Catholics are still more than twice as likely to be seeking work as Protestants in the north of Ireland, according to the latest labour statistics, published on Friday.
Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson said the figures prove that “huge inequalities” still exist in the North, and questioned the manner in which the problem of discrimination is presented in the statistics.
“It’s important to go beyond the simple definition ‘unemployed’ as an indicator. Unemployment figures alone do not paint the full picture as they ignore a whole range of people such as those on certain benefits or training programmes who are defined as ‘economically inactive’. It is only by taking these two categories together that we will get a true reflection of who we are failing as a society.
“And when you look at the statistics in greater detail, they show that there are still twice as many Catholics who are economically inactive and who want work, as there are Protestants,” she said.
Meanwhile, another U.S. company has adopted the MacBride Principles of fair employment in the North of Ireland.
The move by pharmaceutical company Warner Chilcott has been praised by New York City Comptroller William Thompson. The city has for years required MacBride compliance when it invests in companies doing business in the Six Counties.
“Employment discrimination in Northern Ireland has historically been one of the major causes of sectarian divisions, and we are committed to supporting the Northern Ireland peace process in every way possible. I applaud Warner Chilcott for joining us in this effort,” Thompson said.
Workers in west Belfast have resorted to a sit-in to defend their rights amid a wave of redundancies and closures in the city.
Around 100 workers at the Visteon plant began an occupation of the site after being told at lunchtime on Tuesday that they will only get statutory redundancy.
The workers say they were promised their entitlements wouldn’t be affected when Ford sold the plant nine years ago.
The workers began an overnight sit-in and vowed to stay until their agreed redundancy dealis honoured.
The Unite trade union says the workforce has been treated disgracefully, with some standing to lose tens of thousands of pounds that they are entitled to if they accept the company’s redundancy offer.
eirigi spokesperson Sean Mac Bradaigh extended solidarity to the workers who have engaged in the sit-in at the plant.
He said: “The workers’ demands are completely reasonable. They want appropriately reimbursed for the many years of work they have given in the plant. eirigi supports this demand.”
Last week, about 90 per cent of workers at Waterford Crystal voted in favour of a package which ended the sit-in at the internationally renowned plant in the southeast of Ireland.
The vote marked the end of the sit-in at the company which began on January 30th after the company’s receiver, David Carson of Deloitte, suddenly shut down manufacturing.
The deal will ensure the continuation of crystal manufacturing at the company’s factory in the city.
Hundreds of workers, members of trade union Unite, voted for the package that will retain 176 of the 480 jobs in Waterford.
About 80 of these workers will be “skilled artisans” and up to 35 other full-time and 50 part-time workers would also be retained.
It had been feared that all of the workers might be made redundant if an alternative liquidation plan had been adopted.