7 February 2008 Edition
Nuacht na nOibrithe
Wicklow jobs moved to Costa Rica
THE 360 workers at the Allergan plant in Arklow, County Wicklow, are still reeling from the news this week that management is to close the plant and move operations to Costa Rica.
It also emerged that a number of workers at the pharmaceutical manufacturing plant were sent to Costa Rica to train the people who will eventually take their employment.
Arklow has seen severe job losses in recent years, including the closure of Arklow Pottery, which employed 1,250 workers.
The decision by Allergan to move operations to Costa Rica is seen by many as an exercise in facilitating the use of cheap labour. Kieron Connolly, a SIPTU branch organiser for the area, said:
“Allergan’s decision to transfer their Silicon implant production to Costa Rica was based on the pursuit of super-profits.”
He went on to say that the 20-year-old plant in Arklow had always enjoyed a significant profit and a crucial factor in the decision was “the low rates of pay in Costa Rica where labour costs are a quarter of the level in Arklow”.
26-County pay talks on the horizon
FOLLOWING a plenary session of the social partners in the 26 Counties on 15 February it is expected that moves will be made to begin talks on the ‘national wage agreement’ for this April.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions is expected to hold a delegate conference in March to discuss a negotiating strategy as there are many issues that the unions will want to see development on, including the legislation on employment standards which the Government previously guaranteed in the Towards 2016 deal in 2006. As well as this there are also the outstanding issues of precarious employment for agency workers and the Government’s opposition to an EU directive on agency workers.
ICTU has also forewarned the Government that it must fulfil its commitments on employment rights compliance if it is expecting workers to enter into talks on another pay agreement.
The public sector unions who are members of ICTU are due to meet this week and discuss the lack of pay increases for their members in the recent benchmarking report.
Irish Ferries workers paid €4 per hour
WORKERS on board the Irish Ferries vessel sailing from Ireland to France are being paid €4 per hour it was alleged this week by the Irish Transport Workers’ Federation.
Ken Fleming of the Federation said that most of the workers on the ferry are from the newer EU member states. The company had previously entered into an agreement which would ensure that the minimum wage would be paid on the Ireland-Britain routes but lapsed in December and a lower rate is now being paid on the Ireland-France route.
Fleming said that the workers aboard the vessels are working 12-hour shifts for these low rates of pay, seven days a week, while on two-month contracts and that employees are not allowed to come ashore. He indicated that those employees who did go ashore could be disciplined or sacked.
4.8% on live register in 26 Counties
UNEMPLOYMENT statistics for the 26 Counties show the number on the live register has now reached 4.8 per cent, the highest level since July 2003.
There were 181,000 people collecting unemployment benefit in January – a rise of 7,000 since December. The Government had previously predicted that 174,000 would be signing on. Speaking on the figures, Minister for Finance Brian Cowen said that the Department of Finance will not be changing the economic forecasts made at the time of the budget in December despite the changing economic situation.
University catering staff ballot
Catering staff at the University of Ulster in Jordanstown balloted for industrial action this week as the university prepares to offer them redundancies so they can outsource the work.
Staff feel they are being ‘railroaded’ into accepting redundancies. Lily Kerr of the UNISON trade union said:
“The university has a responsibility to carry out a proper Equality Impact Assessment but it has refused to do this.”
She outlined how the university is not adhering to regulations on the rights of staff members. Officials from UNISON are due to meet with the university this week in an attempt to get management to stick to an agreed process that will uphold the rights of workers.
Strike at Derry hospital
SEVENTY secretaries at the Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry took part in a one-day strike this week in a row over pay and conditions.
The workers had previously gone on strike in November over the same row. The NIPSA trade union said that the workers felt they had no option but to strike but are continuing in talks with the Western Health and Social Care Trust.