NIC-ICTU Biennial Delegates Conference endorses union’s call for strict enforcement of working time directive to stop exploitation of apprentices
Access to public procurement contracts and grant-aid should be contingent on paying a Living Wage and meeting a 10% apprentice threshold
April 13th: Speaking after the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Biennial Delegates’ Conference in Derry/Londonderry endorsed his union’s proposals in the areas of education and skills, Liam Gallagher, Chair of the Ireland Executive Committee of Unite, said:
“Stormont is failing our young people. Those who are lucky enough to find work are often forced into zero-hours contracts, temporary, minimum wage jobs or even to work on a voluntary basis for an extended period.
“For many others, the prospect of getting gainful employment appears so distant that they do not pursue educational opportunities which would leave them only drowning in debt. Today’s society is marked by a complete breakdown of social mobility with higher education increasingly off-limits to those coming from better off backgrounds.
“The NI Executive must act to address these challenges. Unite’s proposal called for the reintroduction of the Educational Maintenance Allowance for secondary level students and the return of maintenance grants for those in further and higher education.
“But it’s not just in education but in training we need action. There must be proper enforcement of the EU working time directive to protect apprentices who are often forced to work unlawfully long-hours on a pittance wage. Young workers must receive a Living Wage in their apprenticeship.
“We believe only those companies who pay a Living Wage to all their workers and only those large companies who meet a ten percent minimum apprenticeship threshold should be able to win public procurement contracts or benefit from grant-aid.
“The unanimous support our proposals received from conference reflects the unanimity of trade unionists on this issue. We are sick of hearing about things the NI Executive can’t do – we now need to see them use the powers they have to deliver for young students and trainees”, Mr Gallagher concluded.