Unemployment in Ireland now stands at 9.7%, a new six year low which is being heralded as a sign that Ireland is back on track and clawing its way out of economic recession.  However, this doesn’t mean that the jobs being created are necessarily an equal replacement for those which were lost as the fastest recovering sector is the services industry.

The service sector covers businesses from retail establishments to hotels and is not an industrial sector renowned for workers’ rights. Low wages, long hours and exploitation are a common occurrence along with a lack of recognition for trade-unions. In this ‘recovery’, workers are expected to accept a reduction in wages and rights and be grateful for it simply because more jobs are available, regardless of the conditions of employment.

Unite Youth Dublin member Jonathan Arlow elaborated that “this process is taking place in an economic context where youth unemployment still remains at 21.1%. Due to the population of Ireland being proportionally younger than other European countries, this means that 18% of the total population is an employable youth aged between 16 & 29 years old and one fifth of these people cannot find work. When it considered that 15,000 young people still leave the country every year it shows this ‘recovery’ is a painful fraud for young workers which is doing little to facilitate them in earning a living wage and leading productive lives.”

The youth guarantee and labour activation schemes introduced by the Government are doing further harm to young people by eradicating entry level jobs and replacing them with unpaid intern-ships. This traps young workers in a vicious cycle where they are unable to get paid work as they have no paid experience.

Unite Youth Dublin spokesperson Laura Duggan highlighted that; “Young workers are being sacrificed to maintain the illusion of economic recovery and this is made very clear when it is considered that employment grew by 41,000 jobs last year while those in employment between the ages of 20-34 actually fell by nearly 10,000.

We have been utterly betrayed by those who would claim to represent us. The misery we experience as we eke out an existence on cruelly reduced dole payments while desperately avoiding 9 month unpaid JobBridge intern-ships; is the result of an intentional strategy to provoke as much pain as possible in order to force us into emigration. For some this is not an option out of financial necessity, others for personal reasons. For those that stay; the choice is between exploitation through the social welfare system or being exploited in precarious jobs.

We would appeal to young workers across the country, not to accept this situation lying down. Join our union and use the resources and legal protections they can provide to fight for the working conditions you so badly deserve.

It can be our recovery if we demand it.


Unite Youth Dublin will be speaking at the upcoming seminar Strategies to End Precariousness – The Case for Decent Work. From low hour contracts via workfare to bogus self-employment; precarious work is one of the major challenges facing the trade union movement in Ireland today. This half-day seminar will examine the experiences of those caught in the precarious work trap – and look at strategies to end precarious work.

Unite will be hosting a half-day seminar on the morning of Thursday, July 23rd, in Unite House, 55/56 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1. Click here to download the programme. Email to book your place.


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