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TUC Young Workers Conference 2022: Usdaw raises issues around automation and mental health

Date: 31 March 2022 Retail trade union Usdaw has a delegation of members attending the annual TUC Young Workers Conference this weekend at Congress House in London. Usdaw is raising increasing automation and the potential impact on jobs, along with the mental health of young workers.
Paddy Lillis - Usdaw General Secretary says: “Young workers are more likely to be in insecure work and have weaker employment rights. This combination means young workers will be disproportionately impacted by job losses through the introduction of automation. The role of unions will be crucial in mitigating the negative impacts of technological advances, through organising, ensuring robust discussions over the impact of technological changes and by shaping the training and skills agenda to ensure it meets the needs of employees. Young workers must be fully involved in these activities.”
Usdaw is calling for:
  • A legal right to collective consultation on the implementation of new technology in the workplace, through which the voices of young workers are heard.
  • A properly joined up approach to training and skills from the Government, targeted specifically at young people.
  • Urgent reform of the apprenticeship levy.
  • Employment law changes including the abolition of minimum wage youth rates and day one employment rights.
  • A significant strengthening of redundancy rights, including increasing statutory redundancy pay to help protect young workers and ensure that redundancy is not the easy choice.
  • The introduction of personal retraining budgets. 
Paddy Lillis continues: “The pandemic has had a significant financial and psychological hit on the mental health of young workers. Lockdown restrictions isolated many young workers who were unable to access usual support networks. Furthermore, the job and financial insecurity that occurred as a result of the disproportionate impact on sectors, such as retail, reliant on young workers has triggered poor mental health in young workers. Although some employers have taken steps to address health and wellbeing concerns, the uncertainty of the future, coupled with the ongoing cost of living crisis, is having a negative impact on the mental wellbeing of our young workers. There is now a mental health crisis among young workers that needs to be addressed.”
Usdaw is calling on the TUC to:
  • Campaign to strengthen employment rights from day one for young workers, including increasing statutory sick pay to reflect an individual’s normal earnings.
  • Call on employers to assess the impact their policies, practices and procedures (including pay and conditions) have on workers’ mental health and act on the findings.
  • Campaign for better investment in mental health services, including providing young workers with the tools and skills to manage good mental health. 
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with around 360,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry 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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