The seminar was attended by shop stewards from private and public sector workplaces from across the county. Discussing the possible impact of Brexit on workers in Ireland, SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Gerry McCormack, said: “The longer the Brexit crisis drags out the more workers in Ireland are subject to uncertainty and the more cautious businesses will become about investment and spending.
“Workers in Ireland are contributing to productivity and performance gains across the Irish economy and they should be rewarded accordingly, without the shadow of Brexit hanging over them.”
He added: “One of the main sticking points was the so-called ‘Backstop’, designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. This must not be sacrificed to ease the passage of Brexit as this would be detrimental to workers, North and South.”
Following lively discussion on the issue of Brexit, SIPTU Honorary President, Padraig Peyton, addressed the meeting on the issue of the challenges facing the health service.
He said: “We have a system that allows for your local TD to ferry people from Kerry to Belfast for hip and knee replacements because they are waiting between three to four years for the operations in Kerry.
“This weekend, more people awaiting cataract surgery will make the six-hour journey from Kerry to Belfast, joining 2,234 Irish patients who have had to travel outside of the State for healthcare last year. This is unacceptable.”
He added: “The current system also fails and frustrates the thousands of dedicated health workers that do their jobs under massive pressures, within these cumbersome and often contradictory structures on a daily basis. They do their best to ensure that all patients receive the highest quality care, despite the obstacles and I commend them for it.”
The SIPTU Kerry District Council will be holding regular meetings to discuss issues of interest to workers in the county.