ICTU celebrates NHS on final day of 2013 conference


Leaders of trade unions from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland celebrate the 65th birthday of the NHS at ICTU

Leaders of trade unions from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland celebrate the 65th birthday of the NHS at ICTU


The third and final day of the ICTU Biennial Conference in Belfast saw UNISON delegates discuss topics as wide ranging as workplace rights, education and the NHS.

Motions 29 to 32 were passed in the morning, after which UNISON delegate Roisin Byrne addressed conference on the topic of progressing workplace rights (Motion 33).

“We have fought successful campaigns against regional or local pay regionally in the past year but the threat remains,” Ms Byrne said.

“Congress must continue to oppose government policies that place an unfair burden on the working class and should continue to campaign for pay increases as a key way of tackling income inequality, in-work poverty and stimulating economic recovery.”

This motion passed along with Emergency Motions 1 and 2.

On Motion 35 (Public Wealth and Privatisation) UNISON’s Roberta Magee called for the “return of domiciliary care services in house”.

“Privatisation is never the way,” Ms Magee said.

 Motion 35 passed too, along with Motions 36 (Uniting the Generations) and 37 (Social and Public Services).

Motion 38, forwarded by UNISON, called for the tackling of health inequalities and privatisation.

UNISON head of bargaining, Anne Speed, attacked health minister Edwin Poots Transforming Your Care policy – “more like Transferring Your Cash” – and demanded the Northern Ireland Executive “ensure fundamental rights of the most vulnerable are protected”.

Seconding the motion, UNISON delegate Thomas Mahaffy echoed Ms Speed’s comments and attacked the failed promises of the Good Friday Agreement.

“[The Executive] must ensure that the fundamental human rights of the poorest and most vulnerable are protected and that government’s statutory obligations to promote equality of opportunity on the basis of objective need inform the basis of policy and decision making at all levels,” he said.

Following the passing of this motion as well as motions 39, 40 and 41, UNISON’s last speaker of the day, Noeleen Beattie, spoke to the congress on the issue of education cuts (Motion 42).

“The problems caused by under-funding are accompanied by a falling birth rate, empty schools and continued party political wrangling over selection and the promotion of equality of opportunity for all our children,” Ms Beattie told conference.

This final motion also passed.

In an end to the conference, UNISON’s Patricia McKeown and Anne Speed were elected to ICTU’s Executive Council and UNISON head of organising Pamela Dooley delivered a thank you speech to outgoing ICTU President Eugene McGlone.

After the conference had ended, leaders of various trade unions from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland gathered to celebrate the 65th birthday of the NHS by signing a large commemorative card.