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Pressure mounts on trade union leader over Fresh Start

Pressure is mounting on ICTU assistant general secretary Peter Bunting
Connla Young

TRADE union leader Peter Bunting has come under fresh pressure to resign from members of his own movement.

Mid Ulster Trade Union Council is the latest union organisation to back a resolution calling for the Irish Congress of Trade Unions assistant general secretary to stand down.

Earlier this week the Irish News revealed that Strabane Trade Union Council was calling for the senior figure to quit his job amid claims that the ICTU has backed British government cuts included in last year’s Fresh Start political pact.

Prominent Nipsa official Padraig Mulholland, who is also a leading figure in the Broad Left grouping within the union, has also called on members of ICTU to reject the Fresh Start deal or consider resigning.

Those opposed to Mr Bunting and the ICTU’s stand say the row could split the trade union movement in the north.

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

However, months later the umbrella group backed the Fresh Start deal.

Mr Bunting maintains that the ICTU remains opposed to welfare reform and other cuts.

Secretary of the Mid Ulster Trade Union Council Harry Hutchinson said union leaders are out of touch.

“I think Bunting and many in the ICTU leadership have got it wrong and are not in touch with the grass roots,” he said.

“There is nothing being done about the massive cuts coming down the road between now and 2019.”

Mr Hutchinson said he believes the relationship between union leaders and politicians is 'too comfortable'.

Earlier this week Michael McLaughlin from Strabane Trade Union Council 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."

Meanwhile, Derry Trades Union Council has also called for the ICTU “to reject this austerity deal”.

The ICTU failed to respond to requests for a comment, however, chairman of the ICTU Northern Ireland Committee (NIC) Jackie Pollock said earlier this week that Mr Bunting has its “complete support”.

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