Trade unionists are calling on the seven-and-a-half thousand Derry workers they estimate to be suffering low job security under temporary and low wage contracts to come out and protest against exploitation during this year’s May Day rally on Saturday.
Figures collated by Derry Trades Union Council (DTUC) over the past year identify an apparent increase in the prevalence of short-term job contracts across the city.
The council said this will be the focus of a rally to mark International Workers’ Day in Guildhall Square at 1pm on Saturday.
DTUC Chair Liam Gallagher said the theme of the May Day rally will be “precarious employment practices in the city.”
“On Saturday we are celebrating Workers’ Day, a day when workers traditionally, throughout the world recognise the achievements, which were won by past generations, rights that we all take for granted, such as a regularised working week, paid holidays, health and safety conditions, and the right not to be arbitrarily dismissed.
“Unfortunately, this generation is experiencing a lessening of terms and conditions.
“The fact is that in the city there are an estimated 7,500 workers who are working either on zero contract hours, fixed terms contracts, or are employed by agencies on a short-term basis.
“They have absolutely no rights. They can be dismissed without notice and in many cases they don’t know if they’ll be working next week or not.”
Mr. Gallagher said the phenomenon, whilst disproportionately affecting the young, was having a knock-on effect on all workers, pensioners, and society in general.
He said the union’s focus was not on those very small employers, such as publicans, and shopkeepers, employing one or two people.
The practice, rather, is widespread, and is becoming the norm for many medium to large sized businesses, he claimed.
“Many of these workers are young people between the ages of 19 and 24,” said Mr. Gallager.
“They are trying their best. Many of them are well qualified and the only way they can get their feet on the economic ladder is with the help of their parents and grandparents, who are spending the money that they have earned all their lives to sustain them.
“We would call on everybody, particularly those in this position, to come along on Saturday to call on our local politicians to work for the immediate abolition of zero hour contracts and the establishment of decent working conditions,” he concluded.