There’s no shortage of work-place horror stories from young employed people in Ireland today. From JobBridge to zero hour contracts, it’s clear that young workers are easy pickings for exploitation. In Galway, a recently closed night-club, the Bentley, has been added to this growing list of abuses. The club’s employees lost their jobs without notice on 14 January. Their employers, James and Shane Broderick, told them the club would be reopened on the 20th, but that never happened and for four weeks refused to answer the phone or respond to inquiries by staff. Only since last week have the club owners began to communicate with the sacked workers, after a campaign of public protest was launched against them.
In all, the Bentley workers are owed almost two weeks wages, wages in lieu of notice and holiday pay. One staff member is even owed two years holiday pay. As they have yet to receive their P45 statements, they’re all ineligible for the dole. Despite the owners’ so-far empty promises of a respectable resolution, the treatment of the workers has already caused serious damage. One young member of staff stated that, after working for the Bentley for 14 months, ‘I have now been forced to relocate back home to my parents, as I simply have no money left, and have numerous bills to pay off. It’s only fair we get our money, that we worked hard for. ” Another staff member said ‘The day before the building was repossessed the general manger told me he had been to the accountant that day to sort it out. I’ve heard no word about it since. I’m a student and I don’t receive any form of grant. I was living week to week from my wages in The Bentley. I am thankful for the opportunity they have given me but I just want what’s rightfully mine.’
Despite the obstacles, the Bentley workers have forced themselves into discussions with the owners, and are continuing to fight for the wages that they have worked for, with the help of We’re Not Leaving-Galway.
Most of the Bentley staff are young students and part-time workers. Unfortunately, their situation is not unique. Throughout the country, young people who actually manage to find work are forced to contend with the threat of precarious employment, unpredictable and irregular hours, and the possibility of being replaced by an unpaid intern. The young workers at Bentley are correct not to accept what they’ve been dished out, and young people in Ireland more generally, who face a grim future of poverty wages and precarious employment at best, should also not accept this and organise for a decent future, not what’s being offered by continued austerity and the so-called ‘recovery’.