The ONE Galway initiative was launched last week (Thursday 15th February) with a packed house at the Mick Lally Theatre in Galway City.
The project is a collaborative initiative comprising trade and student unions operating in the Galway area, supported by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Galway Council of Trade Unions.
Fórsa deputy general secretary Kevin Callinan, who was one of the speakers at the event, explained: “The aim of the project is to foster a deeper engagement and collaboration between trade unions, student unions and community groups at workplace and societal levels to organise, campaign, educate and communicate with workers and the wider community.
“Building on the successful model established by the ONE Cork initiative, launched in 2016, ONE Galway is about organising workers, their families and communities to influence change and create a future within which there is access to decent work, decent pay and a decent standard of living for all,” he said.
The initial campaign focus for ONE Galway will be on precariousness and the exploitation of workers. The launch event featured a strong presentation on the issue from Dr Michelle O’Sullivan of the University of Limerick.
In her presentation, Dr O’Sullivan said “Precariousness, at its heart, is about uncertainty, and every problem, every poor outcome that workers have is because of uncertainty. Whether its hours, job or social insecurity, it’s about uncertainty.”
Dr O’Sullivan said many employers like to think of full-time, permanent jobs as something “of the past” and said she was “highly sceptical” when employers claimed that millennials were no longer interested in full-time, permanent jobs. She said it was important to challenge the claim that more secure working arrangements was a thing of the past.
Members of the audience joined the discussion to share their experiences of poor quality employment in childcare, the hospitality industry, higher education and in care services. Most of the contributions emphasised that improvement is only possible when people work together to secure them.
While similar to the Cork initiative, ONE Galway’s focus lies in a broader organisational engagement from the outset, where student unions are working alongside their trade union counterparts on campaigns such as housing needs, in addition to the campaign focus on precarious working.
Joe Cunningham, the general secretary designate of SIPTU, said: “ONE Galway will also work to better equip and increase the capacity of the trade union movement in Galway city and county to deal together with the many different challenges which face workers, particularly students, younger workers and those from our migrant communities.”
Kevin added: “It’s about consolidating the strength, resources and expertise locally of all these organisations and building a stronger network to improve living and working conditions and achieve significant gains for all workers through greater trade union and civic participation.”