Unite Union hosting elections ‘hustings’ event in Ballymena

The Ballymena "job rally" takes over the town centre on Saturday. INBT 07-829H

The Ballymena "job rally" takes over the town centre on Saturday. INBT 07-829H

Unite Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly, has claimed that there is growing public interest in the hustings event the union is hosting in Ballymena.

The town has been hit hard by the recent spate of job losses in the manufacturing sector and was the scene of a major jobs rally earlier this year. The event will be held at the Braid centre at 7.30pm on Wednesday, April 27.

Mr. Kelly said: “We decided to host this event in Ballymena as the logical next step in our Campaign for a Future. We have written to all parties standing locally in the Assembly elections requesting that they attend and answer questions from the public, and our members, on what they will do to ensure investment and jobs are brought into these areas. It is also likely that these meetings will hear demands to defend local public services and social welfare benefits.

“Our hugely successful Rally for a Future held on February in Ballymena demonstrated just how strong and widespread is the demand for real action by our political leaders. Already, as a result of our campaigning work, some of the parties have committed themselves to securing a stand-alone strategy for manufacturing in the next Programme for Government. We believe such a strategy is necessary to focus efforts for real impact on issues such as high energy prices as well as to deliver the scale of infrastructural investment necessary for future success.

“Recently the Chief Executive of Invest NI, Alistair Hamilton, wrote to Unite to assure us that Invest NI is proactively seeking Manufacturing foreign-direct investment and jobs. We are glad that Invest NI have made this clear but it remains to be seen just what such commitment will mean for communities in towns like Ballymena. As we have said before, Invest NI will be judged on their success in delivering real jobs with decent wages and terms and conditions.

“There has been huge public interest in these husting events. The public see them as offering a way to put on the pressure for real action to secure jobs and investment. We expect all political parties will attend. The debate will be chaired by UTV business editor, Jamie Delargy, a man who knows a great deal about the real economy. There is sure to be a strong focus on bread and butter issues – we are asking the public to come along and get answers to the questions that matter most,” Mr Kelly concluded.