Derry wages are ‘6% lower’ that N.I. average

Derry & Strabane Councillors have praised the work of local unions and spoke of the importance of supporting workers.

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 8:05 am

They were speaking after the Governance and Strategic Planning Committee received a presentation from UNITE the Union.

Mr Liam Gallagher spoke to members about the reassurance, protection and support afforded to workers by trade unions, particularly during these difficult times. 

He explained the union has been busier than ever since March last year dealing with the additional concerns arising from the pandemic.

Union representatives at a previous May Day workers’ unions rally in the city.

Mr Gallagher also told Members that ‘the average wage of workers in Derry and Strabane is 6% lower than the rest of Northern Ireland’ and said that currently in the north west there are fewer than 3,500 manufacturing jobs.

DUP Alderman Hilary McClintock thanked Mr Gallagher for his presentation adding that “workers are our best asset and we on this Council value our workers very much.”

She added: “The right to be part of a union is something that is embedded in our culture.”

Aontú Councillor Emmet Doyle asked for an update on union membership within call centres in the city. Mr Gallagher said: “Call centres are a significant source of employment in the north west particularly. It’s a difficult sector to try and organise, we do have two examples of very well organised call centres and the relationship with the employers is excellent. However, what we find is that a lot of call centres have a high turnover and retention is a big problem because it’s a minimum wage and a lot of them don’t join unions and a lot are fearful of joining unions.”

Councillor Sandra Duff said: “Sinn Féin have always been very supportive of trade unions in general. I myself am a member of NIPSA and have been a member of UNISON coming up on 20 years.

“The work of the trade unions in terms of winning rights for people has been a hard one and something that we should be reminding people of, particularly young people. We need to be protecting people’s rights. I worked in an organisation a number of years ago and we had to fight really hard for union recognition.”

PBP Councillor Shaun Harkin said: “The pandemic makes it more clear why workers need a collective voice in the workplace because someone has to stand up for them. Someone has to represent their needs, be that financial or health wise.

Members were in agreement that the work of the unions is vital and that there is the need to engage more with young people.

Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter