NI Housing Executive bosses must show respect to workers and tenants and clear their diaries to engage in negotiations to end housing worker strike

Responding to the media appearance of NIHE Chief Executive Grainia Long on regional radio this morning where she failed to touch upon the profound crisis facing social housing tenants, Unite the union has challenged NIHE management on their inaction.

Press reports confirm that in excess of 3,600 tenants have been left needing repairs and improvements to clear drains, improve draughty windows or upgrade heating. In addition to this Unite the union has been informed that 270 disabled tenants haven’t got the essential adaptions they need and almost 300 desperately needed social housing units lie empty as the change of occupancy work has not been done.

The crisis arises from the sudden withdrawal of eleven private sector operators from outsourced maintenance contracts at a time when direct labour organisation workers are into their thirteenth week of strike action for a cost of living increase.

Unite Regional Officer Michael Keenan commented:

“For our part, Unite has sought to negotiate a resolution to the pay dispute through inviting the NIHE management to Labour Relations Agency mediated negotiations.

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Domestic violence leave:  Government proposals fail workers, victims

Unite urges provision of 10 days’ paid domestic violence leave

November 8th: Unite, which represents women workers throughout the economy, today (Tuesday) expressed disappointment at the Government’s decision to provide for just five days of paid domestic violence leave.  The Government’s proposals are contained in amendments to the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022, which is being considered by the Select Committee on Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth today.

Commenting, Unite Regional Women’s and Equalities Officer Taryn Trainor said:

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Housing Executive board inaction in face of withdrawal of private contractors and ongoing housing workers strike is exacerbating social housing crisis

4,000 tenants left without needed housing improvements and almost 400 houses left empty as a result

Unite the union welcomes the offer by newly appointed chair of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive Nicole Lappin to engage directly with the trade union. Ms Lappin spoke to striking workers in Craigavon today. Workers are on the thirteenth week of strike action seeking to win a cost of living pay increase.

There is a backlog of almost 4,000 repairs and improvements needed by social housing tenants after eleven private-sector maintenance contractors withdrew from outsourced contracts while contracts delivered in-house by the Housing Executive’s Direct Labour Organisation have been highly impacted by the current strike action. Almost 400 disabled tenants are awaiting needed adaptions and approximately 400 further housing units are unoccupied as the needed ‘change of occupancy’ work has not been conducted.

Unite General Secretary pledged national union support in the battle:

“Our members are determined to secure a cost-of-living increase and will stand out all winter to win if need be. NIHE must provide a cost of living pay increase and end the suffering of both workers and tenants.”

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Unite statement on Ulster Carpets

On 18 November 2021 Unite published online and disseminated to the media a statement concerning Ulster Carpets, which contained untrue allegations about the Managing Director of Ulster Carpets, Nick Coburn CBE.

Unite accept that these allegations have no basis in fact, and that the statement contained errors such that it should never have been published. Unite unreservedly withdraws the allegations, and apologises to Mr. Coburn.

Unite has also agreed to make a donation to a charity of Mr. Coburn’s choosing, and to the legal costs incurred by Mr. Coburn, in order to draw a line under this matter.

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Unions launch ‘Keep Water Public’ campaign calling for referendum on public water services

October 27th: A coalition of trade unions today launched the ‘Keep Water Public’ campaign, which calls on the Government to confirm a date for a constitutional referendum on the public ownership of water services. The campaign is supported by SIPTU, Fórsa, Unite, Connect and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

ICTU president and Fórsa general secretary, Kevin Callinan, said the campaign to name the date for a referendum represented a shared commitment by trade unions to ensure the future of public ownership of water services: “It’s time now to end any lingering uncertainty about the future of water services in Ireland. A referendum would give people the opportunity to have their say, in addition to providing us all with a unique opportunity to safeguard public ownership of water for future generations. In that sense, there should be no further hesitation, and we are urging the Government now to name the date. In doing so, it would be taking a welcome and positive step.”

John King, SIPTU Deputy General Secretary said: “Union members have been fighting for years to make sure that water services are delivered for the public good and not private profit. We now need the Government to live up to its commitments and name the date for the referendum.”

Unite Regional Officer Ed Thompson added: “At recent meetings, our members involved in the delivery of water services have mandated Unite to campaign with other unions for the Government to ‘Name the Date’.  The demand for a referendum enshrining public ownership and management of our water in the Constitution is long-standing Unite policy. The Government now needs to follow through on its commitments and set a firm date for the referendum.  This issue cannot be kicked down the road any further”.

Annette Donlon, SIPTU Local Authority Shop Steward said: “The public wants a guarantee that public water services are delivered for the public good and not for private profit. We are asking them to show their support by getting involved with the campaign and by signing the petition we are circulating to ‘Keep Water Public’.

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