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Calls for ICTU trade union leader Peter Bunting to resign

Senior ICTU representative Peter Bunting has faced calls to resign
Connla Young

TRADE union leader Peter Bunting has faced calls to resign from within his own movement.

The "extraordinary" demand was made by Strabane Area Trade Union Council amid claims that the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has backed British government austerity cuts as part of last year’s Fresh Start deal.

Those opposed to Mr Bunting say the row has the potential to split the trade union movement in the north.

Mr Bunting is the Assistant General Secretary with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU).

Last year the ICTU took out a series of newspaper advertisements where it labelled the Stormont House Agreement a "bad deal" that served a "Tory agenda".

However, before the year was out the union umbrella group voted to support the Fresh Start deal.

Mr Bunting said that while the ICTU had agreed to support the Fresh Start deal, it remained opposed to welfare reform and other elements of the deal.

He said the ICTU has adopted a policy of "constructive opposition" to the pact.

Speaking to the Irish News at the time, Mr Bunting said his organisation changed its position because "the inevitability of having a major oppositional campaign against our own politicians was catastrophic in the long term for us."

However, Strabane Area Trade Union Council spokesman Michael McLaughlin claimed Mr Bunting has "presided over a total submission of Irish trade unionism to austerity and party political backroom deals at the expense of workers, unemployed, sick and disabled people.

Mr McLaughlan said only with Mr Bunting’s resignation and the appointment of a replacement "can an all-out civil war within the trade union movement in Northern Ireland be averted and grassroots confidence in the leadership of the NIC- ICTU be restored."

Mr Bunting declined to respond when contacted.

However, Jackie Pollock, chairman of the Northern Ireland Committee of the ICTU, dismissed claims that the trade union movement is split.

He said the umbrella group has internal procedures to deal with complaints.

"We need to find out when this meeting took place, how many were at the meeting and if they have difficulties with the Northern Ireland Committee’ why did they not seek a meeting," he said.

He said his group will now be seeking meeting with the Strabane Trades Council to discuss their statement.

"This is a personal attack on an individual," he said.

"If Peter Bunting sends out a statement he has the authority of the Northern Ireland committee."

A spokesman for the Mid-Ulster Trade Union Council confirmed it will discuss a resolution to support their colleagues in Strabane on Thursday night.

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