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Regina Coeli Women's Hostel Closure

A Fantasy Victory?

1 April 2022

Workers announce the end of their occupation of Regina Coeli House

On Wednesday 30th March the UNITE union held a victory parade outside Regina Coeli House in Belfast, claiming victory in a dispute involving an eleven-week occupation by workers to prevent the closure of the only service for homeless women in the North.

UNITE General Secretary Sharon Graham welcomed the success scored by her unionís members and pledged her unionís continued commitment to the campaign:

ďThis is a tremendous result. Iím so proud of the stand of these women workers took against this closure".
Regional Secretary Jackie Pollock, congratulated the workers on their stand:
"The successful fight of these women workers will stand in the history of this city".
Regina Coeli House worker, Emma McCann, struck a rather more sober note.:
ďWe would have liked the political establishment and the Housing Executive to be brave enough to run this service directly but we recognise that we have won a significant victory by ensuring that the service will not only continue, albeit at a different venue, but will be expanded".
There is a reason for sobriety.

The hostel has been closed and the workers have been sacked.

UNITE's victory consists of:

"Assurances from the Department for Communities and the NI Housing Executive that an enhanced and expanded service for homeless women, including a womenís only hostel in the city, will be opened in May".
UNITE says that, having secured the facilityís future, the union is now working to ensure that the dismissed workers are employed by the new service.

So, workersí rights and a safe refuge for homeless women have disappeared into the committee rooms at Stormont to be dealt with in the political scramble following the elections?

The UNITE victory rally, as with demonstrations throughout the dispute, was private. Keeping members in a private garden is standard practice for a union bureaucracy that's where an independent socialist movement can help open up campaigns. Unfortunately, local leftists are subordinate to the bureaucrats and have little in the way of a history of opposition.

In the absence of attempts to mobilise women and win a wider support in political parties and the workers movement, the vaunted victory amounts to a wink and a promise.

If this is victory, preserve us from defeat!

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