04 June 2018
It has become difficult to unionise younger workers, despite their particular vulnerability to wage stagnation, due to employers standing in the way and the challenges of organising those in insecure work.
This is according to TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady, who told the BBC that the labour movement has “a problem” when it comes to attracting younger workers.
“We know that young people overwhelmingly are sympathetic to our vision and our values. The problem is that many of their employers, especially in the private sector, make it hard for us to organise them,” she explained.
Further, with one in ten workers now in precarious contracts, traditional means of recruitment into unions are becoming outdated and the labour movement needs to start taking advantage of modern solutions to reach young people on zero-hour contracts and other types of casualised work.
“What young people are telling us is that they feel stuck, they’re stuck in low-paid insecure employment, they don’t know how to get out or get on,” she told the BBC.
“What they really want is an online shop steward, an online coach, who will support them in getting the skills and the opportunities they want to make a life for themselves.”
Frances also noted that the labour movement is still associated with a “male, pale and stale” stereotype and needs to do more to promote diversity among its ranks.
“Our leadership looks a lot better than most of the leaderships you would find in the boardroom, or indeed in politics, but that’s not good enough for me,” she said.
“We’ve got to look like the people that we aim to represent – including young people.”