The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has launched their Vision for a Post-Bailout Ireland campaign, which envisages the steps the government should take in order for the country to tackle the remaining challenges it faces in recovery.
In their outline, USI have stated, “The Ireland of tomorrow must be built on visionary thinking today. Our vision is of citizens committed to a fair, prosperous and optimistic society, where lasting and sustainable economic development occurs alongside a commitment to social equity.”
Included in the vision statement are ten actions which must be undertaken. The first change which the USI desires is regarding the proper funding of higher education.
The report outlines that “we must now in a post-bailout environment see that we cannot afford not to adequately fund Higher Education,” and that “resources allocated to Higher Education are not merely public spending, but public investment with a historically guaranteed return.”
USI ultimately believes that proper state investment is the only answer to ensure “fairness, growth in our skill-based economy and equity of access to Higher Education” and to create an education system that is free at the point of entry while also providing for grants.
USI encourages the government to tackle the issue of youth unemployment, which currently stands at almost 30%. The National Youth Council of Ireland estimates that the total investment required to decrease this amount is €273 million, while USI recommends firm investment to prevent the “brain drain of our best and brightest.”
The student representative body are also looking for a guaranteed day’s pay for a day’s work. USI believes a “living wage” should be introduced in order to ensure a fair standard of living for all workers, and the end of zero hour contracts.
Other issues outlined in the USI report include equality budgeting, reducing mortgage debt on hard-pressed families and also pushes for the government to legislate for collective bargaining in all industries, stating that every worker should have the option to join and be represented by a trade union without victimisation.
This issue is particularly relevant to students involved in part-time work and unpaid internships, as some can be unaware of their rights as workers and are thus likely to be exploited.
The report recommends that the government invest in community mental health services, tackle the cost of living by controlling rent and improve social housing and that they scrap the waste in public spending. USI believes that an independent taxpayer lobby group needs to be established in Ireland, acting in the best interests of the Irish taxpayer.