The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) Biennial Delegate Conference is from 7-9 July 2015 and over the course of the three days almost 800 delegates, observers and visitors from across the island of Ireland debate a wide range of motions, dealing with issues such as: wage led growth, pay and pensions, precarious work and low hour contracts, low pay and inequality, health and education, privatisation, TTIP and climate change.
The NUJ's current Cathaoirleach (chair) of the NUJ’s Irish executive council, Gerry Curran, made the following speech:
My union represents many journalists who are well paid, well regarded and well looked after by their employers. Being in a good union; being dedicated and good at journalism; and being loyal to other workers - allows this to be so.
Technology being as it has become - allows many to think they are journalists. This and the changes in how news is produced has been manipulated by the greed of boardrooms, as they claim the fate of the industry is precarious. Their actions in attacking employment rights has ensured precocity is now the default position for new entrants to our industry.
Zero hours are the least of the worries - many have zero pay contracts, quaintly called internships and in a few cases Job Bridge. But zero pay nonetheless. Many more are on short term and rolling contracts; but seemingly gaining succour from HR patting them on the head and telling them to think positively.
We have one news group who have broken the cardinal rule of any employment relationship - they have actually failed to pay wages when due, as they still traded profitably and were decking out their fancy new offices: "sorry can we pay you half now and the rest next week" it is not reassuring the so called market is that good when left to its own devices.
It is not helped by people from other professions providing content and images to the media - as full time professionals are let go. Hobbyists are not real reporters or photographers - but their hobby makes some of my members have less.
These people are being greedy - or scabby as we said growing up.
To the retired Garda (police) who takes pictures and sell them to news sites cheaply I say - we acknowledge your work in high stress jobs for thirty years, at times in danger, that is why we all pay you a good pension to retire young and keep you well - not to allow you undercut union workers for the next 20 years.
To the school teacher who is filing match reports - we acknowledge you do a vital, stressful job. The eleven weeks break in the summer, we gladly pay you for, so you can recharge your batteries - not use the summer to make young reporters poorer or unemployed.
To the Priests who file copy or pictures for free or for cheap. All I can say is feck off Father. God will look after your pension. Stop robbing my members work.
To the TD’s and Senators who write columns for newspapers every week, I say you are limiting others who rely on that space to earn a living - you are taking if not the money then the opportunity off my members. All whilst at the same time we all pay you to be a full-time legislator.
Conference, what we need here is for those already in employment or on good pensions to stop being so greedy or scabby. Hobbyist needs to be replaced with solidarity.
Our Irish secretary has already described the tedium of working towards the right to collectively bargain for precarious freelance workers. But what is the point of succeeding on this point if other workers, already paid their wages, work second or third jobs for yellow payments?