Threats to Ulster University staff ‘outrageous’

The University of Ulster’s threat to deduct 100% of salary for each day that a member of staff participates in a marking and assessment boycott has been branded as ‘outrageous’ by the Workers Party

The action effectively amounts to a lockout in an attempt to force members of University and College Union (UCU) to end their industrial action.

After voting decisively in favour of industrial action, including a marking and assessment boycott, their university employers have refused to meet UCU’s reasonable and just demands in the pay and working conditions dispute, which also include a framework to eliminate zero-hours, and other insecure, contracts and meaningful action to tackle unmanageable workloads.

They are also protesting against dramatic changes to their pension rights which would see at least 35% slashed from a typical member’s guaranteed retirement income.

The latest threats come against a backdrop of similar coercions in third level education across the UK with job losses and course closures in at least a dozen universities – all of them ones which predominately service local communities, mature students and 1st generation students, meaning they will have the greatest impact on working class students

The UCU members taking industrial action here are not only seeking to protect the interests of their members but also the future security and quality of third level education.

It is clear from this and other recent instances, the sacking of the P&O workers for example, that the gains and achievements fought for and attained by workers over generations are being undermined and reversed.

We extend our solidarity and best wishes to the UCU and its members in this dispute.

Holiday Meals scheme must be funded

Workers Party representative in South Belfast, Patrick Lynn has written to the acting Education Minister Michelle McIlveen demanding that she takes the necessary steps to ensure that holiday meals money is made available this summer.

The £22m needed to fund the school summer holiday home meals scheme is claimed to be ’frozen’ because the Executive is not currently functioning due to the DUP refusing to nominate a Speaker or Deputy First Minister.

“Ninety-eight thousand children here will be dependent on these payments for regular meals during the summer holidays”, Patrick said.

” Whatever the arguments about process, and how the money can or cannot be released, the imperative is that the scheme is fully funded and that children’s health, well being and nutrition are protected,” he said.

“I have written to the Acting Education Minister Michelle McIlveen demanding that she contacts her fellow Ministers to secure their agreement to release the money immediately. This is not only possible but it has a precedent with other Ministers releasing money from their budgets for other schemes,” Patrick explained.

“There can be no excuses for depriving children of food and nutrition. There must be no excuses. If golf clubs and businesses can be given cash subsidies of over £22 billion, then vulnerable children can also be provided for.” concluded Patrick

Northern Ireland Protocol: incompetence and hypocrisy

Tuesday’s announcement of proposed changes to the existing EU Protocol reek of both hypocrisy and incompetence.

Many will ask why these relatively straightforward solutions – like a Green Lane and a Red Lane – have taken so long to get to the negotiating table.

Others will question the gross incompetence of the Tory government in its drafting and acceptance of the Protocol Bill in the first place. Yet more will point to the hypocrisy of the Irish Government, Sinn Fein and the SDLP for their aggressive defence and unconditional insistence on its full implementation when they knew all along that it was flawed and problematic.

The changes to the Protocol will take time. The changes can be made and they can wait for the amendments to take their course.

What cannot wait is the need for a fully functioning Assembly and Executive to start addressing the real and growing problems facing working people and their families, the cost of living, NHS wating lists, the shortage of public housing, low pay, integrated education, a Bill of Rights and the absence of accessible affordable childcare.

The Democratic Unionist Party must now return to Stormont, appoint a Speaker, nominate a Deputy First Minister and bring to an end, the current phase of, this dysfunctional government.

Amnesty proposals disregard the needs of victims

Irrespective of how it is dressed up, what conditions are attached or how often the British government says it – an amnesty for those responsible for murder and other serious crimes during the ‘Troubles’ will never be acceptable.

Any attempts to bypass and forgo full judicial scrutiny of legacy murders and other serious crimes of the Troubles are designed to cover up and excuse the excesses of state and terrorist actions.

Such proposals totally disregard the needs of victims, survivors and their families.

Whatever process is finally adopted it cannot and must not provide an escape route for murder irrespective of those responsible.

No Executive – No Salaries

The Democratic Unionist Party has an obligation and a responsibility to the electorate to immediately propose an Assembly Speaker, take their seats and nominate a Deputy First Minister. Nothing less is acceptable.

The Northern Ireland Protocol needs to be amended. Many of its aspects are damaging and unnecessary, but walking away from the Executive is not the answer.

We witnessed the pattern of ‘stop/start’ government throughout the last Assembly and now, yet again, the Executive has been collapsed.

The structures of government set out in the Good Friday Agreement may be understandable in the context of the time when agreement was reached, but they are no longer fit for purpose – in part due to the ways in which these structures and mechanisms have been abused.

To secure the ability of the Assembly to function, to hold parties to account and to ensure that neither the DUP nor Sinn Fein are ever able to collapse the institutions in future, we need, as a minimum,  to move from mandatory to voluntary coalition, abolish the  community designation requirements and  reform the Petition of Concern to ensure that it can never again be used to veto social or equality legislation.

In the meantime, those MLAs who are preventing the Assembly from functioning by frustrating the election of a new Speaker and blocking the formation of an Executive should have their salaries withheld until they return to government.


No Executive – No Salaries

If DUP MLAs do not take their seats , nominate a Deputy First Minister and allow the Executive to function then they shoud not receive their salaries until they do

Sign the Petition

Make changes tomorrow…Friday will be too late

In a joint eve of poll statement, Workers Party candidates in six constituencies have urged voters to focus on what is important to them, not what the main parties try to tell them is important.

“When we all wake up on Friday morning the issues that will be affecting our lives won’t be a Border Poll, the Protocol, Flags, Culture Wars or who the First Minister is.

It will be the Cost of Living, the Health Service, Housing, Education, Low Pay and the Environment.”, they said.

“What difference will it make to a family facing a daily dilemma of heat or eat, who the First Minster is?

What difference will it make to people living in chronic poverty, poor housing, or even no housing?

What difference will it make to young mothers desperately wanting to work but not being able to find or afford child care?”, they asked.

What difference will a Border Poll make – win, lose or draw –  to a young student unable to go to university, a teenager unable to secure an apprenticeship or a family with no heat and little food? Absolutely none”, they said

“Thursday is the day that change can be made. Friday will be too late. 

Only the Workers Party offers the socialist alternative to dysfunctional government, sectarianism and self interest and offers real hope for radical change in this society.”, they said 

The Workers Party is running candidates in six constituencies :

Belfast North          Lily Kerr

Belfast South          Patrick Lynn

Belfast East            Eoin Mac Neill

Belfast West           Patrick Crossan

Mid Ulster               Hugh Scullion

Newry & Armagh    Nicola Grant

What the Candidates have been saying

Hugh Scullion (Mid Ulster) focussed on the problems of mental ill-helath in rural areas. Workers Party Mid Ulster

West Belfast candidate, Patrick Crossan, raised concerns and queries about public housing on the old Mackies site: Workers Party West Belfast:

In East Belfast, Eoin MacNeill was arguing the case for apprenticship schemes and an economy built around young people: Workers Party Belfast East

Nicola Grant ( Newry & Armagh) continued her camapign to secure services at Daisy Hill Hospital. Workers Party Newry and Armagh:

The Party candidate in South Befast, Patrick Lynn highlighted social deprivation, inner city blight and health inequalities: Workers Party Belfast South:

Meanwhile in North Belfast Lily Kerr was canvassing the Oldpark area, putting up some final posters and being interviewed by a local journalist. Workers Party Belfast North

‘The Class Politics of Poverty’: Workers Party’s Northern Ireland Conference

Criticism of the Stormont Executive, and its repeated failure to deliver for working class people, was a recurring theme at the Workers Party’s annual Northern ireland conference held at the weekend.

Conference discussed the worst cost of living crisis in decades, the impact it is having on working class people and their families and how that has been made worse by a dysfunctional Stormont Executive. which has failed, failed and is set to fail again.

“With families, the vulnerable and the elderly particularly affected, the main political parties have, yet again, put their own sectional and sectarian interests ahead of the community”.

Conference Quote

Confernece presentations included papers on Poverty Facts and Figures, Women and Poverty, Mental Helath and Poverty, Child Poverty the Class Nature of Poverty, Food Banks and Poverty and The Failures of the Stormont Executive .

The conference was also addressed by guest speaker Pastor Tony Meehan of the West Belfast Food Bank and by the Workers Party President Cllr Ted Ted Tynan.

Members also discussed the recent sackings of P&O ferry workers by parent company Dubai Port World and extened solidarity to Unite the Union workers currently engaged in industrial action in pursuit of a just pay settlemernt and to staff at Ulster and Queens Universities in dispute over pensions and terms and conditions.

The conference in pictures and quotes:

PETITION: Secure Emergency Surgery Services at Daisy Hill Hospital

Nicola Grant, the Workers Party representative in Newry /Armagh has spoken of “the considerable public concern over the possibility that emergency surgery may no longer be performed at Daisy Hill Hospital”. Now Nicola has launched a petition to focus public support.

“Local healthcare should always be safe, of the highest quality and be professionally delivered – but it must also be accessible”, she said.

“This ‘temporary ‘arrangement and any subsequent reconfiguration of services will mean local patients requiring urgent surgery could face a journey of over an hour to Craigavon”, Nicola added.

“We have heard promises of ‘temporary’ changes before and they have nearly always proven to be permanent”, she warned

Sign the petition to impress on the Southern Trust the Department of Health and the Health Minister the importance of retaining emergency surgery services at Daisy Hill

When is the time? Now is the time!

Attempts to block a Bill progressing integrated education have been slammed by veteran trade unionist and Workers Party representative in north Belfast, Lily Kerr.

“While the bill being discussed will not deliver a fully integrated and secular education system here, it does at least mark some progress in that direction “, Lily said.

Her comments come in the wake of news that the DUP are considering the use of a Petition of Concern to block the Bill’s progress and suggestions by others that ‘now is not the right time” to be promoting integrated education.

Opinion poll after opinion poll has demonstrated overwhelming support, in excess of 80%,  for integrated education.

“When is the right time?” asked Lily “Now is the right time” she said

The Bill currently being discussed by the Assembly would lead to the promotion, reform and the expansion of integrated education. It would increase the number of integrated school places and set targets for the number of children being educated in integrated schools.

“Segregation of children has never been right, It is not right now”, Lily concluded