27 July 2006 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

BY Justin Moran

Nuacht na nOibrithe

Cork County Council backs Sinn Féin sugar industry motion

All parties on Cork County Council have supported a motion proposed by Sinn Féin Councillor Martin Hallinan calling on the Taoiseach to personally intervene in order to prevent the destruction of the sugar factories in Mallow and Carlow. It was passed unanimously.

Proposing the motion Cllr. Hallinan said:

"What is happening in Mallow at the moment is a downright disgrace. To close the factory in Mallow now, particularly in the light of the Carlow closure would be an act of vandalism. Converting the factory to the production of bio fuels makes sense both economically and environmentally. We have the ability to grow the raw material sugar beet to produce sugar syrup out of which ethanol can be made. It would provide jobs in Mallow and a market for North Cork farmers.

"It is also in the national interest of this country that this factory converts to bio fuel production. It would mean that we would begin to provide an alternative to petroleum as an energy supply. Against these positive points, we have the short term interests of Greencore who now want to add to the millions they made by asset stripping this industry, by selling the factory grounds as brown field sites.

"It is time that the government stopped wringing its hands and showed some leadership. They have in their power the ability through the golden share to stop Greencore from dismantling the factories. I have seen firm legal advice that it is within their power to do so.And there is urgency in this. Time is not on our side. I am aware that a company approached Greencore with a view to buying sugar syrup for ethanol production and were told where to put themselves. It was made very clear that Greencore's favoured option was selling the sites not carrying on production.

"For a mere 150 million euro this industry is being sold down the river. The short term interests of Greencore should not be allowed out weigh the long term interests of Ireland. We need action and action now to save the plants. The government has the power through the golden share to prevent the destruction of the factories in Mallow and Carlow. They and only they can ensure an ethanol production industry in Ireland in the immediate future."

Need for union recognition highlighted

Sinn Féin Workers' Rights spokesperson Arthur Morgan has called for an increase in Labour Court staff following publication of the Labour Court's Annual Report for 2005. Deputy Morgan said the failure of employers to recognise collective bargaining added to the Court's workload and underlined the need for mandatory trade union recognition.

"The report published today shows that the Labour Court held almost a hundred more hearings last year than in 2004 and received almost fourteen hundred referrals," he pointed out.

"There has been a steady increase totalling 64% in caseloads in the five years since 2000 but despite this, and the massive increase in the workforce, the Court was granted only one additional administrative staff member since 1996.

"Analysis of the report also underlines the need for tighter regulation and better enforcement of existing labour law. The refusal of employers to enter into collective bargaining and to abide by registered agreements contributing massively to increased referrals.

"The need for mandatory trade union recognition in Ireland could not be clearer the failure of the recent Partnership agreement to deliver on this is an indictment of those involved in the negotiations."

Child Agency walkout in Six Counties

Hundreds of civil servants employed in the Child Support Agency (CSA) in the Six Counties took unofficial industrial action on Tuesday when they staged a walkout over possible threats to their jobs.

The British Government's announcement earlier this week that it will be closing down the Child Support Agency has put 1,800 jobs at risk in the Six Counties, where civil servants are responsible for the North and for eastern England.

"This union's primary concern will be to protect the jobs of NIPSA members as the Government seeks to progress these changes," said NIPSA General Secretary John Corey.

"At least Government Ministers have acknowledged that the problems with the CSA are not the fault of the staff but instead lie with the policy framework and the systems. On that basis we expect Government Ministers and NI Civil Service Management to be doing all in their power to secure the current 1800 CSA jobs in Northern Ireland in any transition to new arrangements."

Social Development Minister David Hanson denied there was any job threat and expressed the hope that staff could be transferred within the department.

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