STUC Youth Conference 2023: Usdaw seeks to tackle sexual harassment and the impact of the cost of living crisis

Tracy Gilbert (USDAW)

RETAIL trade union Usdaw has a delegation of young members, reps and officials attending the annual Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) Youth Conference in Glasgow on 1 and 2 July. The union is seeking to tackle the higher risk of sexual harassment young workers face, along with the impact of the cost of living crisis and calls for a new deal for young workers.

Tracy Gilbert – Regional Secretary for Scotland says: “The cost of living crisis has squeezed the living standards of young people in Scotland. Rising costs, such as transport and food, have a disproportionate impact on young workers and their working lives. At the heart of the cost of living crisis is our weak employment rights, leaving workers vulnerable to economic headwinds. 

“The framework of rights is even weaker for young workers, due to unfair youth rates in the National Minimum Wage, the qualifying period for protection against unfair dismissal and age discriminatory provisions in redundancy pay calculations. Young workers are also more likely to be exposed to insecure work because of the failings of the gig economy and one-sided flexibility.”

Usdaw is calling on the UK and Scottish Governments to urgently use the powers they have to ease the crisis for young workers and to develop a New Deal for Young Workers, which would include:

  • Further targeted support for those impacted by the cost of living crisis, with an emergency cost of living bill at Holyrood, particularly focussing on the pressures facing young people. 
  • A fundamental overhaul of our social security system and a comprehensive New Deal for Workers, like the one promised by Labour. 
  • Further advances to Scotland’s Fair Work agenda and active efforts to ensure as many employers sign-up to the agenda as possible. 
  • The Scottish Government to recommit to the child poverty targets set by the Scottish Parliament, with a clear explanation of how these targets will be met and specific actions to help young carers.

Tracy Gilbert continued: “Young workers are at higher risk of sexual harassment because of their often-precarious position in the labour market. Young women are more likely than older colleagues to experience sexual harassment at work and less likely to report incidents to their employer because of well-founded fear of reprisal and further victimisation. 

“There is an urgent need to tackle and prevent sexual harassment and the cultures that enable it. Sexual harassment is not inevitable and it can be prevented. Young people are more likely to experience third-party harassment due to the sectors they work in. So we welcome the STUC giving this issue a high profile with their ‘Silence is Compliance’ report and the pressure being brought to bear on the Health and Safety Executive. We are calling for action plans to tackle and prevent harassment in workplaces and our movement.”

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