Motion no: 36


Conference recognises the growth of homelessness in our society and the increasing numbers of people forced to live and shelter on our streets, in cars and even with friends
or family. We also recognise that increasing numbers of those without a home or a permanent shelter over their heads come from the working-poor.

Conference notes that this problem is rooted in the austerity policies adopted by Governments in London, Belfast and Dublin; and the greed
of landlords and property speculators who are exclusively focussed on making profits even when it means individuals or families being moved out of their homes.

In Northern Ireland the introduction of the Universal Credit regime, made possible by the Executive parties voting back the legal authority for welfare reform to the Tories, has been a total disaster. As it is progressively rolled-out hundreds more have been forced onto the streets as unscrupulous landlords refuse to accept non-payment for the lead-in period of five weeks. We note further that the promised mitigations package which the Executive parties promised would offset the worst effects of welfare reform has proved worthless for those suffering the impact of this brutal social welfare policy.

In the Republic of Ireland, the housing emergency is driven by the sharp rise in property and rental prices as Government has failed to bring forward public housing projects to meet growing demand. This emergency is putting the productive capacity of the economy at risk, threatening the recovery, and causing untold hardship to the thousands of people who cannot access secure and affordable housing.

In both cases, neoliberalism is resulting in unnecessary and avoidable suffering and death on our streets.

The right to a home, or at the very least a shelter, is a fundamental human right acknowledged
by the UN and EU Human Rights Charters,
the latter was meant to be incorporated into Northern Ireland law under the Good Friday/ Belfast Agreement but never was.

Conference commends the ICTU’s Raise the Roof campaign and calls on the incoming ICTU Executive to establish trade union-led campaigns, North and South, to secure the vindication of the basic right to a home:

  • Action to ensure no-one is left on our streets – emergency housing through, if necessary, State-led requisitioning of vacant properties.

  • Support to meet the mental and physical health needs of those in need who have been forced to live on our streets.

  • Imposition of rent-controls on private sector landlords, North and South, to guarantee the affordability of housing for all.

  • Programmes of large-scale, State-led public housing development and land acquisition to meet the growing housing shortage, North and South.