The Meath Council of Trade Unions held its inaugural public meeting on the topic of decent work, democracy and citizenship as part of the Hinterland Festival in Kells, county Meath, on Sunday, 26th June. SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Gerry Mc Cormack, from Kilskyre, county Meath, opened the discussion and the meeting also heard from local activists on actions they are taking to address inequality. In his contribution, McCormack highlighted an upcoming EU Directive on a EU minimum wage which also stipulates that collective bargaining should cover a minimum of 80% of those employed in a Member State. The implementation of this Directive should provide workers in all sectors of the economy with a right to bargain with their employer in relation to pay and conditions of employment. Meath Council of Trade Unions chairman and SIPTU Sector Organiser, John Regan, said: “The legislation which should result from this Directive will give unions the opportunity to represent workers in many sectors which are currently largely unorganised. It will in particular assist low paid workers with the likely return of Joint Industrial Councils in sectors including hotels, restaurants and hairdressing.” Fórsa activist, Carol McSherry, said: “It is 14 years since workers in the community sector got a pay increase. As a former Special Needs Assistant (SNA), I am very angry that the Government has failed to provide funds to support SNAs who do an unbelievable job similar to that of heath care assistants.”  She added: “It is a sad day when workers have to consider official strike action to get recognised for the critically important job of working with some of the most vulnerable children in society.” Meath Council of Trade Unions secretary and ASTI Assistant General Secretary, Moira Leydon, said: “The first focus of the Meath Council of Trade Unions as part of its recently agreed ambitious plan will be the housing crisis. Under the umbrella of the Raise the Roof campaign, trade union members and activists in county Meath will be pushing at all political levels to bring about a referendum to create a new legal ‘right to housing’.” The recently deceased author and activist Liam Cahill was also remembered at the event.