Translink 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end up paying the price for these assaults, in recent months a number of public transport services have had to be withdrawn after repeated attacks on drivers.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.
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.
Unite 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.
European role in achieving ‘Just Transition’ must be investigated
October 17th: Unite, which is part of the Bord na Mona Group of Unions, today (Wednesday) called on the Government to intervene following the company’s announcement that the Midlands alone will lose a further 150 jobs in the next few months as the company continues moving away from peat-based activities, with further redundancies expected down the line.
While Bord na Mona has given a commitment to engage in negotiations, Unite Regional Officer Ed Thompson pointed out that de-carbonisation will result in further jobs losses, and said that workers and their communities would pay the price for de-carbonisation unless robust measures are put in place to ensure a ‘Just Transition’ from fossil fuels.
“Those rural communities where Bord na Mona was previously an economic driver are bearing the brunt of de-carbonisation policies introduced to mitigate the effects of climate change. Climate change is a national, European and global problem, and the response must also be at a supra-national level.
“Unite is calling on recently-appointed Minister Richard Bruton to ensure that workers and their communities can access a EU-wide ‘Just Transition’ fund. Along with ring-fenced carbon tax receipts, such funds could be used to help drive investment in community renewal as well as future employment-generating initiatives.
“Workers and other stakeholders must also be fully involved in developing ‘Just Transition’ policies at all levels as recommended earlier this year by the European Trade Union Confederation.
“A skilled and committed workforce in the Midlands built Bord na Mona over decades. Unite and the Group of Unions are determined to ensure that the workers do not pick up the decarbonisation tab”, Ed Thompson concluded.
Regional unemployment rate leaps ahead of that of the UK as a whole for first time in a year
Fears of Brexit risks and failure to bring forward manufacturing strategy are factors in economic decline
October 16th: Davy Thompson, Regional Coordinating Officer for Unite, responded to the release of figures confirming that the unemployment rate in Northern Ireland had increased substantially and was now higher than the UK average.
“Today’s unemployment figures are very concerning for anyone with ambition for jobs and skills in our economy. The joblessness rate has increased sharply reflecting the broader weakening of the Northern Ireland economy which is facing a significant reduction in productive investment.
“For the first time in a year, our unemployment rate is now above that of the rest of the UK. Combined with high numbers who have fallen outside the active labour force, the proportion employed in Northern Ireland continues to be the lowest by some way in Britain and Ireland.
“The absence of a Northern Ireland Executive is a major part of the problem. Our economy has been left rudderless but the truth is that even when we had Ministers in place, they voted down proposals led by trade unions and industry for a manufacturing strategy for the region.
“The consequences of that political decision have left Northern Ireland’s productive economy without any means for effective intervention in the face of the rising uncertainties and risks of the Brexit process. Action is needed by government now to mitigate the impact of dislocation which appears increasingly unavoidable over the next year”, Mr Thompson said.
Warnings that Brexit could lead to electricity black-outs must force reconsideration of decision to shut down 36% of domestic generating capacity
270 workers have their livelihoods threatened by SONI decision that will undermine Northern Ireland’s energy security post-Brexit
September 27th: Davy Thompson, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer, demanded that the System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI), of immediately review its decision to refuse Capacity Market Remuneration contracts to two generators at Kilroot power station and one generator at Ballylumford B, which poses an immediate threat to the livelihoods of 270 workers, many of whom are Unite members.
“Since SONI announced their decision to exclude generators in both Kilroot and Ballylumford from contracts to supply the upcoming all-Ireland Integrated Single Electricity Market (ISEM) in January, Unite has questioned the rationale for their decision. SONI’s decision directly threatens to make redundant 150 AES workers onsite as well as the 120 direct, full-time contractors who are employed by local firms who provide services onsite. It also threatens to make Northern Ireland dependent on electricity supplied by the Republic of Ireland at the very time when the future security of such arrangements are threatened by the Brexit process.
“The idea of removing 36% of Northern Ireland’s domestic electricity generating capacity at the very time when the ability to buy-in electricity is under question and when progress towards the north-south electricity interconnector is stalled due to the absence of a locally-accountable Executive is indefensible.
“In light of today’s revelations, leaked to the BBC, that the British government has identified a risk that the single-electricity market might break into two as a result of Brexit, SONI must now review its decision to refuse these contracts to supply. It is vital that they do so with urgency as the new contract period will come into force at midnight on Sunday. Northern Ireland manufacturing cannot run the risk of electricity blackouts at a time when they face mounting Brexit uncertainties”, Mr Thompson said.
Note for editors: SONI is owned by Eirgrid, itself owned by the Irish government, and which manages and operates the transmission grid across the island of Ireland