Twenty unions in Cork City and county have joined forces in a first-of-its-kind initiative in Ireland to better organise workers and the wider community.
Siptu general secretary Joe O’Flynn said the One Cork initiative was “a no- brainer” and would consolidate the strength, resources and expertise locally.
“We have insisted, from the outset, that this be a ground-up initiative; that the ownership would be by the lay activists and that people would effectively not just take ownership but direct the project,” he said.
“Once we got to know each other and built trust we developed co-ordination and solidarity.”
Mr O’Flynn said that, prior to the development of the One initiative, shop stewards in different unions often did not know each other.
He said it was important to come together to refute the myth that unions have no place in modern society and are a thing of the past.
The pilot project in Cork will be replicated in Belfast before being extended.
Sharon Cregan, One Cork co-ordinator, said the initiative has been established to better equip and increase the capacity of the trade union movement in Cork city and county to deal with the many challenges which face workers and trade union members.
“It involves a much deeper level of collaboration between the unions — at workplace and societal levels — to organise, campaign, educate, train, and communicate with workers, their families and the wider community,” said Ms Cregan.
She said the work of One Cork will focus on a number of areas, including organising workers into trade unions on a collaborative basis and communicating workers’ rights more effectively.
Linda Kelly, Impact organiser, said One Cork has begun its collaborative work in Cork University Hospital, UCC, and CIT, as well as in the retail sector and has already delivered real, tangible benefits to workers on the ground.
“In UCC and CIT, One Cork has met with hundreds of students who are also part-time workers and briefed them on their rights and entitlements as well as the benefits of union membership,” said Ms Kelly.
“We found that many were on the lower minimum wage rate of €6.06 per hour when they should have been on the full rate and we have advised them how to go about getting the full rate, which is now €9.15 per hour.”
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