Local UNITE members take ‘plain packaging’ petition to Westminster

A UK-wide group representing the Unite and GMB trade unions who handed in a postcard petition against Government proposals to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products to Westminster, last Thursday. Included is (back row third from left) Rodney Stewart ,Unite senior shop steward at JTI Lisnafillan, and fellow JTI Lisnafillan employees (front row second and third from left, respectively) Henry Doherty and Matthew Craig.
A UK-wide group representing the Unite and GMB trade unions who handed in a postcard petition against Government proposals to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products to Westminster, last Thursday. Included is (back row third from left) Rodney Stewart ,Unite senior shop steward at JTI Lisnafillan, and fellow JTI Lisnafillan employees (front row second and third from left, respectively) Henry Doherty and Matthew Craig.

BALLYMENA UNITE members were among a group of trade union representatives from throughout the UK who travelled to Westminister last week to deliver a postcard petition against Government proposals to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products.

They handed in the petition last Thursday, the day before consultation closed on the plan to standardise packaging for tobacco products.

Through the Unite and GMB trade unions, thousands of people who work in the tobacco and packaging industries have made their opposition to plain packaging clear.

The group delivered more than 2000 responses to the Department of Health at Westminster while many more were sent directly.

One of the group, Rodney Stewart, who is Unite Senior Shop Steward at the JTI factory, Lisnafillan, said: “JTI is one of the biggest employers in the area and there are hundreds of jobs at risk if plain packaging was to be introduced.

“Most importantly, it would not stop anyone from smoking, which is why the Government is looking at this in the first place.

“My main concern is that by making all the products look identical it would be too easy to counterfeit them, and this would lead to a massive increase in the black market. Not only is illegal tobacco unregulated and sold at half the price of legal tobacco, it is also widely available to children.

“These proposals are a bad idea and I urge the Government to look at them again,” said Rodney.