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Party delegation supports Yard workers

Steelworker and UNITE representative at Harland & Wolff, Joe Passmore with Workers Party members this afternoon

A delegation from the Workers Party has visited the protesting workers at Harland & Wolf to express solidarity with their actions and to demonstrate the Party’s ongoing support for their protest and the demands that the Yard be re-nationalised.

Support

The Party’s Northern Ireland Chairperson Gerry Grainger was joined by colleagues Lily Kerr. Tom Gillen and Joe Dowds. They met and talked with all the workers on the picket line and presented workers representative Joe Passmore with a letter of support and a contribution to the Yard mens’ Fighting Fund.

Speaking afterwards Gerry Grainger said,

The workforce at Harland’s has taken a decisive and progressive step. They deserve the full backing of the entire Northern Ireland community and immediate state intervention to save jobs and secure Northern Ireland’s industrial base.”

“The main parties here have failed to act in support of the Harland and Wolff workers and securing vital industrial skills, The contrast between the disregard shown by the DUP, Sinn Fein and the other parties and the decisive actions taken by the Scottish Assembly as they rescued shipbuilding on the Clyde could not be more stark”, he said,

Copy of the letter of support handed to Harland and Wolff workers

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Sympathy, silence and the law of the jungle

As the workers of Harland a & Wolff continued to occupy the Yard and as the Administrators were appointed, there was ‘sympathy‘ from the DUP, silence from Sinn Fein and a stark reminder from the Tory government that the law of the free market jungle still applies.

Even if the Executive had been re-instated none of the main parties would have done anything different, or indeed, done anything at all.

Workers and trades union calls for the nationalisation of the Yard have been met with disinterest and contempt. The DUP has offered ‘sympathy and understanding’, the Tory government has dismissed the crisis as “ultimately a commercial issue” and Sinn Fein appears to have said nothing at all.

Neither they nor the DUP have made this a red line issue. Neither has demanded public intervention to keep H&W in business, retain its jobs and skills base or secure its future. But then, like the Tory government, the main parties here are ideologically opposed to state intervention in the economy – unless of course it involves bailing out the banks or lowering corporation tax. They too hold that it is “ultimately a commercial issue” .

There is a real danger that the administrators will now try to sell off Harland & Wolff to the highest bidding asset strippers: the final rivet in the coffin of a manufacturing and industrial base.

Workers Party members supporting the picket at Harland and Wolff

The struggle to save the jobs, the skills and the future of Harlands is not over. The Yard workers, their families, the trade union movement and everyone determined to see a positive future deserves our full and ongoing support.

Meanwhile, the free market parties who are happy to cut budgets, lower corporation tax, sell Northern Ireland as a low wage economy and now watch the shipyard slip away deserve to face the political backlash that surely needs to come.

H&W: a decisive and progressive step

Northern Ireland’s economy needs development and investment:
Party member Chris Bailie joined the picket line

The future of the Harland & Wolff shipyard is not just about the 130 jobs currently at risk. It is about how the the economy of Northern Ireland is organised and the absolute necessity for a centrally planned, publicly owned, strategic  approach to local manufacturing and economic development.

The fact that the work force at the Yard has been left with no option but to take matters into their own hands and occupy the premises, is a brutal indictment of the main political parties and their failure to form a functioning  Executive.

For over two and a half years we have been without a government. Workers at Harland and Wolff have taken more positive action in one afternoon than Sinn Fein and the DUP have done in over 30 months.

Northern Ireland industry needs development and investment. Our local skills base needs protection and expansion. Only a hands on, government led, industrial strategy can ensure that – secure  jobs and develop an indigenous manufacturing base.

Harland & Wolff, and Bombardier Aerospace, needs to be taken back into public ownership. They should be nationalised – to preserve jobs and  skills and to secure their future.

The workforce at Harland’s has taken a decisive and progressive step. They deserve our full support and immediate state intervention 

Nationalise H&W and Bombardier

Active intervention in the economy needed

The current threat posed to the future of Harland and Wolff and the precarious position of Bombardier Aerospace demonstrate clearly the urgent need for a strategic economic plan for Northern Ireland.


The failure of the main parties to form an Executive exacerbates the problems and makes a local rescue plan extremly unlikely.


Northern Ireland industry needs development and investment. Our local skills base needs protection and expansion. Only a hands on government led industrial strategy can ensure that, secure  jobs and develop an indigenous manufacturing base.


Both Harland and Wolff and Bombardier Aerospace should now be taken into public ownership. They should be nationalised – to preserve jobs and secure their future


Today’s news, and the ongoing refusal to form an Executive, further underlines Sinn Fein and the DUP’s arrogant and contemptuous disregard for working class people families and children.


 A fully functioning Executive committed to active economic intervention and the development of a state sponsored economic plan is the only way in which the local manufacturing sector can be saved, secured and developed. 

Welcome progress – but much still to do

Time to step up the pressure on Sinn Fein and the DUP

The prospect of significant changes to the laws on same sex marriage and abortion legislation in Northern Ireland are to be welcomed. 

Votes in the House of  Commons this afternoon amended the bill on extending the  deferral of  new Assembly elections until at least the  autumn, to include caveats which mean that unless an  Executive is formed by October 21 this year that  legislation on same sex marriage and changes to the  abortion laws in Northern Ireland would be  enacted.
 

This is progress but not as  we envisaged it.

It would be much better, politically and  socially, if these advances had been introduced and adopted  by a functioning Assembly. Two and a half years after Sinn  Fein collapsed the Executive that looked, and remains, a very remote possibility.


The difficulty with this  legislation being enacted through Westminster, welcome as  the outcomes are, means that ‘creeping direct rule‘  gains a stronger hold and the incentive for Sinn Fein, in  particular,  to thwart a return to devolution  here is strengthened.

Perhaps now is the time for  all social, cultural, civic and political groups in Northern Ireland to step up the pressure on the DUP and Sinn  Fein to restore an Executive  to debate the  economy, integrated secular education, health, housing, workers  rights, welfare reform, the growing  demand on food banks, in a local Assembly without the need for Westminster to intervene.

The best way to honour integrated education is to implement it

The Assembly has deliberately sidetracked integrated education

Gemma Weir, Workers Party representative in North Belfast and former Hazelwood integrated College  pupil, has congratulated The Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education and the Integrated Education Fund  on the news that they may be in the running for a Nobel Prize for their work.

Re-focus

“Formal recognition and commendation of the work of both these bodies, and the whole integrated schools network across Northern Ireland, is long overdue”, Gemma said.”I hope that this accolade, should it be awarded. will help to re-focus attention on the purpose and necessity of integrated education in Northern Ireland and on the urgency to progress its full implementation”, she said


“The work of both these bodies and of the parents, staff and pupils across the integrated sector over the years has helped to keep the movement alive. This is in sharp contrast to the  work of the Assembly which has abdicated its statutory responsibility to assist in the  implementation of integrated education , has sought to thwart its development and has deliberately and cynically diluted the concept with the false notion of ‘shared education’

Redouble

“I wish the entire integrated education movement well and hope that should this award come to pass that it serves to redouble the efforts of all of us who believe in and understand the value and necessity of a fully funded, government driven integrated education system in Northern Ireland”, Gemma concluded.

Ivan Cooper

Ivan Cooper: civil rights campaigner

The Workers Party has expressed its condolences to the family and friends of veteran civil rights campaigner Ivan Cooper, who died earlier today.

Ivan was an early member of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association and a tireless campaigner for social justice. He was also a consistent and outspoken critic of terrorism and state violence.

His legacy will be the courageous and politically pioneering work he undertook in the late 1960s and early 1970s and his commitment to securing civil rights for all.

Outstanding Holiday Pay


Workers have always had to fight for their rights.
Nothing was handed to them on a plate

The recent decision by the Court of Appeal which upheld an earlier finding that thousands of PSNI officers and civilian staff are entitled to holiday back pay going back over 20 years, has implications for workers right across Northern Ireland

Should workers entitled to holiday back pay now receive that money? In a word ‘Yes’. Everyone has an entitlement to be paid for their work and to have their terms and conditions of employment honoured.

This is all the more important because this is not an isolated case of workers rights being eroded or ignored.

It comes against a backdrop of zero hours contracts, 51 week employment periods, struggles to secure even a minimum wage, unpaid internships, no pay trial shifts and a host of other dubious employment practices.

Contrast that economic culture with the immediate and unquestioning bail out of banks and other financial institutions to the tune of £955 billion. 

This is not a level playing field and we are not all in this together.

Find out more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-48704942

Nethier Brexit nor Border Poll


Workers Party Local Government Election Statement


This community is scarred by poverty, inequality, zero hours contracts, housing crisis and the effects of Sinn Fein and the DUP’s welfare reforms.

Some parties would like to make this election about Brexit. Some would like to use it to advance a Border Poll, but the reality is that it’s about neither.

For this election to have any real meaning it must send a message to the main political parties that they have failed to deliver government and governance , and that they continue to fail ordinary people through the rundown of public services, the privatisation of  public assets and utilities, the erosion of the public space and the pursuit of  corporate  business approval.

If we were to call for a second referendum or for a ballot on Irish ‘unity’, we would doubtless attract more media attention, but that is not how the Workers Party sees the current social, economic and political priorities.

Reality of life                                                                                                            Nor does it reflect the reality of life for the thousands of people desperately seeking secure well-paid employment, families struggling to find and pay for local childcare or those growing older in an age unfriendly society.

Nor are border polls and ‘people’s votes’ the priority of the thousands of children and their parents living in poverty and low income homes, those on zero hours contracts or the young girls and women who face the monthly indignity of period poverty because, in 21st century Belfast, they cannot afford sanitary products.

Developers’ mindset                                                                                             Nor are attempts to transform our public spaces into homages to corporate America either relevant to or reflective of local life. The recent proposal to name the redeveloped Lower North Street area of Belfast ‘Tribeca’ in deference to an area in Lower Manhattan gives a glimpse into the mindset of the developers and the council alike.

Councils across Northern Ireland should be delivering for local people and acting as advocate and champion for improved housing, better mental health services, introducing a universal living wage, reversing welfare reforms and offering advice, assistance and direction to those in need of support.

A poor second                                                                                                          But that has not been the case. Sinn Fein and the DUP have used Belfast Council and its resources to build up their power bases through a sectarian carve up of this city. Poverty, employment, public services and opportunities come a very poor second to bonfire diversion schemes, and the funding of divisive cultural and historical projects.

This city is scarred by poverty, inequality, zero hours contracts,  housing crisis and the effects of Sinn Fein and the DUP’s welfare reforms.

The manner in which ordinary people, their lives, their needs and their futures have been abandoned by the main parties is an outrage and a disgrace. It verges on the criminal.

The interests of ordinary people                                                                            A vote for any of those parties on May 2nd will condemn the ordinary people of this city to yet more hardship, deprivation and suffering. It will also condemn another generation of young people to lives of underachievement and hopelessness. That is the price we all pay for the maintenance of sectarian political elites.

Only a party committed to class politics and the interests of ordinary people can make the kind of changes that are needed to secure a better life for all.

The Workers Party is that party.

  

The Workers Party s fielding seven candidates: six in Belfast and one in the Mid Ulster area

The Belfast candidates are:

Chris Bailie (Oldpark)

Conor Campbell (Black Mountain)

Paddy Crossan Collin)

Joanne Lowry (Court)

Paddy Lynn (Botanic)

Gemma Weir (Castle)

Hugh Scullion, is representing the party in the Moyola area of Mid Ulster Council

The work of politically bankrupt gangsters

Lyra McKee: there can be no justification

Last night’s murder of 29 year old Lyra McKee was the tragic, but inevitable, outcome of recent violent activity and the ongoing attacks on the community by groups of politically bankrupt gangsters

There can be no justification for Ms. McKee’s murder, but doubtless there are those who will seek to explain it away in the coming days. Those who carried out this attack, and those who support them, have no contribution to make , bring no value and until they desist, have no place in this society.

We need to be very clear about the violent intent of these people and dismiss notions of the ‘lone gunman’: there is no such thing. People who bring weapons onto the streets have often a very sophisticated, support network of people who store their guns, transport them, provide them with cover and offer practical and moral support. Those people are as morally culpable for Lyra McKee’s murder as the person who pulled the trigger.

There is little point in appealing directly to those who carried out this murder – they are too self absorbed and self justifying to be even remotely interested . However, the community in which they skulk and hide can play a telling and crucial role. By ostracising these gangsters and their supporters they can be left without the cover they need to continue with their senseless and savage campaign of terror against the community.

We offer our deepest sympathy to Lyra’s family friends, and colleagues and call on anyone with any information about this murder to contact the PSNI and support them in their investigations

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