The general secretary of the Unite trade union was in Derry on Tuesday to officially open the union’s newly refurbished offices on Carlisle Road.
Len McCluskey previously visited Derry while he was campaigning for the general secretary’s position and he thanked local members for their support.
The union leader said the new union building in Carlisle Road would allow Unite to foster stronger links with local workers and make its activities more efficient.
He also said it is important to meet local union members in Derry to discuss how to grow the organisation.
“It gives me an opportunity to make certain we understand the views, aspirations, and concerns of members. The most important thing is the commitment the union gives to the community,” he said.
The union leader also said he met with Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness to discuss how to grow the economy in the North. “I met with the First and Deputy First Minister and discussed with them how unions can assist getting investment into Northern Ireland and how to make sure the austerity budget coming from Westminster is reversed,” he explained.
Mr McCluskey said the new Unite building is a sign of the union’s commitment to workers in Derry. “We want to send a strong message out to workers in Derry that this union is committed to them and to making sure that their voices are heard.
“We want to make their voices heard at Westminster and at the Assembly and to stand up for working people,” he said.
Liam Gallagher from Unite in Derry said the opening of the new building was an important step for the union.
“This is an iconic building in the city. It survived 40 years of the Troubles and has been something of a beacon for the trade union movement in the city. The need for a strong voice for workers is more pressing now than ever.
“Down through the years we have seen the decline in the manufacturing industry in Derry and unfortunately we now have just 3,000 manufacturing jobs in the city. Public sector workers are coming under increasing attack.
“This building represents a in the fight for rights for trade unionists in the city,” he said.
Jimmy Kelly, Unite regional secretary, said the new building will help the union to protect the rights of workers in Derry. “A trade union is about more than bricks and mortar but this great new facility will help us to do our work better and help us to defend the rights of working people. It will help us build, not only in Unite, but also the whole trade union movement,” he said.