Launch of the Better Work Better Lives Campaign
21 Nov 2017
Trades unionists play part in major NI-wide campaign for proper wages, decent work & essential investment
The trade union movement in Northern Ireland, comprising of 30 unions organising and representing the interests of 200,000 workers has come together to campaign for Better Work, Better Lives – a fair share for all. This NIC-ICTU campaign will involve the largest political lobby ever attempted by the trade union movement and will reach into every community in all 18 constituencies across Northern Ireland.
Owen Reidy, ICTU Assistant General Secretary said:
“The unions across NI have been planning this initiative for several months, and every city and town, constituency and council will hear from us shortly. All of the individual trade unions have signed up to this and we will work alongside all of our colleagues, in the public as well as the private sectors, to demand:
1. An end to the scourge of low pay and to promote decent work;
2. Better and improved investment in our public services;
3. An end to the 1% public sector pay cap.
The situation in NI is serious and needs to be addressed immediately. We cannot simply look to our own community. We either sink or swim together. The problems we have identified have come to a head and they need to be addressed regardless of whether we have direct Rule of a return to Devolution at Stormont.
· 1 out of every 3 workers consider their work to be insecure
· 4 out of every 10 workers are in non-standard working arrangements
· 20% of all workers are on or below the Real Living Wage
· Women and young people are disproportionally affected, especially in the private sector
· Since 2010 the block grant has been cut, in real terms by 10.2%
· Education spend has been cut by 9% since 2009/10
· As a region of the UK, NI has been the subject of greater cuts than the majority of the other UK regions
· We have lost 26,000 public servants (11.5%) since 2010
· From 2011-2013 workers in the public service experienced a pay freeze
. Since 2013 planned to 2019, a cap of a total of 1% increase a year has been imposed.
· Since 2010/2011, public service workers have seen their pay cut in real terms by at least 8%
· Inflation is forecast at between 2.5%-3% for 2017, workers are falling further behind
· The 1% pay cap in the public sector has done nothing to assist pay in the private sector either.
“We need a process of meaningful engagement with policy makers and others to seek to address these issues and change direction. We ask all of our MPs, MLAs and district councils to work with this trade union coalition and wider society to support the Better Work, Better Lives campaign in order that we can all work together to address the underlying issues that have caused this situation.
“We have been working closely with the Nevin Economic Research Institute to help us quantify the problems we face and underpin some possible policy solutions what can be carried out in Westminster, or Stormont, or even at District Council level.
“We need to look at, among other areas, policies such as increased access to affordable childcare, strengthening and improving employment law, changing minimum wage setting mechanism, developing a shared industrial strategy, boosting productivity in the interests of all, addressing our skills deficit and inequalities in the labour market as well as promoting collective bargaining.
“We are prepared to work with everyone who shares these ambitions. We fully accept that we do not possess all the solutions to our collective problems But the time for a collective focus to chart a better way forward for Better Work and Better Lives for all is now overdue.
“Everyone can participate, using our new and user-friendly campaign website https://betterworkbetterlives.org to inform their thinking and take action to support every working person across NI.”