Northern Ireland industry can compete and win globally but needs real ambition from our political representatives

unite-conference-27Packed conference hears united voice of trade unions and employers calling for real action as part of an Industrial Strategy for Northern Ireland

Conference speakers include Howard Beckett, Assistant General Secretary of Unite; Dave Anderson MP, Shadow Secretary of State for NI; Stephen Kelly, CEO, Manufacturing NI; and Michael Ryan, Vice-President, Bombardier.

January 30th: Speaking after a well-attended conference organised by his union, Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly called on politicians to adopt a proactive strategic approach to support Northern Ireland’s high-end Manufacturing:

“Unite joined with Manufacturing NI, who represent employers in the sector, to challenge our politicians to make real their commitment to an Industrial Strategy for Northern Ireland.

“We need action on skills, on vital infrastructure, on lowering energy costs, on developing sub-supply chain and on maintaining market access. The draft economy-wide ‘Industrial’ Strategy, Economy 2030, only launched days ago by the Minister, before our conference, include no real actions and is much to vague. We need SMART objectives (Specific, Measureable, Achieveable, Realistic and Time-Bound) to really deliver what’s needed.

“Today’s event was only the latest in our ongoing campaign on this issue. We will continue to campaign alongside Manufacturing NI, and engage with whoever is elected on March 2nd. The needs of this vital economic sector will continue to be our priority”, Mr Kelly concluded.

A range of speakers provided informative presentations on the state of Northern Ireland’s high-end Manufacturing, the challenges of Brexit and UK Industrial Policy. Deputy Regional Secretary, Jackie Pollock commenced with an outline of the union’s new publication giving detail on the Joint Proposals, with Manufacturing NI, for an Industrial Strategy.

All political parties were invited to participate on a panel discussion on the subject. Speaking during the afternoon session were Alex Maskey, Sinn Féin; Claire Hanna, SDLP; and Steve Aiken, UUP. They were joined by Davy Thompson, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer and Michael Ryan, Vice-President and General Manager, Bombardier.

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1 Response to Northern Ireland industry can compete and win globally but needs real ambition from our political representatives

  1. This highlights this government’s notion that putting all their eggs in one basket by lowering corp tax is their only real answer and grossly limited as it will only serve to bring low-paid unskilled labour to NI. Probably why the Industrial Strategy for Northern Ireland report is so vague and, rightly pointed by Jimmy Kelly, it has no substantial or measurable objectives in it.
    We need investment in skills first and foremost and my ideas of bringing back Industrial Youth Training Schemes, re-training schemes for long-term unemployed as well as the rethink agenda of having a living grant for university students could go a long way to improving the obvious skills deficit we see in NI now.
    As pointed out, of course, we need investment in infrastructure in NI to handle new industries. I read recently there has been a sharp rise in car sales, recently, in NI. Maybe we could look at bringing car manufacturing to NI perhaps even bring on design and development of new cars and, who knows, maybe we could see N.Ireland designed and manufactured cars selling in Europe. Much work to develop that but it is not unimaginable.
    However developing any industrial strategy will be almost impossible until the Government can stop dithering with Article50 so we know what economic shape we will be in and what kind of trade relations we have with the EU.

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