Irish & British Unions Agree Joint Action Plan on Recession

21 Nov 2008

At a meeting of Irish and British trade unions today (Friday, Nov. 21) agreement was reached on a 10 point Action Plan that the governments of the Ireland and the UK, along with the devolved administrations from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, must implement in order to minimise the damage caused to working people and their families by the recession.

The meeting took place in Cardiff and was attended by representatives of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU); the UK's Trade Union Congress (TUC), the Welsh TUC and the Scottish TUC.

The trade union statement covered necessary actions to help workers take advantage of economic growth after the recession has ended.

"The world economy finds itself at a turning point: the failure of the free market / deregulation agenda has been exposed and a new era of strong economies, supported by active government, and built on fairness and proper scrutiny of financial institutions, is possible.

The 10 key points of the Action Plan agreed by unions are:

1. Minimising the impact of recession is the absolute economic priority with interest rate decisions in line with that priority;
2. Embarking on a major fiscal stimulus to increase demand in the high street. This would mean bringing forward major infrastructure projects to boost demand in industries such as construction and transport and could also include tax cuts for low and middle income earners, depending on local conditions;

3. Getting lending moving again in order to support companies facing short-term funding or cash flow crises;

4. Supporting people made redundant, by increasing the levels of statutory redundancy pay and increasing unemployment benefit. This will both prevent short-term poverty and give some support to demand in the high street;

5. Supporting those at risk of losing their homes, exploring every possible avenue to avoid repossessions taking place;

6. Supporting fair pay for all workers, including those in the public sector, rather than pursuing wage restraint policies and job cuts;

7. Working with local and regional authorities to identify business sectors of strategic interest, such as Green Jobs, and ways in which they might be supported;

8. Embarking on a major campaign of upskilling, so that workers made redundant have the maximum chance of finding further work, and all workers are equipped to participate in the high value economy that must emerge after the present crisis is over;

9. Engaging with other world leaders, not least next year, when the UK chairs the G20 group of industrial nations, to seek trade rules and minimum standards to promote economic growth and minimise poverty throughout the world;

10. Acting to protect the most vulnerable in society by investing in public services;

The ICTU, the TUC, STUC and WTUC call on all the relevant government authorities to work closely with unions and employers to take this agenda forward. Union leaders also held discussions with the First Minister of Wales, Rhodri Morgan and welcomed the steps being taken by the Welsh Assembly in partnership with the Wales TUC and CBI Wales.