From the TUC

Decent pay & hours would give young people, like me, the independence we want

04 Apr 2014, By Guest

I’m on a 15 hour flexible contract with the opportunity to work more hours, and I use these words very carefully, when and if I’m required.

During a standard month I earn £500.36 from my basic hours and I stress the 36p because every penny counts. I have to travel over an hour from my home to Cardiff city centre just to get to work and this alone sets me back £360 per month in fuel and parking costs due to the huge mileage covered as I can’t find anything closes to home.  This means that, after travel costs, I’m left with a pitiful £140.36 to last me the month.

I am very grateful my parents are helping me through this period of my life as it would be impossible for me to cover the costs of renting my own place, paying for gas, electricity and food on top of my travel costs. My parents have been very supportive over the years and helped me save what little money I have left.

I also feel fortunate to have a job but due to the contract I’m on this is stopping me from taking advantage of the things my parents and my grandparents had at my age. I can’t just go out and get a mortgage; it’s going to take a life time for me to get a deposit together and get anywhere near the housing ladder. I am probably more likely to retire before raising that kind of money which is frustrating as the monthly cost of paying a mortgage would be cheaper than the monthly amount needed to rent privately.

This has a knock on effect too with houses and apartments dropping in price every day, ready for those that can afford it to buy them up, refurbish them and then rent them back out to the market at astronomical prices. This doesn’t help people like me who can’t afford to even travel back and forth from work never mind cough up £500-£600 a month in rent, and that’s not even including the cost of council tax and other basic outgoings.

School leavers today are told to work hard, go to university, get a degree, but personally, I don’t think going to university is for everyone. I went to university for one year but left because I knew that university wasn’t for me. I did, however, leave with something: loads of debt. Luckily it was not as bad as it could have been if I’d stayed until the end but for a lot of young people who do have degrees, it’s even worse as they are left with debts and often no choice but to go into low paid, often part-time, jobs.

One of my closest friends who is currently doing her masters degree in creative writing works part time on a 20 hours contract in a retail company where there is no union present. She didn’t get payed for her first 2 months there and they keep pulling her back and forth on whether they’ll extend her contract or not. She even got told that if she got a second job they would end her contract.

The cost of living today and the economic state of Britain is having a massive impact on young people. We are fighting day in, day out, for jobs with such few hours, just to gain that bit of independence a job and money in the bank provides. After all, who doesn’t value independence or want to make the most of their skills and abilities in order to succeed?

I work very hard within my work place and I’m also a union member and a union representative for my colleagues. I decided to get involved with my union because I realise how important it is in having a say in the workplace, and I really urge other young people to do the same. Together we can make a huge difference and regain some choices that have been taken away from us. And, together, we change our working conditions for the better and gain the independence we’re all striving for.

By giving young people well paid jobs and reasonable hours to survive this will make a world of difference and help our society and our nation grow stronger over time.

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