March 23: Unite’s Regional Officer with responsibility for DARD employees, Gareth Scott warned about the impact of the decision of Greenmount college management to close their training department at the cost of twenty full-time jobs due to austerity pressures.
“This is yet another blow to the rural economy – the courses provided by Greenmount are needed if our agricultural sector is to remain competitive and safe into the future. While it is unclear how the announced job losses will affect Unite’s members in the rural college, we are particularly concerned at the likelihood of compulsory redundancies.
“These cuts are yet another false economy. Agricultural production is one of the pillars of our economy. It is vital sector in rural communities who are already under huge pressure from a rural economy that is now six years in economic depression. The loss of this training for farmers will undermine health and safety and also the application of modern techniques in a vital local industry.
“We are particularly concerned about suggestions that this training provision might be privatised. The experience of privatisation elsewhere is that it inevitably costs more as profit-driven providers ensure a return for their investors. Unite is fully in solidarity with the Ulster Farmers Union who are standing up for rural producers and communities and who have raised their own strong concerns about this proposal.
“Yet again, this announcement brings home the self-defeating nature of the brutal austerity agenda. In order to fund a mindless reduction in corporation tax, Stormont Ministers are implementing devastating cuts to the very public services that could underpin future economic growth.”