Unite’s national body for young workers met yesterday to talk about what they would like to see from a Labour government.
As well as discussing the general election, the National Young Members Committee also sent their solidarity and support to striking McDonald’s workers fighting for improved terms and conditions.
At a meeting in Unite’s head office in Central London, the committee talked about how Labour’s policies could help to improve the lives of young workers.
Committee member Amy Roe works in the fossil fuel sector. Conscious that her industry has a limited shelf life, she supports the radical reforms Labour have put forward for a green energy revolution.
She said, “I support Labour’s push for a green climate deal. My job obviously has an end date and rightly so, but there needs to be a transition from fossil fuels into renewables and I think Labour can do that.”
The committee also discussed the need to reinstate NHS bursaries to tackle chronic staff shortages and give the next generation of nurses and health professionals the opportunity to train without being crippled by debt.
Committee member and NHS worker James Mason said, “Why would you want to get yourself into £50,000 worth of debt for a job where you’re going to be overworked and only paid £30,000 a year?”
Committee member Katie Laing began her working life with a job at a fast food chain. Katie then moved to the finance sector but the memory of the low pay she received has made her a strong advocate of Labour’s plans to implement a single minimum wage that applies to all ages and end zero hour contracts.
She said, “I started work at 16 on £4.35 an hour. Not only was it horrendous working for such low wages and on a zero hour contract, but the cost of getting too and from work really ate into my pay.
“I was put on late shifts after all the buses had finished and had to get taxis home or put on 4am starts, which meant getting a taxi to work.”
Committee member Johnathon Elson said he is particularly enthusiastic about Labour’s plans to repeal the Trade Union Act and strengthen workers rights.
Engineering worker Elson said, “I’ve been a victim of those repressive bills, I don’t want that to happen to other people. I got made redundant at my previous job after taking a dispute to my management about call out fees.
“People put on redundancy notice were told they could carry on working if they signed up to the firm’s call out policy. I took issue with that and then they put me on my notice and a week later I was made redundant.
“The legislation has been weakened so much that they didn’t have prove that there was a loss of work, they just had to make it seem like there was. There was no justification for it except that I was bringing problems to them.”
The committee also issued a statement in support of striking McDonalds workers.
The #McStrike, organised in concert the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU), sees workers demand a £15 an hour minimum wage, guaranteed hours and an end to age discrimination pay.
The Unite National Young Members Committee said: “We send our utmost solidarity and support to all McDonald’s workers taking industrial action and would encourage everyone throughout our labour movement to support the strike.
“These workers – predominantly young workers – are leading the way against insecure work. Their stand against poverty pay and precarious conditions is absolutely inspiring and shows the crucial importance of unionising within the workplace.
“As the national body for Unite young members, we send our utmost support and will be proud to stand alongside them in their struggle against precarious work.”