UNISON Northern Ireland

Trade unionists join together ahead of May Day rally

On Saturday 4 May, the trade unions and their supporters will participate in the largest annual public procession of labour on the island of Ireland.

With the focus of so many minds on the murder of NUJ member Lyra McKee and the increasingly urgent need to restore democracy and the institutions of the Belfast Agreement, the parade will be led by a new banner declaring: "Workers' Rights are Human Rights". There will be a unique and powerful tribute to Lyra and all workers facing violence and intimidation.

Speaking ahead of this year’s annual Mayday rally in Belfast Owen Reidy, Assistant General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions stated,

“This year’s Mayday celebration is all the more poignant with the recent callous murder of Lyra McKee, a young worker, a journalist, a proud NUJ member, and an LGBT activist. Her pointless murder is a reminder that we cannot take the peace process for granted and her life and murder must not be in vain. It also motivates us in the trade union movement, as the largest truly cross community civic society group in Northern Ireland, to stand up for peace, pluralism and diversity and all that is good about our society. Right now, at this time it is essential that the voice of organised labour is to the fore.  "There is a strong onus on the political leadership in Northern Ireland and across these islands to reach an agreement to seek to restore devolution and to finally and fully implement existing agreements.

 "We want to see a rights based restoration of devolution. This threatens no one. One whereby the parties do not just share power horizontally between themselves, but vertically with others across civic society who represents large sways of Northern Irish society. This can only deepen and underpin our fragile democracy.

"The trade union movement has always in the past and will continue to in the future stand for a plurality and a diversity of views in Northern Ireland society. With this chaotic Tory Brexit it is now more important than ever that we renew our determination to stand up for the interests of working woman and men right across Northern Ireland.

Workers in both the public and private sectors are missing out on decisions which are legally dependent upon the signature of devolved ministers but morally overdue and causing real hardship to workers who need pay rises and decent working environments and not excuses. 

"That is why the trade union movement has been calling for a representative forum of Social Dialogue for Northern Ireland whereby we can seek to mitigate the harsh edges of Brexit and propose practical and realistic evidence-based policy solutions to the problems our society and economy faces.

"We therefore come together today representing the interests and hopes of the 200,000 workers and their families in Northern Ireland and we remember Lyra and demand that this society moves forward to a more stable, just and civilised place.”

Pictured: Clare Moore, NIC-ICTU Equality officer, with Gillian Allen, ICTU and Seamus Dooley, NUJ Assistant General Secretary, hold aloft the special May Day banner at Belfast City Hall which will lead Saturday’s May Day March a trade union parade through Belfast city centre.

The march will include a special mass tribute to Lyra McKee and assembles from 11am in Writer’s Square, beside St Anne’s cathedral in Belfast.

Photo by Kevin Cooper.