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From: The Socialist issue 874, 14 October 2015: Organise to fight endless austerity

Search site for keywords: Young workers - Pay - Workers - Jobs - Minimum wage - Youth Fight for Jobs - Youth - Young people - Inequality - London - Zero-hour contracts - Hatfield - Tories - Birmingham - Conservative party - Cuts - Education - Fees

Under-25s: productive, passionate and underpaid

Tory treasury minister Matt Hancock (right) said under-25s are not "productive" enough to deserve the minimum wage. The government's new 'national living wage' - which is not actually a living wage - is only for workers over 25.

Youth Fight Austerity budget day protest 2015, photo Senan

Youth Fight Austerity budget day protest 2015, photo Senan   (Click to enlarge)

'Becky', Teaching assistant

Since moving to a new city a month ago, I've started working as a teaching assistant on a zero-hour agency contract.

I spend most of my day working one to one with children who have complex learning and behavioural needs. It's usually an uphill battle just to get them to sit down and concentrate for ten minutes.

It can be hard work, but I've really enjoyed working with the children. I've built up a good rapport with them.

But the nature of agency work is that I could be dropped at any time, and will have to move to a new school and begin again. The students will also have to get used to a new member of staff.

No sick pay

Written in to my contract is a paragraph stating I am not entitled to sick pay, and I'm only paid for the hours I work. So the six-week summer holiday might be a stretch when it comes to paying rent and bills.

Young workers feel undervalued when we are treated like this by employers, and told we are unproductive by government ministers.

I don't know how the productivity of the work I do would be measured by Matt Hancock. Does getting a child to reply to a question count as productive? What about getting them to go to their lesson for ten minutes?

Young workers need to organise and fight for a £10 an hour minimum wage for everyone.

'Stan', Bank clerk

In my job at a bank I see the financial hardship faced by ordinary people every day.

I work ten-hour days trying to help people who need more support than I can give them. I deal with more money in a day than I earn in a year!

Once I get paid, I pay my rent and my council tax. The rest of the month I count the pennies. I work as much overtime as I can trying to make ends meet.

No money

People ask me why there's no money left in their accounts. I have to tell them it's because some payday loan shark has taken it all - without telling them.

People in my department pick up the pieces after unscrupulous companies and loan sharks take cash from these people.

They are already struggling because of cuts imposed by people like Matt Hancock.

He might think under-25s are unproductive. But I'd like to see him come to where I work and tell me and my colleagues that!

Selling over £1k a day

Maybe Matt Hancock should visit the call centre where I work. Most of the staff there (including myself) are under 25, paid £6.55 an hour, and each sell over £1,000 worth of products a day. I wonder how management would cope if we all walked off the job one day to demand higher wages?

'Andy', Birmingham

Intern inequality

When I did an internship, I'm pretty sure I was just as productive as an intern over 25 would have been. Maybe people are capable of working harder when they're paid a decent amount and don't have to worry about living through the week.

Kris Statham, London

Modern-day workhouses

Hancock has the cheek to disregard the toil and the hardship of young workers.

How many creative young minds are forced into those appalling, soul-slaughtering, modern-day workhouses like McDonald's and KFC? If we are condemned to low-wage, zero-hour contracts then where is the scope for productivity?

Let's not tolerate these shameless Tory slave drivers!

Saj Attepuram, Hatfield

Profile: Matthew Hancock

Tory minister Matthew Hancock, photo by Policy Exchange (Creative Commons)

Tory minister Matthew Hancock, photo by Policy Exchange (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Salary: £145,000

Job: 'Paymaster General' - treasury minister - cutting taxes for the rich and jobs for us

CV: private education, Oxford and Cambridge, parents' software company, Bank of England, Conservative Party. Failed to get out of bed to debate Youth Fight for Jobs activist Ian Pattison on live TV in 2013.


Youth Fight for Jobs

So @MattHancockMP thinks U25s are too unproductive to deserve their 'living wage'. Disgusted? Tell us about your working day #U25productive

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition @TUSCoalition

How DARE they?! Those reps of idle rich who don't know the meaning of hard work!


So apparently my 60-odd-hour week is unproductive because I'm under 25.

Spend my working life producing teenagers ready programmed for exploitation in the workplace. If that's not #U25productive for them what is?

How about us under-25s don't go to work for a few days? Then they will see how productive we are.


The Tory scum calling young people 'unproductive' have never had to work hard a day in their life - because they can afford to!

I got As and Bs in GCSEs and college because I was told that's how you get to uni and a good job. Now being thrown under the bus.

Hard work is when you have to take on a job as well as your degree just to keep your head above water because grant isn't enough.


Worked hard for 5 years 17-23 as a carer, zero-hour contract, no sick pay, 13-hour days without a break.

Uni fees, scrapping housing benefit and now a lower minimum wage! This is a war on young people by the Tories!


One year on and still have a foot injury from working too many 12+hr shifts with under 30min for breaks waitressing.

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