Unions seek urgent renewed talks with NI Secretary of State Julian Smith.

9 Dec 2019

NIC-ICTU letter to SoS

The leadership of the trade union movement has today (Monday 9 December) written to the Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Julian Smith MP, seeking direct meetings on two urgent matters.

Writing to Mr Smith on behalf of the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (NIC-ICTU) which represents over 200,000 workers through of 24 affiliate unions across Northern Ireland, ICTU Assistant General Secretary Owen Reidy is calling the attention of the most powerful political figure in NI to the ongoing and deteriorating crises in Health and Welfare.

“We require the Secretary of State to pay his full attention to these matters, as time is a luxury we no longer have. Health workers are already taking unprecedented industrial action in certain trade unions, and other associations for health professionals are preparing to ballot their members in unions which have long eschewed strikes and action short of strikes, such as working-to-rule.

“That such professionals feel forced to take these drastic steps ought to be sounding alarms at the highest level of politics, and the solutions to their grievances can only be found through political action. Simply passing the buck between Stormont and Her Majesty’s Treasury is no longer acceptable.

“Mr Smith also needs to take into account that the pay and workload emergency in Health is not an isolated phenomenon. The same pressures are building in schools and NI Civil Service and have already erupted in the Universities.

“Finally, Mr Smith needs to take cognisance of the looming cliff-edge facing thousands of people dependent on Universal Credit, which include substantial numbers of the working poor, and who face financial ruin after the mitigations negotiated under the Fresh Start Agreement (after intense trade union lobbying and campaigning) expire at the end of March.

“We in the trade union movement insist that no worker is abandoned, and that the promises made about the ending of austerity are made in good faith, and are not additionally being held hostage to negotiations to restore Stormont. We look forward to hearing from the Secretary of State.”