Sian Caulfield talks about the TUC’s young workers' month and how you can get involved and make a difference
November is the TUC’s young workers month, an opportunity to give special attention to the young workforce and young trade unionists. Next year the TUC and affiliated unions are stepping things up and running campaigning, organising and recruitment activity throughout the year.
It’s a response to the stark numbers: less than eight percent of workers aged 16-24 are in a union. Not because the jobs that young workers do are well-paid, with fantastic conditions. To the contrary, for many young workers, it’s the opposite. And many are not aware of their rights at work.
The issues facing young workers – generally defined as under 27 years of age - at McDonalds, Uber and TGI Fridays are not the same as the physiotherapy workforce, of course. NHS employment provides relatively good employment standards, partnership working is well established, and Agenda for Change is a benchmark for many non-NHS employers.
And the CSP, in contrast to most unions, has a relatively young membership and it’s growing strongly – reflecting in part our large student membership but also the powerful growth in the workforce that identifies closely with a union and professional body that stands up for it. The demographics of our workplace reps are also young – an amazing one in ten of our members under the age of 27 are reps - contrasting again with most other unions, where the average age of local union representatives is rising.
The CSP is proud that we seem to be bucking the trend. But we are not complacent. Younger members of the physiotherapy and physiotherapy support workforce will have specific issues and face barriers to ensure they know their rights and work and have the means to exercise them. And our younger reps receive mentoring, strong training and support when new to the role but nevertheless have problems and offer the CSP opportunities that are age-related.
We know from the CSP’s own insight research that newer CSP members (those holding membership for up to four years) are significantly more likely to be interested in increased involvement in the CSP compared to long-term members. This is fantastic. Yet they also have relatively lower levels of awareness of the opportunities to get engaged. So we have a job of work to do to tap this enthusiasm.
We also know that, for example, balancing work and home life is a goal for many young working members, particularly those with caring responsibilities - an issue we have taken up our Building a Better Balance campaign.
We know too that younger members benefit from an accelerated career if they take up roles as stewards and safety reps thanks to the experience and skills they gain.
We want to enhance the working experience of all members, including those under 27s and your contribution to our efforts to ensure good employment practice wherever members work. Help us do this by
- Engaging with your local steward
- Findingout how you can join the local CSP workplace team.
- Letting me know what you think the CSP could be focussing on around young worker issues in 2019 by emailing email@example.com or tweeting @SianCaulfield
Siân Caulfield is a trade union organiser with the CSP
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