Campaigns

Draft Young Peoples’ Charter

On Saturday 9th November 2013 at the Young People’s Assembly in Liberty Hall, the largest and broadest gathering of young people since the crisis began – for the first time bringing together students, the young unemployed, precarious workers and their representative organisations – started work on a common charter and strategies to get organised and fight back. Facilitated by the We’re Not Leaving campaign, the Young People’s Assembly collectively produced the following:

PRECARIOUS WORK & CORPORATE INTERNSHIP CULTURE

We Demand:
1. That companies be barred from displacing current paid workers with internship positions.
2. That a day’s work should equal a day’s pay – a living wage.
3. An end to the institutional normalisation of internship culture and the commencement of independent monitoring of internship schemes.
4. Stability and security in the workplace in terms of hours, income and location.
5. That the concept of “experience” should not replace paid work.

MENTAL HEALTH

We Demand:
1. Universal access to free, local and high-quality public mental health services.
2. A collective and social approach to the de-stigmatisation of mental health issues and that positive mental health be promoted in the community, workplace and education system.
3. Recognition of the impact of precarious work, internship culture, unemployment and poverty on the mental health of young people in Ireland.

YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT & FORCED EMIGRATION

We Demand:
1. That young people who have been forced to emigrate must have the right to vote in elections in Ireland.
2. An end to the recruitment embargo within the public sector.
3. The recognition of our status as adults in society.
4. That our trade unions be recognised and be allowed to collectively bargain on our behalf.
5. Real job creation from the government instead of token measures.

HOUSING

We Demand:
1. That quality, accessible housing be recognised as a universal social right – free from discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, age and/or ethnicity – and that this right is guaranteed by the state.
2. Strong regulation of landlords and developers in order to control housing costs and ensure access to adequate housing.
3. That the state utilise the existing social-housing stock, as well as properties belonging to NAMA and the bailed out banks, in the interest of the public.

FEE HIKES & GRANT CUTS

We Demand:
1. A third-level education system that is truly free at the first point of entry that is funded by a system of progressive taxation.
2. A grant system be put in place for all stages of further and higher education, which enables access to education for everyone in society and reflects the cost of living.
3. The recognition of the broader non-economic benefits of education, as well as the recognition of the economic and social role that the students of today will play in the society of tomorrow.
4. Solidarity between all student representative bodies and the encouragement of political learning and engagement at all levels of education.

This opening draft will be further developed in the coming weeks and months, but we hope this inclusive charter by and for young people will help us to finally come together in solidarity to organise and fight for an alternative Ireland for young people – for a profoundly different vision of social justice for this society.

Resisting Austerity/ Youth Unemployment

Recognising the devastating effect that austerity measures were having on the lives of ordinary people in Ireland, the Youth Committee resolved to play an active role in any campaigns that sought to resist the implementation of such regressive socio-economic policies, particularly those that effected young workers.

With this in mind the Youth Committee identified youth unemployment as an important issue that needed to be addressed. For us “Emigration is not a jobs policy” nor is the current JobBridge national internship programme, a scheme that depresses real job creation by allowing companies to avail of free labour instead of hiring paid employees. In response to government claims that JobBridge had been a huge success and at the request of our General Secretary, the Youth Committee published a report into the scheme, the findings of which cast serious doubt over claims of its success.

In opposing JobBridge the Youth Committee has given support to the campaign of Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy who recently set up a new innovative website – ScamBridge. The idea of the website is simple, to expose the many dubious internships advertised on the JobBridge website and to create a space where interns could share their experiences of the scheme. To date there has been a huge response to the ScamBridge website and with the help of the Youth Committee this could be translated into positive action for the interns concerned. The campaign will begin in earnest in the New Year when both groups agree upon a more focused plan of action.

The Youth Committee has also been involved in the on-going fight against austerity. Having a representative at the Dublin Council of Trade Unions has given the Youth Committee an influential role in helping to shape and galvanise trade union resistance to austerity. Throughout the year the Youth Committee have made their presence felt at various public protests, including the pre-budget demo organised by the DCTU where we had a speaker and where our “The Scattering” themed posters proved a big hit with marchers. There will no doubt be an escalation of these protests in the coming year, as the government shows no signs of abandoning their ideological devotion to austerity.

Mental Health

In 2012 the Youth Committee started a mental health campaign aimed at promoting mental wellness among the CWU’s members, young and old. We started working with ReachOut.com, a not-for-profit charity centered around young people which aims to take the stigma out of mental illnesses, and to provide people with information and help. During the year, we created a poster for our campaign which was published in the CWU’s journal, Connect. The Youth Committee has also had many pieces on mental wellbeing featured in Connect, and in the Youth Committee newsletter. We are also in the process of creating a pamphlet for good mental health, with tips and tricks to keeping a positive mental attitude.

Justice for Colombia

Justice for Colombia is a campaign network to promote the rights of trade unionists and human rights activists in Colombia who are routinely targeted by the state and right-wing paramilitaries for their work. The Youth Committee took part in several email campaigns seeking justice and protection for various activists. The Committee also undertook a letter campaign to President Santos regarding death threats against 13 human rights defenders. Most recently, the Youth Committee undertook to write to all Irish MEPs in the lead up to a vote in Europe on the EU/Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Paul Murphy MEP raised the concerns of the Youth Committee during the debate on the FTA, which unfortunately was passed. The campaign will now focus at national level, where the Youth Committee will engage with our own government to oppose the FTA, which requires each individual Member State to agree it before it can be ratified.