Viewers throughout the country were outraged with Bill Cullen’s attack on young unemployed workers on RTE’s Frontline hosted by Pat Kenny. Owner of CityGate Motor Group and numerous hotels and properties, Cullen achieved infamy with statements to contestants on his show The Apprentice, such as, “Now that you work for me, I own you.”
By James McCabe
Cullen argued that today’s youth are a “mollycoddled” generation and that they should work for free to gain experience. One young carpenter stated that he had to work the last year of his apprenticeship as a volunteer and asked, “What am I supposed to do now?” Cullen argued, “I worked for nothing many times to get a job, isn’t it better than nothing? Better than sitting in bed all day. In the 40s and 50s we didn’t have the dole, we were in our bare feet and we went out and worked.”
Another young worker asked, “How can I work for nothing and the bank is looking for €2,000 a month?” Bill’s answer was, “You move on! You might have to walk away from your debts and go abroad.” So Bill Cullen’s answer to mass unemployment is simply, work for free or emigrate. When one young woman pointed to the neoliberal policies of past governments, Bill said, “Don’t blame somebody else, go out yourself and do it, don’t be blaming. It’s up to you, not the government.”
Bill’s attacks on workers and social welfare is ironic considering he was campaigning for the last year for the government to implement a scrappage scheme to bail out his retail business. Bill’s arrogance is re-enforced by the government, who introduced the scrappage scheme in the last budget, while cutting social welfare dramatically for those under 23 years of age.
Young workers and unemployed people should organise to resist the attacks from the establishment parties and the likes of Bill Cullen who want to drive us back into the nineteenth century so he can command an army of personal, barefoot slaves, while he sits in his 43 room mansion.