Saturday, 26 February 2011

SIPTU condemns threat made against community sector workers

In recent days Oglaigh na hEireann the dissident republican group warned it would not tolerate “acts of treachery” — meaning any information passed to police that could lead to the arrest of its members. At the heart of the story is the issue of community co-operation with the PSNI.
SIPTU’s lead organiser Martin O’Rourke today called for the retraction of the threat against Community Sector workers by Oglaigh na hEireann.

“We as a union are standing shoulder to shoulder with community sector workers and we insist this threat be rescinded with immediate effect.  We condemn threats to anyone especially those whose only objective is to enhance and serve the communities in which they live.”.

“Community sector workers’ sole focus is to build a better society for all our community.   They need to be able to engage with all aspects of society in furtherance of this objective and it is neither right, proper nor acceptable that they be issued with threats by any group” stated Martin O’Rourke.

“We call upon all right thinking people to join with us in insisting this threat be rescinded with immediate effect so community sector workers can continue to work towards improving our society by virtue of the excellent services they provide without fear or threat” the SIPTU statement continued.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Omagh community sector urged to stand up against cuts

The community sector is being urged to sit up and take action to prevent it being seen as an easy target by both the Assembly and Westminster when the budget cuts are finalised.
The call came at a public meeting in Omagh on Thursday night (17th February) organised by trade union SIPTU, which addressed how vulnerable the community sector will be to the budget cuts.
The crowd was made up of a cross section of local councillors, community group and resident association representatives from the Omagh area.
All present were encouraged to go back and inform their various communities that cuts are inevitable and with only seven per cent of the community and voluntary sector in a trade union, they will have no voice when it comes to fighting for the retention of vital services like there is for health and education.
Barry McColgan, both a member of SIPTU and Strathroy Community Association chaired the meeting. He stressed how essential it is to bring the skills and experience of the trade unions and community sector workers together to prevent them being a target for cuts.

(SIPTU activists Martin O'Rourke, Teri Cregan, Niall McNally and Barry McColgan who were speakers at the Community meeting)

SIPTU representative Teri Cregan said,
“The community sector workers contribute 100 times more to the economy than they can if they are unemployed. That would be a gross waste of skills and resources. You must recognise the power you have. If you sit back they will roll over you. Those with the least resistance will suffer the most. The crying child gets the bottle. It is a time to get angry and show your objections to cuts and threats to your jobs.”
She continued by highlighting a study that predicts the current level of unemployment in the north of 58,000 is set to rise to 70,000 in the next 18 months.
Ms Cregan also highlighted the serious situation caused by the rising prices of commodities coupled with the pay freeze experienced by most workers.
Speaking from the audience Anton McCabe representating Omagh Trades Union Council and the Kevlin Residents Association said at times community workers can feel “blackmailed” to go above and beyond the call of duty, an action which would be unacceptable if they had a capitalist employer.
“These people are delivering vital services and are reluctant to come forward to be unionised feeling they owe the community, forgetting they owe themselves.”
Highlighting the point, Mickey Kelly from Strathroy Community Association explained that while most public sector workers were tucking into their Christmas dinner on their holidays it was community and voluntary sector who were responding to the harsh winter weather, clearing snow and ensuring vulnerable people were warm and safe.”

SIPTU organise Boots General Workers Meeting

All Boots workers – whether you are unionised or not - are urged to attend a ‘Boots General Workers Meeting’ in Jury’s Inn Belfast on Tuesday 1st March at 6pm by Ireland’s leading Trade Union SIPTU.
SIPTU are hosting the meeting to engage with Boots workers on the daily issues affecting them in the stores.  They will also present updates on discussions and decisions that have taken place with the excellent Boots Organising Committee Representatives. Despite the Unions’ willingness to engage with Boots Management on a number of concerns – not least of which has been dignity and respect, and increased workloads - to date they have been lacking in becoming involved in any constructive way forward.
SIPTU have been actively involved in a campaign of organising Boots workers for over 18 months, unionising workers in stores across the north.

Encouraging people to attend the meeting, SIPTU Organiser Teri Cregan said,
“The SIPTU Boots Organising committee has been instrumental in empowering workers across the Boots stores and ensuring that their concerns are voiced. The more Boots workers have joined SIPTU, the more confident workers have become, they feel more secure in knowing their rights and in airing a grievance and they know that we are only ever a phone call away.”
“SIPTU are humbled to be working with such dedicated people who are the backbone and key to Boots phenomenal success.  We want to ensure that their hard work and loyalty is being treated with the dignity and respect that it deserves, and that their bonuses are in line with the generous bonuses afforded to senior management. The meeting will be an opportunity for engagement between SIPTU and the workers, to raise any issues of concern and to identify possible issues to campaign on and how to get more and more workers organised in the union to increase their collective voice as workers.
If you would like any more information or to confirm attendance please contact SIPTU on 028 90314000.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Community Sector Engagement with Derry City Council

On Thursday 10th February Ireland's leading Trade Union SIPTU delivered a presentation to Derry City Council about SIPTU’s campaign against cuts to Community Sector Services.

The presentation was delivered by local SIPTU activists, Sean McMonagle and SIPTU Lead Organiser Martin O'Rourke.  The aim of the engagement was to build cross party support for the trade unions community campaign. 

Sean McMonagle speaking prior to the meeting stated,

“It has never been more vital for the Community sector and the Council to work in a partnership manner to ensure our community sector delivers for Derry”

A cross section of Councillors were present, and SIPTU believes the presentation was enthusiastically received.  All the Councillors speaking at the meeting expressed their support for the campaign with many noting that they were themselves active members of community groups.

Speaking after the meeting with Derry City Council, SIPTU's Martin O'Rourke said,  

"SIPTU will continue to engage and work with all 26 District Councils, all MLAs MEPs and MPs to defend our communities in the face of Tory led cuts to the Assembly budget.   The local Community have benefited immensely from a vibrant community and voluntary sector.  It was reassuring to see all local Councillors and all political parties, support SIPTU's campaign. We are aware when the decision makers cut budgets they do so at the point of least resistance. We as a Community need to ensure the point of least resistance is not our vital community sector services provided to the most vulnerable communities by dedicated workers".

"We will continue to engage with the local communities, and to organise community workers into our Union to campaign against the proposed cuts.  Any person who wishes to join our campaign should contact our SIPTU Belfast office on 02890314000" continued Mr O’Rourke.

Mr. Monagle stated,

“It is neither right, reasonable nor fair that Community Sector Workers who work tirelessly for the local Community should be concerned that their years of work combating social exclusion should be placed under threat.”

Monday, 7 February 2011

People's Congress builds solidarity between Communities and Unions

A wide ranging SIPTU delegation including many community workers from across the north attended the 'People's Congress' in Belfast's Kings Hall on Saturday 7th February, using the event to network and build allies.

The event was organised by ICTU with the aim of bringing together Trade Unions and Communities to organise effectively against Tory imposed cutbacks.

The hundreds of trade unionists and community activists listened to addresses on a number of topics including 'Myths used to Justify Cuts', 'Towards an Economy which serves society', 'Big Society, Small Future' and 'Rights in a Time of Recession.'

Among those who spoke were Economist Dr Andrew Baker from Queen's University, Belfast, Paul Nowak who is head of Organisation and Services for TUC.

(Some of the SIPTU members who attended the People's Congress. L-R, Barry McColgan, Teri Cregan, Peter Bunting, Anne Speed, Niall McNally and Martin O'Rourke)

Speaking on the 'People's Congress' SIPTU's Lead Organiser Martin O'Rourke said,

"SIPTU are engaged in a vital campaign of working with the community and voluntary sector across the north to organise against Tory imposed cuts. We were heartened by the awareness and eagerness of the Community workers to get organised in Unions to protect their communities from the worst excesses of an ideologically driven Tory agenda. The People's Congress was a perfect opportunity to build networks and engage with more Trade Unions and Community groups to assist in this essential campaign."

"The Congress laid out solid arguments against cuts in lay man's terms and pointed to models of best practice, providing a lot of robust and innovative ideas from the floor. SIPTU will continue to work with everyone to build the broadest possible campaign against Tory imposed cuts, and we added many useful contacts and allies at the People's Congress. We look forward to working with all community workers to ensure that we protect our society."
(Peter Bunting addresses the People's Congress)

SIPTU wants answers as 170 jobs at Gallaghers, Ardara, on the line

SIPTU has said it is concerned that up to 170 jobs remain at risk at Gallagher’s Bakery in Ardara Co. Donegal and that management has failed to engage with the union on the future of the workforce. The union also claims there are “a lot of unanswered questions” in relation to the future of the business and possible changes which may help to save some jobs.

(Worker's relay the bad news outside Gallaghers bakery, Ardara)

SIPTU Organiser, Kevin McKinney, said;

“As far as we can tell the 170 jobs could go if the company shut the whole Ardara site down. There is the possibility of some jobs being saved if the fresh bread side of the business can be sold. However, the company claim that workers may be offered relocation to its Dublin site is a complete red herring. These job losses will be devastating to this small Donegal community and we want to try to keep as many jobs in the area as possible. Relocation to Dublin is not an option for most families who are deeply concerned for their future.”

“SIPTU have tried repeatedly to engage with the company to no avail. We will continue in our efforts to engage in discussions with the company and to represent the workers who are facing possible unemployment. Our members are fearful for their jobs and are being kept in the dark about what, if anything, is going on to save them. There are a lot of unanswered questions. We are calling on the company to meet immediately with the workers’ representatives.”

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Cuts – A Life or Death Issue

Anne Thompson
SIPTU, Belfast

The three young lives lost to Suicide in the past week has brought the heartbreakingly tragic issue of Suicide back into the public domain.

Three more young lives lost to this national epidemic, responsible for the biggest number of deaths of our youth.

When someone takes their own life, it leaves a huge scar on families, friends, and the community, and this is made even more acute when it is a young person.

The community and voluntary workers who are on the coalface of dealing with the issue of Suicide Prevention are doing some of the most crucial work in society, and have been responsible for saving and re-building so many lives. You cannot put a price on their invaluable contribution and work.

If the funding to these community and suicide prevention groups is cut, lives will literally be lost.

That is why it is so vitally important that communities need to be defended from any cuts that may arise from the Tory led assault on the Assembly budget.

These community projects, the workers and volunteers who sustain them need to be supported, not hampered with the key work they are doing.

Not only are community projects extremely good value for money, with every £1 pumped in generating between £4 and £12 in return, but also because at times like this it can literally mean the difference between life and death.

SIPTU calls on all stakeholders, from elected activists to community activists, and all people who live in the community and avail of these services to stand up for their community and ensure that they receive the necessary funding to keep up their excellent and invaluable contribution to all of us.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Omagh District Council urged to defend Communities from Cuts

Ireland's leading Trade Union SIPTU delivered a presentation on their campaign against cuts to communities to Omagh District Council on Tuesday 1st February.

The presentation was delivered by local community activists, Siobhan McDermott, Barry McColgan and SIPTU Lead Organiser Martin O'Rourke and aimed to build awareness and cross community, cross party support behind the community campaign.

A cross section of Councillors were present with all the main political parties represented at the engagement. and SIPTU believe the presentation was enthusiastically received by all.  All the Councillors speaking at the meeting expressed their support for the campaign and many noting they were active members of community groups.

(SIPTU's Martin O'Rourke, Siobhan McDermott and Barry McColgan at Omagh District Council)

Speaking after the meeting with Omagh District Council, SIPTU's Martin O'Rourke said,

"SIPTU will engage and seek to work with all 26 District Councils, to defend our communities in the face of Tory led cuts to the Assembly budget. We started in Omagh, as it is an area with many innovative and excellent community development projects, providing models of best practice for many other areas. Omagh and its people have benefited immensely from a very vibrant and strong community and voluntary sector and it was reassuring to see all local Councillors and all political parties, support SIPTU's campaign."

"We will be continuing to engage with the local communities, to organise community workers against any proposed cuts, and to this end we have organised a public engagement 'Defending Omagh's Communities from Cutbacks' in the Strule Arts Centre, Omagh on Thursday 17th February at 7.30pm. All are welcome."

(Omagh Community Activists Siobhan McDermott and Barry McColgan prepare for the presentation)