ABC council vote to outsource Craigavon leisure threatens community access to leisure services

Gareth ScottExperience of outsourcing of leisure services in Belfast City Council has been higher prices, reduced staffing and user access

Unite the union vows to make demand for leisure services to stay in-house central to upcoming local elections

February 12th: Workers at leisure centres operated by the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council learnt with dismay today of the decision by the council’s Leisure sub-committee to vote in favour of establishing a CoCo model allowing the outsourcing of the local authority’s leisure services.

Speaking on behalf of his union’s members in the council, Gareth Scott, Regional Officer for Unite challenged the benefit that outsourcing would offer and pledged the unions to back their members’ campaign to keep leisure services in-house.

“Unite the union workplace reps have sought to engage positively with ABC council management in the process of replacing three existing leisure centres – in Craigavon, Lurgan and Portadown – with a single one in Craigavon. Workers have raised a range of revenue-raising proposals including new activities and courses for the new facility. Last night’s decision in which members of the Ulster Unionist Party joined with the Democratic Unionist Party in voting against the unions’ preferred option which to keep leisure services in-house.  Continue reading

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Unite urges Irish Archaeological Consultancy to accept Labour Court recommendation

unite-white-out-of-redCourt recommends that company recognise union

Unite, which represents archaeologists working for the Irish Archaeological Consultancy, has called on the company to implement the Labour Court’s recommendation that IAC accept the union’s right to represent members working for IAC.  The recommendation comes in the wake of last year’s dispute which saw Unite members in IAC engage in three 24-hour stoppages.  IAC declined to attend the Labour Court hearing, having previously indicated that it would disregard the outcome.

Commenting, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer Richie Browne said:

“While the Labour Court recommendation is not binding on the company, it would be extremely disappointing if a company in receipt of significant public contracts – as is the case with IAC – continues refusing to engage with the State’s industrial relations machinery or respecting the view taken by the Labour Court”.

Jean O’Dowd is Chair of Unite’s Archaeological Branch and added:

“Collective negotiations can have positive outcomes for both employers and employees, as demonstrated by the WRC-facilitated agreement concluded last year between Unite and Rubicon Heritage.  Employer engagement with the union representing Irish archaeologists would also help provide stability in the sector.  We would urge the Irish Archaeological Consultancy to accept the Labour Court recommendation and sit down with Unite to talk about the way forward”, Ms O’Dowd concluded.

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Aughinish: Welcoming lifting of US sanctions, Unite says investment must now be priority

unite white out of redUnions and local management worked together to secure turnaround

February 1st:  Unite, which represents members in Aughinish Alumina, today (Friday) welcomed the lifting of US sanctions against the Russian-owned plant and said that the priority now was to ensure investment in the facility which employs over 450 workers in the Limerick area and indirectly sustains many more in the region.  The group of unions in Aughinish comprises Unite, SIPTU and Connect trade unions.

Commenting, Unite Regional Officer Ed Thompson said:

“Since last April, workers at Aughinish have been caught up in a geopolitical row not of their making, and the news that sanctions have now been lifted has come as a huge relief to the entire community.  The turnaround was largely due to unions and management working together and lobbying to secure the future of the plant, which supplies around 30 % of Europe’s alumina.

“Now that sanctions and the associated uncertainty have been averted, I am confident that local management and unions will show the determination to secure investment in the facility”, Ed Thompson said.

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In context of political failure, local councils must act to safeguard poor and homeless during cold snap 

ahIn absence of political action, numbers dying in winter in Northern Ireland unnecessarily has risen 130 percent in three years to 1,500

Poverty leaves many reliant on old, dangerous or un-serviced heating devices for heating or going to bed early and visiting public places to avoid the cold

Albert Hewitt, Unite Community Coordinator called on councils to step forward to address the life or death situation in which many homeless people find themselves during the current cold snap. 

“With temperatures set to fall below minus five tonight across large swathes of Northern Ireland, Unite is calling for urgent action now to prevent further deaths on our streets and of those in fuel poverty in their own homes. In the absence of a functioning Executive or Assembly, our councils must step up to the plate and take action to safeguard the most vulnerable in our society.

“Today across Northern Ireland thousands are so trapped by poverty that they are genuinely unable to afford to heat themselves properly; meanwhile due to the introduction of Universal Credit and the abject failure of the Executive’s mitigations package, hundreds more are now rough-sleeping on our streets than this time last year.

“Statistics released at the end of 2018 confirm that there has been a 130 percent increase in the number of excess winter deaths in the three years since 2015-2016. In Northern Ireland, 1,500 a year now die entirely unnecessarily from cold. In the attempt to survive, all too many are forced to rely on old, dangerous or un-serviced heating devices; many more are going to bed early or visiting public places during daylight hours like libraries, cafes or even A&E to avoid the cold and increasing numbers struggling with electricity bills are using candles for lighting. This is the reality in 2019 for thousands of working-class people including many who experience in-work poverty. Our politicians cannot go closing their eyes to this crisis – they must act. 

“Campaigners for the homeless have called for the grounds of City Hall in Belfast to be opened up as a stop-gap solution to provide food and appropriate shelter for rough-sleepers. We need to similar actions to be taken by councils across Northern Ireland – this is a life or death situation. For our part, Unite in the community activists will be stepping up our efforts in support of local shelters and food banks to help those in need”, Mr Hewitt said.

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Unite expresses solidarity with striking nurses and midwives


Brendan Ogle: dispute symptomatic of wider problem in unequal society

January 30th: As members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation take industrial action around the country, Unite has written to the INMO informing them that we have advised our members to follow good trade union practice and not engage in work ordinarily done by the workers in dispute.

Unite has also advised its members that, if they decide as a matter of personal conscience not to pass official pickets placed by the INMO, Unite will fully support and stand with its members.

Commenting, Unite’s Senior Officer in the Republic of Ireland, Brendan Ogle, said:

Continue reading

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