EU referendum: Brexit puts thousands of NI jobs at risk, says ICTU

Peter Bunting said the EU accounted for 56pc of NI's goods and services exports
Peter Bunting said the EU accounted for 56pc of NI's goods and services exports

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has highlighted what it believes is a risk to jobs posed by Brexit – although one of its major affiliate members supports leaving the EU.

Speaking to a meeting of trade union activists in Dundalk yesterday, ICTU assistant general secretary Peter Bunting said remaining in the EU will save thousands of jobs.

Earlier this month Northern Ireland’s largest trade union, the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (Nipsa), voted to back the Leave campaign. It has 45,000 members in the public sector.

“Today, the Financial Services Union made a clear call to its members and the general public to vote to Remain in the UK next Thursday,” said Mr Bunting on Monday.

“The EU is by far the NI’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 56 per cent of our goods and services exports. That is one reason why the unions representing workers in manufacturing are arguing to remain.”

He noted that Patrick Minford, economics professor at Cardiff University and one of “very few” economists who support Brexit, said that “if we left the EU, it seems likely that we would mostly eliminate manufacturing, leaving mainly industries such as design, marketing and hi-tech”.

Mr Bunting said the loss of EU funding would also impact on farming, community work, science, education and construction.

“These potential job losses would affect whole industries and the taxes workers and firms pay, which help fund decent public services,” he said.