Belfast Telegraph

Trade unions united in Belfast protest at austerity measures

Around 1,000 people have taken part in a trade union protest in Belfast against the austerity policies of the Coalition Government.

The Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) organised Saturday’s march, which took protesters through the city centre to Custom House Square. Public sector workers such as teachers, Fire Service staff and health service workers all took part.

ICTU said the rally would “send a message to our MLAs and our MPs from all political parties that we the people are firmly opposed to the failed policy of austerity which destroys lives and futures”.

Peter Bunting, ICTU assistant general secretary, said: “All of us... have suffered under the plague of austerity for over two years now — two years of wages freeze and rising bills redundancies and continuing unemployment, cuts to care and services.”

The Welfare Reform Bill is currently making its way through the Assembly will shake up the entire benefits systems.

The Assembly is due to debate a Sinn Fein motion on the issue today. It proposes: “That the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission be asked to advise whether the Welfare Reform Bill is compatible with human rights.”

Under the new proposals, six benefits would no longer be paid separately but would instead be combined in a single Universal Credit payment.

ICTU represents around 250,000 members from 36 trade unions in Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph