Young and precarious workers across Britain and Ireland are standing up and saying, ‘enough is enough’. Small but successful campaigns, such as the McStrike and the #BetterThanZero initiative, have rebuilt confidence and have proved that, by joining a union and actively organising, we can win. Northern Ireland has not been left behind in this international rise in trade union consciousness. Workers here too, are organising. Following a successful launch of the Unite Hospitality NI campaign, young people from a wide range of workplaces are getting together and planning how they are going to fight for a better life and a better future.
After three days of positive debate and discussion and with firm foundations laid for the year ahead, Conference ended with a rendition of Pete Seeger’s rousing union song ‘Solidarity Forever’. Delegates standing with fists held high understood this could not have been more significant.
The failure of the DUP and Sinn Féin to agree a basis to re-establish an Executive has hampered and delayed the annual round of pay negotiations for civil servants. When it became clear that there was little prospect of the two main parties returning to partnership in government, and having consulted with members, public sector union NIPSA reluctantly entered formal pay negotiations with the NI civil service (NICS) management, submitting a 5% pay claim in July 2017. This reflected the anger of members at 7 years of pay awards below inflation.
Young and precarious workers across Britain and Ireland are getting organised. Small but successful campaigns – such as the McDonald’s strike, #Betterthanzero in Scotland and Unite the Union’s Fair Hospitality initiative – have begun to rebuild a fighting trade union consciousness among young people which had been lost by decades of inaction by the majority of union leaderships.
The ongoing threat of outsourcing of work at Bombardier and the current redundancies, linked to outsourcing, are a huge challenge to the workforce. However, having led the battle to save jobs and skills, Bombardier workers have shown what they are capable of when united and mobilised and are now in a stronger position to deal with future threats, whether political or from the company.