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TUC Young Workers' Conference 2021: Usdaw highlights how the pandemic has impacted young workers’ rights and safety

Date: 26 March 2021 Retail trade union Usdaw has a delegation of members attending this year’s online TUC Young Workers’ Conference, which takes place this weekend (27-28 March). The union is highlighting the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on young workers; in particular that they are more likely to be furloughed, lose their job, be in low-paid insecure work and experience abuse.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “The coronavirus crisis has had a devastating impact on the economy resulting in thousands of workers facing redundancy and young workers have been disproportionately affected.

“The Resolution Foundation found that a fifth of young furloughed workers lost their job and only a third of them had found new work in the following six months. Although the Government has offered some short-term assistance, it doesn’t go far enough to support young workers, whose experience of the job market has long been characterised by low pay and job insecurity.

“Usdaw is calling for employment rights to start from day one, including entitlement to redundancy pay, along with a jobs guarantee scheme for young workers and a legal duty on employers to assess the mental health impact of their policies, practices and procedures.

“We are also alarmed by the significant increase in abuse of retail staff, which doubled during the pandemic. Enforcing social distancing and face coverings are now the primary triggers for abuse of shopworkers. Young workers are often most vulnerable to abusive customers, because they often work evening and weekend shifts and suffer patronising and derisory attitudes from customers.

“Retail workers have made an incredible contribution to ensure we get through this appalling pandemic. After the crisis is over, we need a new deal for workers. We need legislation to create a specific offence for abusing, threatening or assaulting a shopworker. This offence must carry a stiff penalty to make it clear that the abuse of retail workers is unacceptable.

“We send our fraternal greetings to conference delegates and wish them well in their discussions and deliberations to improve young workers’ lives and tackle the significant issues they face.”

Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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