Mental Health Awareness week: employers must make reasonable adjustments and accommodate those caring for people with mental health illness

unite-white-out-of-redUnpredictability of mental health problems leaves parents and carers needing employment flexibility at times of crisis

Latest statistics show increasing numbers of children being referred to Mental Health specialists

May 14th: Unite Equality Officer, Taryn Trainor, called on employers to adopt specific provisions for employees who had caring responsibilities for someone with mental health illness.

“A parent, guardian or carer for someone, especially a child, with mental health illness can be faced with acute periods of stress or pressure as a result of the unpredictable demands made as a result of the condition. It is vital that employers ensure that their policies make special provision for such circumstances and offer the flexibility that the worker needs at such times.

“This is an increasingly prevalent situation. Today statistics released for England show a spike of at least one third in the numbers of children aged eleven and less who are being referred to mental health support services in the last five years. The situation in Northern Ireland is known to be the same – except the impact of austerity cuts on the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) means that children referred for support are often ‘bounced back’ or face extended delays in receiving treatment or intervention. Continue reading

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Parties urged to amend forthcoming pensions legislation to protect healthy DB schemes

unite-white-out-of-redCall comes as Irish Life seeks to close staff DB scheme

Union warns 100,000 people vulnerable to unilateral DB scheme closures

May 14th: Unite, which represents workers in pensions giant Irish Life, today called on all political parties to cooperate to amend forthcoming legislation to ensure that healthy Defined Benefit pension schemes are protected from unilateral closure.  Unite’s call comes as pensions giant Irish Life is just weeks away from closing its staff DB pension scheme without the union’s agreement.  Pointing out that there are currently around 100,000 active members in Defined Benefit schemes, Unite Regional Secretary Jackie Pollock warned that the unilateral closure of Irish Life’s DB scheme would send a worrying message to workers:

Continue reading

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Mental Health Awareness week: employers need to recognise their responsibility for workers’ mental health

Jackie PollockOne in five Northern Ireland workers suffer some form of mental health problem – 25% more than in England

Unite to seek adoption of Equality Commission’s Mental Health Charter as part of all future Northern Ireland workplace pay claims

May 13th: Unite Regional Secretary in Ireland, Jackie Pollock, used the start of Mental Health Awareness week to launch his union’s demand that bosses sign up to the Mental Health Charter as a part of all future pay claims.

“Mental health is an issue that can affect any one of us. Unfortunately, the evidence is that in today’s ever more pressurised and socially atomised world, there has been a rapid growth in the numbers afflicted by mental health difficulties. It is estimated that at least one in five in Northern Ireland suffer some form of mental health problem. That is approximately 25% higher than the figure in England.

“More women suffer from mental health problems, with the proportion suffering from difficulties peaking in the mid-working life decades, particularly from 45-54, although younger men aged between 25-34 are almost as likely to suffer from difficulties. Suicide rates, often associated with mental health difficulties, are highest among young, single men of working-age.

“This is an issue of huge significance for trade unions as it affects our members disproportionately. Continue reading

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Ambitious long-term strategy needed to sustain shipbuilding capacity and legacy at Belfast shipyard

unite-white-out-of-red

UK government trawling the globe looking for bargain basement bids, no doubt paying bargain basement wages

May 11th: Susan Fitzgerald, Unite Regional Officer for workers at Harland & Wolff demanded that the UK government ensure that the one billion procurement budget for three new fleet auxiliary vessels go to sustain the future of UK shipbuilding, in particular that at Belfast.

 “One hundred years ago Belfast was one of very biggest and best shipbuilding centres anywhere in the world and the skills of workers here were in high demand. Unfortunately today those employed at the shipyard survive on sporadic contracts for their jobs. Wages have stagnated for years and workers are angry and fearful that without an urgent intervention their jobs and indeed the future of the ship yard hang in the balance.

“The industry lacks any clear long-term strategy for growth. For decades, consecutive governments both in Westminster and in Stormont have shown little to no ambition or interest for our ship building sector yet the skills base and commitment of workers here is second-to-none. It is vital that government now gets serious about securing a future for shipbuilding in Belfast and backs that up with real investment. Continue reading

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Bargaining for Progress: presentations to seminar on collective bargaining

unite-white-out-of-redUnite held a seminar on collective bargaining – Bargaining for Progress – in Dublin on May 10th.  Click here to download the presentation given by Congress General Secretary Patricia King.

A presentation focused on the 2015 Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act given by Dr Tom Turner of the University of Limerick is available here.  Professor Roland Erne of UCD looked at wage bargaining in Europe following the crisis, and his presentation is available here.  Click here to download the presentation given by Paul MacFlynn of the Nevin Economic Research Institute outlining the wider economic benefits of collective bargaining.

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