R2W Group

R2W group members today (Wednesday 16 April 2014) delivered letters to the Mayor and Belfast City Councillors calling for progress on a Council decision to deliver jobs for the long term unemployed before local Government elections next month.

The Right to Work: Right to Welfare Group (R2W), which secured cross party political support for the REAL JOBS NOW campaign, have uncovered through a Freedom of Information request that Belfast City Council officials have done nothing to progress the implementation of the REAL JOBS policy since it was voted in by councillors four months ago.

The lack of progress is at odds with the unrelenting problem of long term unemployment. In Belfast alone over 4,470 people in Belfast who have been out of work for a year or more, would benefit from the implementation of the motion.  Indeed, upcoming City council initiatives such as the £29.5M Waterfront Hall development, which promises 350 jobs, could be a key project for realising the REAL JOBS NOW motion.

Click here to listen to interview with Group member Bertie Atkinson on U105 Frank Mitchel show

The REAL JOBS NOW motion, passed by Council in January 2014 and publicly supported by United Nations international human rights expert Magdalena Sepúlveda, directs council to ring fence fully paid jobs and apprenticeships for long term unemployed people in contracts delivered through Belfast City Council’s annual £40m expenditure.

Failure by council officials to meet to discuss the implementation of the REAL JOBS policy and the failure of councillors to respond to letters sent by the group, is in stark contrast to comments made by Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir who cited the work of R2W group as “transformative” and “vital in highlighting and helping to improve the plight of the unemployed and those in need."

R2W group member Bertie Atkinson outlined the group’s concerns outside City Hall as letters were delivered to the Mayor and Councillors asking for action on the issue.

“Are REAL JOBS for the long term unemployed a priority for our city councillors or not?

“Every day we talk to people who are having their benefits cut, people being forced to do ‘Steps to Work’ and other programmes that are failing, and people who are sick being told to get out and look for a job. But the jobs – especially for the long term unemployed – just are not there.”

 “And what has been the response of Belfast City Council to those in need in our city?  We have had to use Freedom of Information legislation to find out that not one meeting has taken place, not one email has been sent and not one document as been produced to move this from a promise to a reality. That is very disappointing for the many long term unemployed people whose votes councillors will be canvassing in May.”

“What we are saying to councillors and the Mayor who met with us recently is - promises are only as good as the actions that follow them, motions are only as good as when they are implemented. Take this modest opportunity and work with us to create REAL JOBS NOW. And let’s start with the £29.5M Waterfront redevelopment.”

The R2W group has requested a progress report and timescale for implementation of the REAL JOBS policy at the next full council session (1st May) before the councillors stand down ahead of the elections.