Letters to the Editor, ‘Unpaid wages to Newry On Ice Employees a local scandal’

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Friday, January 10th, 2014
Community, Letters to the Editor
Dear Editor, The mistreatment of more than 30 young workers from by the organisers of ‘Newry on Ice’ is a local scandal, but one which resonates with workers across Northern Ireland and in the Republic. For many of those young people, this was their first experience of the world of work, and the experience of such exploitation so early in their working lives will live long in their memories. There are over 26,000 unemployed young adults in Northern Ireland, not counting those who choose to leave and search for work or study elsewhere. We can only hope that these principled young workers take the right lessons from their grubby treatment at the hands of serial exploiters, whose track record would have been visible to any council with Google. The Council appear to recognise that they have some responsibility and should have carried out their duty of Due Diligence more effectively. We hope that Newry Council now pursue those who owe money for work carried out – which is theft, pure and simple. We should also recognise the important role played by Newry Trades Union Council in standing up with the young workers, none of whom are in trade unions. The activists of Newry TUC deserve to be commended for recalling the famous slogan of Jim Larkin: “An injury to one is an injury to all.” In 1908, Jim Larkin organised Newry’s dockworkers and those who were not in unions and did not have high skills – the most vulnerable workers of all. The larceny carried out on the Newry on Ice workers by irresponsible employers is a reminder that trade unions are as important now as in Larkin’s day. People should know that local and national governments cannot protect you from exploitation – only strong unions can. Fraternally, Peter Bunting – Assistant General Secretary Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Belfast
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