Unions hold workers’

A new joint initiative between trade unions and youth groups aims to give young people in Cork the chance to speak to experts regarding their rights and entitlements in the workplace.

The first of many planned clinics was held in Knocknaheeny Youth Project recently, jointly organised by the ONE Cork Youth Advisory Group and the Foróige ‘Knocknaheeny/Blarney Street Youth Committee’.

On the night young people could also learn about pathways to education and employment.

“It is very important for young people to know their rights in the workplace and to know that trade unions are there to support and encourage them in reaching their full potential,” youth workers Séan Mealy and Owen Neenan said.

A recent report from the Low Pay Commission found that more than 41% of those aged 15 to 24 were on the national minimum wage and a disproportionately higher number of younger workers earn the minimum wage or less compared to older workers.

The ONE Cork movement is a collaboration of 18 trade unions operating in Cork City and County working together to achieve mutual aims around improving pay, conditions and living standards for working people.

The Foróige ‘Knocknaheeny/ Blarney Street Youth Committee’ formed in January 2018 and are a group of people aged between 16 and 22 who have come together to campaign on issues affecting young people in their area.

“The majority of young people in Ireland know very little about trade unions or in some cases don’t even know they exist, this has to change,” Lead of One Cork Youth Advisory Group Theresa Butler said. “As a movement we need to work hard to engage young people with trade unions or the movement will die out and the scourge of precarious work and exploitation will go unchallenged and grow on an unprecedented level.” 

In attendance on the night to share their advice and expertise with young people were representatives from across Cork’s trade unions, the UCC Plus Programme, the CIT Access Programme, the Union of Students in Ireland and the Irish Second Level Students’ Union. This event was the first of its kind in the city but clinics are to be rolled out across Cork, with more planned in the near future.

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