Stormont Must Take Immediate Action to Secure Rias Jobs

Public investment needed, not corporate hand-outs and “fool’s gold economics”

In response to the announcement by Ageas UK of the closure of their Rias call centre in west Belfast with the loss of over 200 jobs, Paddy Meehan – Socialist Party spokesperson, call centre worker and trade union activist – has called for the Assembly Executive to “take immediate action” to secure the jobs and attacked Stormont’s strategy on employment as “fool’s gold economics.”

Mr Meehan said:
“This closure will put workers with families, mortgages and other commitments on the scrap heap in an area with high unemployment and social deprivation. The Assembly Executive should take immediate action to keep the workplace open. They got a £700 million loan from Westminster to fund the destruction of public sector jobs – they should use it to save jobs instead.”

“Ageas UK posted net profits of £94.7 million in 2014 – an increase of 11% since 2013. It is not a company that is short of a pound or two. This naked profiteering is typical of the fly-by-night firms the Assembly Executive’s policy of giving hand-outs to big business through Invest NI has attracted. Did Ageas UK – like others before them – receive large amounts of taxpayers’ money only to throw workers on the dole when the subsidies dried up?”

“The parties in the Stormont Executive are united in championing a cut in corporation tax, which will see hundreds of millions transferred directly from public services into the profits of big business. They are planning to destroy tens of thousands of decent, socially useful jobs in the public sector in the hope of attracting more low-paid, precarious jobs from carpetbaggers like Ageas. This is fool’s gold economics.”

“Instead of more corporate hand-outs, we need massive public investment to create meaningful jobs with a living wage, decent job protection and a chance at building a real future. There is plenty of wealth in society. While ordinary people’s living standards continue to fall, the wealth of the UK’s billionaires has quadrupled since 2008. I call on people to join the demonstrations being organised on Friday 13th March in opposition to Stormont’s right-wing austerity agenda and begin to build the fight for a decent future.”

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