18 letters to Northern Ireland MPs

As speculation mounts that the Tory government is planning to introduce yet more restrictive anti-trade union legislation, including withdrawing the right of workers to take industrial action, it seems clear that an all-out assault on workers’ rights is in the offing.

In times of rampant income inequality, falling pay, precarious and exploitative working practices, job insecurity and continuing attacks on trade unions, it is all the more important that workers’ rights are protected.

The right to strike is a fundamental democratic right that must be protected and defended.

Workers only ever go on strike as an absolute last resort. Strikes happen where workers feel strongly that they are still being unfairly treated and not listened to – strongly enough to go without pay while on strike.

The Workers Party has written to each of Northern Ireland’s eighteen MPs, including Sinn Fein MPs who do not take their seats, asking them to declare whether they would vote against any anti-worker legislation if it comes before the Westminster Parliament.

Every major improvement in workers’ pay, conditions and safety has had to be secured through industrial action.

The 5-day week, equal pay, the minimum wage, increases in holiday entitlements, parental leave and improvements in health and safety at work have all been secured though organised labour and industrial action.

We will publish the responses and record any non-responses in the coming weeks.

Campaign Against Cuts to BBC Radio Foyle

The National Union of Journalists( NUJ) is campaigning against the cuts to BBC Radio Foyle and is appealing for support for its petition and public meeting on January 4th next year.

See the links below for further details of the campaign website, petition and meeting information.


Campaign Website: https://www.nuj.org.uk/resource/say-no-to-bbc-radio-foyle-cuts.html

Petition linkhttps://www.megaphone.org.uk/petitions/save-bbc-radio-foyle-oppose-cuts-to-jobs-and-programmes

Eventbrite linkhttps://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/save-bbc-radio-foyle-nuj-public-meeting-tickets-487531599137

Save BBC Radio Foyle: NUJ public meeting Join us at a public meeting hosted by Derry and North West NUJ branch on 4 January, to oppose proposed cuts at BBC Radio Foyle.

Supporting Striking Healthcare Workers

Nursing staff in Northern Ireland, Wales and England took to the pickets lines this morning in defence of safe staffing levels and a fair pay settlement. Workers Party members joined them at several locations to demonstrate solidarity and support .

The Director of the Royal College of Nursing in Northern Ireland , Rita Devlin, explained the background to today’s action,

“Nurses in Northern Ireland have today spoken loudly and clearly to tell our politicians that we can no longer tolerate the unacceptable and at times unsafe conditions that nursing staff are putting up with, day in day out. This is not a decision that has been taken lightly but it is clear that our members feel they have no other choice but to take action on behalf of their patients”.

This is only the second time in their history that nurses in Northern Ireland have gone on strike. Today they joined the thousands of workers across the public and the private sectors who have been forced to form picket lines at their places of work in the fight for above inflation wage increases. pension rights, job security, conditions of employment and in defence of safe public services.

No one wants to be on strike, but they have been left with no option other than to engage in industrial action.

There is too much at stake to passively accept the erosion of our public services, The implications for the quality of life for thousands of families, and of future generations, are too far reaching not to exert all the pressure possible in support of working people.

They deserve our full support and solidarity.

‘Tis the Season: domestic abuse at Christmas and New Year

Incidents of domestic abuse increase sharply at this time of year. Between Christmas Day and Boxing Day last year the PSNI received 245 domestic abuse calls. Between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day a further 275 incidents were recorded.

Year on year, there are around 30,000 recorded incidents of domestic abuse and on average a woman in an abusive relationship is murdered here every other month.

Yet Northern Ireland remains the only part of the UK without a specific strategy to protect women and girls from violence. While several pieces of uncoordinated legislation have been introduced in recent years and initiatives such as ‘Ask for Angela’have been adopted, there is still no overall strategy to protect women and girls from violence.

Recent arrests operations of suspects wanted on bench warrants in connection with
domestic abuse and for breaches of protective orders, are not enough. The
system is failing women.

Legislation alone, vital as it is, will not be enough to overcome a culture which sees women and girls as objects and commodities and tolerates misogyny and prejudicial gender-based attitudes.

Nor will it be overcome for as long as we are subject to an economic and social system which has an intrinsic self interest in sustaining and perpetuating gender discrimination in its pursuit of profits, lower wages and working-class division.

Violence against women and girls takes many forms, including domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, child, early and forced marriage, trafficking, and increasingly online through cyber bullying.

There is never a time of year when domestic abuse should ever be tolerated. If you or someone you know is suffering abuse or violence, help and support is available.

Follow the link for Contact Numbers, Help and Advice

‘Invest in Young People’

Youth Services across Belfast are facing budget cuts so severe that many projects, schemes and life changing initiatives will no longer be available. #youthwork

The Education Authority which provides financial help for youth clubs is planning cuts in excess of 30% to its funding of local youth clubs and schemes which support young people across the city.y representative Patrick Crossan has condemned the proposed cuts as “damaging, detrimental and dangerous.”

He has also criticised the Education Authority and the Department of Education for their lack of consultation and discussion on the matter and for the way in which youth clubs and other services were informed of their intentions.

Patrick Crossan

“I am aware that in the case of one youth club in the Lower Falls area, they expect to see their funding from the Education Authority slashed by over 30% next year,” Patrick said.

“The harsh reality is that jobs will be lost, staff to young people ratios will be reduced meaning that many services will no longer be available”.

“Many people will be unaware of the tremendous and life changing work provided by local youth clubs. Youth workers, and the services they provide, help to reduce crime in local areas, engage young people in training and educational opportunities, help steer young people away from drugs and other addictions, provide a safe and nurturing environment and even assist in increasing the number of young people from socially disadvantaged areas going on to university and other third level courses”, Patrick said.

“These are vital, community based, support services for our young people – and, given the counselling and support role of local youth services, in many cases they can also be literally lifesaving”. Patrick added.

Senior Youth Worker, Stephen Hughes, discussing the proposed cuts with the Workers Party’s Joanne Lowry

“Vital programmes delivered between local youth clubs which have been successful in reducing violence at interface areas will now also be at risk”. Patrick pointed out.

On behalf of the Workers Party, I have contacted the Chief Executive of the Education Authority asking that her Board meets in emergency session to re-appraise the funding proposals, engage with local youth services and to urgently impress upon the Department of Education the need for the full funding of youth services”.

“At a time of crisis in the cost of living, increasing social deprivation, growing alienation amongst young people and a serious escalation in the incidence of teenage mental health problems, we need to invest, and invest significantly in young people, the services and support that they need and the organisations and groups that help to provide it,” Patrick concluded.

Fighting for Pay, Pensions, Jobs, Conditions & Public Services

Workers Party members, joined by Susan Fitzgerald of UNITE the Union (centre), on the picket lines today in support of University and College staff and later with postal workers outside the Tomb Street depot.

Day in and day out, week in and week out thousands of workers across the public and the private sectors are forced to form picket lines at their places of work in the fight for above inflation wage increases. pension rights, job security, conditions of employment and in defence of public services.

No one wants to be on strike, but have been left with no option other than to engage in industrial action. There is too much at stake to passively accept the erosion of our public services, the privatisation of health, education and possibly water. The implications for the quality of life for thousands of families, and of future generations, are too far reaching not to exert all the pressure possible in support of working people.

Food banks, breakfast clubs for hungry children and government energy payment hand outs are now being presented as the norm. Just as obscene profits and huge shareholders dividends are being presented as the natural order of things.

This crisis, like every other crisis that affects the lives and livelihoods of working people, is a crisis caused by the capitalism system and, like every other crisis it creates, working people will be expected to pay the price.

The cost of living, spiralling energy costs, cuts to public services and the struggles to secure a decent wage and working conditions have seen working people find their feet, their voices and their collective. We all have a role to play by supporting those taking industrial action for the benefit of all.

This is a fight we must win.

Death by a Thousand Cuts

The National Health Service is in crisis. Right wing think tanks and Tories, at home and at Westminster, suggest prescription charges and paying to see the doctor as ‘solutions’. But worse, the very existence of the NHS is under threat.

Emergency Surgery

While the ‘temporary’ withdrawals of emergency surgery at the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen and at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry earlier this year make the headlines and quite rightly attract public attention, even more profound issues are emerging.

The Western Trust, as well as the Department of Health, has a responsibility to set out very clearly its long-term plans for emergency surgery in the south-west and the implications for patients, services and staff. 

We need to see the overall plan for the future of health and care services and discuss it openly and in the round. Drip feeding information and making announcements by instalments is undermining public and staff confidence.

Local healthcare should always be safe, of the highest quality and be professionally delivered – but it must also be accessible. Patient journeys of over an hour to receive emergency treatment falls well outside of that – even on a ‘temporary’ basis.

General Practitioners

As long as GPs remain as private independent contractors there will continue to be the difficulties in recruitment and threats to services that we have been hearing about recently.

GPs becoming NHS employees, instead of private contractors, would improve the service, reduce waiting times and address many of the problems currently faced in primary care – including the closure of GP practices

It would be inconceivable that other health and care professionals like nurses, social workers and hospital doctors would sit outside the NHS rather than be its employees/. Why should GPs be any different?

Community Care

For the thousands of people who receive treatment, care and support in their own home comes the additional health benefits of familiar surroundings, family, dignity, reassurance and a level of control. Yet despite the fundamental nature of community care the service and its centrality to health, well-being, rehabilitation, recuperation and added years, it has always been, and remains, a Cinderella service.

The majority of community-based care is now provided by a plethora of private companies. It is delivered by some of the lowest paid workers in the health and care system and prioritises profit over people.

The community care system is criminally underfunded. Successive Health Ministers and the Department of Health have never accepted it as a valid and vital part of the health and care system and continue to see buildings and technology as the core of the health service

Why is it that twenty five years ago local community care services were receiving international acclaim for their innovation, flexibility, high standard of care and the contribution they were making to patient care, yet today medically fit patients are forced to remain in hospital because no care package is available to them?  .

Decades of Austerity

For decades, services have been cut, wards and departments have been closed, staff have been under-valued and underpaid and waiting lists spiral out of control while private clinics flourish and those with the money to pay go to the top of the queue.

The Scottish Health Department last week drafted a discussion paper which explored the introduction of what it unashamedly referred to as a two-tier NHS.

Of course, the reality is that the ground work for that very scenario has been laid over many years. The privatisation of the lucrative parts of the service is an ongoing process, plans to allow US and other companies to buy NHS services are always on the table and the erosion and underfunding of existing services conditions public opinion to accept anything that looks like a better alternative. grave Health Service free at the point of use, as long as people are willing to fight for it”.

“…there will always be a cradle to the grave Health Service free at the point of use, as long as people are willing to fight for it”


We are not looking at isolated cases of the ‘temporary’ transfer of services. We are witnessing the potential death of the NHS by a thousand cuts. Since its inception in the 1940s there has been an active and relentless campaign by some to undermine the principle of publicly funded health and social care, free at the point of delivery, and replace it with private health insurance, private healthcare and priv

The Assembly

The Assembly should be in session, there should be a Health Minister and there should be plans, proposals and public discussions. But the current crisis has not been caused by the absence of an Executive. It has been building for years and it has been happening on the watch of successive administrations and successive ministers.  It is one of the outcomes of the policies of deregulation, privatisation and the breakup of public services.

World Best

The NHS is indeed in a crisis. It is being undermined, underfunded and cherrypicked for privatisation.

We owe it to the generations of front-line workers and support staff who have developed and delivered one of the best healthcare services in the world to defend it against those who would sell it off to the highest bidder.

For now, a concerted effort will keep the NHS afloat, but only in a socialist society can it be guaranteed to achieve its full potential.

Support and Solidarity

Workers Party members joined striking trade unionists from the Communications Workers Union and the University & College Union on picket lines across Belfast this morning in support of their just demands for above inflation pay awards, job security, improved conditions and pension rights.

A Blind Man on a Galloping Horse

In recent weeks we have seen a clear demonstration of exactly who runs the economy, and consequently our lives: it’s big business, multi-nationals and global conglomerates – not governments.

When the ‘markets’ decided that a recent budget posed a threat to their profits, they effectively pulled the economic plug and dictated how taxes, public spending and wages should be skewed in their favour.

Again and again

That is a scenario that has been recited repeatedly. Governments can say and do what they want – but the markets, the multi-nationals and the big financial institutions will ultimately dictate policy and how our lives are lived. They will recover their losses at out expense, they will enforce austerity, demand that public spending is cut, that services are privatised and that working people bail them out when their fundamentally flawed economics once again hit the rocks.

A blind man on a galloping horse could see that tinkering, negotiating or pandering to capitalism is as pointless as it is futile. That same man on that same horse can also see the impotent and diversionary nature of our local identity politics.


How comforting must it be to those who sponge off the backs of working people to know that everything here is seen in terms of Orange and Green, that flags, symbols and culture wars are promoted as more important than jobs, education, public services, opportunity and a quality of life. How re-assuring must it be for all the main political; parties that the Northern Ireland electorate, the local media and almost every civic institution is happy to go along with that, repeat it and re-enforce it?

The current cost of living crisis provides us with only the latest example – if any of us care to look – of the self preserving powers of the economic elite. Profits continue to rise, the markets have been made safe for good returns in investment and all the while children go hungry, homes go unheated and human potential is devalued and wasted.

It is time to tackle the myth that the market and “consumer choice” can provide a solution. This model has patently failed. Lining the pockets of the capitalist class will only deepen the problems.

Thousands of working people across almost every sector of employment have been forced into taking industrial action in defence of decent wages, workplace rights and safer and accessible public services.

The market economy has flexed its muscles. Working people must demonstrate the overwhelming power of unity and solidarity that only the working class movement can muster.

It is time to call time on the anonymous and faceless financial institutions that dictate and direct our lives and time also to call time on their self serving sectarian subalterns in Stormont and elsewhere.

No Winners in World Cup of Shame

The FIFA World Cup 2022, which kicked off yesterday in Qatar, is an affront to human dignity and workers’ rights.

It epitomises the depths of economic exploitation and human  degradation which the Qatari state  and the male branch of the al-Thani Royal family, which has been in power since the 1800’s has sunk to secure the right to stage the contest in the first place and the treatment of migrant workers employed to build the stadia and infrastructure.

It is estimated that at least 6,500 migrant workers died during the building phase –  most from overwork in unsafe temperatures. The Qatari authorities refuse to confirm numbers or hold an investigation into the deaths. Many workers have had little or no time off, have worked 12 hour shifts and have been threatened with loss of wages or deportation if they report in sick.

The families of migrant workers are being denied financial compensation for the loss of their loved ones.  A United Nations report found workers living in  “squalid, overcrowded accommodation with no air-conditioning and exposed to overflowing sewage or uncovered septic tanks”. 

That is how this World Cup has been delivered. Allegations of bribery and corruption, a total disregard for workers rights or human dignity and a political system that openly discriminates against ‘women and the LBGT+ community.

Qatar already has a poor history. Political parties are banned. The emir, himself
unelected, appoints the prime minister and cabinet members. He also chooses his
successor with the aid of the ruling family. Sharia courts have jurisdiction over all
family law matters. Women must obtain permission from their male guardians to
exercise many of their basic rights. Journalists and those protesting for their rights
have been detained.

This has placed the professional footballers and supporters in an invidious position. The Qatar World Cup is a World Cup of Shame. Qatar must be held to account