Sectoral Employment Orders: Unite welcomes stay on High Court orders

Unite logo white out of red

Today’s decision maintains important protections for workers

Protective ballot underway

July 31st: Unite, which represents construction workers throughout Ireland, today (Friday) welcomed the decision by Mr Justice Simons to put a stay on the orders proposed in the recent High Court decision striking down the Electrical Sectoral Employment Order.  The Government has stated its intention to appeal the High Court decision.

Commenting, Unite Regional Officer Tom Fitzgerald said that today’s decision vindicated Unite’s call on June 24th for the decision to be stayed pending appeal.  Mr Fitzgerald also said that the union is currently conducting a protective ballot of members seeking a mandate for industrial action in the event of any employer seeking to reduce terms and conditions.

“Today’s decision maintains important and hard-won protections for workers throughout the construction sector.

“Notwithstanding this decision, however, Unite – together with other affiliate unions of the Congress Construction Industry Committee – will continue balloting our members for industrial action in the event that any employer seeks to use last month’s High Court decision as a pretext for reducing terms and conditions.  The ballot will conclude on August 31st.

“As we await the outcome of the State’s appeal to the Supreme Court, our members know that the surest safeguard of their terms and conditions is their industrial strength”, Tom Fitzgerald concluded.

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Campaigners call on Marks & Spencer to intervene over BA Betrayal

WHAT: BA Betrayal demonstration outside M&S

WHERE: Marks and Spencer, 48 Donegal Place, Belfast BT1 5BY

WHEN: 12.30pm, Friday July 31st 2020

Campaigners against British Airways’ plans to fire its workforce and rehire those that survive on inferior contracts are calling on the airline’s corporate partner Marks & Spencer to use its influence to urge BA to enter into sensible negotiations with Unite. 

The campaigners will hold a banner reading ‘British Airways – Stop Betraying Your Workers, outside Marks & Spencer in Belfast. They want Marks & Spencer which is a corporate partner of BA to put some pressure on the airline to change course. 

A recent poll of over 2000 people, including over 1219 BA passengers, conducted by Survation, revealed that the majority of those polled believe BA is wrong to terminate staff and re-employ them on reduced terms and conditions in the middle of a health crisis (70%).

69% of all those surveyed believed the government should review the UK’s current arrangements on landing slots compared to just 16% saying the government should not.

Sharon Graham Unite Executive Officer said “British Airways’ workers face an unprecedented attack on their jobs, pay and conditions in the middle of the worst health crisis in a century. Campaigners are calling on Marks & Spencer as a partner of BA to use its influence to urge BA to end its fire and rehire strategy and enter into sensible negotiations with Unite.

“Workers, MPs, celebrities and the public have condemned BA’s behaviour. The company is essentially creating a new and unrecognisable airline – it should not automatically have the right to control over half the landing and take-off slots at Heathrow.  BA needs to be made aware that its customers oppose the airline’s behaviour.”

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Shipyard workers’ successful occupation remains a shining example to workers facing assault on livelihoods, pay and terms and conditions

One year ago today, Harland & Wolff workers moved to occupy their workplace to defend jobs and skills, and secure a future for the shipyard

Workers occupy Harland & Wolff

Susan Fitzgerald, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer, speaking today said that the example of Harland & Wolff workers who this time last year occupied their shipyard to defend their industry can be an inspiration to other workers at a time of Covid onslaught to jobs, pay, T&Cs.

“One year ago workers at Harland & Wolff faced the immediate prospect of redundancy. The shipyard in which they worked faced closure and sell off as an industrial relic. They were told by politicians of all hues that there was no alternative but to accept their fate.

“Today workers are being asked to accept mass redundancies, attacks on pay and terms and conditions. While the current economic climate is unquestionably difficult; as a society we can’t stand and watch as whole sectors of the economy are wiped out. Thousands of workers face being pushed onto dole queues with their skills – critical for any future economic recovery – going on the scrapheap. We also need to resist those bosses who are seeking to exploit this opportunity to slash payroll costs through job losses, attacking workers’ pay and conditions – all the while that many big companies continue to sit on stockpiles of cash.

“Harland & Wolff workers rewrote the story book; they were no longer content to be the victims of the market – they sought to show that when you fight you can win. It is more vital than ever that workers take courage from their example and turn to their trade unions to build the fightback and defend themselves and secure a future for their industries and the generations of workers to come”, saidMs Fitzgerald.

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Unite Registered Childminders seek meeting with Education Minister Peter Weir over inadequate support payments

Department of Education’s enhanced financial package amounts to a mere £150 a month in July and August when Covid-19 restrictions impact operations

Susan Fitzgerald, Unite regional coordinating officer

Susan Fitzgerald, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer, challenged the Northern Ireland Executive on the inadequacy of supports provided to Registered Childminders at a time when pandemic restrictions are impacting revenues of operators across the sector. She confirmed that her union’s Registered Childminders branch was seeking urgent meetings with both Ministers for Education and Finance to discuss the situation.

“Registered Childminders and childcare workers continue to provide a vital service to working parents but do so under severe restrictions over the numbers of children and the number of households that they can accept children from. These restrictions are resulting in a sharp reduction in the income of childminders and there’s a particular need for government financial support to sustain the livelihoods of these self-employed workers.

“Unite the union is the collective representative body for Registered Childminders. Our Registered Childminders’ branch wrote to Minister Peter Weir weeks ago to request a meeting to discuss our concerns and suggest a system of financial compensation based on the actual reductions in enrolment incurred. Unfortunately, this request was rejected and instead the Department of Education has brought forward a financial package amounting to a bare £150 per month for July and August – when restrictions will apply.

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Collins Aerospace job losses blow highlights urgent need for Stormont Aerospace rescue plan

Management plans for 235 redundancies at Kilkeel site as Covid downturn impacts demand for aerospace production

Kieran Ellison Unite Regional Officer

Stormont must bring forward furlough extension to enable vital skills retention and enable upskilling for future growth

Kieran Ellison, Unite Regional Officer with responsibility for his union’s membership at Collins Aerospace in Kilkeel, confirmed that his union had been informed by management of proposals to make up to a quarter of the workforce at the site redundant.

“Collins Aerospace are proposing to make 235 redundancies in their workforce of 948 – almost a quarter of the total directly employed.

“This news will be devastating for the Collins Aerospace workforce and the local community in and around Kilkeel. Job losses at this scale will be a hammer blow to the local economy and will mean uncertainty for many other workers and small businesses dependent on these jobs for a livelihood.

“This is only the latest in a series of severe jobs blows to Northern Ireland’s Aerospace sector. Unite is estimating that the Kilkeel job losses will cost the local economy £10 million a year.

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