This episode of the Bulletin we celebrate all good news for a change:
- Host Francis Leach records the 100th episode of his On The Job podcast.
- The Albanese Government announces an extension to Paid Parental Leave, from 18 to 26 weeks which can be shared amongst parents however they deem appropriate.
- Oh, and a video on Australian Unions’ YoungWorkers TikTok cracked 1 million views!
Yes, we’re happy about it because it’s a big achievement.
But what’s really big about this is how more and more young workers are realising the importance of being in a union. The conditions that union members fight to strengthen and improve, are conditions that affect young people in a very tangible way.
The youth is on fire. They are angry. Late Millennials, but particularly Generation Z are sick and tired of it all. The future looks bleak and they won’t be sold a lie that if you work hard you’ll get ahead. That has proven to be very much a myth for the vast majority over and over again.
This disaffection is visible on social media.
In the United States, workplaces across the country that have never been unionised before – like Starbucks, Trader Joe’s and Amazon – are zealously organising. These movements are driven by their young, discontented workforces and aided – and spurred on – by young social media users. There are weeks where the top performing video on TikTok is union related.
Amazon Labor Union co-founder and current president Chris Smalls – the man who came out of seemingly nowhere and took on the biggest company in the world – is only in his early thirties. Smalls has become synonymous with the new cool face of unionism or, as Time Magazine calls him, “The Future of Labor”.
Here in Australia
In 2019, hundreds of thousands of schoolkids took to the streets to demand an immediate and meaningful response to the climate emergency. The demonstrations were said to have attracted the largest crowds in Australia since 2003. Kids in Australia kept turning out. One primary school student explained at a 2021 strike, “I don’t feel like much has changed since the last strike, but I’ll keep doing it until they listen.”
March 4 Justice crowds in 2021 were brimming with young people, and were inspired by the story of Brittany Higgins, again, a young person herself.
Young people in droves are turning up to Invasion Day and refugee rallies.
In Iran, a monumental uprising is transpiring. Led by young girls and women, rightly furious at the murder of Jina (Mahsa) Amini – a woman far too young to have lost her life at 22. The protests are incomparable to anything we have seen in our lifetimes, and surely one of the most incredible acts of bravery in human history.
Again, young people used social media to capture it all and we are watching very carefully – cutting off their hair in a show of solidarity that transcends borders.
Unions are here to stay
Politicians who undermine workers’ rights here and abroad point to the decline in union membership, particularly around young people, as though they didn’t orchestrate this scenario for decades through creating hostile environments for unions. And by making jobs increasingly insecure so workers (especially young workers new to work) feel disinclined to rock the boat.
However workers are the union, and as long as there are workers– and the unscrupulous bosses and politicians who take advantage of them – there’ll be unions.
The youth have been speaking up for a long time, and no one has been listening. But the youth are formidable and they’re out here carving out a future that will be bright for all workers.
Join us as we delve behind the headlines and see what really matters for young workers.
The Youth is on Fire and They’re Unionising