Dear Madam, - It is good news that our county is finally to get some of the investment and opportunities that it needs and deserves. For far too long, job creation has been concentrated in Belfast and the eastern areas, with Fermanagh being forgotten. Young people especially are being forced to leave Fermanagh in search of employment and training elsewhere. That can be difficult for them, for their families and for our wider community, which needs active members of all ages and generations.
The headline figure is 800 jobs but this is over a three-year period. I would like to see more information about how the figures break down, and how many jobs we can expect in the next few months. It is now that local people urgently need work, and it would be a shame if their hopes were to be put on the back burner.
I am also concerned that the salaries for the posts, an average of £14,700, will do little to help Fermanagh’s low-pay problem. While these wages may be sufficient for single people starting out in life, they represent less than the living wage, and will not be enough to support a family. If we want young couples to stay in Fermanagh and to bring up their children here, we need to ensure that they can earn enough to make ends meet.
In a week during which MLAs from the DUP and Sinn Fein voted against a salary cap for their own Special Advisors, whose packages are estimate to cost us around £100,000 each, I find it disappointing that they think ordinary people here are worth so little.
Call centres are an important part of our economy and daily life, but they are not the height of Fermanagh’s hopes and aspirations. There have been concerns about working conditions in call centres, and I would like to see assurances and evidence that best practice will be followed here in Enniskillen.
The people of Fermanagh are hard-working, enthusiastic, intelligent and creative. Many have started their own businesses, in our naturally thriving sectors of tourism, agriculture and food production and also in new areas including technology and design. I would like to see more support being given to small and medium sized businesses in the county, and more efforts made to attract skilled, secure, well-paid opportunities. The renewable energy sector, for example, would be a perfect fit with Fermanagh’s resources and workforce, providing quality employment as well as a cleaner and safer future.
We don’t need to be part of a race to the bottom – with fair treatment, we have all we need to reach the top.
Yours faithfully, Tanya Jones Green Party