Members of the Derry Trades Council gathered for their AGM making no bones about the fact that Derry is in the grip of a depressing economic situation.
In his annual report, Secretary Liam Gallagher said austerity cuts were impacting heavily on the city and revealed that 24,000 people here are listed as economically inactive while 130 retail outlets remain vacant in the city centre.
Mr. Gallagher said: “The cost of living in real terms and job losses has meant the lack of disposable income has forced more and more businesses to close. Mortgage repossessions and defaults are at an all-time high. The construction Sector is at rock bottom and the economic outlook is depressing.
“The Programme of Government for the next four years offers little hope to our struggling economy. It basically tells us that the Public Sector is disproportionally large and that we need to grow the Private Sector. It sets a target of creating 25000 new Private Sector jobs but Sammy Wilson is in denial that there have already been 4000 Public Sector job losses with another possible 16000 over the next three years. It is a bit like trying to fill a bath with the plug out.”
The local trade unionist said unions are trying to meet all the challenges thrown at them by the current recession and pledged to continue to defend working class people in jobs, housing, education and social services.
He added: “In organisational terms we have performed well with regular well attended monthly meetings, meeting our requirement to attend the Northern Ireland and All Ireland Trades Council meetings.
“We had a Delegate on the N.I.C.T.U. for the last two years.
“We had a successful May Day Rally which has been brought back to the city after a long absence.
“It gave a focus to Trade Unionists and helps to raise the Trade Union profile in the City and let the Derry bosses know that we are alive and well.”
Mr. Gallagher said he believed in the run up to 2013 there was an opportunity for the Derry Trades Council to highlight their issues on a bigger platform.
He said: “2013 will see Derry host the UK City of Culture event and the City will set out its stall in terms of what it has to offer with a rich history, culture, skills and talents. This will afford us the opportunity to put our case that offering our young an opportunity for employment and lifting people out of poverty through investment and infrastructure is in our opinion the best way to build a future that every citizen of the City can be proud of.”