“I’ll tell ye somethin awfu’ true, ye wouldny have yer telly the noo if it wasn’t for the union.” – Matt McGinn, ‘If it Wasnae fer the Union’
The Tories’ latest ploy to dupe the public into thinking it’s “the party of working people” comes with the new ‘National Living Wage’. As of today, the minimum wage will be increased to £7.20 per hour… so long as you’re 25 or older.
Currently in North Lanarkshire, the Labour-run council are currently ploughing in tax payers’ money to fight a legal battle so that they do not have to compensate female workers for decades of unequal pay. NLC have already settled £70 million with a number of workers, but only last week GMB protested outside NLC HQ demanding equal pay for the remaining 2,000 female workers who have yet to be compensated for their exploitation.
It is unthinkable nowadays to blatantly refuse women equal pay and not risk some form of legal action. But not so for younger people. There is no expectation of equality and no possibility of recourse.
Younger workers are often exploited in the workplace and this is being further legally enshrined by the Tory government with this policy. Not only have younger workers always had a lower minimum wage than other age brackets, the Conservatives have created a new wage bracket for those aged 25 and over who are the only group entitled to the ‘living wage’; suggesting no other age group has financial responsibilities and needs.
But responsibilities should not make you deserving of the same. Labour is labour, regardless of your age, gender or race. If you are contributing your labour, your demographics should not determine how much you deserve for doing it.
There is also the issue that the new ‘living wage’ isn’t in actual fact the living wage at all. According to the Living Wage Foundation, it is actually £8.25. You cannot simply raise the minimum wage and rebrand it as something different. But this hasn’t stopped the BBC and other media outlets praising the ‘new living wage’ whilst knowing all the time it is a lie.’
So how can the women of North Lanarkshire take the fight to the bosses while young people cannot? Because they are unionised and organised. Unfortunately, youth membership of trade unions today is extremely low. Our generation never had to fight for a minimum wage; or for health and safety in the workplace; or for child labour laws; or face the Orgreave Cavalry and police lines during the miner strikes – therefore we have no idea of the work and sacrifice that trade unions have committed for the worker.
In the same way female workers are fighting for their wage rights, so too must young people. If we want a fair wage for our labour, we have to organise to achieve it.
Just as our parents look back on Thatcher’s Britain; young people will look back on today as Cameron’s Britain. But, will we be able to say we organised and stood united against the bosses in the same way? I would lik e to think so – join a union.
SNP Youth Vice-Convenor