Given the events of the past week, it would be easy for us in the UK to ignore what's going on here because of our fear of what lies ahead under a Trump presidency. However, imagine waking up one morning and getting a text from your employer saying that you didn't have work that day. Well for over 300,000 young workers this is sadly too often the case.
According to the latest statistics from the ONS, workers between the ages of 16-24 make up 36% of zero-hour contracts. That means many young workers are not guaranteed the basic rights at work that a lot of people take for granted such as paid holiday, sick leave and maternity/paternity leave.
With youth unemployment in UK at 624,000 more needs to be done to get young people into work. However with a significant level of young workers in zero hour contracts and an average wage for young workers being £6,700 less than the average salary of all workers (£27,600), this is where trade unions need to come in. Workers that are members of Trade Unions get 14.1% more on average than non-unionised workers. Indeed a young worker I spoke to said this about how their union helped them in the workplace.
Paul Valentine, Equity Branch Secretary said: "Unions are vital in the workplace. My union, Equity, actively campaigns for equality and diversity, and has had great success in getting Young Workers like myself onto contracts, when previously we would have been unpaid. Our 'Professionally Made, Professionally Made' campaign has been vital in securing us wages in an ever squeezed arts sector. "
Only 585,000 young workers out of 3.9 million are members of a trade union. Organisations such as the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Green Party Trade Union Group (GPTU) are doing very important campaigns to encourage young workers to join trade unions. With the pernicious Trade Union bill now being enforced and the potential loss of workers' rights due to Brexit, the importance of collectively standing up for our rights at work has never been more important.
To find out more about the campaigns and to see how you can get involved, please visit these websiteS. https://www.tuc.org.uk/equality-issues/young-workers/young-workers-month. http://gptu.greenparty.org.uk/2016/11/green-party-trade-union-group-launch-campaign-young-workers-month/
NB: All the figures above can be found at www.gov.uk and www.ons.gov.uk