Employment and the young: a modern-day crisis

4 Jan 2018


The Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has regularly attacked well-known companies for their use of insecure working contracts. In society, young people are looking to start work as soon as they are able to, to earn that little bit of extra cash to fund things such as college, clothes, and even University. The wage levels among young people in 2018 are as follows:

  • Apprentice: £3.70

  • Under 18: £4.20

  • 18-20: £5.90

  • 21-24: £7.38

  • 25 and over: £7.83

In Bridgwater in Somerset, the rent for a 2-bedroom property is between £475 pcm and £695 pcm. Compare that to a nearby city like Bristol, where the rent on the same type of property is between £650 pcm to £2600 pcm. It is abundantly clear that a young person in a non-secure zero-hour contract job would not be able to afford that with all other amenities to take into consideration.


Local Young workers rights campaign in Bridgwater and West Somerset

Several case studies presented during the local young workers rights campaign, run by the Bridgwater and West Somerset Young Labour and supported by The Trade Unions Council, revealed the following facts:

  • Companies pile extra duties and over time on young people for no extra pay

  • One company is endangering the academic study of some of its employees due to extra pressure

  • Another company’s management gives more hours to people they like

  • One employee at one of the biggest sports retailers was LOSING money whilst working for them

  • One fast food company has been found not to follow health and safety regulations, which lead to staff striking for the first time during 2017

When raising the issue of benefits, MP Ian Liddell-Grainger claimed that Universal Credit does not cause problems in his constituency. He was generally dismissive about all issues put to him, not just Universal credit. Bridgwater & West Somerset was one of the first areas to get Universal credit. Mr Liddell-Grainger’s response to us was 'you must have spoken to people who have no problems or people who have had problems sorted.'



Gary Tucker, the Bridgwater labour party branch secretary gave the following statement: ‘We are disappointed but not surprised by the MPs lack of interest in the problems that affect his younger constituents. His dismissal and refusal to entertain the concerns of our bright young people is what we have come to expect from an MP who is more concerned with feuding with the local police force. On the bright side the more people that he ignores, the more flock to our cause as the Labour Party is now and will always be a friend to those on the lowest rungs of our society.’


One young person said, ‘It was worth meeting our MP, because it showed us that he doesn’t care about the youth of this constituency. His dismissive responses will not stop me in the fight for better rights at work for young people.’


Another said, ‘I felt as if he was surprised to have young people to come in and see him.’


The third person who went to the meeting said, ‘He tried to shrug off a few facts about Universal Credit and the living wage idea.’


At the end of the meeting with Mr Liddell-Grainger, they left him a letter, detailing all the points that was raised in the meeting. At the time of this publication, they are still waiting for a reply.


Confessions of a Sports Direct worker

I worked for Sports Direct for just under two years. I had to move home due to personal reasons, and Sports Direct denied me a transfer to my home county as they claimed I was not meeting company targets. While I was travelling to work, I was losing money as they do not pay travelling expenses.


The most shocking things to happen were that I was asked by my supervisor to come into work the same day as an operation. This meant I would be unable to walk for up to 12 weeks. Sports Direct got way with not paying sick pay despite the fact my supervisor was aware I was going to be going under general anaesthesia. As well as this, I was regularly touched up my male staff, especially my supervisor and some were much older than me. They wanted me to go and help open a new store many miles away and for myself to foot the bill for everything.


Whilst I was working there, I had to claim Job seekers allowance, as I was not earning enough to come off it. When I was living in Exeter, I was lucky as I had a maintenance grant to pay for my £3000 a term flat, but when I moved home, I had to stay home because I could not afford a flat. When I said I wanted to join a union, they said I would be sacked for doing so.


When I was suspended for finally speaking out against their working practises, I resigned in protest. This is one of the main reasons I joined the Labour party. I want to campaign against issues like this, to make sure it does not happen to anyone else.

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