Friday 21 October 2016

Strike action is a bitter pill at the bottom of the ladder

Generations who still want more make life hard for millennials

Published 11/09/2016 | 02:30

Pickets: Strikers at Ringsend depot Photo: Brian Lawless
Pickets: Strikers at Ringsend depot Photo: Brian Lawless

Bertie's children were expected to change the world for the better.

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As Celtic Tiger cubs, we grew up with the notion we were going to be fitter, stronger and live longer, fuller lives than those who came before us.

Bank collapses, economic devastation and continuous financial threats have leveraged our futures against Mike Ashley's zero hour contracts and a culture of job hopping.

Those from 'generation emigration' who stayed at home could go on strike in search of better conditions, but battling against contracts that run out every 12 months, we are reminded we are instantly replaceable.

A conveyor belt of desperate graduates worried about how they will pay their over-inflated rents lie waiting to capitalise on any job openings.

That is why the industrial action at Dublin Bus now, and Transdev before it, is so maddening for younger generations.

Added to this is the fact teachers, under the umbrella of the ASTI, are to ballot about taking strike action. Gardaí are also talking about potential industrial action as part of their own dispute over pay and conditions.

Some of their complaints may be valid, but many of the loudest and most dissenting voices come from generations that have left the millennials high and dry.

They all complain about the same thing; struggling to pay for children in college and mortgages that must be paid. Realistically, the bills will somehow get resolved.

However, many of those striking or looking at taking industrial action are on secure contracts and sit in safe positions compared to those of us at the bottom of the employment ladder.

Down here, we change job often. Each new role is punctuated by a spell on the work sidelines. The traditional model of getting a job and aiming for a promotion is dead because there is no return on loyalty.

However, many companies were happy to splurge on new buildings, golf trips for clients and staff or expensive executive bonuses when times were good.

As the 1980s transcended into the age of Britpop, mobile phones and the internet, we were born into a time of boom.

Under Bertie Ahern's guidance, it was expected things were only going to get boomier, as helicopters whisked people to the Galway tent via holiday homes in Bulgaria. Fast forward 10 years and we are the only generation expected to be less well off, sicker and die earlier than the generation that went before us. We have devolved because our future has literally been mortgaged by those before us.

We are the generation seen as 'entitled', yet our retirement age will be pushed out so we are less of a burden to a taxpayer busily cleaning up somebody else's economic mess.

Many of us would love to buy a car but cannot afford the rising fuel and insurance costs. Owning a house is beyond aspirational.

This leaves us in a rent cycle that is unsustainable. Inflation in the wider economy is close to 0pc but rent increased by 10pc last year. The idea of even setting up a pension scheme is laughable.

Many of our friends overseas are seen to be having the times of their lives, but the reality is they are cut off from their friends, family and support structures in far flung corners of the world, faced with the same financial issues.

Bertie was lucky. He can fade into history and so will the children of his Celtic Tiger generation.

Those sandwiched in-between are adamant to do anything but, and their dissenting voices are doing nothing other than souring the taste buds of a lost generation.

Sunday Independent

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