CIF accused of transparent attempt to divide workers

unite-white-out-of-redCrane operators will not be diverted from legitimate demands 

Resolution of dispute in employers’ hands

August 17th: Unite, which represents over 90% of crane operators in Ireland, today  accused the Construction Industry Federation of a “transparent attempt to pit worker against worker” following what the union termed an “orchestrated campaign” by CIF members threatening workers with protective notice citing the ongoing crane dispute.  Pointing out that the CIF withdrew from a Workplace Relations Commission process in June, the union reiterated its call for the CIF to engage meaningfully with workers in an effort to resolve the dispute.

Commenting, Unite Regional Officer Tom Fitzgerald said:

“The decision by certain construction companies to threaten workers with protective notice today, citing the ongoing crane dispute, is a transparent attempt to pit worker against worker.

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Latest household income stats confirm work failing to lift workers out of poverty

Unite 001462% of all Northern Ireland adults in poverty in 2015-16 were living in working households

Marginal increase in total incomes in Northern Ireland leaves households lagging far behind rest of UK

Jackie Pollock, Deputy Regional Secretary for Unite, said that figures released today on Household Incomes in Northern Ireland for the 2015-2016 tax-year confirmed the region needs a pay rise.

“These statistics show that while Northern Ireland’s total household incomes have increased marginally over the year to 2015-2016, this increase has largely been confined to the very lowest levels of income – driven by the government’s raising the minimum legal threshold for wages.

“Despite this small increase, household incomes here continue to lag behind those in the rest of the UK. What’s even more concerning is that there has been a sharp spike in the proportion of adults in poverty who live in working households. In 2015-2016, 62% of adults in poverty were in working households – a jump of 10% over the previous year. Continue reading

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CIF failing members as crane strike continues

unite-white-out-of-redUnite repeats call on construction body to engage ‘meaningfully and collectively’

August 17th:  Unite, which represents over 90% of crane drivers in Ireland, today accused the CIF of “failing its members” as the construction body continues its policy of non-engagement with the union.  The statement came as crane operators engage in two more days of nationwide strike action today and tomorrow, which will again see pickets being placed on key Dublin sites.

In a statement this morning, the union said:

“The WRC has stated that it remains available to assist in resolving this dispute, and Unite has repeatedly called on the CIF to engage with us on the legitimate pay demands of crane operators.

“Instead, construction firms throughout Ireland are being failed by their representative body which withdrew from the WRC process in June, forcing Unite members into official industrial action against CIF members, and which continues to maintain a hands-off approach while its members’ sites lie idle.

“Unite will continue pursuing our members’ interests.  The time has come for construction companies to demand that the CIF do likewise, and engage meaningfully and collectively with us to vindicate its members interests and the interests of the construction sector as a whole”, the statement concluded.

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Public sector agreement: Unite representatives overwhelmingly recommend rejection

unite-white-out-of-redAugust 16th: Unite public sector representatives met this morning to discuss the proposed Public Sector Stability Agreement.  The meeting followed several weeks of workplace consultation with members.

At the meeting, public sector representatives voted overwhelmingly to recommend rejection of the proposed agreement.  Balloting will commence on Monday August 21st, and will conclude at noon on Friday September 8th.

Unite will cast its votes in accordance with the outcome of the ballot when the ICTU Public Services Committee meets on September 18th to conduct the aggregate ballot. Today’s meeting decided that Unite will be bound by the results of that aggregate ballot.

Speaking after the meeting, Unite Regional Co-Ordinating Officer Richie Browne said:

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Brexit band-aid will not secure jobs, living standards

unite-white-out-of-redUnite highlights impact of prolonged uncertainty on economy and workers

Robust interventions needed North and South to foster confidence, protect jobs

August 16th: In an initial response today (Wednesday) to the UK government’s paper proposing steps to mitigate the impact of Brexit on the island of Ireland, trade union Unite said there is little in the proposals to reassure working people in Northern Ireland and the Republic who are concerned about their living standards, and called for “robust interventions” to cushion both economies.

Commenting, Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly said:

“The proposals published today offer at best a temporary band-aid for the consequences of the UK’s decision to leave the EU customs union – there is little here to reassure workers, businesses or potential investors on the island of Ireland. ICTU_Tue_0876

“The Tory administration restates its intent to avoid a hard border, but their proposals to do that involve establishing an interim ’shadow’ customs union with all the benefits of being both within and outside the union. Given that one of the key Brexit benefits claimed by the London government is the opportunity to pursue ‘free trade agreements’ with non-EU countries outside the current customs union, it is unclear how this would avoid the immediate need for a hard border to monitor the movement of such goods after March 2019. In attempting to have their cake and eat it, the Tory government is in danger of creating an ‘Alice in Brexitland’ scenario.

“The proposals published today will only prolong the uncertainty that is inhibiting investment and casting a shadow over the economies on both sides of the border.  What is needed now is for confidence-building measures focused on jobs and living standards to be delivered in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to counter that uncertainty”, Jimmy Kelly said.

Deputy Regional Secretary Jackie Pollock added:

“Workers are being asked to pay the price for the Tories’ Hard Brexit agenda. The reality is that tariffs and trade controls will be to the detriment of the economies of both parts of this island. Without government intervention, this will mean the threat of joblessness, wage deflation, and damage to the border economy and sectors such as agri-food which are highly vulnerable to the threat of import duties and tariffs.

Unite 008“It is now up to politicians in Northern Ireland and the Republic to secure measures which increase confidence and cushion the impact of today’s proposals.  These include raising the wage floor, tackling precarious employment practices, and extending collective bargaining rights as well as deepening sectoral collective bargaining structures.  At the same time we need to raise the social wage in both jurisdictions, while also clamping down on tax avoidance and evasion”, Mr Pollock said.

Jimmy Kelly concluded: “Instead of offering band-aid solutions to the issues raised by Brexit which are at best temporary, we need governments to focus on the day-to-day realities of people’s lives post-Brexit – whether that’s in London, Dublin or in Belfast. While we welcome the apparent commitment to continue the Common Travel Area between Britain and Ireland, now the rights of all citizens lawfully living in the UK must be guaranteed, as must the rights of tens of thousands of cross-border workers on the island of Ireland.

“The Tories are obviously satisfying their appetite for leaving the EU while not having a clue about the effects of leaving on workers in any part of the UK. Certainly now we see their ignorance of the consequences for workers here in Ireland”.

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