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Labour Party Northern Ireland representatives have held crisis talks with WiggleCRC about significant impending job losses in County Antrim.

Read the full story from the Ballymena Guardian here (pdf format).

 

 

Labour Party NI delegation meets Wiggle on job losses

Labour Party Northern Ireland representatives have held crisis talks with WiggleCRC about significant impending job losses in County Antrim.

  • WiggleCRC announced last week that the company is moving its warehousing facilities from Ballyclare to Wolverhampton.
  • 152 full time members of staff across 3 WiggleCRC facilities are facing redundancy.
  • In the early days of the deal, workers were told that this was a merger, not an acquisition, and no jobs would be under threat. 
  • Last week Arlene Foster said the DUP top priority was creating jobs.
  • DUP/Sinn Fein can’t even hold on to the ones that are here.
  • The electorate will remember how the Executive fiddled while their jobs went up in smoke at the next election.

Last Friday afternoon 3 members of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland Executive Committee met WiggleCRC senior management team members Maurice Donaldson, General Manager, WiggleCRC Ireland and Ian Dugan, Director, WiggleCRC at the company headquarters in Mallusk.

The three, Phil Kelly from Belfast, Peter Dynes from Lagan Valley, and Kathryn Johnston, Vice Chair, who lives in Ballymena, are deeply concerned at these latest job losses

In a lengthy meeting, LPNI had an extensive briefing on the background of the two companies, their merger, and the current situation where WiggleCRC announced last week that the company is moving its warehousing facilities from Ballyclare to Wolverhampton.  The company also announced that the jobs of 300 WiggleCRC employees and agency staff are in jeopardy.  152 full time members of staff across 3 WiggleCRC facilities are facing redundancy and the company entered consultation with workers last Wednesday.

Almost exactly two years ago the local economy was dealt a body blow when JTI Gallaher announced the closure of their Ballymena plant with the loss of almost 900 jobs.  This time last year Co Antrim was hit again with the news that Michelin would be closing its local operations in 2018 with the loss of 860 jobs.  Just two months ago, Wrightbus, who employ more than 1500 people in Co Antrim, announced a recruitment freeze "with immediate effect". 

You can’t blame Co Antrim workers for dreading this time of year.  It seems to have become accepted behaviour to announce these job losses in the mouth of Christmas. 

And it’s not as if this was a bolt from the blue either.  It isn’t even six months since hundreds of workers, trades unionists, community activists and politicians marched through Ballymena in the Rally for Jobs.  Around the same time, Davy Thompson, Regional Officer of Unite the Union, warned that Unite representatives had already raised concerns with political leaders that Wiggle’s acquisition of CRC might be driven by a desire to buy a competitors’ order book with little long term commitment to the workforce.   The union were given assurances that this was not the case.

Peter Dynes from the Lagan Valley constituency said,

“The situation is no different in Lagan Valley or indeed in other constituencies of Northern Ireland. The First and Deputy Minister bear a heavy responsibility for the plight of workers here.  WiggleCRC admitted to us that Brexit, while a short term gain in terms of sales at a time when the value of the pound is falling, is an additional concern for them.  Meanwhile Arlene Foster is dashing to embrace a hard Brexit with all the mistaken confidence of a sleepwalker heading towards a precipice.  Martin McGuinness cries crocodile tears about Brexit while Sinn Fein failed to run a campaign to support most people in Northern Ireland who voted Remain.  The DUP and Sinn Fein added push to shove with their mealy-mouthed capitulation to welfare reform.  You can talk anti austerity all you want, but talking a good fight is no substitute for getting to grips with the problem.”

Phil Kelly of the Belfast Forum of the Labour Party pointed out,

“We told Wiggle CRC that in the early days of the deal, workers were told that this was a merger, not an acquisition, and no jobs would be under threat.  Those were the noises being widely heralded as the perfect scenario.  And in the early stages shop stewards warned that they saw the deal as dangerous and problematic and that jobs would be lost.  It is disingenuous for WiggleCRC to claim that they have only recently had time to take stock of the position of both companies while earlier this year they invested in a new purpose built warehousing facility in Wolverhampton. You can understand why the workforce are skeptical that the jobs in consultation will be safe until July 2017.

“And don’t forget that the early effects of Brexit have meant in effect a 20% pay cut for all NI’s workers, as well as those on benefits and pensions, while prices are galloping ahead.  The DUP and Sinn Fein should be put under notice that their time at Stormont is limited.  It is ironic that Arlene Foster’s party political broadcast last week on the very same day that the job losses were announced opened with her saying that the DUP top priority is to create jobs. How can they do that without a strategy?  They can’t even hold on to the ones we have.” 

Kathryn Johnston, Vice Chair of the Labour Party, who lives in Ballymena, lashed the NI Executive’s “unaccountable and unforgiveable failure” to implement an economic strategy.

“The NI Executive have been burying their heads in the sand.  For years they have been urged by trades unionists to listen to their fears and to implement an economic strategy.  In the last year, Jimmy Kelly of Unite presented the second of the union’s economic strategies, Growing the Economy, to the NI Assembly.  First Minister Arlene Foster, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Economy Minister Simon Hamilton ignored this strategy, which pointed out how the NI Executive could access unused borrowing powers of £1.2bn that could be used to improve NI’s economic infrastructure.  Whether this unaccountable and unforgiveable failure to implement an economic strategy has its roots in neglect or disdain, it has to stop now.”

It’s time that the two parties in government, DUP and Sinn Fein, got to grips with the real problems facing thousands of people in Northern Ireland, rather than wasting their efforts trying to hold back time on equal marriage and abortion reform.  The electorate will remember how the Executive fiddled while their jobs went up in smoke at the next election.

ENDS

 

 

Labour Party in NI press release on WiggleCRC 31 October 2016

WiggleCRC announced last week that the company is moving its warehousing facilities from Ballyclare to Wolverhampton. 152 full time members of staff across 3 WiggleCRC facilities are facing redundancy. In...

The Labour Party, like all the rest of us, are shocked by the news that the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities is closing because it was turned down for two Stormont grants totalling £90,000 which would have ensured the continuation of staff and services.

Patrick Yu and everyone else involved in NICEM have done fantastic work and were the first port of call for information and support on ethnic minority issues. Their seminars and lectures were first class.  In March this year Keir Starmer MP visited Northern Ireland on a fact-finding mission on immigration.  After he met Labour Party in Northern Ireland, we arranged a very successful meeting with NICEM and representatives from various ethnic minority organisations for him.

At a time when migrants, ethnic minorities and refugees are worried about their future and their safety after the EU Referendum, the closure of NICEM, a major anti-racism organisation, is another blow to those communities.

It also raises some serious questions about the allocation of Stormont funding to organisations that are vital in supporting vulnerable communities.

Our Ethnic Minority Officer, Bikash Chudal will be meeting NICEM to see what can be done about their future.

"I am absolutely shocked by the news NICEM is closing. This is deeply unfortunate for all Ethnic Minority Communities in Northern Ireland. NICEM was a shared platform for all under-represented voices in Northern Ireland.

It is imperative that the OFMDFM resolves this issue immediately."

For more information, please contact Bikash Chudal on chudalb@gmail.com

 

Statement: NICEM closure

The Labour Party, like all the rest of us, are shocked by the news that the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities is closing because it was turned down for...

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