Christmas hype belies real suffering: Unions

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Derry Trades Union Council Chair, Liam Gallagher, has claimed that with Derry’s population and real wages flatlining we’re little better off this Christmas than when ‘Lily The Pink’ was number one in December 1968.

Mr. Gallagher, in the DTUC’s Christmas statement, further warned that the annual consumerist carnival that the festive season has become will not be enjoyed by all citizens equally.

He blasted: “For many people in Derry and Strabane Christmas will represent a time of stress and worry as the commercialised hype and material pressure reaches its height and impacts on the working poor, single parents, the unemployed and the old.

“Recent statistics over a protracted period have shown Derry has the highest rate of unemployment, economic inactivity and poverty levels. We have not seen or reaped the economic benefits of the peace. Unemployment is endemic and no significant progress has been made in attracting decent work to replace the manufacturing base that we once had.”

The Derry trade union leader wondered if, with many living in relative poverty and our young people one of our biggest exports, had we made any real progress over the past fifty years.

“It could be argued that our economic situation is no better that it was in 1968 in relative terms. This is evidenced by the almost stagnant population growth and the high levels of educated and skilled young people leaving the area.

“In deprived areas of the city two thirds of children live in relative poverty and that is an indictment of the political failure to address decades of deprivation and poverty.”

Mr. Gallagher said he belived working class people, employed and unemployed, would suffer hardship this Christmas.

“For many workers, having a job in Derry means existing from week to week on a minimum wage and the additional expense of Christmas will mean a struggle to provide the best for their families .This often means borrowing to get it over and dreading the New Year when the bills start arriving. The transition of current benefit claimants to Universal Credit by 2020 has the potential to create worse poverty levels,” he added.

Derry needed decent work and investment on a par with that enjoyed by other Irish cities, he said.

“This will require political will and progressive politicians who can move beyond Orange and Green politics and commit to target the North West as an area underinvestment and economic deprivation requiring a urgent intervention.”