National Museum of Scotland’s PCS Branch Chair and young member Alex Lawrie talks about the issues facing young workers and why now union membership is more important for them than ever.
‘I’m only working here part-time until I move on’ – a familiar battlecry of many a young precariat – you may even have said something similar yourself, I know I certainly did. With 47% of graduates now working in low-paid, non-graduate jobs (up from 38% in 2008), and with 21% of 16-24 year olds unemployed and a significant percentage of the population on zero hours contracts (and not through choice) the situation doesn’t look like it will get better any time soon. Further, for those in employment over 38% of 21-25 year olds are in low paid work which does not even reach the standard of the Living Wage, rising to 78% in 17-20year olds. It is all very bleak.
The continued failure of our government to tackle this rising issue, and their incessant attacks on both the education system and youth of today might lead to a feeling of hopelessness and despair. It might already have driven you into the arms of ‘Facebook activism’, and whilst it is momentarily satisfying to post pictures of David Cameron preaching austerity whilst surrounded by more gold and pomp than a Byzantine Emperor you haven’t really done anything. What you need to do is join up and become an active member of the Trade Union movement.
Trade Unions, such as our very own PCS, are a catalyst for change and are right at the forefront of the fight-back, standing up for the rights of all working people. They are fighting for the rights of you, your colleagues and those who would come in your wake. By joining you lend your voice to this nationwide struggle for jobs and fair pay for everyone. If you don’t fight now, then where will we be in a few years’ time? The job of your future dreams may vanish under government cut backs, its terms and conditions could be slashed, its salary driven down so much as to not make it worth your while – all because no-one stood up and fought at the time. We simply cannot afford to stand back and not get involved.
Look at your current workplace – you may find that you yourself have been employed on worse terms and conditions, you may be working for less, or have less opportunities for advancement. Some of you may have colleagues who are currently fighting to save their own livelihoods from pay and job cuts. You can help! In a show of solidarity we can all work together to save those who we work with. We can stand shoulder to shoulder with them. We can fight off the vultures, and then we can move forward together to ensure that everyone doing the same job is paid fairly and equally.
The Unions provide that fight, they always have – did you really think weekends, maternity leave, sick pay, and safe working environments to name but a few came out of nowhere? Unions members struggle ever onward to protect those terms and conditions. No-one ever got anything by keeping quiet, by not asking the question, and by not fighting for what is theirs by right.