Social partnership needed to help economy recover from crisis, says Muir

A social partnership approach involving Government, businesses, trade unions and the third sector can help our economy recover from the COVID-19 crisis, Alliance MLA Andrew Muir has said.

The North Down MLA was speaking after the Assembly backed an amendment from his party calling for such an approach to the post-coronavirus recovery, while seeking a more ‘green’ transition to a sustainable economy. Mr Muir said while the pandemic had brought tragedy right across our society, there was a chance to build a more inclusive, just and prosperous future out of the crisis.

“We have seen economic orthodoxy turned on its head, and the necessity of protecting our people, health service and economy has required all of us to make sacrifices unknown in peacetime. Our frontline key workers have kept our society running and it falls to us to ensure they are fairly paid, valued and cared for,” he said.

“Sadly, a recession, and likely a severe one, is impending. However, its impact is not inevitable. We must ensure we protect the most vulnerable, not allowing the weight of economic troubles to fall on them. The cost of this must be shared out fairly, through progressive taxation, ensuring some are not able to avoid their obligations by sending profits overseas.

“We must ensure any development is both environmentally friendly and sustainable, as well as structurally inclusive and fair, which Alliance’s amendment today outlined. We discussed the need for a social partnership, an approach which has been the norm in many European countries for decades.

“It would bring together government, business, workers, trade unions and the third sector, to provide input and make decisions on key economic and social issues. Engaging in dialogue on these matters will contribute to long-term social and economic stability which values individuals and their rights, as well as the key workers with a fair wage and conditions. Inclusiveness and engagement must be central in pursuing a just economic recovery from this crisis.

“While the pandemic has understandably been forefront in our minds over the past few months, we must not forget either the ongoing global and existential crisis of climate change and environmental pollution. The time has come for a Green New Deal to invest in skills, green energy and infrastructure, as well as our telecoms network, and support a just transition to the industries of tomorrow.”