Long-term Unemployment, Local Labour and Public Investment

SF’s Martina Anderson has called for the use of local labour clauses by ILEX in Londonderry. These clauses require developers with public or regeneration contracts to provide a certain proportion of jobs for local unemployed or training positions. Despite their use elsewhere the idea has not taken off in Northern Ireland with questions over whether our equality laws do or do not prevent their use plus unofficial deals of ‘local’ employees are often part of protection rackets. With multi-billion investment planned throughout Northern Ireland is an opportunity to add value being missed? The Rowntree report into local labour clauses here (pdf file) unfortunately it only looked at GB and European law and regulations.

  • mickhall

    When I was a Trade Union official we always reached this type of agreement with employers, all be it at times in an unofficial manner. Personally I regarded such deals as essential and just; and we fought some major battles over the employment of local labour. Why should a local community suffer all the disruption of having a construction site on their doorstep with no advantage.

    This is especially true today when the construction industry is importing workers, skilled or otherwise from the eastern part of the EU. Another down side of this is that employers in the construction industry, due to accountants instead of engineers running the show, feel no obligation to recruit young workers as apprentices, as they feel they will get all the skilled workers they may need in the future from over seas, which a very short- sighted and unpatriotic attitude.

    Thus not only should any construction project employ a majority of its workforce from within the local area, but it should also take on a percentage of its workforce as apprentices. It is a fact of life that the majority of employers these days being greedy and short sighted individuals, will have to be forced to take on their responsibility to the communities they operate within. One of the tragedies of the north is its loss of its skill base, what a waste, no where is this more reflected than in the Loyalist working class communities. This would be a way for employers to truly ‘invest in people’, instead of simply paying lip service to it.