Justice for the sacked NCP workers

CHRIS O’KANE, one of the leading organisers of the sacked traffic wardens who are fighting to be re-instated spoke to The Socialist about their struggle. “In April, 26 of us took part on a half day stoppage after our employer, National Car Parks, refused to deal with a mountain of grievances we had raised over months.

“We were just fed up with management not caring about our working conditions and being ignored. The health and safety standards were deplorable. The toilet floor would regularly be covered in urine from overflowing toilets. We had to walk about in the rain with leaking boots. Men and women had to share changing rooms. Other grievances included breaches of personal confidentiality, faulty equipment, accusations of bullying, even lack of communication from management after threats from dissident republicans had been made against traffic wardens!

“The response of NCP was to ignore all avenues to satisfactorily deal with these issues and summarily sack all 26 workers for taking unofficial strike action. 

“At first, it was a shock to find out they could just sack us like that, we were only using our right to strike to achieve basic terms and conditions. But we have all rallied each other to fight on. We have recruited every recently employed traffic warden to our union, NIPSA, and the public support for us has been amazing.

“We have agreed to ballot the members for official strike action and management are worried. They are already making certain improvements in conditions, but this is just to trick people into believing they have changed their ways in the hope that the ballot will not be supported.

“We are also calling on the Minister for Regional Development, Conor Murphy, to support workers’ rights by terminating the contract with NCP so that the service can brought back into public hands. We have received a lot of support from fellow NIPSA members, but have also seen through our experiences the need for proper democracy in our union. We need accountable trade union officials who are democratically elected. That is now really important for workers who, like us, find themselves in dispute with their employers. Myself and another workmate have recently joined the Socialist Party, not just to campaign for democratic unions but also because workers need a political voice to challenge the privatisation agenda in the Assembly.”

23 June 09

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