It’s Young Workers’ Month!

November is young workers’ month! We will be aiming to raise the profile of young workers and young UNISON members by recruiting and organising them to help us win better working conditions and build an even stronger union.

Young Workers Month is an opportunity for union reps, activists and campaigners to reach out and inform young workers about trade unions and ensure that there are sufficient opportunities for young people to get involved and play an active role in shaping the movement.

It’s also a chance for unions to demonstrate to young people that we are campaigning on the issues they care most about and that we are relevant to their lives both in the workplace and beyond.

Young Workers Month 2017 #YWM17

In 2017, we are focusing particularly on

1. Apprenticeships – Campaigning for quality apprenticeships for all young workers

We are concerned by worrying reports that too many apprentices are being paid low wages, below minimum wages, without adequate support to do the same job as non-apprenticeships. Recent ONS statistics suggest 135,000 apprentices are being paid below the minimum apprentice wage.

We want to use young workers month to raise awareness of these “dodgy” apprenticeships and campaign for high quality apprenticeships.

2. Organising – Highlighting the young workers making a change in the workplace

In the TUC research report “I feel like I can’t change anything”, they reported just 9.4 per cent of Britain’s young core workers are union members yet are most likely to be on low pay, in insecure work and face underemployment. One of the barriers young workers reported to better conditions was empowerment. Some saying that speaking up would be futile or could harm others’ perception of them:

We want to use young workers month to highlight the young people of the trade union movement that are fighting back and campaigning for change.

What’s happening?

At national level, the national young members forum (NYMF) is prioritising work around raising awareness of issues faced by young workers, and in particular:

  • the need for a real living wage – a minimum of £10 per hour – to combat the low-level of the minimum wage and the age discrimination enshrined in legislation;
  • the importance of recruiting and organising apprentices in public services.

And we are launching our ’27 under 27’ project, a set of portraits of young members, with some biographical information, showing the range of work and contribution they make, and the interests they have.

What can you do?

Branches are strongly encouraged to use the month to run an event for apprentices. One suggestion is a briefing meeting on their rights at work, and maybe an self-assessment of learning needs using the union learn app.

We are also asking our young members to ‘send us your selfie’ by posting a tweet with a picture of themselves wearing one of our young workers month stickers, using the hashtag #ywm17

On this page you’ll find links to a range of resources that can be used in activities around these particular issues.

Young workers and the living wage

And there is also our briefing on the living wage. The first week of young workers month is living wage week – and the announcement of the new living wage rate by the Living Wage Foundation.

This is not the so-called ‘national living wage’ set by the Government, but a real living wage, set independently, and which does not discriminate on grounds of age.

We will be promoting news of the new rate when it is announced.

UNISON policy is to support the campaign to win a national minimum wage of £10 per hour for all, regardless of age.