Better than Zero: STUC launches new campaign, calls on older generation not to stand by whilst a generation of young people are forced into insecure work

This article initially appeared on April 20th 2015.

On Monday 20th April at its Annual Congress, the STUC will launch a new campaign, run by young people for young people, to take on the issue of insecure work.

While the best way young workers can be protected is by joining a union, the hostile attitude of employers means that for many this is currently not an option. A new helpline will also be launched to support all those in non-unionised workplaces who are receiving low pay, are forced onto zero-hours and short-hours contracts or are otherwise suffering from poor working conditions. Poor employment conditions are prevalent in industries such as fast food, hotels and catering, pub and club chains and some areas of retail and social care.

Suki Sangha, a youth representative will launch the initiative through a speech and short presentation at 12 noon on Monday 20th April.

STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith said:

“Over the past month we have uncovered dozens of accounts of poor employment practice. Low pay is widespread and one major company was named and shamed for making illegal payments below the Minimum Wage. Nearly all of the practices we are hearing of happen in places where there is no recognised trade union to defend workers.

“The use of zero-hours contracts has become a national disgrace, with young people presenting themselves for work only to be sent home again. Workers are also routinely expected to work additional late hours at short notice, with little or no thought given to how they will get home and whether they will be safe.

“Last week, the STUC wrote to the leaders and licensing boards of Scotland’s major cities calling for safe late night staff travel to be a condition of the granting of late licenses to food outlets, pubs and clubs.

“Insecure work is certainly not confined to the younger generation and we will continue to campaign for fair work for all. But there are particular risks associated with normalising bad work as the everyday experience of hundreds of thousands of young people.

“The best way young workers can be protected is by joining a union. There is a particular responsibility on the older generation, parents and grandparents, to support young people, to assist them in organising and to refuse to tolerate on their behalves what they would refuse to accept themselves.”

The new help line will be staffed by specialist employment lawyers from Thompsons Solicitors, Scotland’s leading trade union law firm and long-time campaigners for the fair treatment for all workers.

Rory McPherson who heads up Thompsons employment department commented

“We are delighted to support the STUC in their Better Than Zero Campaign.

“What the STUC are doing is upholding a very important principle in the work place that just because a worker may be young doesn’t mean they can be palmed of with low pay and poor conditions. Young people provide huge benefits to Scotland’s economy and it’s only right they be properly paid for it. We would encourage any young person who have concerns about zero hours contracts and low pay or any issue relating to precarious employment to call the helpline. Young people are the future of our economy and it’s about time employers started treating them with respect.”