October 28, 2021
Louise O’Reilly TD publishes survey results exposing shocking extent of abuse and harassment of young workers

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Workers’ Rights, Louise O’Reilly TD, has today published the results of her survey exposing widespread concerns about harassment, bullying and workers’ rights breaches among young workers.

576 people aged 16-30 took part in Teachta O’Reilly’s survey.
Key findings include:
– 35% of young workers have experienced bullying/ harassment in their workplace

– 39% say their workers’ rights have been breached

– Just 10% feel the government/ state agencies do enough to protect their rights

– Almost a third are considering emigrating within the next year
Commenting today as she published the results, Teachta O’Reilly said:

“Throughout the pandemic, countless young workers have contacted me to raise concerns about a range of issues in relation to their conditions and rights in the workplace. Many had lost their jobs, were working on the frontline, or were working remotely and were deeply concerned about the conditions they were being subjected to by their employers.

“I conducted this survey in order to tell the real story of how young workers are treated in the workplace. The results are shocking and expose how much more needs to be done to protect young workers’ rights.

“35% of young workers said that they had been bullied, harassed or mistreated in their workplace. This is a shocking number and is deeply concerning.

“Worryingly, 39% said their workers’ rights had been abused in their workplace.

“Just 10% of respondents said that they felt that the government and state agencies were doing enough to protect young workers’ rights. This highlights the need for change and for urgent action to take concrete steps to protect workers.

“Workers’ rights have been constantly undermined by successive Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil led governments failing to legislate for collective bargaining and improve conditions necessary for the Trade Union movement to organise.

“I was also struck by the fact that just under a third of respondents said they intend to emigrate in the next 12 months. This is a staggering amount and exposes how many young workers feel there simply isn’t a future for them here in Ireland.

“We must ensure that we don’t have another generation lost to emigration. It is vital that young people can see attractive and viable career opportunities for them, where they can experience a high quality standard of living and where they can feel safe and respected in their workplace.

“Many respondents submitted comments explaining how the housing crisis is putting them under huge financial pressure. Particularly for those on average or low wages, huge swathes of their pay packets are going on expensive rents for often sub standard accommodation. This is a huge driver in making young people consider moving abroad for career opportunities instead.

“One respondent shared their story- ‘As a single adult, I simply do not, or never will, earn enough to be able to own my own property in this country’.

“Others shared their concerns about the use of short term and precarious contracts by employers, which leave young workers feeling exploited and lacking in stability. One wrote- ‘The reality of jobhunting is extremely tough and often it is to end up in a precarious job with no contract, no protection and no rights’.

“Many respondents shared their feelings of exhaustion, due to working long hours for little pay, often with little stability. One wrote- ‘Young people are completely taken advantage of by employers and neglected by the current government. Too exhausted to say any more’.

“Young workers want to be treated with decency and respect in their workplace, they don’t feel the government and government agencies are standing up for them and they are unsure about how to protect their own rights at work.

“So there’s a clear role here for the trade union movement in organising young workers but for us as legislators in ensuring that not only do we put legislation in place but that we also put funding into the WRC and other agencies to ensure that workers have their rights vindicated. It’s crucial that these rights don’t just exist in theory and on paper but that workers know they have a place where they can readily access justice if there is a problem.

“The government must listen to the voices of young workers and ensure they deliver change to address these issues and ensure workers’ rights are upheld. I will continue to hold the government to account on this and be a voice for workers.”

Sinn Féin’s Young Workers Survey Results document is available to view at this link

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