Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Magherafelt Council Chairperson hosts SIPTU campaigners

The Chairperson of Magherafelt District Council, Ian Milne (Sinn Féin) has today hosted a reception to mark the centenary of the arrival of James Connolly in Belfast to organise the Trade Union movement.

Speaking at the event, SIPTU Organiser Martin O'Rourke said,

"SIPTU were delighted to attend the event to celebrate 100 years of Trade Union activism, building upon the strong foundation laid by Connolly. Many thousands of activists have worked tirelessly since then to ensure that working people receive a fair return on their labour; notwithstanding this fact the challenges which faced working people 100 years ago are equally relevant today. That is why SIPTU is engaged in an organising campaign for the community sector which has faced and is facing disproportionate cuts. It is neither right, fair nor acceptable that people who protect the most disadvantaged in our society should have their work impeded in this way."

(Magherafelt Council Chairperson Ian Milne makes presentation to Martin O'Rourke, SIPTU)

Extending a warm welcome to Martin O'Rourke and Barry McColgan who represented SIPTU, Cllr Milne said:

"The Trade Union movement has been one of the main forces that continues to work towards improving people's lives and ensuring that public services are available, while helping shape a fairer society for all.

"I take this opportunity to commend SIPTU as a campaigning and organising Trade Union committed to fairness at work and justice in society. SIPTU's campaign to enlist the support of all key stakeholders to deliver on the future survival of the Community and Voluntary sector is very important in the fight to maintain vital frontline services to the disadvantaged and vulnerable in our society.

"It is estimated that there are 30,000 people employed within the Community and Voluntary sector with a volunteer base close to 100,000. Now is the time to ensure that people are put at the heart of our economy and that our economy serves society, not the other way round.

"We need to ensure the protection of wages and income and fight against the race-to-the-bottom to improve 'competitiveness'. Workers are the heart of an economy and should be treated as such, not just as a means to a profit. We must ensure that everyone has absolute entitlement to join a trade union and collectively bargain.

"This evening's reception is a celebration of organised labour and a tribute to the thousands of activists who over the last hundred years have worked tirelessly to improve terms and conditions for working people."

SIPTU help Art Ability secure interim funding

In June of this year Art Ability – a community organisation assisting children and adults with disabilities -  based in Agnes Street, Belfast, was  given just one week’s notice that it’s funding was to be removed.  A SIPTU organised campaign has been running since then to secure funding to protect this vital cross community organisation from closure, and to ensure its client’s needs were addressed. This campaign resulted in the initial securing of limited funding which did not fully protect the organisations future.
However, as a direct result of the SIPTU campaign we are delighted to be in a position to report that interim funding has been secured to enable the organisation to continue to operate.  Art Ability will now be in a position to apply for further funding for the autumn quarter, and their doors remain open.
(SIPTU facilitate Belfast Mayor Niall O'Donnghaile visit to Art Ability in June)

Richard Long, Project Manager for Art Ability and SIPTU member said,
 “Our project was under very real threat of closure.  If it hadn’t been for SIPTU getting involved with their organised campaign, we would probably have had to close our doors. SIPTU’s campaigning experience and assistance have enabled us to secure this additional funding and I would advise other community sector workers to join SIPTU also”.
SIPTU Organiser Teri Cregan stated,
“We could not have achieved the interim funding without the help and support of activists, the media, political representatives, and civil servants who worked with us on our campaign to protect this vital project. To each person that played their part in this collective campaign we say thank you. We are absolutely delighted that Art Ability have secured this vital funding and we are now working with other organisations who have also either lost vital funding or have had it substantially reduced.  Our analysis is that community sector organisations coming together with SIPTU is the only mechanism where Community Sector workers might be afforded the same protection as that enjoyed by workers in other sectors facing the threat of cut backs.   This analysis is shared by a growing number of community sector workers who are joining our union in ever increasing numbers.”
While this project that has been running for 21 years is “not out of the woods” yet, this interim funding will allow it to continue to provide cross community services to the locality at least in the short term.
Watch the You Tube video filmed before the successful outcome of our campaign, where Richard Long speaks about Art Ability;

Monday, 26 September 2011

SIPTU welcomes Assembly Motion

SIPTU has welcomed the motion put forward in the Assembly in support of the vital work undertaken by the  Community and Voluntary  sector from the following MLA’s Mr M Copeland  (East Belfast, UUP), Mr R Beggs  (East Antrim, UUP) and Mr J  McCallister (South Down, UUP).

The motion states,

“That  this Assembly notes the invaluable contribution made by the community and  voluntary sector, particularly in assisting the most vulnerable people in  society; believes that where the sector provides public services, it is  appropriate that it should be adequately funded for this provision and any  related overhead costs; and calls upon the Minister for Social Development to  ensure that there is an effective working relationship between all Executive  Departments and the community and voluntary sector.”

This motion is to be considered by the Assembly on Tuesday 27th September 2011 and SIPTU has called upon all MLAs to support it, and all Executive Departments to act upon it when passed.

 “We share the forward thinking of the proposers of this motion and believe that representatives of the Executive Departments, NICVA and the trade unions representing Community and Voluntary workers should engage regularly on a formal basis to ensure best practice in this sector and to ensure the motion is the catalyst to assist the Community and Voluntary organisations and their dedicated workers in their endeavours to lift people, families and communities out of poverty”, stated Martin O’Rourke Lead Organiser, SIPTU.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Community and Voluntary Sector fights back with SIPTU

SIPTU members in the Community and Voluntary Sector have formed a Western Organising Committee and selected local representatives Ms Catherine Pollock and Mr Sean McMonagle to represent them on Derry’s Trade Council. This Committee will add to the work already undertaken by SIPTU’s Belfast Committee.

Various representatives from the City, Strabane and Omagh were also selected to ensure the Committee would act in a cohesive manner over the entire region.

Speaking after the event SIPTU Organiser Martin O’Rourke stated.

“Over the last two years around 3,000 Community workers have lost their jobs through lack of funding for vital projects for the most vulnerable in our society. This has resulted in increased hardship for the community with the loss of vital services and skills. The Department of Social Development intend to further reduce funding by 25% for this vital sector at a time of growing need for this type of service.”

Karen Mullan who was selected as the Chairperson for the group stated,

“The early intervention provided by the Community Sector ensures real savings in both economic and social terms to the state. Cuts to funding for vital projects make neither economic nor social sense, and that is why we are determined to resist the planned cuts” “Our Society deserves better and the SIPTU members in the Community Sector are going to ensure the people they provide services to are protected. The Community and Voluntary Sector which has been seen as the point of least resistance for planned cuts are getting organised with their Trade Union SIPTU to protect the most vulnerable and to build a fairer and better society for us all. We would encourage all community and voluntary workers to join us to build a strong united voice for our sector."

The next meeting of SIPTU’s Voluntary and Community Western Organising Committee is scheduled to take place in Tullyally within the next two weeks.

Monday, 12 September 2011

SIPTU Stand Up for Derry to Coleraine Rail Line

Ireland’s largest Trade Union SIPTU has added its voice to the many who are calling for necessary and immediate investment in the Derry to Coleraine rail line. The very future of the line was put in doubt recently when Translink announced that because of cuts to its budget from the Department of Regional Development, the £75m required to upgrade the line was not available and the work would have to be deferred for three years. They are also downgrading from 9 to 5 services per day.

SIPTU who represent NI Rail workers have said that failure to provide the needed investment for upgrade now, would not only be highly dangerous but also put the long future of the rail line between Derry and Coleraine in doubt.

SIPTU Lead Organiser Martin O’Rourke said,
“The short sighted decision to not provide the needed funds for upgrading the Derry to Coleraine line will not only adversely affect the working people who rely on the service daily, but will also be highly dangerous, and could put the long term future of the line at risk. NI Rail workers are striving to provide a first class service to the public, yet the quality of service they can provide is constantly being hampered by underinvestment.”
“This line is also strategically important for the tourism industry and a reduction in the number of daily services will make the beautiful north west coast less accessible to everyone. The historic lack of investment in the north west needs to be put right.”

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Open Invite to SIPTU Community Workers' General Meeting

Dear Colleague,

We have arranged a General Meeting of all SIPTU Community Sector Workers and People working in the Sector who have joined or wish to join the Union.

The meeting will be held in the Gasyard Centre, 128 Lecky Road, Brandywell, BT48 6NP at 1.00 p.m on Thursday 15th September 2011.  Please advise colleagues who have not yet joined the Union to also attend the meeting if they also wish to join.

The Agenda of the meeting is;

·         Overview of Campaign
·         Objectives of Campaign
·         Election of the following Officer Positions of the Western Organising  Committee;
-     Chairperson
-         Deputy Chairperson
-         Communications Officer
-         Trade Council Representatives x 2
-         Campaign Strategists x 4

The elected Committee will meet on a monthly basis, and will develop a local strategy for the Sector.  If you would like to fill one of the above positions we ask that you would also have a proposer and seconder at the meeting.

It is also planned to hold further General Meetings on a three monthly basis to best ensure members are kept informed of the campaign progress and have the opportunity to advise the Committee of any issues.

If you have any queries in relation to the above please do not hesitate to contact our office on 02890314000.  We look forward to seeing you at the meeting and with working with you to secure much needed improvements within the sector.

Yours fraternally,

Martin O'Rourke
Lead Organiser