Oisin Duncan, Yorkshire Youth Fight for Jobs
The TUC has recently announced their ‘fight for £15 campaign’, in which they call for a “path” to a £15-an-hour minimum wage by 2030 or “as soon as possible”.
YFJ supports the demand for a £15 minimum wage now: this was the main demand we brought to the TUC demo on 18 June; and previously we have been involved in campaigns for £15-an-hour like the McStrikes.
The McStrikes showed that young workers in precarious jobs deserve better wages. As a bar worker myself, I have first-hand experience of the cost-of-living crisis. Running around a large venue, carrying barrels up and down stairs and dealing with drunk, potentially abusive customers is difficult enough, especially so when you can barely cover the rent and energy bill.
Young workers are expected to constantly accept the bare minimum on offer. Youth Fight for Jobs is organising to change that, and our primary fight is for £15 an hour now.
We welcome the TUC’s campaign, but we can’t afford to wait. The cost-of-living crisis is now. We need £15 an hour now.
And we have other questions. What is the TUC doing to build this campaign beyond petitions?
This summer has shown that coordinated strike action is possible, most notably with Royal Mail and BT CWU members bringing 170,000 workers out of work on the same day, a historic occasion.
This ongoing strike wave has shown the power of trade unions to a new generation, and mass coordinated action could hit bosses where it hurts most – in their profits – and force the Tories to concede reforms to the working class and youth.
For these reasons, we say that the TUC should take the lead in coordinating strike action, to back up the demand for £15/hr.
For our part, young workers can put pressure on the TUC by getting active in our unions, as well as joining the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) lobby when the TUC Congress reconvenes later in the autumn.
Coordinated mass action could also raise other demands, like abolishing youth rates (which the TUC ‘fight for £15’ campaign does mention, but without fully explaining) as young workers struggle with the cost of living.
On top of the demands for wage increases and reforms, a combative union movement led by the TUC could push Truss’s government into repealing the anti-democratic Trade Union Laws. If Truss truly wants to attack the unions, she must meet the full force of the labour movement fighting for a better deal for the workers and young people. Youth Fight for Jobs will back that fight to the hilt.