A meeting between Derry Trades Union Council (DTUC) and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, to discuss the economic development of Derry, has been described as “constructive.”
DTUC representatives met with Mr. McGuinness in Derry last week where they discussed the city’s spiralling unemployment rate and talked about measures that could be introduced to create jobs.
“It was a constructive meeting and Mr. McGuinness listened to everything we had to say - it was the first time we met with the Deputy First Minister and I think it could be the start of many more conversations we will have in the months and years to come,” said DTUC chair, Liam Gallagher.
There were representatives from various trade unions at the meeting, including UNITE, NIPSA,Communication Workers’ Union, UNISON and Irish National Teachers’ Union.
“We voiced our concerns about the current economic situation in the North-West,” explained Mr. Gallagher.
“We also talked about how employment could be created if quasi public/private sector organisations were permitted to borrow money ‘off the books’.
“What we mean by that is that organisations would be able put forward their own assets as collateral to borrow money - this in turn would not impinge on the budget in Stormont,” he added.
Mr. Gallagher and the other representatives at the meeting used it as an opportunity to discuss the “decimation” of the manufacturing industry in the North-West.
“There are approximately 3,000 people employed in manufacturing in the North West region - in recent years it suffered nothing short of a decimation,” said Mr. Gallagher.
“We talked to Mr. McGuinness how as a result of high unemployment the local economy has become dependent on low paid work and that in turn has detrimental impact upon the young people wishing to live and work here - if there is no work they have to take their skills away from Derry.”
Mr. McGuinness said the meeting was positive and that he intended to work closely with DTUC in the future.
“It was a very positive and constructive meeting and we agreed to continue to engage in the time ahead,” said Mr. McGuinness.
“I believe that is very important because the trade union movement have played a hugely important role right throughout the peace process and they recognise the value of the power sharing institutions in terms of preventing the kind of damaging policies which have been implemented by the Tories in Britain.
“There are still many challenges ahead, but opportunities also, and I look forward to continuing to work closely with the unions in the time ahead,” he added.