One Cork project launches

ONE Cork involves deeper collaboration between unions at workplace and societal levels to organise, campaign, educate, train and communicate with workers and wider the community.

1corkA new initiative – ONE Cork – designed to organise workers, their families and communities to influence, change and create a better future, was formally launched at an event that took place in Cork City Hall last week (Thursday 14th January).

ONE Cork ( is a joint initiative between 20 trade unions working in Cork city and county, the Cork Council of Trade Unions and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and is the first of its kind in the country and offers a potential blueprint for similar initiative in other parts of the country.

The launch was officiated by Cork’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Chris O’Leary.

IMPACT general secretary and ICTU vice president, Kevin Callinan, said the ground-breaking pilot project offers a blueprint for similar initiatives elsewhere in the country. “One Cork has the potential to change the way that unions operate in Ireland. There is a really strong sense now of a shared purpose, a shared goal and a desire to work together to achieve it,” he said.

“ONE Cork has been established to better equip and increase the capacity of the trade union movement in Cork city and county to deal together with the many different challenges which face workers and trade union members. It involves a much deeper level of collaboration between the unions – at workplace and societal levels – to organise, campaign, educate, train and communicate with workers, their families and the wider community.

“It’s about consolidating the strength, resources and expertise locally of our movement by working together to improve living and working conditions and achieve significant gains for all workers through greater trade union participation. All of this work will be premised on a shared vision of a fairer and more equal society with decent work at its heart enabling all workers to have a better quality of life, said Mr Callinan.”

IMPACT organiser Linda Kelly said the project has captured the imagination of everyone involved. “There is an excitement, a genuine energy around this project and its potential. No matter what we’re doing we’re always asking how can we do this differently while also remaining true to what has always made trade unionism strong, that collective strength,” she said.

Linda Kelly explained that ONE Cork has started carrying out its collaborative work in Cork University Hospital, UCC and in Cork Institute of Technology as well as in the retail sector and have already delivered real, tangible benefits to workers on the ground.

“In UCC and the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), ONE Cork has met with hundreds of students who are also part-time workers and briefed them on their rights and entitlements as well as the benefits of union membership. We found that many were on the lower minimum wage rate of €6.06 per hour when they should have been on the full rate and we have advised them how to go about getting the full rate, which is now €9.15 per hour.”

“In Cork University Hospital (CUH), ONE Cork has organised a seminar on pensions to make sure that all workers in the hospital are fully informed about their pension entitlements so that they plan properly for their futures and further initiatives are planned there,” she said.

ONE Cork co-ordinator Sharon Cregan explained that the work of ONE Cork will focus on a number of areas including:

  • Organising workers into trade unions on a collaborative basis – particularly those in precarious jobs and unemployed workers;
  • Educating and training union activists and organisers to develop a critical understanding of social, economic and political issues;
  • Communicating more effectively with workers – both directly as well as through local and social media – to inform them of their rights and issues that affect them;
  • Campaigning on particular policy issues that will advance the interests of working people, their families and communities.

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