November is Young Workers Month, and this year I thought I’d honour it with a blog post –
This year Young Workers Month is a little different to say the least, but its still important to mark it because its important to acknowledge the hard work, new experiences, different viewpoints and determination of young workers.
During Covid-19 Young Workers have been affected in many sectors across the country. With young people often in more precarious work, with zero hour contracts and a lot of us in the hospitality sector – which has taken quite the hit this year, it is no wonder that young workers are joining unions.
UNISON has seen an influx of members joining the union during Covid-19 – with a 4.6% increase in membership from Young Members alone – with the number of young people (16-24) in employment falling by 156,000. It is fantastic that our numbers are increasing here in UNISON – but the numbers of young workers losing work right now has to be acknowledged – we have fight on our hands.
Young Workers are the backbone of this country – often picking up the work that others don’t want to do – that our government call ‘unskilled’ – but I want to remind all young workers that what you do is valid – today in a webinar for Young Workers Month it was raised that nobody is ever ‘only’ anything – you are not ‘only’ an admin assistant, or ‘only’ a cleaner, or ‘only’ a home care worker – your job is valid, its important and without it we would come to a standstill in this country.
Its why the ‘No going back to normal‘ campaign is so important – because public service workers across the board deserve better.
You are not ‘only’ anything – you are fantastic and your job matters, just like anyone else.
Myself a person who used to refer to myself as ‘only the admin’ – but I was wrong. I am admin, but that’s not a negative thing – my job matters and without my role the teams I support would struggle. We all have very valid purposes, I’m also IT in an emergency, the one the team calls when they need a chat, I’m the creative one, I’m a workplace rep, a Branch Officer, a member of Self Organised Groups, and I sit as a Young Members (women’s) representative on the NEC – I’m also a sister, a daughter, a friend, a blogger, a quirky dresser – and more. Nobody is ever only anything – were multidimensional and everything we do matters.
The public sector has been hit by cuts for many years, and now the private sector, hospitality and other areas are seeing the devastating affects of the lack of income coming in. This is disproportionately affecting the workers at the bottom – who are quite often Young Workers – so although the job losses are devastating – I hope it mobilises young workers to fight and to keep on joining unions not only for protection – but because they want to be active and change things, and stand together as Young Workers to protect each other and the rights of each and every worker.
Myself, I’ve been active in Unison since I was 20, and a couple of months ago I turned 26 so next year I age out – meaning that I will no longer serve as Birmingham Branch’s Young Members Officer – the age limit for Young Members in UNISON is 27 years old and I won’t be young enough anymore to stand. (If you do want to know more about the role, my contact details will be at the bottom). I joined because I wanted to see change, and over the years there has been some change – including The Year of the Young Worker last year which even lead to Disabled Members submitting a motion for The Year of the Disabled Worker – Young Members are leading the way, and I think more and more that will be the case in UNISON and across the board – young workers are getting mobilised and I’m glad to see it. I look forward to young workers being at the forefront of change.
~ Nicola Moran, Young Members Officer.
Young Members are not the future of UNISON – we are the present – Young Workers are not the future of the workforce – we are the present.
You are more than valid – whatever you do for a living.
A couple of Young Workers Month events: