SIPTU have organised a meeting for all community and voluntary Sector organisations within the city in the City Hotel, Derry, on Thursday 10th November at 2.00 p.m.
A large number of community and voluntary workers have already joined SIPTU and are uniting under SIPTU’s Communities against Cuts Campaign. There are a range of issues that affect the community and voluntary sector with funding cuts been the most threatening to the sector at this time but other issues are also part of the SIPTU campaign are employment rights and recognition on issues such as long term contracts, pension rights and redundancy pay.
Martin O’Rourke, Organiser for SIPTU stated “ We have become increasing concerned that organisations providing vital services to the most vulnerable in society who are already operating on a “shoestring” budget are being asked to make further “efficiencies.” These essential services cannot be provided to our communities unless adequate funding is put in place. Inflation is currently running at over 5% and even if funding was provided at last year’s level this would result in a reduction in real terms of over 5%. This meeting is one of several across the local economy to ensure the community and voluntary sector can learn from the experiences of other organisations and speak and act with one collective voice.
According to SIPTU The Community and Voluntary Sector only receive 45% of its operating costs from Government funding and in return for every £1.00 invested delivers £4 to the local economy. It delivers essential services at a lower cost than government agencies can, and despite this has already seen a 10% reduction in services and jobs over the last two years.
Karen Mullan, Chairperson of the Western Organising Committee called upon all Community and Voluntary sector organisations whether members of the Union or not to come to the meeting to mobilise together against further cuts. Karen Mullan added “The community sector is already at a major disadvantage in comparison to the public sector and even many private sector workers in terms of recognition around issues such as pensions, redundancy pay and long term contracts of employment. Over the course of the last two years upwards of 2,000 community development workers have lost their jobs in the delivery of vital services, if this occurs in any other sector there would be major outcry and there has been in the past, but loss in community development jobs, services, and its impact on the local economy as hardly received a mention in local or regional news. But as community development workers and projects we need to organise ourselves into strategic representation in the Union to protect this vital sector which has already received disproportionate cuts resulting in the most disadvantaged in our society suffering. It is time to reverse this trend, and to demand recognition from Government and other funding bodies in par with that of the public and private sectors workers, in terms of working conditions outlined. - the first step in doing so is the organisations attendance at this meeting.”