ICTU Vindicates éirígí Position on Jobless Cover-Up
éirígí has welcomed the newly adopted position by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions that the Stormont administration is refusing to come clean on the fact that the economic crisis in the Six Counties is twice as bad than has been officially acknowledged.
Earlier this month, éirígí published figures showing that over 100,000 people are presently seeking work in the Six Counties – almost double the level admitted in any official headline figures published by Britain’s Stormont administration.
éirígí general secretary Breandán Mac Cionnaith explained, “The official Six-County unemployment rate for September was announced as 52,700.
“éirígí published evidence at the time showing that those figures were simply untrue. Stormont, on a monthly basis, consistently fails to include over 50,000 other men, women and young people in the North acknowledged as seeking work but who are in receipt of welfare benefits other than those included in the unemployed claimant count.
“When those figures are combined, it shows that over 100,000 people are seeking work. That shocking total equates to an unemployment figure in real terms of over 13 per cent in the North – a figure higher than that in the Twenty Six Counties and well above the average in the European Union.
“Indeed, we showed that, across Europe, only Spain, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania are experiencing higher levels of unemployment.”
Breandán continued: “It is clear that the Stormont administration has quietly decided to adopt Thatcherite-type policies of massaging employment figures to deliberately mislead the public about the full extent of the economic crisis and the soul-destroying impact which that is having on working class communities right across the North.
“Not one MLA or political party has been prepared to break ranks about this cover-up.
“éirígí welcomes the fact that the Irish Congress of Trades Unions has now decided to challenge the false economic picture painted by the Stormont spin machine. ICTU’s stance vindicates the position adopted by éirígí and underscores the figures which we made public, showing the true extent of the economic crisis.”
The assistant general secretary of ICTU, Peter Bunting, accused Stormont's policy makers of “spinning the statistics”. Earlier this week, he said: “Spinning the statistics may make some policy-makers feel better, but the facts are that unemployment is at crisis levels, particularly in the manufacturing, construction and retail sectors.”
Meanwhile, new research published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation show that so-called safety net benefits, such as Tax Credits, cover less than half the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) for working-age people in the Six Counties without children, and about two-thirds of the MIS for those with children.
That research also damningly shows that, for those in work, the minimum wage is too low for most people to reach the minimum income standard with a single earner in the family. The Rowntree Foundation’s figures also show that almost all those in the North who fall below 60 per cent of median income – the main poverty line – are unable to reach a minimum standard of living.
All of this is in stark contrast to the selfish lavishness of Stormont’s 108 MLAs who, as new figures show, pocketed almost £8 million or an average of £74,000 each in expenses during the last financial year. Given that, in the first three months of the current financial year, the figure has already reached £2.5 million, MLAs are on course to collectively claim in excess of £10 million in expenses by the end of March 2010.
It is obvious that all those involved in the Stormont project are extremely keen to minimise the stark realities behind the unemployment figures, poverty levels and the earnings gap, and it’s not only to hide their own incompetence.
They recognise that these figures, which they have tried hard to keep well hidden, also send out a very clear political signal – that the Six-County state is an impractical and ineffectual economic entity, incapable of delivering real change or improvement to the lives of working-class people.
As éirígí has consistently pointed out, Stormont and partition never worked in the interests of the working class in the past. Tens of thousands of people being forced to exist below the official poverty line is proof that Stormont is not working for them. Over 100,000 men, women and young people who want to work, but who can’t secure employment, are also proof that Stormont and the capitalist economic system aren’t capable of working for them either.