Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/496/2655
The Socialist 19 July 2007 |
Join the Socialist
Boost our pay
Organising for our rights at work
"Which is the first generation that will have to work to 68 before becoming eligible for a state pension? Those born after 1978. Which was the first generation to bear the full brunt of student tuition fees? Again it is the 1980s children... evidence suggests... a degree costs more and yields less... Few 80s children yet own a property and their financial prospects have been devastated by the rampant rise in property prices." This is from an article by the Financial Times economic editor, himself 'a teenager in the 1980s'.
Ben Robinson International Socialist Resistance national co-ordinator
This can't go on. Young people's rights have faced attack after attack. Young people are going to have to stand up and fight. This was how workers won gains in the past, and it is the same today.
The Boost Our Pay campaign has been launched to fight for better pay and working conditions for young workers. This summer, Boost Our Pay activists are planning protests, campaigning stalls and meetings, and are going into workplaces to talk to workers to help build the fight-back.
Young workers are often used and abused by bosses and managers. The lower minimum wage levels for young people means they are seen as cheap labour by greedy bosses. Modern Apprentice schemes allow young people to be paid below even minimum wage levels.
The European decency threshold, the hourly rate needed to be able to maintain a decent standard of living, has been calculated at £8 an hour. Bosses will not easily relinquish such a share of the wealth so we have to organise and fight for it.
To start with we will expose JJB Sports, as well as other low pay employers we know about. Recent struggles of the JJB warehouse workers in the north west show that they are not working under acceptable conditions.
Workers were forced into taking action. Because they were organised in a trade union, with a fighting local leadership, they were able to stop some of the attacks, despite management's aggressive stance.
The Boost Our Pay campaign makes the case for joining trade unions. Members of a workforce face similar conditions. To be able to change things, we need to be able to act together, rather than just as individuals. On our own, if we stand up for better conditions, we can be victimised. If we walk out of a job, there's no guarantee of anything better. Together, we can struggle to improve pay and working conditions.
Boost Our Pay activists will be going into JJB and other workplaces, handing out leaflets and 'rights at work' cards (see www.anticapitalism.org.uk).
We aim to talk to workers about the campaign, both then and there and also by arranging to meet up in a local cafˇ when they're free. Boost Our Pay public meetings should be advertised throughout all of our campaigning.
We need to make it clear that we don't want young workers to be victimised - you don't have to tell your employer that you are a member of a trade union. But we know that there is anger among young people who can face super-exploitation in the workplace.
Over the summer we have to make sure that Boost Our Pay is a feature of high streets where low pay is rife and that wherever we are, the campaign is raising the level of understanding among young workers about their rights and how they can be improved.
We campaign for a decent minimum wage for all. We want to involve, discuss with, and build support for all young workers fighting back against attacks from their employers.
The campaign is organised around the following demands:
- Equal pay for equal work - abolish youth rates.
- For a living wage - boost the minimum wage now!
- For collective agreements - no to wage-cutting individual contracts.
- Secure hours - all temps should have the option to be made permanent after six weeks.
- No to bullying bosses and discrimination in the workplace.
If you'd like to find out more, or get involved, contact us today! We are also asking for sponsorship and donations for the campaign from trade union branches. If you think your branch would be interested, get in touch.
PO Box 858 London E11 1YG
020 8558 7947
Minimum wage levels from October 2007
- Workers aged 22 and over: £5.52 an hour.
- Workers aged 18 to 21: £4.60 an hour.
- Workers aged 16 and 17: £3.40 an hour.
Employers who do not pay staff the national minimum wage face a £200 fine for each worker affected. Unsurprisingly with that minimal penalty more than 1,500 employers were exposed for not paying the minimum wage to more than 25,000 workers last year.
Why you should join a union
- Average earnings in unionised workplaces are around 8% higher than in non-unionised workplaces.
- The average trade union member in the UK gets 29-paid days annual leave a year, compared to 23 days for non-unionised workplaces.
- Black and Asian trade unionists earn 32% more than their non-unionised colleagues.
- If you haven't yet had problems with your employer over pay, health and safety, breaks etc then it is probably only a matter of time before you do! So your best bet is to join a union. The employers are happiest when people are quiet and scared of raising issues.
- When workers are organised together this is much stronger than workers individually trying to fight - 'a fist is stronger than five fingers!' The union is your strength, but to get full support from the unions you have to be a member.
- We can't rely on the government or our employers to fight for our rights at work. However we can't always rely on the trade unions, unless we are actively involved in them and fighting for better conditions in the workplace as well as for more democracy inside the unions.