Monday, 4 July 2011

Whatever happened to Child Labour in Ireland?


Irish Childer looking for summer work circa '91

I still can’t smell cheap frying oil burning without being brought right back to the summers of my youth working in a local coffee shop. I started in the summer after my 13th birthday and worked my naïve teenage fingers to the bone. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating the advantage that was taken of us during those summers – we literally ran that lady’s business for buttons, but it did us no harm. Save the extra poundage from scoffing sausage toasties and the leftover bandy slice of cheesecake that was far too unappetising to put in the cake stand.

We were instilled with a work ethic at home from a very young age, I sometimes wonder if I only took the summer job as an escape from polishing the brass as God knows it wasn’t for the financial side of it. I firmly believe in the importance of showing your children that’s there’s nowt wrong with an honest day’s work, hence me juggling everything, all the time. But now that the Celtic Tiger seems to have spluttered and dropped down márbh how do we demonstrate it to the youngsters of today?

Long gone are ‘Bob a Jobs’ and even the token summer grass cutters seem to be a thing of the past. I think this may be due to a concoction of several different factors. Firstly we’re not as trusting as we once were, can you honestly say if a teen knocked on your door & offered to wash your car you’d say ‘Sure thing, Bud here’s the keys’? Then again how many teens these days put themselves forward for manual labour? There are galaxies to save and Angry Birds to fling don’t’cha know? And then we have the national lament of ‘All the good jobs are taken’, I’ve seen first hand how this affects the younger folk as our paper boy has been replaced by a cab driver, from his cab, with his light on. I’m not even joking.

Any way you look at it its tough out there on the jobs front, kids are being denied the independence of honestly earned money – no, pocket money for showing up at the breakfast table doesn’t count. My two have enrolled as helpers for the local summer projects, it means peace of mind for me while in the office & some spends for them. Win/Win.  I didn’t force them into it mind, their reasoning being that they get to boss the little ‘uns round, they get free admission to the attractions AND they’re paid for the privilege?! Momma di’nt raise no fools. 
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