Welcome commitment made to Belfast Shipyard workers by leader of Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn

unite-white-out-of-redLocal workforce representatives accompany Labour party leader around iconic Harland & Wolff shipyard

Labour party backs one billion naval procurement budget going to UK shipyards including Belfast to sustain shipbuilding industry

May 25th: Senior regional Unite officials, Jackie Pollock Regional Secretary and Susan Fitzgerald Regional Coordinating Officer, as well as local shop stewards accompany leader of opposition Jeremy Corbyn MP and Shadow Secretary of State, Tony Lloyd MP in tour of Belfast ship yard.

Speaking after the visit, Unite Regional Secretary Jackie Pollock welcomed the commitment of the leader of the Labour party to the Belfast workforce and called on the UK government to ensure one billion spend for Royal Navy Fleet Support Vessels is allocated to UK shipbuilders.

“For more than one hundred years, Belfast shipyard was a world leader in the industry and produced some of the most iconic vessels in maritime history. Unfortunately over the past decades the decline of British shipbuilding and the failure of consecutive governments to adopt a proactive approach to growing this industry have left our shipbuilding industry as a faint shadow of its former glory.

“It is vital that the British government bring forward a long-term strategy to secure and grow shipbuilding – Belfast must be an integral part of those plans going forward. We cannot afford to be left behind or left out of that future.

“The one billion pounds of public money that will be spent on the construction of three fleet support ships for the Royal Navy offers a huge opportunity for all our shipyards – with Belfast well positioned in particular to deliver this work. Such an outcome would not just safeguard the existing jobs at Harland & Wolff but support a very substantial expansion in local employment. Tied with the substantial public investment in renewables which forms a central plank of Labour’s economic policy, it would offer a platform from which the UK could successfully relaunch our port-side industries.

“Taken against this backdrop, the refusal of the Ministry of Defence to exclude this tender international competition is disgraceful. Their insistence that naval fleet support ships with gun placements and military staffing are not military flies in the face of the practice by virtually every one of our European partners and means that as a non-military vessel it is subject to strict competition rules. By extension retaining this work in the UK will provide substantial demand for British steel – safeguarding thousands more jobs in the wider steel industry.

“Unite welcomes the commitment reiterated by Jeremy Corbyn while he visited Harland & Wolff that these contracts to be allocated to UK ports including Belfast. We are now calling on the UK government, as well as all the local political parties, to step up to the plate and adopt a proactive approach to securing these contracts and a future for workers in Belfast and other UK ports”, Mr Pollock said.

Unite Regional Coordinating Officer, Susan Fitzgerald stated:

“Shipyard workers in Belfast continue to offer world-class skills and commitment, the repair dock here is the largest on these islands. If these ships are built in UK shipyards, it offers the opportunity not just to safeguard Harland & Wolff into the future but to create thousands of jobs and apprenticeships across the UK.

“Lack of continuity of contracts at the shipyard has meant that no new apprentices have walked across the threshold in years – we want to change that. Alongside our colleagues in shipyards across the UK, Unite in Belfast is launching a fight to secure work for our members with the aim of guaranteeing a future of secure well-paid, directly employed jobs and apprenticeships”.

Posted in Manufacturing, Northern Ireland news, Press Releases | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Universal Credit causing misery and hardship for families in Northern Ireland

unite-white-out-of-red

Northern Ireland households claiming the new all-in-one benefit, Universal Credit are being plunged into misery and hardship

Westminster government must stop the roll out of Universal Credit before even more families are forced into poverty

23rd May: As part of a UK-wide Day of Action, Unite Community members and campaigners will be demonstrating from 3-4pm in SSA Headquarters in Belfast City Centre at Castle Court, Royal Avenue tomorrow [Thursday 24th May] to demand the roll out of Universal Credit be stopped by the Westminster government.

As well as the long waits for payment, other problems with Universal credit include the complex on-line-only application process and the level of benefit sanctions for people claiming Universal Credit being much higher than for other benefits due to reasons such as the difficulties people have in dealing with the complexity of the system and that many people claiming this on-line benefit don’t have access to the internet at home thereby missing job centre appointments and instructions they don’t hear about in time.

In areas of the UK where Universal Credit has been rolled out already food-banks have seen a 50 per cent increase in use compared with 13 per cent increase in areas with the old legacy benefits. ‘Left Behind’, a report into the impact of Universal Credit by the Trussell Trust, has found that 92 per cent of people claiming the all-in one benefit said that it doesn’t cover their full cost of living, and 57 per cent have experienced mental or physical health problems.

Albert Hewitt, Unite Regional Community Coordinator said:

“Universal Credit was introduced to Northern Ireland after the outgoing Executive voted to hand back powers over social welfare to the UK parliament enabling the Tory party to unleash the full impact of this brutal assault on working people – now working communities are facing the dreadful consequences of this policy.

“Despite knowing that Universal Credit causes serious problems for those claiming it, Westminster is ploughing ahead regardless while claimants are descending further into debt, relying on food banks and getting into rent arrears and in many cases are being evicted from their homes.

“In order to claim Universal Credit claimants need an internet connection which many simply can’t afford – when things go wrong claimants are being left to fend for themselves. The new regime also forces working people to go long waits before receiving money and new system will impose brutal benefit sanctions both for those claiming while in and out of work.

“The mitigations which were supposedly negotiated for Northern Ireland have been proven to be useless – Universal Credit must now be stopped. That’s why we are protesting as part of a UK-wide day of action against the benefit at SSA headquarters in Belfast tomorrow”, Mr Hewitt said.

Posted in Benefits Reform, Northern Ireland news, Press Releases, Unite in the Community | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unite members to be balloted on strike action over sacking of injured Health & Safety rep at Encirc

unite-white-out-of-redSupport offered for solidarity protest called by Fermanagh Council of Trade Unions in defence of Encirc workers this Saturday [19th May] 11am at Encirc factory gates

Two workers had their arms crushed working with same piece of equipment – the first of whom has been dismissed by Encirc management due to his inability to work

May 17th: Unite Regional Officer, Michael Keenan, urged trade unionists to support the rally called by Fermanagh Council of Trade Unions to protest the sacking of a Unite Health & Safety rep who was injured at work only five months previously.

“Unite had hoped that new owners, Vidrala, would adopt a more progressive attitude to its workforce than that previously at the workplace; unfortunately today’s action by the bosses demonstrates the utter contempt in which they hold their employees.

“A number of workers have suffered injury at Encirc in the last six months – all with the same piece of equipment.

“The circumstances of the injury suffered by the worker who was dismissed today speak for themselves. When our convenor at the site had his arm seized and crushed by a piece of machinery, our Health & Safety rep who works on the line raced to his aid, staying with him until he was placed on an ambulance. Later on the same day the Health & Safety rep himself had to be rushed to A&E after having his arm crushed in the very same way with the same equipment.

“Both men were mechanically assaulted at their place of work through no fault of their own. Both men were lucky to have not lost limbs in the accident but now five months later both men’s employment is threatened over their inability to work as a result.

“Unite has raised a range of health and safety concerns at a workplace – in coming days and weeks we will be redoubling our efforts to bring basic levels of health and safety and respect for workers to this corner of Northern Ireland.

“We urge trade unionists to support Fermanagh trade’s council’s solidarity protest this Saturday at the factory gates. For our part, Unite is now launching a consultative ballot by text of our members while we take the steps for a formal ballot on strike action. An injury to one is an injury to all – we will not rest until we secure justice for this workplace rep”, Mr Keenan said.

 

Posted in Manufacturing, Northern Ireland news, Press Releases | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SONI must withdraw threat to Kilroot workforce given implications of High Court ruling for North-South Energy Interconnector

unite-white-out-of-redDecision by High Court to block progress of ARC21 incinerator calls into question likelihood of second energy interconnector

High Court Interconnector threat is only latest blow to SONI’s decision to withdraw contract to AES Kilroot and Ballylumford B with loss of 270 local jobs

May 15th: Unite Regional Officer for the energy sector, Joanne McWilliams, called on the System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI) to review its determination on the first all-Ireland electrical supply auction in light of the implications of yesterday’s High Court judgement against the ARC21 incinerator in Hightown.

“SONI’s decision to exclude Kilroot and the Ballylumford B Generator from the all-Ireland Integrated Single Electricity Market (ISEM) market will result in approximately 270 job-losses and will eliminate 36% of Northern Ireland’s domestic electrical generating capacity.

“Unite has repeatedly raised concerns in regard to the fact that this decision will leave Northern Ireland’s electricity system hugely reliant on a north-south interconnector which has yet to be built, a Moyle interconnector which is highly sporadic in its operation and totally dependent on external gas supply at a time of mounting geo-political insecurity. Continue reading

Posted in Northern Ireland news, Press Releases, Public Services | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bosses must remove threat to Moy Park workforce shift premiums to avoid strike ballot

unite-white-out-of-redDeep resentment felt over bosses’ attempts to squeeze $50 million ‘savings’ out of Moy Park workers for new owners Pilgrim’s Pride

Moy Park struggling to sustain production as more than one thousand leave employment in last six months

May 15th: Unite Regional Officer for the agri-food sector in Northern Ireland, Sean McKeever, indicated that there was widespread resentment simmering among the Moy Park workforce over recent management behaviour.

“Three thousand workers at Moy Park’s Craigavon and Dungannon sites are members of Unite and there is a genuine risk of industrial action in the next month. These two facilities supply the bulk of chickens for the UK market including all the chickens sold by M&S and Waitrose, and large proportions of those sold across Tescos, Sainsburys and Lidl.

“Relations between the workforce and management have steadily deteriorated since June of last year when Moy Park was sold by owners, and one of the largest meat-packing companies in the world, JBS, to a company in which they are a majority shareholder, Pilgrim’s Pride of the USA. Continue reading

Posted in Campaign for Decent Pay, Living Wage, Manufacturing, Northern Ireland news, Press Releases | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment