Members back urgent union calls to support local workers
01 April 2021
Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council's Health and Community Committee have voiced their strong support for employees across a range of sectors as local unions set out their serious concerns about workers' rights and welfare.
Representatives from Derry TUC, UNISON, AEGIS, NIPSA, USDAW, RCN and CWU and a range of Student Union bodies from across the country, all presented to the committee at a special meeting held virtually yesterday. The meeting was called to give the unions the opportunity to highlight a range of issues affecting their members, many of which have been exacerbated during the pandemic, which have left workers feeling angry, frustrated and undervalued. The unions also hit out at the government for failing to support those who have dedicated so much at great personal risk to serving the public during the ongoing health emergency.
Among the issues highlighted today were the need for pay increases across a range of sectors – particularly for frontline health workers - employment rights, the need for better working conditions, sick pay for anyone taking time off with Covid or self-isolating, protection for pregnant workers, and the need to vaccinate education staff as a matter of urgency as schools return to face to face teaching.
Members took the opportunity to acknowledge the dedication of frontline workers during the pandemic and voted in favour of a proposal to back a range of campaigns on behalf of employees across a variety of sectors. They also reaffirmed their support for students who are dealing with financial as well as academic pressures due to Covid-19, resulting in a surge in mental health issues among young people.
Speaking after the meeting, Chair of the Health and Community Committee, Alderman Darren Guy, said it had been an opportunity for Council to show solidarity with workers right across Derry and Strabane. "Today's meeting was extremely informative as it provided an opportunity for Members to hear first hand some of the very real concerns of workers who are facing increasing pressures and experiencing a lot of anxiety at this time.
"Covid-19 has exacerbated many workplace issues and brought into sharp focus the need to create better working conditions and wages for those who have put themselves in the firing line during this crisis. People who are delivering vital services have been overlooked and undervalued for too long and we will continue to engage with the relevant unions to see how we can support the people of Derry and Strabane and campaign for better working conditions for all."