Unite healthcare workers to join action on March 13th over pay dispute
Unite Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly, congratulated his union’s members on their determination to defend public services against the Stormont Austerity budget and urged the public to demonstrate their support for public services.
“Our members have delivered a strong vote for action to defeat the Westminster-Stormont austerity agenda. The devastating budget for 2015-2016 follows four previous austerity budgets and will deliver the most severe cuts experienced in Northern Ireland in eighty years. Without standing up to this, we can expect another four years of even more punishing austerity budgets. The scale of these cuts will decimate our public health, education and transport services all of which are already pushed to breaking point.
“Just two days ago, we heard the Chief Executive of Translink, responsible for all bus and rail services in Northern Ireland, warning that the company would collapse if these cuts were to continue. Workers are saying enough is enough!
“There can be no justification for these brutal cuts at a time when the Assembly parties are united in seeking tax varying powers to make NI a global tax haven. The very lowest estimates suggest that this will force more than £325 million in even deeper cuts to public services funding.
“Public sector workers and those dependent on public services cannot be expected to pay the price for a policy to facilitate a global tax-dodging corporate elite. The trade union movement will not stand idly by as the public services and social protections won by previous generations are dismantled and destroyed.
“What is worse is that this policy is self-evidently wrong. Study after study has shown that large investors are attracted more by labour force skills and education, by the quality of infrastructural provision and public services than by corporate tax giveaways. Yet these are the very things which will be devastated by the Executive’s policy of brutal austerity cuts.
“Cutting public services to the bone will not deliver growth – it will only further reduce demand in the economy and kill-off the green shoots of growth. Instead of policies which seek to make the most vulnerable pay for a crisis they didn’t cause, Unite is calling for a growth strategy underpinned by public-investment investment and strong public services. We want to rebalance our economy through growth not through austerity.
“The one-day strike action being taken by our members on March 13th is only the first day in the wider fightback for this alternative vision – we are already looking at a second date for strike action in advance of the General Election. I urge members of the public to show their support for workers striking to defend funding for hospital wards, schools, bus and rail services, roads maintenance and further and higher education”, Mr Kelly concluded.