Ireland needs a new economic model to meet the immense challenges of the twenty-first century, SIPTU General Secretary, Joe Cunningham, has told the union's Biennial Delegate Conference (BDC) in Galway. The speech, delivered to almost 350 union delegates today, highlighted climate change, technological disruption, the rise of the far right and geopolitical instability as grave threats to a progressive society. It also made reference to the conference's theme, Fighting for the Future of Work, arguing that workers had seen significant reductions in living standards under the current economic model. "Over the last 20 years, wages have failed to keep up with productivity as employers grabbed more and more of the income that workers produced," Cunningham said, adding that this had led to "rising inequality, rising living costs, in-work poverty and low pay." The only solution to growing inequality was a new economic model based on enhanced workers' rights and collective bargaining, he said. At the conference, Cunningham also argued in defence of Ireland's neutrality, saying it was "grounded in the principles of peace and justice.""Human rights, the international rule of law, solving conflicts by negotiation and ending economic oppression," he said, were "absolutely necessary" alternatives to a world of war and conflict. Cunningham said that Ireland's principles of neutrality should be applied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a call for a ceasefire, humanitarian aid and the release of hostages. For a just resolution, he added, "the occupation of Palestine must end, the siege must be lifted." The address concluded with "a message of hope" to the delegates for the rest of the four-day conference. "Through our initiatives we can bring opportunity to those who only see gloom," Cunningham said, adding that SIPTU would "dare to plan for an economy and society where prosperity is for everyone and not just for a few at the top."