The ICTU’s Youth Committee Summer School took place on Friday the 16th and Saturday the 17th of July this year. Young Trade Union activists from all over the country gathered to hear talks, participate in workshops and engage in general discussions about what we can do to improve the working lives of young people, as well as organise more young workers into unions and work collaboratively with other youth and student groups.
We were greeted with opening remarks on the Friday from Teresa Walsh (Chair of the Youth Committee) and Patricia King (General Secretary of ICTU) who spoke about the wide scale inequality for many workers not only in terms of pay but also in terms of their working conditions. She touched on issues such as high pay with bonuses and other perks and was outspoken in the need to end the “multiplicity of pay rates” which largely affects younger workers. She also spoke at length about growing the movement to counter the difficulties which workers face every day and suggested that “a large portion to the answers to these problems, lie within the movement”.
The keynote speaker, Laura Harmon, spoke about the issues in wider society which affect young people from lack of political representation to emigration, reproductive and voting rights, along with class issues. She also talked about the need for the student and trade union movement to work more closely together.
The panel speakers then discussed four distinct topics from a younger person’s perspective which are of great concern: Education, Pay, Precarious Working and Housing.
A number of issues were brought up and discussed fully, including; the idea of “Banded Hours” (employees will be guaranteed a certain amount of hours a week, thus removing zero-hour contracts), the idea of “Economic Inequality” in regards to pay and the lack of affordable housing for first time buyers. All of these issues were studied at great length.
The Saturday saw a number of various workshops, including; Michelle Thomas from Michael Communications who facilitated a workshop on running effective campaigns and communicating messages and Dan O’Neill from SIPTU discussing Social Media as a Campaign tool, among various other workshops.
The young trade unionists were treated to a brilliant performance by Katie O’Kelly as she performed “The Olive Tree”, based on her own recent experiences visiting Palestine and her understanding of the conflict. The performance (one-woman) was remarkable in its ability to transport the audience to another place using the sights and sounds communicated by Katie. It was also very moving in that it captured expertly the emotional issues that are intertwined in this conflict and the plight of those living within the region.
The event itself was hosted in the Communication Worker’s Office and the delegates made wonderful use of all of the state of the art facilities.
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