A Derry trade unionist has warned that the outward festive cheer exhibited across the city in the run up to Christmas belies real anxiety among thousands of workers who are struggling to make ends meet.
Liam Gallagher, Chair of Derry Trades Union Council, said wage stagnation, the failure of policy makers to ensure there are enough jobs for the large labour pool in the North West, and the increasing prevalence of insecure employment contracts, are helping to make Christmas a period of anxiety for many local workers and their families.
“There will be thousands of workers and their families in Derry who will not be looking forward to the festive season particularly with the current cold snap,” said Mr. Gallagher.
“Low paid workers who have not had a pay rise in seven years and many hundreds in precarious employment will have to borrow money to make ends meet and to heat their homes and provide food this Christmas,” he added.
Mr. Gallagher said many workers will find it necessary to get into debt in order to relieve the pressure of keeping up festive appearances but that the January reckoning will result in further financial hardships.
“In the New Year they will face the prospect of paying back loans which they can’t afford to pay.
“We are now seeing real increasing poverty among the working poor and unemployed,” said Mr. Gallagher.
The DTUC chair said the situation was the result of a clear failure in policy at government level and called for urgent action.
“Trades unions are calling for a strategy which targets the North West and recognises the total regional imbalance in creating decent employment prospects.
“It is essential that the Government lift the Public Pay cap to arrest the steady decline in low Public Sector pay,” he said.