Plenty of news from Belfast as we head into the second and final day of the ICTU conference. Kevin Callinan was officially elected president of ICTU yesterday, and delivered a powerful address outlining the need for expansion of employer PRSI contributions, taxes on wealth, and “meaningful financial deterrence for environmentally-damaging activities.” You can read more on that here. A short summary of Kevin’s speech is also available to view here.
The Four Day Working Week campaign also presented at #BDC21 and outlined the research project getting underway in 2022. But the chairperson, Joe O’Connor issued a warning that companies which asked to participate in a four-day working week pilot scheme on the basis that they could also reduce pay will be told they could not take part. More on that here.
ICTU general secretary Patricia King has said the right to disconnect is a key policy which must be secured for Irish workers going forward. Ms. King said the Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the way large sections of the workforce operate and argued new protocols are needed to meet the changing work environment.
Elsewhere, a Labour Court recommendation for new minimum pay rates to workers in the construction sector has been formally approved by Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail Damien English.
Health authorities are being criticised by maternity campaigners, politicians and healthcare professionals for failing to effectively communicate with pregnant women about the Covid-19 vaccine. The health service says it is advising women at any stage of pregnancy to get vaccinated but vaccination rates have remained “lower than expected”, at between 25-40%.
Countries’ latest climate plans will deliver just a tiny percentage of the emissions cuts needed to limit global heating to 1.5C, the United Nations said in a stark assessment ahead of the COP26 climate summit. And EU energy ministers held an emergency meeting yesterday on how to tackle surging gas prices, with 11 countries including Ireland rejecting proposals for market reforms.
In lighter news, a message in a bottle, used as part of a research programme at NUIG during the 1980s to study currents and tides around the island of Ireland, has washed up a whole 40 years later in Murmansk, Russia.
On this day in 2006, Amy Winehouse released her second and final studio album Back to Black. The album spawned five singles: 'Rehab', 'You Know I'm No Good', 'Back to Black', 'Tears Dry on Their Own' and 'Love Is a Losing Game' and won Best Pop Vocal Album at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards.