Article from the November 2005 issue of the Socialist
newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI
Socialist Youth say...
FIGHTBACK Against low pay and exploitation
By Daniel Waldron
LOW PAY and exploitation are endemic in Northern Ireland, particularly among young workers. The minimum wage at its current level guarantees only poverty, it is simply not enough to provide a decent standard of living today. On top of this, young workers are told they aren't entitled to the same rates of pay as their older counterparts.
The minimum wage increased from the first of October this year, but some employers are prepared to flout the new legislation because many workers simply aren't aware of the change that has taken place. The anti-working class New Labour government isn't interested in ensuring people know their rights at work. Other employers simply threaten vulnerable, unorganised workers with being sacked if they raise complaints.
To tackle these issues, Socialist Youth has launched its Fight Back! Campaign for young workers' rights. We have been distributing material informing young people of their minimum wage and other basic rights at work.
On our stalls, young workers have been putting their employers' names and disgusting rates of pay on our 'Wall of Shame' for passers-by to see. The response has been excellent. People are sick of being forced to accept poverty wages while companies make record profits and super-rich bosses line their pockets. We are also planning to hold a picket of the Department of Employment and Learning this month to highlight the blatant ageism against young people in the minimum wage laws.
Many young people are just being paid the minimum wage. However, we have come into contact with workers from major retail and fastfood chains who claim they are actually being paid below the new minimum rates of pay!
This is unacceptable from any employer but is particularly disgraceful when they are hugely profitable multi-national companies. We have also talked to workers who work in bars and other establishments who are being denied the paltry minimum wage.
Through the Fight Back! Campaign, Socialist Youth wants to take on low-paying, exploitative employers and force them to improve pay and conditions. We are currently discussing with a number of workers who have approached us about holding pickets of their workplaces in response to their treatment. We will ensure that the identities of those who inform us of conditions in these workplaces do not become known to their employers to prevent victimization.
If you are unhappy with your pay and conditions, contact us on 07821058319 or e-mail us at
all workers are entitled to
Are your rights not being met? Contact Socialist Youth confidentially for advice on action that you can take!
- Minimum wage- £5.05 (22+), £4.25 (18-21), £3 (16-17).
- Work no more on average than 48 hours per week.
- 4 weeks' paid holiday every year.
- 20 minute breaks for shifts longer than 6 hours.
- 11 hours of rest between shifts.
- A 24 hour period of rest every seven days.
- A written contract and terms of employment.
- An itemised payslip.
- No discrimination on gender, religion or any other grounds.
- Join and be active in a trade union.
There are several other reports on what members of Socialist Youth have been doing recently. Read them here.