Conference slates exploitation of apprentices

UNISON’s local government conference turned its attention to apprenticeships in the sector this morning, and of ensuring that these are of high quality and properly paid.

Stacey Davis for the national young members’ forum stressed that UNISON can recruit young members.

And she said that there was a need for a “proper survey of all young members in local government” to explore exactly what workplace issues concern them.

Gerald Williams for the executive said that “too many young people are working less than £3 an hour” and that they get “the rate for the job” “as they gain knowledge and experience”.

Ian Sutcliffe from Stockport told delegates that, in his three years as an apprentice horticulturalist, he had only been able to survive because he was still living with his parents.

“A young workers’ living costs are no different to any other worker,” he said – although the reality is that many apprentices are paid less than the minimum wage.

Dave Ellis of Kirklees said that “the young people today seem to be getting the dirty end of the stick,” and urged delegates to recruit apprentices wherever possible.

Ceri from Wolverhampton highlighted how, since working-class apprentices are often living at home, a family can lose benefits because even though low-paid, apprentices are classed as full-time employees.

Conference called on the executive to campaign on all the issues raised, and to use a survey of all young members in the sector to gain detailed information on pay and conditions, and to consider using the results to create a charter for young workers in local government.

UNISON in local government

Young members in UNISON