Unite launches hotline and campaign to get a ‘new deal’ for Amazon workers in Northern Ireland

Sharon Graham, Unite Executive Officer

Unite the Union, has opened a confidential whistle-blowing hotline for Amazon workers in Northern Ireland.

The union has begun a national newspaper and digital Facebook advertising campaign to alert Amazon workers that they can blow the whistle and expose poor treatment free from reprisals by calling 08000 141 461 or visiting the hotline. The union is advertising in newspapers and online across the UK and Ireland including in the Belfast Telegraph

The hotline coincides with the launch of the campaign alliance ‘Action on Amazon’ that is demanding a ‘new deal’ for Amazon workers, including a union and a greater share of the firm’s enormous profits. Belfast is home to a major Amazon fulfilment centre located in Channel Business Park. Today (Wednesday 31 March) campaigners will also unfurl a giant banner at that Amazon centre to mark the launch of the nationwide campaign as part of a series of regional launches.

Against a backdrop of reports of poor working conditions, Amazon workers have been essential during the Covid crisis. The company increased its permanent workforce by one third (10,000) in 2020 as well as taking on 20,000 additional seasonal staff. The company almost doubled its profit in 2020 compared to 2019 and Jeff Bezos is now ranked the world’s richest man.

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Kingspan’s Springvale EPS site at Ballyclare, Antrim to close with loss of 23 jobs

Unite Regional Officer, Kevin McAdam

Site is still profitable but management’s attitude is ‘to hell with the small group of staff’ who operate it

Closure comes as Kingspan proceeds with euro 255 purchase of a leading insulation company in Denmark

Springvale EPS Ltd, a subsection of the hugely successful Kingspan group, has announced the closure of its plant outside of Ballyclare in Co. Antrim with the loss of 23 jobs. Consultation had been ongoing with Unite the Union as the union attempted to save jobs at the expanded polystyrene manufacturer

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Welcome for announced state investment to expand Wrightbus production of hydrogen-powered buses

Expanded production at Ballymena bus builder comes only two years after workers had to mobilise to keep doors open

George Brash, Unite Regional Officer

Success for Northern Ireland manufacturing confirms vital capacity of sector to build a greener and cleaner economy 

Unite Regional Officer, George Brash, welcomed today’s announcement that Wrightbus in Ballymena would be one of three beneficiaries for state funding to produce hydrogen-powered buses.

Today’s announcement is a vote of confidence in the skills of this workforce and indeed that of manufacturing workers in Northern Ireland. Wrightbus will receive £11.2 million under the Westminster government’s ‘Build back better’ plans to build next generation hydrogen-powered buses. 

“It’s a moment to recall the fight of the Wrightbus workforce two years ago when they were forced to mobilise to keep the doors of this factory open. Without that successful campaign we wouldn’t be in this position today. The company has recently launched another recruitment drive bringing the workforce to one thousand with the stated aim of employing a further three thousand over the coming decade.

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Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots must clarify whether his decision to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) is a conflict of interest

Agriculture Minister Poots, a member of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, called out on Ministerial Code of Conduct over his decision to deliver on longstanding UFU priority

Sean McKeever, Unite Regional Officer

Union warns that abolition of AWB will give green light to employers exploiting highly vulnerable agricultural workers, many of whom are migrant workers

Unite Regional Officer, Sean McKeever, explained that at a meeting of the body at the end of last week his union had called on the Minister for Agriculture Edwin Poots, a member of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, to clarify whether his proposal to proceed with the abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board in Northern Ireland was not a breach of the Ministerial Code of conduct.

“At last Friday’s meeting of the Agricultural Wages Board representatives of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, who sit on the body and represent the employers’ side, once again confirmed their longstanding demand for the body’s abolition. The representative of Unite the union responded by questioning how Agriculture Minister Edwin Poot’s decision to abolish the body was not therefore a potential conflict of interest – given his membership of the UFU. Mr Poots must now explain how his intervention on this matter is not a breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

“The Agricultural Wages Board has existed in one form or another since 1939 and has been recognised as playing a vital role by governments of every persuasion since that time. Despite the closure of this body by the Tories in England, regional governments in Wales and Scotland see the need for its retention in those nations – why not here in Northern Ireland?

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Unite warns of impending crisis in driver education

Warning follows revelation of RSA plan for massive increase in Driver Theory Testing

Union writes to Minister highlighting capacity issues and seeking urgent consultation

Trade union Unite, which represents Approved Driving Instructors throughout Ireland, has today (Friday) warned of an impending crisis in driver education following this week’s announcement that the Road Safety Authority intends increasing the capacity of the driver theory test system to 50,000 applicants per month.  The union has written to Transport Minister Eamon Ryan highlighting the absence of a plan for delivering the resulting 600,000 mandatory lessons and seeking urgent consultation with the Department and the RSA.

Commenting, Unite Regional Officer Jean O’Dowd said:

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