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Workers’ Rights and New Employment Practices must be central to political change in Ireland - Kearney

3 35 0
04.06.2019

» Declan Kearney

Sinn Féin National Chairperson

One hundred years on Connolly's vision is as relevant as ever: Particularly in a modern Ireland of denied rights; underinvestment in public services; corrupt and sharp practices; vulture funds; wage and tax inequalities, and social disadvantage.

In 2018 Sinn Féin adopted a very important motion at our Ard Fheis which set out a new policy framework on employment and workers’ rights in the north of Ireland.

That has now been developed into a substantive policy document “Towards a New Employment Model – Strengthening Workers’ Rights”, and last week I launched it at Áras Uí Chonghaile in West Belfast.

The Mayor of Belfast Deirdre Hargey chaired proceedings. It was Deirdre’s second last official engagement before stepping down as the city’s Mayor, to be replaced by newly elected Sinn Féin councillor, John Finucane.

Deirdre has brilliant progressive politics, which are absolutely instinctive to her nature. She has been a champion for community and class politics, equality and rights for all citizens throughout her mayoralty.


The main speaker at the launch event was Gerry Murphy, Chairperson of the Northern Committee of the Irish Congress of Trades Unions (ICTU). He is also Assistant General Secretary of the Irish National Teachers Organisation and has been a progressive leader for many decades: working in disadvantaged communities, and standing up for travellers’ rights as a teacher: but also as a labour union representative and a political activist in his own right.

We chose to use Áras for our launch because it is a contemporary embodiment of the Irish labour and socialist republican leader, James Connolly's historical influence.
It makes the direct connection between Connolly and Belfast city.

It was also an appropriate location for the launch because Áras is a resource to give expression for Connolly's ideas and to educate new generations about their importance.
He famously said:

"Our demands most moderate are, we only want the earth."
Such timeless words.

One hundred years on Connolly's vision is as relevant as ever: Particularly in a modern Ireland of denied rights; underinvestment in public services; corrupt and sharp practices; vulture funds; wage and tax inequalities, and social disadvantage.

I suspect Connolly would acknowledge that ideas, new or old, are only as good as their ability to deliver change:
And also, that progressives must maximise their influence to change the balance of power and collaborate to bring those ideas into effect.

All in all, our launch event was a good day’s work in advancing progressive, class politics and workers’ rights.
Sinn Féin has invested heavily in developing our focus upon economic, industrial and social policy.


The rights and protections of working people and their families, as well as the most marginalised in society, have been central to this work.

We have developed close working relationships with ICTU nationally, on how we can jointly advance the priorities and campaigns of the Irish labour movement.
We are committed to building on those relationships now and in the future.

We share common interests with the Irish labour movement and also common challenges.


Here in the north, a decade of British Tory austerity has had a devastating impact upon the regional labour market and local living standards.

Since 2010 the block grant has been cut by 10.2% in real terms.

Insecure work has become increasingly prolific.
That trend is now more common place with the decline in collective bargaining.

One fifth of employees are paid less than the living wage.
One in every three workers considers their own work to be insecure.

Inevitably women and young people are disproportionately affected, especially in the private sector.

Precarious working conditions, zero hours contracts and the scam of bogus self-employment are in common practice.
Workers’........

© An Phoblacht