£10NOW: A Fair Deal for Young Workers

by David Hamblin / @UnionisedDavid

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Fast Food Workers, Young Trade Unionists, and more have taken to the streets to denounce the invidious positon for Young Workers today. The low pay & precarious hours which young workers receive are a grievous indictment on the way our economy is structured. The GMB Young Members Network were amongst those who set up and participated in protests against the exploitation of Young Workers.

Organising in such workplaces faces a number of challenges. The nature of Zero Hours contracts may result in punitive action (such as hours not being offered) being exacted on those that stand up. The bravery of those Fast Food Workers is borne from a number of sources including: personal resolve, a burning hatred of injustice, and the support they receive from their unions. The BFAWU in particular have done phenomenal work within the Fast Food Sector ensuring that each of their members are aware that they have the full support of their union at every level.

It is telling that within a day of the most recent protests one fast food chain announced that it would begin rolling out offers of legitimate contracts with guaranteed contracts to its employees. This can only be seen as a direct result of the actions undertaken by Unions exerting pressure over time. This is to be welcomed as a step in the right direction but with much ground still to go.

In a country where age discrimination is ostensibly against the law the use of age differentials ensures that younger workers can be legally paid a lower rate than their older counterparts. George Osborne appeared to be aware that the current Minimum Wage rate was insufficient hence the introduction of the “National Living Wage”. Yet his new rate was still below what’s required and extends only to the 25s and above. All current minimums fall short of the £10 per hour recognised by the TUC as what is required for workers to truly start to live on. Osborne’s “National Living Wage” is neither “National” nor fit for “Living” – through its omission of those below the age of 25 George Osborne reaffirms the Conservative contempt for youth in society. Conservative economic policy for Young Workers is a sneer in legislative form.

GMB Young Members have the temerity to reject the notion that we are literally worth less. We stand with our brothers and sisters in fellow unions such as BFAWU, Unite, and more. How much of a priority is the £10NOW campaign to Young Workers? Well at the TUC Young Workers Conference 2016 a number of unions submitted motions on the demand for the TUC to prioritise campaigning for the Real Living Wage of £10 per hour. These motions were composited and after a number of impassioned speeches from those affected it has been sent on to the TUC.

I’ve been asked if I’m concerned about how a Real Living Wage may affect businesses. I’m deeply concerned. I’m concerned that under current legislation Young Workers can’t afford to buy products in many businesses, I’m concerned as to the number of Young Workers on low pay with hunger pains and the danger of passing out in the workplace, I’m concerned that Young Workers are deemed as legitimate collateral damage amidst the economic warfare which is being wrought across

this nation. Time and again I have said that politics is about the food in your mouth and the roof over your head and that those necessities are no cheaper due to your age. This is why we need £10NOW.

Of course our demands are outrageous – demands for justice always are.

Come election time the refrain “How do we engage with young voters?” will echo from meeting to meeting. I remain steadfast in my belief that the way to engage with young workers is through policy and action. If Labour is to truly realise itself as the party that stands up for Young Workers it must first ensure it stands beside them. A £10 per hour Real Living Wage and an end to exploitative contracts are policies which offer a tangible benefit to a vast swathe of Young Workers.

GMB Young Members are fighting for a Fair Deal for Young Workers. This is a campaign which will not cease until our aims are achieved. We are in the process of establishing a sustained assault on the iniquitous legislation which blights the lives of Young Workers and society as a whole. While discrimination pollutes the statute books we will oppose it.

We are fighting for economic justice in every sphere; in our workplaces, in our streets, and in our politics.


Update on McDonalds:

Following the protests from a number of Young Workers (many from Unions affiliated to the Labour Party) it has transpired that McDonalds will not be granted a stand at Labour Party Conference. There is no innate right for McDonalds to have a stand at Conference and I personally welcome the move. If they were to have a stand I’d most likely end up in the conference venue with a placard in one hand and a megaphone in the other in protest of the poor working conditions and pay rates. “What of the £30,000 for the Labour Party?” some ask. “I had no idea the rate of inflation had hit pieces of silver so much” I’d reply…


David Hamblin is Chair of GMB Young Members Network


For further info and action:

Twitter: @10PoundNOW | @GMBYoungMembers


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