Motion no: 2
Conference, the past year has been seen us having to face unprecedented challenges with tragic loss of life and economic damage from the global pandemic impacting on workers and their families here and across the world. Northern Ireland has seen over 1,700 Covid-related deaths. This includes family members and workers and retired workers many of them trade union activists. Congress pays tribute to each and every worker and activists who has lost their lives due to Covid-19. Economically, Northern Ireland has experienced the loss of thousands of jobs with up to 70,000 workers still on furlough and the economy shrinking to historically low levels.
The pressures facing our colleagues working on the front-line is colossal with many experiencing PTSD and other illnesses. While some employers have supported their workers in these difficult times, many have not and tens of thousands of workers have been made redundant and the threat of more to follow in the months ahead. In this regard, it is significant that the Department of Communities are in the process of recruiting an additional 450 permanent and fixed term workers to deal with the expected redundancies through the remainder of this year and beyond.
Unfortunately, political behaviour within our political system has not delivered for the people of Northern Ireland with political infighting on key issues relating to Covid including some opposition to urgent comprehensive Lockdowns compounding failures of both messaging and delivery. This incoherence, operating in a Health and Social Care system that already lacked long-term strategic investment has meant that workers and their families have been failed during the pandemic.
Since 23 March 2020 many workers have also moved to work from home as part of the Covid response. Congress commends all workers who moved to work remotely, many in very difficult circumstances, seeking to juggle work, home schooling and caring responsibilities. However, this has Health and Safety consequences, including the mental health issues that will be a burden for many workers now and will be well into the future. Conference welcomes the work of affiliates and NIC ICTU in delivering many courses aimed specifically at working from home, returning to work in a safe way and other interactive webinars to assist activists at this difficult time.
The trade union movement, is the largest civic society organisation, representing workers. Therefore, it is incumbent that the movement press forward with a whole plethora of policies and issues which will deal with the fall out of the pandemic, whether that be the impact on workers, on the economy or on the future of society. Conference therefore welcomes the publication of the ‘No Going Back’ document. This clearly sets out a clear and future path. Conference therefore calls on the incoming NI Committee to ensure that no stone is left unturned in convincing others that this a path to recovery – one based on collective provision and solidarity - which will benefit society and workers for the next decade and beyond.