TELETECH: Assembly must act to save jobs
Chris Bailie and Gemma Weir, Workers Party representatives in North Belfast have called on Invest NI and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to act quickly to secure alternative employment for the 197 employees of Teletech currently facing redundancy.
“We need the same kind of intervention that was made to support the employees of KPL the Dungiven based firm which collapsed in February”, Chris argued.
“The redundancies at Teletech take effect in just under two month’s time”, Gemma said “Invest NI and the Enterprise Department must act decisively to secure these jobs, retain the skills in the North Belfast area and demonstrate that the Assembly is capable of making positive interventions in the local economy”, she added.
“This cannot be allowed to become just another economic statistic. Government provides support for the banks and tax incentives for start-up companies, the same level of commitment must be shown to secure the jobs of the Teletech workers”, concluded Chris and Gemma
1 in 4 Northern Ireland workers do not earn enough for a decent standard of living
Northern Ireland has significantly higher levels of low pay than any other UK region and low pay is of most concern in sectors of the economy that are growing. This level of low pay is a serious threat to the domestic economy and any chance of recovery.
That is one of the main findings of a research report prepared by the The Nevin Economic Research Institute which also finds that 17% of workers are officially classified as low paid (115,000) that 9% (61,000) earn only the National Minimum Wage or less and that 1 in 4 Northern Ireland workers do not earn enough for a decent standard of living.
The National Minimum Wage (currently £6.31 per hour) is not enough to live on. Many working families have to rely on tax credits and other benefits to compensate for low pay.Despite the introduction of a new ‘Living Wage’ scheme in England, Scotland and Wales the Assembly in Northern Ireland has made no moves in that direction.
Glasgow Council is one of many local government authorities to have introduced the £7.65 living wage for all its employees.
An hourly Living Wage of at £7.65 in Northern Ireland would help thousands of local people to start moving away from the poverty trap, reduce the cost of top-up benefits, put more money into the local economy and help encourage people back into work.
There are around 170,000 working people in Northern Ireland who receive less than that.
The Workers Party hascalled on the Finance Minister to introduce legislation at the Assembly to allow all local authorities and public sector organisations here to pay their employees the Living Wage rate.We are also demanding that a Living Wage clause is written in to all contracts with private sector companies delivering public projects.
Steps to introduce a Living Wage in Northern Ireland should be quickly followed by a planned programme to address poverty and the working poor using state and public assets to deliver economic change in Northern Ireland. Cuts and austerity are not the answer.
Chris Bailie: housing crisis in North Belfast
Workers Party representative in the Oldpark area, Chris Bailie, has rounded on local politicians and individuals who he says “have made North Belfast’s housing crisis worse by their nakedly sectarian approach to the problem and their blatant disregard for those in need of a home and those seeking improved housing conditions”
“There is a housing crisis in North Belfast”, Chris said “Waiting lists are growing and not enough homes are being built. Much of the existing housing stock is in need of urgent upgrading”
“Yet there are no serious plans to address these problems let alone make serious inroads to tackling them”, he said.
“Many local politicians and a number of individuals see this housing crisis solely in terms of a sectarian headcount. They are much more interested in making sure that ‘the other side’ don’t get houses rather than supporting a comprehensive house building and repair programme for the north Belfast area,” protested Chris.
“The Girdwood Barracks proposals are an unfortunate example of a blatant sectarian carve up. The DUP and Sinn Fein want a segregated housing development in which there are no winners with a ‘community hub’ between the two. That is nothing more than a designer Peace Wall”, he said.
“The right to a home is a basic human right. Unfortunately it is a right increasingly denied to a growing number of people in north Belfast because sectarian head counting has become more important than building houses.” concluded Chris.
What type of society do we really want?
The latest edition of the Party newsletter leads with the questi0n ‘What type of society do we really want’? directly challenging the sterile politics of unionism and nationalism, sectarianism and flags.
What we urgently need, it is argued, is a real discussion about the type of society we live in and the kind of values it upholds.
There are also calls for the introduction of a Living Wage in Northern Ireland, a public inquiry into the crisis in health and social care services and proposals for a Community Charter Against Racism.
Read an online copy of the March /April edition here:
WP Newsletter March_April 2014
Joanne Lowry (centre) at the screening of ‘Mother Jones’
“What is it like being a woman in Northern Ireland today”? That was one of the questions posed at a Workers Party event to mark International Women’s Day.
Highlight of the evening was the screening of the film ‘Mother Jones’ – a women born in Cork but who emigrated to the United States who went on to be a trade union organiser who was once dubbed ‘the most dangerous woman in America’.
A post film discussion focused on women in Northern Ireland society, what still needs to be achieved and the obstacles which have to be overcome.
The full emancipation of women cannot be achieved within the current social system and that full freedom for women will only be achieved in a socialist society.
The Party also issued a statement to mark International Women’s Day highlighting the minimum steps which need to be taken by the Assembly to secure women’s position in Northern Ireland society. See: What is the Assembly doing for women?
Read more about Mother Jones: