SIPTU meets NUI Galway business students to discuss importance of trade unions
A SIPTU Organiser addressed students from the Cairnes School of Business in NUI Galway, on the importance of trade unions in the modern workplace at a meeting held in the university on Thursday, 12th October.
The event was organised by NUI Galway lecturer, Dr Deirdre Curran, as part of a module for final year Commerce students on on ‘Contemporary Issues at Work’ which includes a focus on the importance of an ‘employee voice’.
SIPTU Organiser, Clement Shevlin, said: “I drew upon my experience as a strategic organiser with SIPTU to show how the union acted as the voice of workers in negotiations to improve their terms and conditions of employment as well as to address other work issues more effectively on a collective basis.
“The students had a natural curiosity about the daily workings of the union and they had some real-life experience themselves as students, working very precarious part-time jobs, where they felt the protection of the union would have served them well.”
During the meeting many aspects of the modern trade union were discussed from representation for individual workers who find themselves at odds with their employer to ‘Collective Agreements’ where workers organise into a group to negotiate better terms and conditions for themselves. Clement Shevlin also gave examples of where the union campaigns on issues outside of the workplace that affect workers, but also the vulnerable in society such as the homeless, the poor and those who are victims of all types of inequality.
He added: “An important point I stressed to the students who will soon be joining the workforce, was just how casual and precarious many jobs have become, even those which require high qualifications. What was once the normal abusive practice perpetrated on unskilled workers is now a norm in many of the workplaces they would soon be entering.”
Dr Curran said: “In my 20 years’ experience at NUI Galway, I find that students are naturally predisposed to the ideology of trade unions. Concepts such as collectivism, solidarity, protection, and support appeal to them. There is an opportunity for unions to convert that predisposition into actual membership and events such as this may help to facilitate that.”