Workers ‘frustrated’ at politicians’ handling of housing crisis

WORKERS are desperately looking to the trade union movement to sort out the housing crisis, a SIPTU official claimed yesterday.

“Our members are very frustrated with the way the crisis has been handled by the politicians and now looking to us to do something about what can only be described as an appalling situation,” said Eric Fleming, organiser of the Dublin trade union’s annual May Day March.

Mr Fleming, SIPTU’s construction and allied trades branch secretary, said a national housing authority along the lines proposed by the National Economic and Social Forum (NESF) over two-and-a-half years ago was needed to rein in soaring house prices.

“The housing problem is not getting any better and we’re sick and tired of millionaires being made as a result of supplying substandard rental accommodation to people,” he said. Money being paid out for “tea chest” flats could be better spent on decent social housing with the national housing authority charged with tackling the escalating numbers on waiting lists.

Mr Fleming said money from the sale of development land should also be liable for massive capital gains tax because it was fuelling the situation.

“People are becoming millionaires overnight because of current land prices. People are profiteering big time while most people on good incomes are finding that home ownership is beyond their reach. It’s outrageous and it has to stop.”

Hundreds of trade union members joined last night’s march that also focused on global solidarity as well a key social issues. Unfortunately, said Mr Fleming, profits still mattered more than the needs of the people, globally and nationally.

“Ireland is still a very unequal society. The working people under the PAYE system pay tax but many of the rich have found a thousand scams to evade it.” Mr Fleming believed there would be no shortfall in government revenue if the rich were paying their fair share of tax.

Meanwhile, Trade Union Federation (TUF) general president Des Geraghty urged every member of the Dáil and Senate to implement new improved minimum terms for statutory redundancy payments.

The reform of the legislation is one of the key provisions of the new national agreement, Sustaining Progress, and the new law is expected to be enacted with immediate effect from June 1.

At the launch of the TUF Guide to Labour Law for Union Representative, Mr Geraghty said the legislation was of particular concern to federation members SIPTU and the TEEU, as both unions had played a leading role in the campaign to secure improvements in the statutory redundancy provisions.

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