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Yesterday — November 15th 2018Your RSS feeds

Education Authority moves to close school bus depot in Lisnaskea threatens health and safety

By Unite the union NI

img_0227Proposals for school bus drivers to use commercial forecourts in Lisnaskea are unacceptable corner cutting

Cost-cutting plans will force reliance on Enniskillen school bus depot to cover entirety of Fermanagh and threaten to impact children attending schools

November 15th: Unite the union Regional Officer with responsibility for school bus drivers in the west, Gareth Scott, has blasted plans by the Education Authority to close the school bus depot in Lisnaskea.

“Unite has raised our fears repeatedly with the Education Authority that their plans to close down Lisnaskea school bus depot will impact the safety of school children travelling to school from rural parts of east Fermanagh.

“School bus drivers have been concerned by Education Authority suggestions that they can simply fuel up at commercial forecourts. The reality is that there are no suitable facilities in Lisnaskea to facilitate safe turning space for school buses. Our drivers are highly concerned that they might run the risk of knocking down someone, in particular children, who might emerge quickly from a filling station. School buses are simply too big to bring onto commercial forecourts safely.

“In the absence of local facilities to replace the depot in Lisnaskea, the additional cost of bus drivers travelling to Enniskillen to refuel makes any savings from closing the depot redundant. The extra running costs associated with this ‘cutback’ really makes us wonder whether this closure decision is being driven by EA management eyeing the cash value of the depot grounds if it was sold off. If that were true, it would be completely unacceptable.

Unite stand-down officer and school bus driver himself, Ciaran McCallion, added his voice of condemnation for the EA proposal.

“Aside from issues about using commercial forecourts, the drivers in Lisnaskea have concerns that shutting down the Lisnaskea depot will leave them entirely reliant on replacement buses coming all the way from Enniskillen in the case of an early morning breakdown.

“Given that there won’t be anyone on duty in Enniskillen first thing, the large distances involved, and the poor road system in Fermanagh, this will mean that should a bus fail to start in Rosslea or Newtownbutler children could be left to wait up to an hour in icy-cold conditions. In such circumstances, parents who rely on school bus transport in order to get away themselves to work will face unforeseen care responsibilities and potentially costs. There’s also the risk of children who might have public exams being severely delayed getting into their schools and all the anxiety caused by such occurrences

“While the bosses are hiding behind the excuse that breakdowns are not all that common, every bus driver knows that they are an unavoidable reality especially in Winter months. As ever, the cost of austerity cutbacks will fall on the most vulnerable – in this case the children and families of rural Fermanagh. For our part, Unite is strongly opposed to this proposal and will continue to engage with our members on our response.

“We are calling on the local elected representatives, who have so far been entirely silent on this issue, to make their objections publicly and engage with the Education Authority bosses to encourage them to reverse this closure plan”, Mr McCallion said.

Before yesterdayYour RSS feeds

IAC: Company reveals union-busting agenda, says Unite

By unitetheunion

unite white out of redIAC out of step with archaeological community in Ireland

November 13th:  Unite, which organises commercial archaeologists in Ireland, today accused the Irish Archaeological Consultancy of what it termed a “union-busting agenda”.  Unite is in dispute with IAC on foot of the company’s refusal to engage collectively with workers regarding a pay claim, either directly or under the auspices of the WRC.  Workers at the company have held three 24-hour stoppages, most recently in Portmarnock last week.   Responding to a statement issued today by IAC’s CEO Rob Lynch, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer Richie Browne said it was now quite clear that the company’s aim is to prevent its workers organising collectively to improve their terms and conditions:

“IAC and their CEO Rob Lynch have treated their employees, and the state’s industrial relations machinery, with breath-taking contempt.

“By claiming today that they are not in dispute with their workers, but with Unite as the union representing those workers, Mr Lynch has not only revealed his union-busting agenda, but has also chosen to ignore an inconvenient truth:  there is no difference between the workers and the union representing them.  The workers are the union – and our members in IAC are determined that their right to negotiate collectively will be recognised.

“Our members voted to take industrial action as a last resort, and they will continue to ‘Dig4Decency’ until IAC treats its workers with respect and sits down with the union of their choice, Unite, to talk about the workers’ pay claim”.

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

“Mr Lynch’s blatant union-busting tactics have put him, and IAC, out of step with the entire archaeological community in Ireland.  Last week the Institute of Archaeologists in Ireland called for the use of the state’s industrial relations mechanisms to resolve this dispute, pointing out that the WRC-facilitated agreement between Unite and Rubicon Heritage demonstrates that discussions can lead to positive outcomes for both employers and employees.  That call has been echoed by Departments and Schools of Archaeology in University College Dublin, University College Cork, Queen’s University Belfast and Sligo Institute of Technology.

“It is unfortunate that Mr Lynch’s distaste for trade unions apparently outweighs the interests of his company and of the sector as a whole.  IAC’s determination to go it alone is bad for the company, and bad for archaeology in Ireland”, Ms O’Dowd concluded.

Public transport remains the safest mode of transport for female passengers, but this needs to be true for workers as well

By Unite the union NI

img_0227Translink management must adopt a no tolerance approach to better support staff attacked in the workplace 

Figures confirm Translink employees continue to be on the receiving end of verbal and physical assaults

November 12th: Davy Thompson, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer responded to revelations that confirmed the high incidence of verbal, physical and sexual assaults on public transport are not abating.

“Today’s figures revealed by the BBC confirm that there continues to be a high number of verbal and physical assaults, including sexual, on public transport staff. Bus and rail drivers, inspectors and other public transport workers are entitled to go about their day’s work in peace and to be shown basic respect. There should be no tolerance for such anti-social behaviour towards workers. 

“Translink management must ensure the safety of their staff and whilst we acknowledge that the company has improved the level of support offered to affected workers; unfortunately in way too many cases staff end up out of pocket due to the long-term impact of such assaults on their health. Unite continues to work with management to bring forward policies to help our members affected by these incidents. 

“All too often the travelling public end up paying the price for these assaults, in recent months a number of public transport services have had to be withdrawn after repeated attacks on drivers. These attacks can be quite serious and threaten lives. 

“Given we are entering the festive season, we ask the wider travelling public to consider the workers who provide public transport throughout the holiday period”, Mr Thompson. 

Taryn Trainor, Unite Regional Women’s & Equalities Officer spoke on the need for a more robust approach to this specific threat to female workers by management. 

“It is imperative that women be provided with a safe and protective working environment. They shouldn’t have to go into work worrying about their personal safety. Translink management needs to take a zero tolerance approach to this issue similar to that taken in A&E and other emergency services so as to protect their employees. Body cameras and alarms are of little use to prevent an attacker intent on assault. 

“It has long been true that women are much safer travelling on public transport than other modes, management must now work collectively with the unions to ensure the same is true for their staff”, Ms Trainor said.

Up to eighty redundancies expected at Camden Group in Antrim

By Unite the union NI

img_0227In absence of trade union recognition, workers being made redundant are receiving statutory redundancy payments only

Individual members of union encouraged to contact Unite officials to secure their rights, non-union workers should join Unite to protect themselves going forward

November 12th: Confirming that Unite the union is willing to engage with management at window frame maker, Camden Group in Antrim, in mitigating the impact of eighty job losses, Unite Regional Officer, George Brash said:

“We understand from management at the Camden group in Antrim that they will be making up to eighty workers redundant as a result of a sudden loss of a supply contract. This represents a very substantial proportion of the approximately five hundred strong workforce in the company and will be a severe blow to the workers affected.

“Unfortunately Unite does not hold formal union recognition at the company and so our ability to robustly defend workers’ interests is curtailed; however, we are willing to engage with management to ensure that the number of compulsory redundancies required is minimised through relocation to alternative sites within the group.

“Any members of Unite who have been affected by this situation are asked to contact the union if they are in doubt of their rights. More widely we are encouraging non-union members to join Unite in order to protect themselves going forwards. Workers in the group are being offered the bare legal minimum statutory redundancy payments by management and pay is low. The best way for workers to defend themselves is through joining a fightback union like Unite”, Mr Brash finished.

Dundalk philanthropist Naughton told ‘Charity begins at home’

By unitetheunion

unite-white-out-of-redGlen Dimplex founder challenged on failure to pay Living Wage

Unite announces strike action in Portadown following talks breakdown

November 11th: Noted philanthropist Martin Naughton, founder of consumer appliance giant Glen Dimplex, has been challenged on the company’s failure to pay the Living Wage.  The Dundalk native is chair of the company’s supervisory board, while his son acts as CEO. Trade union Unite, which represents workers in Glen Dimplex’s Portadown facility, has announced a further two days of strike action on November 16th and 19th following the breakdown of mediated talks.  Low-paid workers are seeking a 27 pence (31 cent) hourly pay increase to bring them up to the UK Living Wage.

Commenting, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer Susan Fitzgerald said:

“Unite had hoped to resolve this dispute at the Northern Ireland Labour Relations Agency yesterday, but Glen Dimplex bosses apparently entered those talks with no intention of meeting the workers’ legitimate expectation of £8.75 an hour.  That is the bare minimum for subsistence as calculated by the independent, UK-based Living Wage Foundation last year.

“Management is refusing to bridge the 27 pence an hour gap despite an offer made by workers to contribute from the small bonus they’re paid for exceeding 100% targets. Their approach has left our members with no alternative but to escalate their strike action in the run-up to Christmas. We have confirmed two twenty-four hour stoppages on Friday November 16th and Monday November 19th.

“Unite is appealing to Glen Dimplex founder and supervisory board chair Martin Naughton – named Philanthropist of the Year in 2016 by the Community Foundation of Ireland – to intervene and ensure that no Glen Dimplex worker is paid below the Living Wage.

“As a noted philanthropist, we would ask Mr Naughton to remember that charity begins at home”, Ms Fitzgerald concluded.

Confirmation of one-year System Support Services Agreement contract for Kilroot power station bittersweet news for AES workforce

By Unite the union NI

img_0227

Decision confirms up to 80 AES redundancies and approximately 60 direct, full-time contractors to lose their positions as Ballylumford B will shut down early 

Need for state intervention to bring forward managed transition to renewable energy with training and guarantees for affected workers

November 9th: Davy Thompson, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer welcomed the news that Kilroot power station would be offered a one year System Support Services contract by SONI that would mean the jobs of more than 170 AES workers and more than 100 direct, full-time contractors would be safeguarded.

“This is a welcome announcement. Unite has fought hard for this commitment for many months now and it will bring some assurance to the more than 170 AES employees and the more than one hundred full-time onsite contractors whose positions will be safeguarded as a result. Our objective is now to ensure that this contract rolls-over for another year after the lapse period of this contract.

“At the same time, this is bittersweet news, as it confirms that up to eighty AES positions will be lost as Ballylumford B power station is closed. We are hopeful that the bulk of these losses will be achieved through voluntary redundancies across the sites but the fact remains that this is a potential eighty more jobs going from the Northern Ireland economy that won’t be there for the next generation of workers.

“It has to be said that the handling of the integrated single electricity market by the Electricity Regulator and the System Operator for Northern Ireland has been shambolic from start to finish. There have been multiple delays, computer system failures and now this u-turn. The concept of an energy market is not working and will not work – it has been driven by right-wing ideology as opposed to common sense economics.

“Workers are being asked to pay the price for the failure to invest in a managed transition to renewables, where they could be upskilled to fill jobs in the new modes of generation. Meanwhile our economy has been left reliant on last generation generating capacity for our security of supply. What is needed is a state-led approach predicated on the nationalisation of this industry and large-scale public investment to create the energy jobs of the future”, Mr Thompson said.

Two, day-long strike actions confirmed at Glen Dimplex as workforce doubles down for pay justice

By Unite the union NI

img_0227Twenty-four hour strike actions confirmed to run from 7am on Friday November 16th and Monday November 19th

Billionaire owner Martin Naughton challenged on his group’s refusal to meet workers’ £8.75 Living wage pay claim

November 11th: Regional Coordinating Officer Susan Fitzgerald confirmed that two twenty-four hour strike actions would proceed at the Glen Dimplex group site in Portadown (GDC) on the Friday and Monday bracketing next weekend [Friday, November 16th and Monday, November 19th].

“Unite had hoped to resolve this dispute at the Labour Relations Agency yesterday but the Glen Dimplex bosses entered those talks with apparently no intention whatsoever of meeting the workers’ legitimate expectation for £8.75 an hour; which let us remember was the bare minimum for subsistence as calculated by the independent, UK-based Living Wage Foundation last year.

“Bosses are refusing to bridge the 27 pence an hour gap, despite an offer made by workers to make a contribution from the small bonus they’re paid for exceeding 100% targets. Management’s approach has left workers with no alternative but to escalate their strike action in the mouth of Christmas. We have today confirmed two, twenty-four hour stoppages next Friday  [November 16th] and Monday [November 19th].

“Glen Dimplex group, of which the Portadown GDC site is a part, last year reported more than €38 million in profits and provided a payment of almost €13 million to their owners through a holding company. Martin Naughton who is reported to be the ultimate owner of this highly profitable company is a billionaire who has received public accolades for his philanthropic activities while his workers have to live with the day-to-day consequences of in-work poverty.

“GDC’s greed is forcing skilled and experienced production workers, with families, with young babies at home, to stand hours on ice-cold picket lines in the fight for pay justice and to end their poverty pay predicament. The obstinate refusal of the company to meet the legitimate expectations of this workforce for a living wage is entirely unjustifiable.

“The workers need our support in this brave fight for pay decency. The challenge is now for the trade union movement and working-class people to rally behind them and ensure their success”, Ms Fitzgerald said.

LRA-mediated talks with Glen Dimplex break down as management refuse staff a Living Wage

By Unite the union NI

img_0227Union announces forty-eight hour strike action to be held in coming days as workforce escalates industrial action 

Glen Dimplex management refuse to move to end in-work poverty despite group profits of more than €38 million

November 8th: Production workers who manufacture ‘Quantum’ intelligent storage heaters for Glen Dimplex in Portadown will be forced to take another strike action after pay talks at the Labour Relations Agency broke down without making any progress. Unite Regional Coordinating Officer Susan Fitzgerald confirmed that the union would be confirming a second strike action this time for forty-eight hours at the Portadown site.

“The Glen Dimplex bosses entered LRA-mediated talks with the clear intention of offering nothing meaningful to their workers, who continue to earn a bare £8.48 an hour; despite the fact that this company last year made €38 million in profits and provided a payment of almost €13 million to their owners through a holding company. 

“The failure of management to meet the modest demand of their workforce for a minimum £8.75 an hour, the bare minimum for workers’ subsistence as determined by the independent, UK-based Living Wage Foundation, has now forced the union to call a second strike action for pay justice. The timing of the next action will be agreed with shop stewards but it is already agreed that this should escalate the previous twenty-four hour stoppage to a forty-eight hour strike action. 

“These are skilled and experienced production workers who manufacture high end storage heaters but they receive less than casual workers in fast food outlets. This is completely unacceptable. 

“Unite is calling on the trade movement as a whole to get behind the Glen Dimplex workers and to show their stand for pay decency is one we all share. We must send the owner of this company, who according to the press is a billionaire, the message that in-work poverty will not be tolerated in Northern Ireland. It is unconscionable that a billionaire would force working people, with families, to take strike action in the mouth of Christmas in an effort to lift themselves out of in-work poverty. We need the community in the Portadown area to rally behind these workers who are on the frontline of the fight to secure pay decency for all in that area. 

“Tonight we have organised a meeting with local politicians to ask them what they are going to do in support of these workers’ legitimate pay expectations. The meeting will be held at the Seagoe Hotel in Portadown at 6.30pm, our members at the site will be present and will make their voices heard”, Ms Fitzgerald said.

Concerns that 5,000 Bombardier global jobs cull may once again cost Northern Ireland jobs

By Unite the union NI

img_0227Latest redundancy plans come despite mounting profits as company attempts ‘fire-sale’ to meet financial market demands

Unite will engage with unions representing workers under threat in other countries to coordinate global trade union response

November 8th: This afternoon, Bombardier announced plans to cut a further five thousand jobs globally across all sections of the corporation. Unite Regional Coordinating Officer, Susan Fitzgerald, issued Unite’s response to this jobs threat.

“Today’s announcement by Bombardier that they are going to slash up to five thousand workers jobs is a brutal blow to their global workforce and will affect workers in both aerospace and transport divisions. Unite has sought assurances that none of these jobs will be going at any of the five sites here in Northern Ireland – as yet, we have no confirmation of what it this latest announcement will mean locally. Bombardier’s corporate management have also announced plans to sell off its turboprop programme and its business aircraft flight and training activities.

“These jobs are to go despite the fact that the company is making even more profits than they were a year ago; this fire sale of assets and jobs is being driven by meet the expectations of the financial markets and Bombardier’s workers are expected to pay the price. Unite will be engaging with our colleagues representing Bombardier workers under threat in other countries in order to coordinate a global trade union response to this latest announcement.

“This announcement comes only two years since seven thousand jobs were cut globally. In the recent period in Northern Ireland we have witnessed the sell-off of the Tubing & Systems function, the outsourcing of IT, finance, plant engineering, canteens, facilities and security functions. The workers want to know just when will this company be satisfied?

“Aerospace manufacturing is among the most significant sectors of our economy. It is estimated in the UK that for every £1 million pounds of output from the sector, 2.5 million pounds is generated in the economy while for every job in transport manufacturing a further one and a half jobs are sustained.

“In the last weeks, a majority of Bombardier’s workers in Northern Ireland signed a collective grievance against this death by a thousand cuts. We cannot accept any further losses of functions from Northern Ireland, they are undermining the long-term sustainability of the company’s presence here”, Ms Fitzgerald said.

An estimated 80 AES job-losses and a further 60 contractor redundancies likely across Kilroot and Ballylumford power stations

By Unite the union NI

img_0227Unite formally notified of more than 20 redundancies by AES but job-loss figure expected to rise sharply

Energy Regulator must intervene to allow SONI to offer ‘capacity contract’ quickly to avoid all 250 AES jobs being lost

November 8th: Despite being included in the 2018 All-island Generation Capacity Statement published last month by the System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI), AES management have brought forward planned redundancies across Kilroot and Ballylumford B power stations as a result of the exclusion of generators at both sites from supply contracts under the current Integrated Single Electricity Market.

The exclusion from the contracts to supply has come about as a result of rules set by the Electricity Regulator and enforced by Irish-government owned SONI, which has responsibility for the management and operation of the transmission grid across the island of Ireland. The decision threatens to shut down 36 percent of Northern Ireland’s generating capacity and has been widely criticised as leaving the region dependent on imported electricity and vulnerable to blackouts post-Brexit.

Davy Thompson, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer spoke on the union’s fears for further job-losses at Kilroot and Ballylumford:

“Last week Unite was notified of the likelihood of just over twenty job-losses across Kilroot and Ballylumford; however we are preparing ourselves for that number to rise substantially. We understand that approximately eighty AES employees are likely to be made redundant in the near future. Unfortunately they won’t be the only ones affected, we are estimating the knock-on impact in terms of job-losses on that scale could include an additional 60 direct, full-time contractors who work on-site. These redundancies will come as devastating news for those workers’ families at this time of year.

“We fail to understand the logic of a decision to cut 36 percent of Northern Ireland’s generating capacity at a time when UK government briefings are warning of the possibility of black-outs post-Brexit. This decision will leave Northern Ireland dependent on electricity imported from the Republic when the our ability to do so is in question. Not only does these policies threaten the livelihoods of hundreds of workers but damaging brown and blackouts for industry in Northern Ireland.

“In the absence of a ‘contract to supply’ under the current ISEM, it is now vital that the Energy Regulator intervenes to provide a ‘contract for capacity’ as quickly as possible. All 250 AES positions and a further 120 direct, full-time contractors working at Kilroot and Ballylumford B face the prospect of redundancy if that is not forthcoming”, said Mr Thompson.

As archaeologists strike in Portmarnock, Unite again asks IAC to attend WRC

By unitetheunion

unite-white-out-of-redDispute is on foot of IAC’s refusal to engage collectively with workers

Union welcomes Institute of Archaeologists in Ireland statement urging use of state’s industrial relations mechanisms

November 8th: Unite, which represents commercial archaeologists in Ireland, today again urged the Irish Archaeological Consultancy to attend the Workplace Relations Commission and negotiate collectively with its employees regarding an outstanding pay claim.  The call came as Unite members working for the company at a site in Portmarnock engaged in a 24-hour stoppage.  The Portmarnock action follows two earlier stoppages at IAC sites in Macroom and Dublin’s Aungier Street.

Commenting, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer Richie Browne said that resolution of the dispute was in the hands of IAC and the company’s CEO Rob Lynch:  “Unite has repeatedly sought to engage with the Irish Archaeological Consultancy, both directly and under the auspices of the WRC.  All approaches from ourselves and from the WRC have been rebuffed. Our members have been left with no option but to take industrial action in pursuit of a very simple demand:  that IAC negotiate collectively with its workers through the union of their choice.

Unite Archaeology Branch chair Jean O’Dowd added:

“While our members are frustrated at IAC’s persistent refusal to engage, we have been heartened by the overwhelming support we have received from the archaeological community throughout Ireland as well as the trade union movement.

“We were particularly encouraged by the statement issued this week by the Institute of Archaeologists in Ireland calling for the use of the state’s industrial relations mechanisms to resolve this dispute, and pointing out that the WRC-facilitated agreement between Unite and Rubicon Heritage demonstrates that discussions can lead to positive outcomes for both employers and employees.  We would urge IAC to heed the Institute’s call and engage collectively with their workers”, Ms O’Dowd concluded.

IAC: Unite serves notice of third day of strike action on November 8th

By unitetheunion

unite-white-out-of-redArchaeologists to Dig4Decency at Portmarnock site

November 4th:  Unite, which represents commercial archaeologists in Ireland, today (Sunday November 4th) announced that members working for the Irish Archaeological Consultancy at the company’s site in Portmarnock will be taking a third day of strike action against the company on Thursday November 8th. The 24-hour stoppage will involve pickets being placed at Drumnigh, a site in Portmarnock largely comprising early medieval remains, with a figure-of-eight enclosure and a souterrain.  The action, notice of which was served last week, follows two 24-hour stoppages at sites in Macroom and Dublin’s Aungier Street in July.

In June, Unite members working for IAC voted to take strike action on foot of the company’s refusal to engage with Unite regarding a pay claim, either directly or through the Workplace Relations Commission.

Commenting, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer Richie Browne said:

“The Irish Archaeological Consultancy has persistently refused to engage collectively with the archaeologists who have built up the company.

“These actions will continue until IAC moves to resolve this dispute by engaging collectively with their workers through their union Unite”.

Jean O’Dowd is chair of Unite’s archaeological branch and added:

“On Thursday November 8th, Unite members investigating medieval remains in Portmarnock will once again be forced to down trowels due to their employer’s refusal to negotiate collectively through the union of the workers’ choice.

“Despite two previous days of industrial action, as well as multiple invitations from ourselves and the WRC, IAC has refused to talk or meet with us or engage in any way, leaving us with no option but to engage in a third stoppage.

“Our members have been encouraged by the support they have received from across the archaeological profession.  We will continue to ‘Dig4Decency’ until IAC recognises that the skilled professionals who investigate the past deserve to be treated decently in the present”, Jean O’Dowd concluded.

Meeting sought with SONI to seek firm commitment on capacity supply contracts for Kilroot and Ballylumford power stations

By Unite the union NI

img_0227Threat to 270 workers’ jobs remains despite inclusion on latest all-island generating capacity statement

November 1st: In the 2018 All-island Generation Capacity Statement published last week, the System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI) included on a list of current generators both Kilroot power station and Ballylumford B which were excluded contracts to supply earlier in the year.

The decision to exclude the generators was made by Irish-government owned SONI, which has been given responsibility to manage and operate the transmission grid across the island of Ireland, and has been widely criticised as leaving Northern Ireland’s electricity system vulnerable to shocks post-Brexit. The decision threatens to reduce Northern Ireland’s generating capacity by 36 percent and leave the region dependent on imported electricity.

Joanne McWilliams, Unite Regional Officer with responsibility for the union’s membership at Kilroot and Ballylumford said:

“Earlier this year, SONI announced the exclusion of generators in both Kilroot and Ballylumford from contracts to supply the upcoming all-Ireland Integrated Single Electricity Market (ISEM). This decision threatens with redundancy 150 AES employees and 120 direct, full-time contractors who provide services onsite and would have remove 36 percent of our generating capacity at a time when the UK government are warning of the possibility of black-outs post-Brexit.

“Unite has led the campaign against this decision which reduces our generating capacity at a time of uncertainty over our continued ability to buy-in electricity and when progress towards the north-south electricity interconnector is stalled due to the absence of a locally-accountable Executive.

“Our concerns have been echoed by local political leaders who have argued against the exclusion of Kilroot and Ballylumford B from the upcoming three-year market. Indeed, a recent paper produced by the UK government highlighted the prospect of blackouts in the context of a no-deal Brexit.

“The inclusion of these generators in the 2018 All-island Generating Capacity Statement, released by SONI last week, and which appears to offer some hope but needs to be followed up swiftly by assurance to the workers.

“Unite has written to SONI to seek a meeting for further clarification. We are seeking a firm commitment on capacity supply contracts as a means to safeguard the livelihoods of those working at both plants”, Ms McWilliams concluded.

 

Bombardier workforce hand in collective grievance over management outsourcing

By Unite the union NI

img_0227Almost 3,000 workers across all five Bombardier sites in Northern Ireland have signed grievance

Unite Assistant General Secretary Steve Turner has written to Alain Bellemare, Bombardier President and CEO seeking urgent meeting

October 29th: This afternoon, the workforce handed a collective grievance to Bombardier management over continued outsourcing and offshoring of jobs and functions. Unite Regional Coordinating Officer Susan Fitzgerald said:

“At the end of August management informed the workforce that they were to sell-off the tubing and systems operations (with sites at Mirabelle in Canada and Belfast) to the Lauak group in France. Not only was this the latest instance of outsourcing and offshoring of jobs but the way in which management kept both workers and their unions in the dark on this caused deep-seated indignation among the workforce.

“IT, finance and maintenance functions and now the tubing and systems operations have been offshored leaving workers in Northern Ireland wondering just where next will the axe fall. What’s more workers know that once these skills go they are unlikely to be replaced. Despite assurances by management of a shiny future from new products they are very thin on detail when it comes to retraining opportunities and recruitment.

“Almost three thousand workers, representing the overwhelming bulk of the shop-floor, have signed the collective grievance which was lodged with management this afternoon. The grievance calls for a meeting between trade union representatives and management on an end to outsourcing and to hear the company’s plans for growth in Northern Ireland. In addition to this, Steve Turner, the Assistant General Secretary of Unite the union has written to Alain Bellemare, Bombardier President and Chief Executive Officer to seek a meeting at a global level to seek assurances for the long-term future commitment of the company to its workforce in the UK.

“The corporate agenda that seeks to outsource non-production roles and relocate production jobs must end. Instead the company needs to demonstrate their commitment to the long term future of the sites in Northern Ireland”, Ms Fitzgerald said.

Strike action to commence at Glen Dimplex, Portadown from 7am tomorrow

By Unite the union NI

img_0227First twenty-four strike action by production workers in pursuit of a Living Wage of £8.75 an hour

No excuse for failure of Glen Dimplex management to provide three percent increase in light of group profits of €38 million

October 28th: Production workers who manufacture ‘Quantum’ intelligent storage heaters for Glen Dimplex in Portadown will be taking their first twenty-four hour strike action in pursuit of a living wage. Unite Regional Coordinating Officer Susan Fitzgerald confirmed that pickets will be present at the Portadown factory gates from 7am tomorrow.

“Tomorrow’s strike action has been forced by the failure of management to meet the modest demand of their workforce for a minimum of £8.75 an hour – the bare minimum for workers’ subsistence determined by the independent, UK-based Living Wage Foundation. Unfortunately the majority of the workers at Glen Dimplex at Portadown, who manufacture ‘quantum intelligent’ storage heaters,  are paid an hourly rate significantly less than this threshold. The fact that bosses are refusing to sign up to paying these experienced production workers this rate is completely unacceptable.

“In a recent ballot taken in response to management intransigence, workers voted with a majority of 85.7% for strike action on a turnout of 89%. This was an overwhelming and unprecedented mandate for strike action to put an end to in-work poverty at the plant.

“The workers receive a small weekly bonus for working over and above the 100% rate and they have actually offered to incorporate part of this bonus into the hourly rate of pay in order to self finance the living wage rate. As a result of this commitment from the workers, management would only have to provide an increase of just 3% to avoid this unnecessary dispute. 

“Glen Dimplex is a highly successful group with an increasingly global footprint. Their latest published accounts show profits of €38 million on turnover of just below a billion euro. This is a company that can well afford to meet the workforce demand for a Living Wage. Indeed, while workers in Portadown are being told that the company can’t afford to pay £8.75 an hour, the accounts confirm that they managed to find €13 million to pay a dividend to shareholders last year.

“Tomorrow’s first twenty-four strike will commence at 7am on Monday October 29th. If we are forced to take a second day of strike action we will be taking this campaign to the wider community in Portadown and further afield. Management must meet the legitimate expectations of the workforce for pay decency to avoid a further escalation in the strike action”, Ms Fitzgerald said.

Bord na Mona: Unite writes to company setting out demands

By unitetheunion

unite-white-out-of-redUnion will seek ballot for industrial action if insufficient progress made

October 25th: Unite, which represents members working for Bord na Mona, has today written to the company setting out the union’s demands following yesterday’s announcement of projected redundancies.  The letter from Unite Regional Officer Colm Quinlan is available for download here, and states that the union will be seeking an early agreement that includes:

  • A concrete commitment that will prevent compulsory redundancy in any circumstance.
  • A significantly enhanced voluntary redundancy and early retirement agreement is put in place to achieve the objectives in (a) above.

The letter states that failure to progress these issues at an acceptable pace will result in Unite calling on the Bord na Mona Group of Unions to immediately commence a ballot for industrial action.

2018 NISRA Survey of Hours & Earnings confirms Northern Ireland employees work longer for less

By Unite the union NI

img_0227Private sector weekly earnings shows less than one percent real terms (RPI) increase primarily a result of statistic distortion caused by minimum wage jump

Public sector pay continues to fall in real terms as austerity pay policies bite and absence of functioning government results in income stagnation

October 25th: Jackie Pollock, Unite Regional Secretary for Ireland, responded to today’s release of the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency’s (NISRA) Annual Survey of Hours & Earnings.

“These statistics confirm that Northern Ireland workers are paid 8.4 percent less than workers elsewhere in the UK. At the same time, workers here clock in for 38.3 hours a week – which is more than 2 percent longer than the average in the UK. In other words, Northern Ireland employees work longer hours every week for significantly less pay.

“The figures show the first overall increase in real terms after years of pay decline and stagnation but the rate of increase was very low. If you assume the government’s preferred measure of inflation the increase was 2 percent but if you use the Retail Price Inflation index, the true inflation rate experienced by workers, then the increase was less than one percent. What’s more, these averages have been distorted by the substantial uplift in the minimum wage rate last year – necessary to ensure workers can survive but insufficient to lift them out of poverty. For those earning above that bare legal minimum, the story is markedly less rosy.

“Even using the official government inflation rate, the statistics show that public sector workers’ salaries and wages continue to fall. Northern Ireland NHS workers are now the lowest paid anywhere in the UK and have denied even the increase under the latest pay deal due to the absence of a functioning Executive.

“While there are those in the business class who wish to see something positive in these statistics, it could not be further from the truth. The reality is that across workplaces in Northern Ireland workers have had to ballot and prepare strike action to keep pace with inflation. Meanwhile the profits and shareholder dividends continue to grow uncontrollably.

“Today’s statistics confirm the need for expanded collective bargaining across the economy and make the case for union membership. Workers can only rely on themselves for pay decency – joining a trade union is the only way to put an end to in-work poverty”, Mr Pollock said.

 

The Authentic Food Company: Unite obtains assurances on social welfare entitlements

By unitetheunion

unite-white-out-of-redDepartment will approve claims for Unemployment Benefit in advance of liquidation completion

Trade union Unite, which represents workers in Dundalk’s The Authentic Food Company plant, today (Thursday) announced that it has obtained assurances from the Department of Social Protection that all claims for Unemployment Benefit lodged by workers at the site will be processed immediately and paid.

Unite has been in constant contact with the Department following last Friday’s news that the site is to be liquidated by its Manchester-based parent company, leaving workers technically employed during the 30-day ‘consultation’ and subsequent two-week notice period, but without any income as of last Friday.

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

“Unite welcomes the assurances from the Department and their local official, Brendan McGuinness, that all claims for Unemployment Benefit lodged by The Authentic Food Company workers resident in the Republic will be processed immediately and paid.  This is some comfort for workers who have been left high and dry by their employers.

“We will, of course, continue engaging with the liquidators, and are attempting to engage with the parent company, to obtain the best possible outcome for the workforce and their community”, Mr Ogle concluded.

 

Glen Dimplex workforce to escalate industrial action in pursuit of Living Wage

By Unite the union NI

img_0227After nearly week of overtime ban, first twenty-four hour strike action set to commence at midnight Monday 29th October

Portadown workforce gears itself for battle to end in-work poverty at group which made €38 million profit last year

October 25th: Workers who manufacture Quantum-intelligent storage heaters for Glen Dimplex have commenced industrial action with an overtime ban in pursuit of their pay claim for a living wage.

Unite Regional Coordinating Officer Susan Fitzgerald confirmed plans for the action to escalate with a first, twenty-four hour stoppage from 7am Monday, October 29th.

“The majority of the workers at Glen Dimplex are paid an hourly rate of less than £8.75 an hour which according to the independent, UK-based, Living Wage Foundation is the bare minimum hourly rate for workers to have a basic standard of living. The fact that bosses are refusing to sign up to paying these experienced production workers this rate is completely unacceptable.

“Glen Dimplex is a highly successful global group. Their latest published accounts show profits of €38 on turnover of just below a billion euro. This is a company that can well afford to meet the workforce demand for a Living Wage. Indeed, while workers in Portadown are being told that the company can’t afford to pay £8.75 an hour, the accounts confirm that they managed to find €13 million to pay a dividend to shareholders last year.

“In a recent ballot, Unite members voted with majorities of 85.7% for strike action and 91.4% for industrial action short of strike action. With a turnout of 89% this is an overwhelming and unprecedented mandate for action to secure their pay claim which seeks the company commit to paying a Living Wage this year and into the future.

“I find it mind-boggling that a profitable company are forcing working people to go to the gate for such a modest demand. The workers receive a small weekly bonus for working over and above the 100% rate, they have actually offered to incorporate part of this bonus into the hourly rate of pay in order to self finance the living wage rate. This means that if this highly profitable company provided an increase of just 3% this dispute could be resolved. 

“As the first step in a graduated roll-out of industrial action, a work-to-rule commenced Monday October 22nd. The first twenty-four strike will commence at 7am on Monday October 29th.

“We are calling on management to meet the workers’ pay claim in order to avoid the unnecessary disruption that will result from this looming industrial dispute. Failing that, we are confident of getting huge support from working people in Portadown and further afield”, Ms Fitzgerald said.

Bord na Mona:  Government sleepwalking into crisis, possible industrial action

By unitetheunion

unite-white-out-of-redUnite urges Bruton to convene urgent stakeholder meeting to progress Bord na Mona – ESB proposals

October 24th: Responding to the projected loss of between 380 and 430 Bord na Mona jobs starting in the coming months, with further job losses anticipated in the medium term, trade union Unite today accused the Government of sleepwalking into a crisis which will devastate Midlands communities.  Regional Officer Colm Quinlan called on Minister Richard Bruton to convene an urgent meeting with Bord na Mona, the ESB and other stakeholders in order to progress the proposed agreement between the two companies which would see Bord na Mona supplying peat to two ESB peat-fired power stations in Offaly and Longford. Mr Quinlan also warned that industrial action early next year was a real possibility if progress is not made.

Commenting following today’s Bord na Mona board meeting which finalised the redundancy plans, Unite Regional Officer Colm Quinlan pointed out that the redundancies projected today far exceed those provided for in the agreement reached between the Group of Unions  and Bord na Mona in early 2016:

“In 2016, following intensive engagement at the WRC and Labour Court, a comprehensive cost-cutting agreement was reached which is due for renewal next year.    This agreement was predicated on a phased reduction of peat production up until 2030, which would have required minimum redundancies with job reductions largely achieved as a result of natural attrition, and provided for some new jobs to be created during that period.

“However, developments since then mean that the reduction in peat production is now to be accelerated, and today’s board meeting proposes redundancies as early as the beginning of 2019.  Even that plan, however, is predicated on the finalisation of an agreement for Bord na Mona to supply peat to two ESB power stations in Offaly and Longford.  Yet negotiations on this have dragged on for two years and the ESB has not yet finalised planning permission for the stations.

“In the event that this agreement is not progressed, and the planning process is not activated as a priority, the level and pace of job losses could significantly exceed those announced today.

“Unite is calling on Minister Richard Bruton to convene an urgent meeting of all stakeholders to progress the agreement between Bord na Mona and the ESB. At the same time, the Government needs to lobby at European level to ensure that workers and their communities can access an EU-wide ‘Just Transition’ fund.

“While Unite and the Bord na Mona Group of Unions will be fully engaged in the consultation process, and will make every effort to work with all stakeholders to preserve the maximum number of jobs, if we do not receive progress reports and assurances in the short term, a major industrial dispute early next year would become inevitable. We are determined to ensure that Bord na Mona, its workers and the communities they sustain do not pay the price for decarbonisation”, Mr Quinlan concluded.

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