal being agreed and voted on by the membership in Northern Ireland. We will be engaging with employers and the department of Health on Monday to seek to progress this opportunity for health workers in Northern Ireland currently already the lowest paid workers across all four countries”, Mr McAdam said.

For further information and an interview contact Kevin McAdam, Regional Officer, tel. 07768 693941, or Donal O’Cofaigh, Unite Campaigns & Communications, tel. 07810 157926

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