Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/834/19699
We can win decent working conditions
Zero-hour, minimum wage, and no chairs
Jack, Hampshire Socialist Party
The Conservative Party boasts it has 'created new opportunities for youth' and 'got Britain working again'. However, anyone who works in the type of jobs that have become the norm under the Con-Dems knows there are no new opportunities.
Zero-hour contracts mean sporadic shifts. There's the nagging knowledge you're working a dead end job. Young workers like myself are left depressed and distraught.
This month marks my first anniversary of work. Like the majority of young people, I work in the service industry. My experience can be summed up in seven words: zero-hour, minimum wage, and no chairs.
I earn roughly £5,000 a year - though because it is zero-hour, the actual amount is unknowable. The average price for renting a one bedroom flat in Southampton is £600 a month, which means £7,200 a year. This doesn't take into account bills, food or clothing.
Yet the corporation I work for generates £6.8 billion annually. They have the money to pay their workers a living wage, but won't.
The supermarket I work in is run by a multinational. Because of this there are two managements. The local management runs the store daily and is basically maintenance. The other management, our billionaire parent company, could visit once in two months or twice in a week.
On one visit, the head of marketing for southern England decided he didn't like till staff having chairs - because it made them 'look lazy'. When I spoke to Socialist Party members about this, they said it could be considered discriminatory action.
I managed to talk to this manager. He said the chairs were removed because an employee tripped and had a serious injury. When I said this to the local management they had never heard of any such incident.
If you have experienced the same type of thing in your workplace and feel powerless, don't be disheartened - there is another way. Strong trade unions, like the BFAWU bakers' union, are fighting hard for workers' rights. I urge you to research the unions organising in your industry, and join one.
Just look at the $15 Now campaign in Seattle. It fought for a $15 minimum wage in the city. Young workers joined together and became involved in unions and campaign work. They won through action and sheer determination.
If they can do it in the beating heart of capitalism, surely we can do it here!
"Black Friday" marked with strikes and protests across US
In the United States the day after Thanksgiving (known as "Black Friday"), has been transformed from a day to spend with family into a day that the bosses look forward to every year.
Low-paid workers are expected to work extended hours at no extra pay while the bosses rake in money and make record profits. More and more shops are opening earlier and earlier, even staying open on the holiday itself. For the bosses this means more money, for working class people it means less time with the family and more time working in a low wage environment.
With Walmart expected to call in nearly one million employees on Thanksgiving, workers are becoming increasingly frustrated. This is just one example of the mistreatment of Walmart workers who are now organising against their cruel employer. This year strikes and protest will take place around the country involving community campaigners as well as workers at over 1,500 stores.
Walmart is the largest employer of the working poor. Workers are calling for better working conditions as well as $15 an hour and full-time work. These demands could easily be met by the company but will have to be fought for.
Hannah Zucherman, Tower Hamlets Socialist Party
Protesting against Sports Direct
Miliband's words need to become action
Trade unionists and campaigners marked the opening of the new Sports Direct store in Lincoln on 15 November with a protest against the use of zero-hour contracts and low pay.
Activists gave out leaflets contrasting the lack of holiday and sick pay for the 90% of Sports Direct workers on zero-hour contracts, with the £240 million in profits that were made by the company in the last financial year.
The protest coincided with a major speech made by Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, who singled out the "Victorian practices" of Sports Direct and described it as a "bad place to work".
£10 an hour!
Nick Parker, Socialist Party member and secretary of Lincoln and District TUC, said: "A company like Sports Direct, owned by a multi-billionaire like Mike Ashley and making annual profits of £240 million, can afford to pay their workers at least £10 an hour and give them regular hours of work.
"The Lincoln protest was part of the ongoing Midlands TUC "Decent Jobs" campaign to encourage particularly young workers to organise together to stand up for their rights at work.
"We welcome Ed Miliband's speech today in drawing more attention to this crucial issue. But the Labour Party leadership needs to go further to strengthen workers' rights by committing to reverse the Con-Dem attacks on employment tribunals and scrap what are some of the most repressive anti-trade union laws in western Europe."
Are you sick of your boss?
Are you ready to do something about it?
Enough is enough!
►Give us proper contracts, guaranteed hours and full employment rights
►£10 an hour minimum wage now!
►Decent tea and lunch breaks
►Stop the bosses' fire-at-will attitude
►We won't be used as cheap or free labour
►We have the right to get organised at work
►Scrap anti-trade union laws
►Build democratic campaigning trade unions
►No to benefit cuts
Join Youth Fight for Jobs:
Text JOIN plus name and postcode to 07749379010
In The Socialist 19 November 2014:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns