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Youth Rates Likely to Take Work from Other Young Workers

Unite Union National Director Mike Treen Says That Youth Rates Are Likely to Take Work Away from Other Young Workers Not Create New Jobs.

Industries that we represent employ tens of thousands of young workers. We have been told by these workers to resist the reintroduction of youth rates because they fear having their hours reduced because cheaper workers can be used instead.

What people forget is that the days of full-time work being the norm is not true for young workers. No one in McDonald's for example (other than managers) has guaranteed hours let alone full time work. So when head office says to managers "cut the labour budget in your store" a simple solution is to trim the hours of workers on higher rates and increase the hours of those on the so-called "starting out wage".

The starting out wage can also apply to 18 & 19 year-olds after 6 months on the dole. Big companies like McDonald's are already getting a subsidy they don't need for employing workers who have been on the dole for six months. Now they can pay them less for six months as well. these workers may already have experience in these or similar jobs yet they are expected to work for 20% less for six months.

This doesn't create work -  it will simply shift it around. That is why we were told by all our McDonald's delegates meetings prior to bargaining this year that the starting out wage was a no go area. We have told all the employers we are negotiating with that hell will freeze over before we sign an agreement containing youth rates.

The simple reason that unemployment has gone up for young people is that the economy went into recession in 2008 and has barely recovered since. Many employers stopped hiring and older workers stayed in their jobs longer. This has created a bottleneck for young people. Cutting their wages won't create new jobs however. It will reduce demand in the economy. New jobs needs a growing economy to produce them. That should be the government's priority not cutting wages and reducing workers bargaining power with their other law changes.


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