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STUC Young Workers’ Conference 2022: Usdaw raises the impact of workplace automation and the growing mental health crisis

Date: 24 June 2022 Retail trade union Usdaw has a delegation of members, reps and officials attending the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) annual young workers’ conference, taking place this weekend in Glasgow.
Usdaw is highlighting the increasing automation in the workplace and the potential impact on jobs; alongside the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the mental health of young workers.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “There needs to be an urgent response to increasing automation in the workplace, which could cost Scotland 230,000 jobs over the next decade. Young workers are more likely to be in insecure work, have weaker employment rights and are more at risk of a digital skills shortage, excluding them from job opportunities. This combination means they will be disproportionately impacted by automation. The role of unions will be crucial in mitigating the negative impacts of technological advances, through organising, ensuring robust discussions over potential impacts and by shaping the training and skills agenda. Young workers must be fully involved in this.”
Usdaw is calling for:
  • A renewed focus on the impact of automation and technology from the Scottish Government, including a properly joined up approach to training and skills.
  • The UK Government to immediately introduce enhanced employment rights, including a legal right to collective consultation on the implementation of new technology in the workplace.
  • The Scottish Government to vigorously make the case for fair work and high quality employment opportunities, including the role of collective bargaining and automation/technological change agreements that promote the voices of workers.
  • Employers to play their part in the process of training and listening to the voices of young workers. 
Paddy Lillis continues: “Half of those aged 18-24 say the pandemic badly affected their mental health, against a quarter of those over 55. Young workers, having experienced financial uncertainty due to the pandemic, are now being heavily impacted by the growing cost of living crisis. Although some employers have taken steps to address health and wellbeing concerns, financial difficulties are having a major impact. In a recent survey of Usdaw members, 88% of young respondents reported that financial worries are affecting their mental health. There is clearly a mental health crisis among young workers that needs to be addressed.”
Usdaw is calling for:
  • The Scottish Government to increase investment in mental health services, including providing young workers with the tools and skills to manage good mental health.
  • The UK Government to immediately strengthen employment rights from day one for young workers, including increasing the amount of statutory sick pay to reflect an individual’s normal earnings.
  • Both governments to urgently address the cost of living crisis.
  • The STUC to call on employers to assess the impact their policies, practices and procedures, including pay and conditions, have on workers’ mental health and act upon the findings. 
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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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers