Workers in Newry, many of them teenagers working for the first time, have been left empty-handed after working for a month on what was supposed to be a fairy-tale Winter Wonderland at the city’s Albert Basin.
The event organisers, who touted the event would attract 100,000 visitors to the city over the Christmas period, have seemingly packed up and left without having paid their workers, many of whom were required to endure horrendous weather conditions over the December period with many employees taking to Twitter and Facebook to vent their anger as their former “employers” have refused to return their phone calls.
When the project was announced it promised a £1.5million scheme with an ice rink, drive-in movie screen, crazy golf and big wheel and was welcomed by many in the Newry area including the Chamber of Commerce and Newry and Mourne District Council.
The Council reportedly leased the site at St Christopher’s Park to the company free of charge and now angry workers, in conjunction with Newry Trade Union Council are organising a protest at the Newry and Mourne District Council Offices tonight (6th January) at 7pm.
Whilst no blame is currently being attributed to individual councillors it is disappointing to see that the Council was so willing to give up a large piece of public land to a private company, at the ratepayers expense and for no real return for the local economy and has undoubtedly contributed to the shambolic treatment of these young workers.
We must campaign against the use of public spaces and facilities by private companies for private profit and for the fair and equitable treatment of all workers. It is completely unacceptable that Newry and Mourne District Council have allowed a company to use public land to the detriment of local workers.