Trade unionists have claimed some employers are taking advantage of Derry’s prevailing poor economic circumstances to exploit local labour.
Derry Trades Union Council, at its January meeting, agreed the large labour surplus created by the city’s high levels of unemployment, economic inactivity and dependency on social security benefits, was being used by some employers to justify below inflation wage levels.
In a statement issued after the meeting DTUC said it was committed to exposing bad employment practices in the city in 2019.
“We are concerned that many local employers are taking advantage of Derry’s prevailing poor economic circumstances to exploit local labour. The majority of workers in Derry are on or just above the minimum wage of £7.83 for those over 25. This will rise to £8.21 in April 2019 and many local employers are using this legal requirement as a pretext for pretending that they have given their employees a wage rise in line with the current rate of inflation which currently running at 3.2 per cent,” said the trades council.
“Many of these workers have not received a wage rise since 2008 but have simply kept pace with the statutory minimum wage. Many Derry workers are unnecessarily employed on zero contract hours, fixed terms contracts or are employed through agencies where they should and could be employed directly,” it added.
The DTUC pointed out how pay increases were averaging 3.5 per cent in the UK as a whole where there have been some moves away from austerity measures.
“In Derry there is reluctance on the part of employers, who can afford it, to pay workers a decent wage and to offer them decent terms and conditions. Many employers in this city refuse to recognise trade unions’ rights to negotiate annual pay rises on behalf of workers. There is a ‘We don’t do unions attitude’,” the DTUC stated.
It promised a worker-led fightback against poor pay and conditions.
“We are calling on our local politicians to come off the fence and to call time on those employers who will not recognise unions and to demand that Derry workers are valued and given a decent living wage.
“We are calling churches and the local Chamber of Commerce to speak out about unscrupulous working practises that keep workers in a permanent state of poverty.
“DTUC have committed to taking on bad employers in 2019 and making workers aware of their rights and exposing bad employers and bad employment practice.”