Lasting peace vital for building new jobs

 

THE achievement of a lasting peace is a vital factor in building jobs and economic stability in Northern Ireland, according to the president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Mr John Freeman.

Mr Freeman told delegates to ICTU's annual conference in Newcastle, Co Down, that the ceasefires had demonstrated the many economic opportunities for peace. He said it would be catastrophic if a renewed wave of violence destroyed hopes of regenerating the region.

"In this respect," he said, "it is vital that the trade union movement continues to campaign actively for the restoration of the ceasefires, and for inclusive, comprehensive talks aimed at achieving a political settlement."

Mr Freeman said that despite the benefits which would follow from a lasting peace, the need was for a long term strategy. There was little chance, he said, of a "quick fix" solution being successful.

The duration and intensity of the region's difficulties, he said, demanded a 25 year strategy, not the "public relations device of a 100 day programme

The conference, attended by 170 delegates representing over 30 of Northern Ireland's most influential unions and trades councils, was also told that electricity prices would remain the highest in Britain unless there was increased cooperation with the Republic.

Mr Eddie Millar, of the Electrical and Engineering Union, said that cross-Border co-operation with operators and customers south of the Border was the only thing which would achieve the economies of scale necessary to, bring prices down.

He proposed calling on the British government to restructure the Northern Ireland economy, and he said that up to 70,000 jobs could be created throughout the island as a result of maximising the benefits of an all Ireland economy.

The conference heard ICTU's Northern Ireland chairman, Mr Bob Gourley, warn of the growing threat posed by the trend towards, part time work. He said that many part time jobs condemned workers to the "low pay, poverty trap".