NIC-ICTU advocates a broad-based coalition to stand up for NI in Brexit talks

29 Mar 2017

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The Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (NIC-ICTU), at its policy conference on the theme Workers must not pay the price of Brexit, today advocated the coming together of representative groups in civic society to seek to articulate and protect the interests of Northern Ireland society in Brexit talks.

Speaking at the conclusion of the conference*, Owen Reidy, Assistant General Secretary of the ICTU, said:

“The issue of Brexit is too important to be left only to professional politicians be they from Brussels, Westminster, Dublin or Stormont, especially the certain impact of a hard Brexit as being pursued by Theresa May’s government.

“The ongoing political crisis has created a vacuum whereby what NI needs from any negotiations has not been articulated in a coherent manner. The Scottish and Welsh governments have developed a policy position and they did so having engaged with social partners including the trade union movement. It is bad enough that the May government is currently not listening to their concerns, the Scots and Welsh are essentially at the back of the brexit bus. Meantime, we in Northern Ireland have yet to get on the bus!

“We have now reached the point where we believe it is essential that the trade union movement, the community and voluntary sector and business come together and seek to develop an agreed policy platform that puts the interest of workers, communities and business centre stage. We must use our collective influence in relation to Brexit negotiations as they affect Northern Ireland.

“The people of Northern Ireland voted to remain, as did the people of Scotland. Whilst accepting that the UK wide vote was for leave, no one can credibly argue that the people voted for this hard Brexit which has been outlined in recent week,” concluded Mr Reidy.

The conference brought together worker representatives of the 24 affiliated trade unions which organise and represent over 200,000 workers across Northern Ireland. Also in attendance were representatives from other civil society groups and local politicians. As well as looking at what a Brexit may mean for employment rights, the impact on trade and jobs and the Good Friday Agreement, political representatives from most of the Assembly parties outlined their party’s plans after the triggering of article 50.