Trade Union Movement sets out a new deal for workers and society – No Going Back

27 May 2020

NO GOING BACK 2 cover

A major new report by The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has set out a detailed strategy on the way forward for workers across the island of Ireland, amid the unprecedented economic global crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has published a recovery plan for workers and society in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, No Going Back – A New Deal Towards a Safe and Secure Future for All.

Speaking on the day of publication ICTU General Secretary Patricia King said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to societies and economies around the world. This crisis has fundamentally changed the way we view the relationship between the state, businesses and workers. The No Going Back document sets out in detail how to revive our economies and ensure that workers are rewarded and supported as the island gradually emerges from the pandemic”.

Owen Reidy ICTU Assistant General Secretary (with responsibility for Northern Ireland) stated: “There must be no cliff edge, no sudden removal of supports for the hundreds of thousands of workers currently laid off as a result of the pandemic. The response to this crisis has to be different this time. Austerity is neither socially acceptable nor economically necessary. We believe that the length and depth of the recession will be determined, at least in part, by the policies we choose and values that guide us.

“The report calls for a change of the priorities of governments on both sides of the border, finally addressing the unfinished business of a lost decade of austerity; including a fully funded integrated health and social care service; affordable high quality childcare in the interests of children, parents and workers; stronger workers’ rights with the promotion of sectoral collective bargaining, a social security system that protects and not punishes our most vulnerable and an increase in employer national insurance to European levels to ensure we adequately resource our society, amongst others.

“The UK as a sovereign state, like all states is in a position to borrow and take advantage of historically low interest rates. But we also need to couple this with reform.

“Our paper clearly shows that employers in both the UK and Ireland pay considerably less than their European peers when it comes to the rates of payments made by employers in the form of social contributions. The state has demonstrated its fundamental role as the backer of last resort in the crisis. We now need to take the necessary steps to reform and increase employers’ national insurance to rebuild our economy, our public services and to appropriately reward work.”