Don’t attack Iraq – letter to the Editor – 2003

Dear Editor​ 9 January 2003

DON’T ATTACK IRAQ

In an interview on the CBS 60 Minutes programme, on 12 May 1996, a journalist, Lesley Stahl, pointed out to Madeline Albright, then US Ambassador to the UN, that half a million children were reputed to have died up to that point, due to the sanctions imposed against Iraq. “That’s more children than died in Hiroshima. Is the price worth it?” she asked. Madeline Albright didn’t question the figures, but replied – “I think this a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.”

This chilling exchange unfortunately remains characteristic of the US and British Governments approach to Iraq. Official estimates from UNICEF state that between 5,000 and 6,000 children die every month as a direct result of these sanctions, imposed in our names. In the Arab world this indifference to the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit the deliberate targeting of civilian populations in the prosecution of war, serves to remind them of the relatively low value placed on Arab lives and the ineffectual nature of the UN. This has of course been evident to the Palestinian people for a generation, but it is now fuel to the fires lit by Islamic extremists across the world.

Denis Halliday, who resigned from his post as Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Iraq rather than continue to administer sanctions, stated in the Independent (15 October 1998) –

“We are in the process of destroying an entire nation. It is as simple and as terrifying as that. It is illegal and immoral.”

Now we are to wage a terrible war on Iraq. It will be done without justification in International Law and solely to serve the interests of the USA, who seek to control the world’s oil supplies as part of its strategy for “homeland defence”. The war is to be waged exactly because Iraq is defenceless and to act as an example of the USA’s untrammelled power, to the other countries in the region, in particular Iran, which Bush has described as being part of the “Axis of Evil”. We know that Iraq is defenceless, not least, because Scott Ritter the former weapons inspector (and patriotic US citizen), stated on John Pilger’s TV documentary on 25 March 2000-

“Everything we set out to destroy in 19991, the physical infrastructure, had been eliminated. So if I had to quantify Iraq’s threat in terms of weapons of mass destruction, the real threat is zero, none.”

The war on Iraq is being misrepresented as part of the “war against terrorism”, even though Saddam Hussein is despised by Osama Bin Laden for operating a secular regime in the region and despite the fact, that Iraq clearly played no part in the outrages of 11 September. This war will destabilise not only the Middle East, it will provoke further terrorist outrages and create global insecurity. It is important that people of conscience register their opposition to this madness. They can do so by signing the petition on www.stopwar.org.uk and noting the arrangements for various forthcoming protests detailed in the website.

Yours faithfully

MICHAEL ROBINSON

NEWTOWNABBEY

General Council Elections 2014 Why You Should Vote Unity

NEW UNITY LOGOMAKE YOUR VOTE COUNT

 

Last year only 6,124 NIPSA members, out of a membership of 45,616, voted in the election of the union’s governing body, the General Council.  And yet the General Council is an important body.  Amongst other things, it is tasked with the general management and control of the union; setting its priorities and committing its resources to the campaigns and actions required by our members. General Council is also tasked with taking forward actions demanded from motions adopted as policy at our annual conferences.

As we enter into yet another year of Austerity and budget cuts imposed on the NI Assembly by the Coalition Government, there is a greater need than ever to elect a General Council which has the interests of members foremost in their thinking and actions.  A council that has the experience of campaigning on issues in a manner that builds enduring public and political support for our members and the services they provide.  

NIPSA Unity is a group of independent NIPSA activists with considerable experience in serving your interests in the General Council and its sub-committees, the Civil Service Group, Central Whitley Council and the Public Officers Group.

 

  • We are not directed by any outside political party or faction
  • We are free to deal with all issues before us solely on their merits
  • We will always put your interests first
  • Our membership is open to members of NIPSA
  • We see to represent a wide spectrum of branches and sectors

We believe that we are fielding the strongest list of candidates, from the widest range of sectors and with the best actual experience and skill in representing the interests of our members.

For example, our members are to the fore in the current campaign to defend the DVA local vehicle licensing offices; in opposing the disbanding of NIHE; the opposition to “Welfare Reform” and the Universal Credit proposals and in challenging the Transforming Your Care agenda in Health.  We were also involved in previous and, most importantly, successful campaigns to secure proper funding for DOE Planning Service that avoided mass redundancies which had been threatened; and of course in leading the ICTU Water Charges non-payment campaign, which saw off the threat of individual household water charges here.  You can learn more about our candidates by clicking here

NIPSA Unity General Council Candidates 2014

NEW UNITY LOGO

 

GENERAL COUNCIL ELECTION 2014

 

Please vote for the NIPSA Unity candidates listed below, and the Independent candidate, all of whom will consider and deal with the issues before the General Council solely on their merits, putting your interests first.

 

For more information about each of our candidates click on their names below 

CANDIDATES

BRANCH

NUMBER

Area of employment

Baker, Pat

531

Down District Council
Clarke,  Harry

22

Northern Ireland  Assembly
Crilly, Denise

8

Department for Social Development, Child Maintenance Service
Dobbs, Philomena

523

Western Education and Library Board
Hamilton, Mike

77

Department of Finance and Personnel
Haughey, Conor

531

Newry & Mourne District Council
Herron, Michael

27

Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
Hughes, Sharon

8

Department for Social Development, Child Maintenance Service

Hoy, Lisa

16

Department of Justice
Kirk-Lyness, Gillian

22

Northern Ireland Assembly
McKeown, Michael

15

NIPSA HQ
McKinstry, Heather

521

Southern Education and Library Board
McNulty, Janette

21

Department of Education
Moore, Brian

15

Department of the Environment
Morton, Sam

515

Northern Ireland Housing Executive
Robinson, Michael

15

Department for Regional Development
Rooney, Mairead

270

Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure
Smyth, Brian

733

Southern Health and Social Care Trust
Toner, Dáire

22

Northern Ireland Assembly
Veighey, Joanne

228

Department of the Environment


 

Mitchel Freedman

123

PSNI   (INDEPENDENT)

 

MAKE YOUR VOTE WORK FOR YOU.

 

EDUCATION: Incremental Pay, £250 and ESA – all promised, still waiting…

NEW UNITY LOGONIPSA Unity briefing – WORKING FOR YOU IN EDUCATION

By Phil Dobbs and Heather McKinstry

 

 

1% Pay increase and incremental progression

NIPSA members within the Education sector are, at the time of writing this article, still waiting to receive their meagre 1% pay increase agreed with employers in June 2013 along with their incremental progression where applicable.  The 1% increase equates to a mere £10 extra per month before tax for the lowest paid workers in Education.  It was the first pay award for 3 years and a welcome boost to salaries in a financially challenging time, but as yet, no-one has had any benefit from it.  NIPSA consistently asked the Department of Education to implement the pay progression and pay increase, and after many months of persistence, the Department finally stated in October 2013 that processes have been put in place to pay the current pay award and to ensure future pay awards are processed and paid within an acceptable time frame.  Payment of the uplift was to be paid in January 2014 with arrears due by the end of March 2014.  However, in mid-January 2014 the Department of Education reneged on this timeframe leaving our members in Education without a clear indication of when they can finally receive their contractually entitled incremental pay uplift with payment of arrears some way off.  Proposed changes to pensions are due to come into force on 1st April 2014 potentially adding to the problem.

The process of receiving contractually entitled incremental pay starts around November or December when the Education and Library Boards submit their pay remit claim for the following financial year to the Department for approval.  Unfortunately, the pay remits are considered collectively and consideration only begins once all pay remits are received from all 5 Education and Library Boards.  That means a delay in proceedings if one board is slow to submit their claim. 

In 2012 this procedure was followed but it did not take account of the proposed 1% pay offer.  This meant that staff at the top of their pay scale could not be paid their 1% pay rise, and staff entitled to move to the next point on their pay scale could not do so as the pay remit submitted by their respective employer was not agreed. 

After months of waiting for increments to be paid, it transpired in July 2013 that Education and Library Boards needed to re-submit their pay remits to include the 1% pay rise.  Failure to submit a revised pay remit prior to paying the incremental progression would mean that annual accounts would not be signed off and instead be noted to be in contravention of the rules.

These pay remits were to be submitted by the end of August 2013 several months after the 1% pay award was accepted.  For NIPSA members this delay in receiving their pay uplift is unacceptable.  NIPSA Unity members were part of a delegation who met the Education Minister, John O’Dowd in September 2013, highlighting their frustrations at the delay and at the fact teachers were paid their increment within one month of agreement.  The Minister gave a commitment to the non-teaching unions that measures would be put in place to ensure there would be no repetition of how things were handled this time around and that pay remits would be processed and paid in a more timely fashion in the future. 

On 23 October 2013 NIPSA Unity members joined a multi-union protest outside Rathgael House to once again highlight the lack of progress on incremental pay.  NIPSA Unity members Heather McKinstry and Sheila Bell attended the demonstration along with NIPSA official Paddy Mackel and representatives from Unison and Unite.  See photographs below.

NIPSA Unity members Heather McKinstry and Sheila Bell attending the demonstration outside Rathgael House on 23rd October 2013

NIPSA Unity members Heather McKinstry and Sheila Bell attending the demonstration outside Rathgael House on 23rd October 2013

NIPSA Unity member Heather McKinstry along with Unison and Unite trade union members demonstrate outside Rathgael House on 23rd October 2013.

NIPSA Unity member Heather McKinstry along with Unison and Unite trade union members demonstrate outside Rathgael House on 23rd October 2013.

£250 payment in the Voluntary Grammar  and Integrated schools

The Con\Lib-Dem government announced that in the 2010\11 and 2011\12 financial years employees earning less than £21,000 would be paid £250 (pro-rata for part-time employees) each year in lieu of a pay rise.  In the Education and Library Boards these payments were made to the affected staff, but their colleagues in Voluntary and Integrated schools did not receive the same payment.  NIPSA Unity members highlighted this discrepancy and there ensued a campaign to have the matter put right.  NIPSA Unity members were part of delegations to Stormont where the Minister of Education, John O’Dowd was lobbied on several occasions to address the situation as a matter of urgency.  Early in 2013 the Minister informed NIPSA that measures were being put in place to gather the relevant information and progress the payment of £250 to the affected staff.  Progress was extremely slow and NIPSA continued to highlight the plight of staff in Voluntary and Integrated schools.  More recently, funding has been made available to all Voluntary and Integrated schools across all 5 Education and Library Board areas to allow them to make the £250 payments for both the 2010\11 and 2011\12 financial years to a group of extremely patient staff.

Education Skills Authority (ESA)

Another deadline of 1st October 2013 for the establishment of ESA has been missed and there doesn’t seem to be any prospect of ESA being established in the current financial year.  The proposed establishment of ESA has been on-going since April 2008 with the goalposts moved (and missed) year on year since then.  In December 2013 Barry Mulholland, Chief Executive of Western Education and Library Board and a Director Designate of ESA, stepped down from his ESA role, leaving many wondering what exactly is happening with ESA.  It also transpired at that time that Omagh has been agreed as a sub-regional office of ESA yet there doesn’t appear to have been any discussions relating to where exactly ESA Headquarters will be situated.  At this moment in time the legislation to enable the establishment of ESA appears to be gathering dust somewhere in the Assembly.  About 12 months ago the bill was at Committee stage with the gathering of oral evidence and it was expected to return to the Assembly floor for a second reading and receive Royal Assent by the summer recess.  Nothing has been heard of the legislation since.

In the meantime, Trade Union Side recruited three secondees, two from NIPSA and one from UNISON to provide additional assistance to the four main unions within education.  These posts which are for a 12 month period, cover policies, procedures and workstreams relating to ESA and their impact on employees throughout the education sector. 

NIPSA Unity members have been part of delegations to meet with Department of Education officials and the Education Minister on issues surrounding ESA including the impact of the implemented cuts in staffing levels across the education sector and the continuing constraints of Vacancy Control has had on the wellbeing and welfare of the remaining staff in Education and Library Boards.  To date, over 400 staff across all grades and work areas have left under voluntary severance in the past few years culminating in additional workloads and responsibilities for remaining staff with little or no remuneration in some cases.  Despite repeated requests to the Department, there are no plans to ease Vacancy Control nor lift the moratorium on job re-evaluations (in place since 2006) any time soon. 

NIPSA Unity members continue to highlight the plight of our members in Education and remain at the forefront tacking issues affecting all our members in Education and ensuring they are afforded the full support of NIPSA in finding a resolution.