9 November 2006 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

BY Justin Moran

Private sector discrimination in North not eliminated

A report by the New York City Comptroller, William C Thompson, in charge of New York City pension funds, which have $9 billion in assets in over 260 companies in the Six Counties, has found that discrimination on religious grounds is still common in the private sector.

It states that Catholics make up only 15% of the Short Brothers workforce, one of the largest private employers in the Six Counties. Other companies, particularly in strongly unionist areas, have comparable figures and the report found that in some cases, management is reluctant to address the problem.

Thompson released the status report on The MacBride Principles and fair employment practices this week following a visit to the North with Stephen Cassidy, President of the Uniformed Firefighters Association in September where they met with elected representatives.

But the report also indicated some progress was being made, especially in new employees. "Largely due to the efforts of the New York City pension funds and advocates, a lot of progress has been made," said Thompson said. "As of 2006, 88 United States and Canadian companies operating in the area have agreed to implement the fair employment standards embodied in the MacBride Principles.

"While I am pleased that the funds have been successful in urging companies to adopt the MacBride Principles, we are not satisfied. We will continue to vigorously monitor the situation in our continuing fight for social justice."

ATGWU organise North's migrant workers

The ATGWU is focussing on organising migrant workers in the Six Counties, particularly in the food processing sector, logistics, low cost airlines and airport contractors. The union is employing a number of organisers to focus on migrants.

Polish-born Julian Zielinski works to recruit Polish, Latvian, Lithuanian and Czech Republic migrants. Another member, Brazilian-born Tayra McKee, has been organising Portuguese migrants working in the meat and food processing industry in Dungannon.

The union hopes to establish a similar unit in the 26 Counties where SIPTU has been focussing on this sector for some time.

"As a union we have adopted a campaigning stance in those sectors and workers are seeing that we can get results in both the food sector and the other areas we are organising in," said Jim Quinn of the ATGWU.

"Our aim is not a recruitment campaign. Our aim is to show workers how they can organise themselves at work to get fairness and end exploitation."

A report by the ESRI in the 26 Counties found that insults or other forms of harassment at work are the second most common form of discrimination against immigrants with 32% of work permit holders reporting such incidents.

Poster campaign to reject Ryanair takeover bid

IMPACT has launched a poster campaign urging members of the Employees Share Ownership Trust (ESOT) in Aer Lingus to reject Ryanair's takeover bid of the airline. Posters and leaflets were distributed at Dublin, Shannon and Cork airports on Tuesday morning ahead of receipt of ESOT ballot papers sent out over the weekend.

The union, which represents Aer Lingus cabin crew, pilots and middle management, expects the bid to be rejected overwhelmingly, but its opposition to the floatation of the airline in the first place was lukewarm.

Bank of Ireland strike

Following a 93% vote in favour of industrial action by Amicus' 500 members in Bank of Ireland, workers will take strike action at the bank's head office on Baggot Street on 15 November. A further stoppage is planned for the offices at New Century House in the IFSC on 22 November.

The dispute centres on the bank's decision to close its defined benefit pension scheme and open up a different scheme for new staff. The new scheme will be considerably weaker and lead to a two-tier pension system. In March, Bank of Ireland announced profits of over €1.5 billion, an increase of 31% on the preceding year.

The Irish Bank Officials Association, which represents around 8,000 Bank of Ireland workers, has decided to hold off on strike action pending a Labour Court hearing into the situation.

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