ICTU North/South Retired Workers Seminar

ICTU North/South Retired Workers Seminar
2024, Wexford.

The ICTU North/South Retired Workers Seminar was held in White’s Hotel, Wexford on Wednesday the 20th and Thursday the 21st March’24 and was attended by over eighty delegates, speakers, visitors and ICTU admin staff.

Although this was the second year running the seminar was  scheduled for the historic town of Wexford, a large contingent of delegates representing  unions across the North made the long journey down in what was dry if inclement weather. There were also delegations from Trades Councils in attendance, including reps. from Belfast, Ballymena, Antrim & District and Fermanagh.

The seminar was held over the course of two days and delegates dealt with a wide range of issues of interest to retired workers across both jurisdictions. There were also additional items on the agenda of interest to the trade union movement in general.

Jimmy Whelan, Unite Union (ICTU Southern Retired Workers Committee) chaired the seminar and welcomed delegates to Wexford and this was reciprocated by Margaret Galloway, Nipsa Union on behalf of the Northern Unions.

Guest Speakers.

A full list of guest speakers, together with their bios, can be  accessed here.

The list included Norman Candy from the CWU(UK). 

Norman is the elected retired members representative to the CWU National Executive and he gave an informative presentation on the work of the union’s National Retired Member’s Committee, and established links to the Trade Union Congress (TUC ) and other like-minded organisations, who have the issues of retired workers as a priority.

Other speakers included: Pat Mellon who spoke about the work of the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament (ISCP)

Catherine Cox: Head of Communications and Policy Family Carers Ireland, who gave a comprehensive and wide-ranging view of the work of Carers across Ireland, access to Social Services and the obstacles they deal with on a day-to-day basis.

Adrian Kane: Divisional Organiser Siptu Trade Union. Adrian gave a talk on the trade union movement across Ireland, a brief history and what his vision is for the movement into the future.

Note: Adrian’s book on Trade Union in Ireland was  published by Cork Press last year and is available on-line.

After the close of business on day one (around 6pm) delegates attended the Seminar Dinner which was also scheduled at the seminar venue in White’s Hotel and proved an outstanding success with those present treated to a five-course meal excellently prepared and served by the hotel staff.

Day Two began with the current ICTU President, Justin McCamphill, addressing the seminar. Justin thanked the Congress organisers for the invitation, Welcomed delegates and thanked them for their attendance at what was now a firm date on the Congress Calander. He gave a brief resume of his time in office as President, his trade union background, and the role of his union NASUWT as an affiliate of Congress. Justin also reported on the recent day of action by the Public Sector unions in the North which had received massive support and had been the largest gathering of  the trade union movement members in the last 50 years.

Justin also covered the alarming rise of Racism, Far Right  influences and the recent Dublin riots.

The Chairperson of the ICTU Youth Committee, Rowan Sharkey (NASUWT Pres) had contracted Covid and was unable to attend so:

Laura Bambrick, Congress Administration employee, gave a talk on the historic trade union fight for the 8-hour working day. The advances in technology and the changing of the boundaries including working from home, Zero Hour contracts and employers having complete discretion over working hours.

The final session of the seminar was a general discussion on what delegates thought was positive about the two days, what could be  added to next year’s event in the North and any other suggestions delegates had on improving the event.

Note: Copies of the slides used in the various presentations are available.

The CWU Northern Ireland Region was  represented by John Martin and Michael McAlinden from the Northern Ireland West Branch and Lawrence C.Huston and John McLaughlin from Northern Ireland Telecom Branch. The Regional delegates played an active role in the debates and  also in the social networking side of things, an important aspect of any trade union gathering. We are also indebted to Norman Candy (Nat. Retired Members Comm.) who made the long journey from London to attend.

Lawrence C. Huston

Nat. Retired Members Committee
N.I. Telecom Branch
April 2024.