O’Neill pays tribute to frontline staff and calls for workers’ rights to be strengthened

Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill MLA today paid tribute to the ‘courage and professionalism’ of healthcare and frontline workers in taking us through the pandemic.

Addressing the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) conference in Belfast the Joint Head of Government also said she is meeting with David Frost today to emphasise the need for stability and certainty for local businesses and workers through the Protocol.

Michelle O’Neill said:

“I thank and pay tribute to our doctors, nurses, carers, auxiliaries, cleaners, cooks, and also our shop workers, teachers, youth workers, delivery workers.

“In the face of this frightening deadly virus they had the courage and professionalism to take us through the horrendous public health emergency – and they continue to do so.

“Our health workers have worked so hard and gone above and beyond the call of duty during this pandemic and we need to build a health service fit for workers and patients.

“The forthcoming multi-year budget will see health prioritised by the Executive as its number one priority and this must include tackling waiting lists.”

Michelle O’Neill said that Sinn Féin is committed to workers’ rights but warned that the Tory government “does not care about workers’ pay or rights”.

“As we move forward, we need to deliver for people, and that can’t just be about getting things done, it will be about getting things done right.

“Sinn Féin is fully committed to strengthening workers’ rights; we want to end precarious work, to tackle low pay and strengthen trade unions recognition and collective bargaining rights.

“Sinn Féin is committed to tackling other issues that affect workers whether that is rising energy and food prices or persistent gender inequalities in the workplace.”

She told Congress she will be meeting with the British government’s negotiator with the EU David Frost later today. Michelle O’Neill said:

“Next week will see political talks intensify between the European Union and the British Government around the Brexit Protocol. I will meet with David Frost this afternoon and I will be emphasising the point that business, workers and society here want certainty and stability.

“Jobs and livelihoods must be safeguarded, and the all-Ireland economy strengthened.

“The Irish Protocol represents that special status for the north and there is no credible alternative.

“It is international law and must be respected.”