Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Strabane Trades Council Rally against Community Cuts

SIPTU supported the Strabane Trades Council in a rally against cuts to the public and community sector.
The rally was held at 2pm on Saturday 11th December in the town’s Castle Street, catching the attention of hundreds of busy Christmas shoppers.
Ryan McNulty of the local Trades Council chaired the proceeding, with the main speakers on the day being Michael Craig of the Unemployed Union, Brian Campfield of NIPSA and Kenny McAdams of Derry Trades Council.

(Michael Craig (Unemployed Union), Martin O'Rourke (SIPTU), Paul Gallagher (Strabane Trades Council), Brian Campfield (NIPSA), Ryan McNulty (Strabane Trades Council) Kenny McAdams (Derry Trades Council)

Speaking on the rally, SIPTU Lead Organiser Martin O’Rourke said,
“It was heartening to see representatives of Strabane, Derry and Letterkenny Trades Councils coming together to stand up for the most vulnerable in our society and those who provide services to them. This is a crucial time for everyone to make a stand against cuts to frontline services, whether that be in the public or community sector. SIPTU insisted that a strong community message was heard today, ensuring that we are also organised against any proposed cuts to our community services.”
“In the time ahead, SIPTU as ‘The Union for Community Workers’, will be campaigning to ensure that the frontline services in our local areas, the very lifeblood of our communities are protected from the savage slash and burn cuts being proposed by the Millionaire Tory Cabinet. We will be work with every stakeholder, to safeguard the very future of our communities, and we call on everyone’s support in this important task.”

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Thursday, 9 December 2010

SIPTU Support Student Demo in Belfast

SIPTU activists mobilised at Belfast City Hall today (Thursday 9th December) joining with over 1000 students from across the city protesting against education cuts and the ending of EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) for Secondary School Students.

The Student Demo lasted for over an hour at lunch time, with College students and Secondary School Students alike thronging the street to make a stand against ‘regressive and ultimately cruel cuts.’

SIPTU Organiser Niall McNally who was at the student demonstration said,

“It is an absolute disgrace that the Tory government are savagely attacking those most in need, including the students here today. SIPTU believe in a knowledge economy, we believe that our young people should be encouraged and facilitated in getting an education at every level. The savage cuts to education, whether that be withdrawing the EMA or implementing tuition fees in excess of £9000 creates a two tier education system, prohibiting many from working class backgrounds from seeking higher education.”

“The consensus for cuts continues to tell us that there is no alternative that these cuts need to be made, that is nothing but rubbish. There is an alternative, the Trade Unions have spelt out that alternative, if the Tory government spent less time bailing out the very instigators in this financial crisis, the Bankers, and a bit more time chasing those big tax dodging companies that can well afford to pay a fair cut, then we wouldn’t need all these regressive and ultimately cruel cuts.”

“We applaud the students today and we in SIPTU would like to see enhanced co-operation between students, and trade unions in working together against the cuts.”

SIPTU lambast Boots over Tax Dodging

SIPTU organiser Teri Cregan has criticised Boots over their tax avoidance of £86 million annually.

The Trade Union official lambasted the company for their, ‘huge tax avoidance when the public and community sector are being hit by all manner of cuts.’

Boots, who recorded over £1bn profit last year, were able to avoid the payment, due to a tax loop hole.

SIPTU are organised in Boots across the north, and are campaigning for dignity and respect in the workplace, and for business to become more ethical in how they deal with their workers and society.

Teri Cregan said,

“This tax dodging by Boots is an absolute disgrace, we believe it is morally corrupt that a thriving company can so blatantly commit tax avoidance when the public and community sector are being hit by all manner of cuts. A company that achieved well over £1bn in profits last year can easily afford to pay their fair share when it comes to tax.”

“The £86million in annual tax avoidance is essential money that should rightfully be sought and utilised by the Tory Government, rather than implementing cuts and tax hikes that target the most vulnerable in society and which will adversely affect the excellent Boots workforce and their dedicated customers in their day to day lives.”

“Tax avoidance must be ended, and the cleverly conceived, self-serving loop holes need to be closed. SIPTU have constantly said there is an alternative to these cuts, one of which is to ensure that companies like Boots pay their fair share of tax like the rest of us.”

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

SIPTU Start to Organise Omagh Communities Against Cuts

Ireland's largest Trade Union SIPTU held a number of engagements with key Community activists in Omagh town today (Monday 6th December).

SIPTU Lead Organiser Martin O'Rourke led the meetings with the community organisers, to kick-start a process of engagement and building in the campaign against cuts to the community and voluntary sector.

Among those met were Cllr Martin McColgan (Chairperson of Strathroy Community Association), Michael Kelly (Omagh Community Support Officer) Siobhan McDermott (MACCA Community Centre Development Officer, ODC), Seamus Reid (MACCA Secretary), Gerry McCusker (Omagh Neighbourhood Renewal Officer), and Conor Keys (FOCUS Development Officer).

SIPTU's Martin O'Rourke said;

"The community organisers we met today have a wealth of experience and knowledge of all the hard work that is carried out in communities across Omagh. We in SIPTU want to ensure that these essential frontline services are protected. We have a strong presence in communities in the 26 Counties, and have led the campaign against cuts facing our community services.  We are looking to harness this experience and expertise to build a similar campaign in the north, organising and bringing communities together to campaign against cuts in light of the recent Tory budget proposing £4bn of cuts."

"Community Workers provide vital services to the disadvantaged and vulnerable in our society. But now your services and the people who provide them are under threat of cutbacks and closures. It’s time we as a community come together to have our voices heard. If we do, we can help shape a better and fairer future for all."

If you interested in joining the campaign contact or 028 9031 4000

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Strabane Rally against Cuts

The north of Ireland depends to a great extent on public spending. This is because of our high levels of deprivation and an under developed economy as a result of the conflict, plus we have a younger population with more young people in education.

Over the next four years the British Government intends to take more than £4Bn out of the economy here by slashing spending on important services which we all take for granted.

These cuts are unnecessary and they will have a damaging impact on us in a whole range of areas of life.

If we fail to act the numbers of unemployed will grow from the already unacceptable almost 58,000 citizens.

Education and Health services will be cut and the working poor and the people who rely on public services will be made contribute the most.

Strabane Area Trade Union Council and Community Groups have issued a call to join the struggle for a fairer society at a rally in Castle Street Strabane (outside Post Office) on December 11th.

Assemble at 1:00pm
Guest Speakers in attendance including
Peter Bunting (Assistant General Secretary of The Irish Congress of Trade Unions)
Make your Voice Heard - Oppose the Cuts

Speaking at a recent meeting of Trade Unionists and community activists Ryan McNulty of the Strabane Area Trade Union Council called upon all right thinking people to support the protest to protect the weak in our society.

Mr Mc Nulty added,

“People are being conditioned into accepting there is no alternative to the cuts when in fact there is. We cannot afford these cuts. They must be opposed by all who think that we deserve a future. It is time to speak out and join with civil society in support of a better and fairer way."

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Northern SIPTU activists join 100,000 Strong March against Cuts in Dublin

Workers, Students, Pensioners, and people struggling to get a job came from across Ireland on Saturday to the streets of Dublin.

SIPTU activists from the north joined with over 100,000 people marching against the 'devastating cuts' being proposed in the Dublin government's 4 year plan, and the 'disastrous financial package' negotiated with the IMF/ECB.

Among those who addressed the thronged rally in Dublin, was SIPTU President Jack O'Connor.

SIPTU Organiser Martin O'Rourke speaking on the march, said,

"These devastating cuts and disastrous financial package contained in the 4 year plan will do nothing but lay further waste to the Irish economy, which will have a detrimental impact on the north already facing huge strain from proposed cuts by the Tory government. It is everyone's business to make a stand and prevent these measures from being introduced which if allowed to proceed will create further mass unemployment, see emigration figures soar, obliterate local business and investment, and create wide scale poverty and deprivation."
"We in SIPTU have constantly said there is a better fairer way, and that is to invest in our economy, to create a job stimulus package. Not to pour tax payers money down the drain by bailing out the bankers and selling the Irish economy out to International Loan Sharks."

"Just as many workers from across Ireland joined the Belfast rallies against cuts, so too workers from the north joined the Dublin march. Highlighting the solidarity that exists across the Trade Union movement in Ireland, and the great sense of collective responsibility in resisting and preventing cuts whether they come from Dublin or London."

"We all have a stake in preventing these cuts from being implemented; they will impact on all our futures. We all need to make a stand on the streets and when election time comes punish the parties and politicians proposing and supporting these crazy measures."

SIPTU react angrily to Tory arrogance

SIPTU Organiser Teri Cregan has reacted angrily to the Secretary of State Owen Paterson's recent assertion that there would be 'no negotiation' on the £4bn of cuts facing the north.

He made the remarks while giving a speech at a Co-operation Ireland dinner in Belfast on Thursday evening, stating.

"A settlement is precisely that - a settlement. It is not the opening round of a negotiation... Northern Ireland is now the only part of the United Kingdom that hasn't set a budget following the spending review settlement. That cannot go on."

Ms Cregan branded the statement as "Tory arrogance in the extreme."

(Secretary of State, Owen Paterson) 

She continued,

"An agreement is an agreement and the British government simply cannot renege on their commitments at St Andrews. We will not be pressurised into accepting the unacceptable, we will not buy the false argument that 'there is no alternative.' Thousands of people came together at Belfast City Hall in September and October making a clear stand against cuts and endorsing the Trade Union's clear and coherent alternative to the extremely punitive cuts which the Tory government are trying to force on the Assembly."

"The Tory millionaire cabinet are completely detached from reality if they think that people will just roll over and accept these disastrous cuts, we do have an alternative and the Trade Unions have presented a clear and grounded plan for economic recovery that does not involve harsh cuts which target those most in need."

"There is a better fairer way, and SIPTU will play a key role in the wider campaign and movement against Tory imposed cuts."

(Detached Millionaire Tory Cabinet)


SIPTU members take up key elected positions on Belfast City Council and the Assembly

SIPTU's lead organiser for the north Martin O'Rourke has congratulated two SIPTU members for taking up key elected positions in Belfast City Council and the Assembly.

Jim McVeigh and Pat Sheehan from Belfast are members of SIPTU's community branch in the north, and both have played a significant role in attracting new members to the union, particularly from the community and voluntary sector.

Jim will be co-opted as a councillor for the Lower Falls, and will also become the Sinn Féin group leader in Belfast City Council, while Pat has replaced Gerry Adams as MLA for West Belfast.

Speaking on this positive development, Martin O'Rourke said,

"I would like to congratulate both Jim and Pat for taking up their new elected positions in Belfast City Council and the Assembly respectively. Both men have played a very constructive role in attracting new members to SIPTU, and are playing their part in the fight back against public cuts, particularly to the community and voluntary sector."

"We will continue to work together on these issues, and I know Jim and Pat will utilise their new positions to assist further with the campaign against the cuts, using it as a platform to reach more people, and mobilise more support."

Friday, 26 November 2010

Boots workers stronger together - SIPTU

The SIPTU Boots organising committee met recently (Tues 23rd Nov) to access the progress that they have made over this past year, noting the surge in SIPTU membership and the huge interest in union activity amongst Boots workers. 

They also identified key issues of importance to workers and developed an effective plan for the year ahead.

SIPTU have hundreds of members in Boots stores across the north who are proactively campaigning in support of 'Dignity and Respect in the Workplace.'

Noting the progress of the Boots Organising Committee, SIPTU Organiser Teri Cregan said,

"Many Boots workers have flagged up bad practice by the management in dealing with their concerns, these workers simply want to be treated fairly and squarely, with the respect and dignity that they deserve and are entitled too."

"We hope the management will work with us in a positive and proactive manner to improve the working environment at Boots which will work to everyone's benefit, delivering the best result for the customers, the workers and to the very profitable employer."

"As SIPTU has increased its membership across Boots, the collective confidence of workers has improved. As we have brought the workers together, they have become stronger, and the Boots organising committee are vocal and effective in looking out for the interests of the staff and representing their needs."

"The simple message is that together we are stronger, and if we work collectively we can achieve much more."
If you are interesting in joining SIPTU or finding out more please contact; 028 9031 4000.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Down with Browne

Martin O'Rourke

SIPTU is absolutely opposed to the lifting of the cap on University tuition fees proposed through the Browne review which could see fees soar to an extortionate rate of up to £12,000 per year.

It beggars belief that these proposals be put forward at anytime, never mind in the depths of one of the harshest economic recessions.

The Browne review or any other proposed hike in student or tuition fees can not be allowed to happen, this will only result in preventing thousands of young people from low to middle income earning families from going to University and in thousands more emigrating with little to no prospects here.

In short it will create a two tier third level education system were only those that can afford it can avail of it.

Is this the type of society we want to build?

SIPTU believe in a knowledge economy and in building a skilled workforce with our young people being encouraged and assisted in excelling in their chosen career.

Our short term investment in them will ensure a brighter long term future for all of us.

To do otherwise, to make third level education the preserve of the rich will set us back a hundred years and signal the death knell of our economy.

We are heartened by the campaigning of students to prevent the crazy hike in student fees by a detached Tory cabinet stuck in their millionaire bubble.

The students of today are the workers of tomorrow, they will be the backbone of any resurgence in the economy and in creating a more stable, viable and equal society.

Let's treat them with the importance that they deserve.

Their campaign dovetails into the overall trade unions campaign against cuts and in the time ahead we want to encourage maximum unity and solidarity between all stake holders in this struggle, be they student, worker, pensioner or those in desperate search of work.

Let’s make a stand together, through unity we can win!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Invest in a better fairer future

Anne Thompson
SIPTU, Belfast

SIPTU joined with thousands of other trade union members, workers and those currently struggling to get a job on the 23rd October at Belfast City Hall when the public made a clear stand against Tory government imposed cuts.

The reckless slash and burn cuts by the Tory government will not as they claim, pave the way to recovery but rather lead the way to mass immigration and increase the extreme hardship faced by working families and the most marginalised and disadvantaged in society, while their banker mates are propped up by criminally extortionate salaries, bonuses and enhanced pensions enabled by the saviour of good honest tax payers monies - our money.

An economic mess, not of our making but by the champagne supping 'economists', yet we are being asked to pay for it?

What we need is investment, a commitment to protecting and creating jobs, and only through that can we begin to build stability and work our way back to prosperity.

We need a knowledge economy, yet we are not providing the incentives to our brightest, most talented young people to stay and work here.

The millionaire cabinet are denying a generation the opportunity to live and work here, by laying waste to our economy.

The 23rd of October was a clear signal that there are thousands upon thousands of mobilised people who are not willing to accept these cuts, and will resist and oppose the reckless assault on our jobs and economy by a millionaires cabinet acting like a bunch of absentee landlords.

Play your part in facing down and defeating these cuts, join a trade union, attend future trade union rallies, and lobby your political representatives to make a clear stand against these cuts.

There is an alternative to cuts, we can build a better and fairer future through investment.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Punish the bankers, NOT the workers!

Teri Cregan
SIPTU Organiser

On Wednesday 29th September, the trade unions and hundreds of their members assembled at Belfast City Hall, joining in solidarity with public service workers, making a clear stand against Sammy Wilson's proposed government cuts of £2 billion, which if implemented would see the loss of up to 40,000 jobs.

The rally was only the kick start of a campaign that will quickly pick up steam and ensure that these potentially devastating cuts are resisted and stopped in their tracks.

A number of political parties and community voluntary groups from all sides of the community joined with the Trade Unions, demonstrating the cross section and wide ranging opposition to the 'Millionaire Cabinet's' Tory cuts.

One of the next big steps in the campaign will be a mass mobilisation again at Belfast City Hall on Saturday 23rd October at .
Make a stand against ideologically influenced cuts which punish the poorest in our society while the bankers continue to pay themselves unbelievable bonuses aided by tax payer’s money.

If we stay silent, the government will think its ok to implement the cuts, we can make a change by letting our voices be heard. Be there so that the government can hear you.

SIPTU will be mobilising all of our members and we would encourage you to join with us and the trade union movement, our message on the day will be very clear, 'Punish the bankers, NOT the workers - Stop the Cuts!'

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Video of SIPTU at 'Stop the Cuts' Rally in Belfast

SIPTU join 'Stop the Cuts' Rally in Belfast

SIPTU members joined with hundreds of workers on the joint Trade Union Rally against proposed cuts at Belfast City Hall today (Wednesday 29th September.)

The NIC - ICTU rally was organised to coincide with the European day of action against austerity measures and drastic cuts to public services by Government's across the continent.

The rally included a number of speakers including Peter Bunting from ICTU and Patricia McKeown of Unison, with all speakers gaining a great response with rapturous applause from the enthusiastic audience.

SIPTU members defiantly demonstrated with placards and flags, backing the united call that workers should not pay for the irresponsible actions of the bankers.

Speaking from the march, SIPTU representative Anne Thompson said,

"Today's rally was called to galvanise support behind the campaign to stop cuts to essential public services and to send a very clear message to Sammy Wilson that local people will not tolerate or allow the £2 billion of cuts which he proposed."

"Siptu will be to the fore in working with all the unions, political parties, community and voluntary groups in ensuring that working people and those most in need are not footing the bill and suffering for the irresponsible and gung ho actions of the bankers."

"Today's rally was a great kick start to the campaign, and we encourage everyone to weigh in behind the next 'stop the cuts' rally at 1pm on 23rd October at Belfast City Hall. See you there!"

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

We 'did not let it slip' - why should we pay for it?

Niall McNally
SIPTU Organiser

The recent announcement by Stormont Finance Minister Sammy Wilson, that the Assembly would need to make cuts of more than £2 billion is deeply worrying and must not be allowed to proceed.

There must be united resistance against what can only be described as economic absurdity.

We simply cannot allow a Tory government to impose cuts that may see the loss of up to 40,000 jobs. Laying waste to the public sector, and exerting huge pressure on the private sector, which will be expected too but cannot fill this unimaginable gap.

(Niall McNally, SIPTU Organiser)

If allowed to proceed, the cuts will have a disastrous impact on the local economy and by extension our communities.

Everyone has their part to play in ensuring these cuts are halted in their path. There must be unity across trade unions, civic society and our political parties to demonstrate the strongest will of the people in a solid rejection of these extreme cuts.

Speaking on the current recession at the TUC conference, Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England said, "We let it slip, we, that is, the financial sector and policy makers."

As the admission of Mr King tells it, working people did not create the crisis, so why should we pay for it?

SIPTU believe that only through government investment, protecting the jobs we have, while stimulating the economy through imaginative job creation, like investment in the green economy, infrastructure and social care, can we build and work our way back out of any recession.

Cuts are not the answer, short term savings will only lead to long term unemployment, economic wilderness and recession.

If you are disgusted at the thought of 40,000 job losses, the most savage of cuts to our public sector and services, and the heart being ripped out of our communities through prolonged recession, then stand up and be counted.

Join with the Trade Unions at Belfast City Hall at 12.30pm on Wednesday 29th September demanding an end to cuts to our public services!

Save Our Communities

Jim McVeigh
Community and Voluntary Sector Branch

At present in the north over 27,000 people work in the community and voluntary sector. They are for the most part dedicated people who work long, often unsociable hours for low pay. Tens of thousands more volunteer week in, week out, supporting in many cases the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our society.

Community organisations provide absolutely frontline services to our people who need it most and already cushion the impact of poor healthcare, low wages and inadequate government funding. Support care for our elderly, childcare for our working parents, support for those suffering from domestic violence, education and training opportunity to help prepare people for employment and lift them out of poverty, vital cross community work, including supporting victims of the political conflict on all sides, taking our youth off the streets and into more constructive activities and past times.

If these vital projects and services are cut in the time ahead, it will be the most disadvantaged, the most vulnerable in our communities that will suffer. It will be your reader's local elderly care projects that will close, it will be your reader's local youth clubs that will close, it will be your reader's childcare projects that will go to the wall. it will be them, their neighbours and our children who will suffer.

Cuts to frontline community services, will not only mean jobs lost to the economy but the reduction of vital services. Service’s that none of us can afford to do without. SIPTU believes that all of our local politicians, including Basil McCrea, all of our executive ministers, should be vigorously opposing any cuts to frontline services.

The poor should not be expected to pay for the greed and irresponsibility of the bankers.

Friday, 3 September 2010

SIPTU Boots Day of Action Video

SIPTU organises 'Dignity and Respect in the Workplace' Day of Action in Belfast

Ireland's largest trade union, SIPTU held a 'dignity and respect in the workplace' day of action on Tuesday 31st August at the Boots flagship store, in Donegall Square, Belfast.

The day of action which included the distribution of SIPTU badges to workers in the store, was aimed at raising awareness on workers rights and promoting dignity and respect in the workplace.

Speaking on a successful day of action, SIPTU organiser Teri Cregan said,

"The day of action was another important step in highlighting the campaign to ensure workers rights are enshrined in the workplace. The Boots workers were fully supportive of the SIPTU Boots Organising Committee's decision to have the day of action and were happy to take part in the campaign to make sure all their staff, across all the stores, are treated with dignity and respect. Wearing the SIPTU badge was their way of showing support for the campaign, and they were very enthusiastic to carry it through".

"SIPTU will continue to lead the campaign to ensure 'dignity and respect in the workplace' and will work to empower, organise and represent the workers in Boots stores across the north."