Young people urged to register to vote for job security and better pay

By agency reporter
February 6, 2015

New analysis published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) on 5 February 2015, to coincide with National Voter Registration Day, reveals that young people – who are currently the least likely to vote – are getting an especially rough deal on pay and job security.

The TUC says that unless young people register to vote, the problems they face could easily be ignored by politicians in the election.

The analysis found that first-time voters with full-time jobs are paid barely half the typical hourly rate. The median hourly rate for 18 to 21-year-olds is just £7.25, but for workers of all ages it is £13.08. Full-time workers aged between 22 and 29 years do better, but at £10.75 their typical hourly rate is still some way behind.

On average, a third (34 per cent) of graduates who are employed in full-time work within six months of graduating work in non-professional jobs, meaning that many young people are struggling to find work that utilises the level of qualifications they have acquired.

Young people are also more likely to have insecure forms of employment – half of zero-hours contract workers are aged under 30.

Young people are currently the most under-represented group on the electoral register. So the TUC and trade unions are today taking part in the drive to add 250,000 new names to the register by encouraging people to sign up in the workplace.

The TUC says that if the voting rate for young people (aged 18 to 34) matched that of older voters (aged 35 and over), it would add four million votes to the election. This is an average of more than 11,000 votes in each constituency, which is enough to overturn the current majority in most constituencies.

The TUC and Bite the Ballot – a not-for-profit organisation campaigning to empower young voters – have distributed a Register Your Workplace handbook to union workplace representatives to help them increase voter registration amongst young people. During this week’s national voter registration drive and today’s National Voter Registration Day, union representatives are holding workplace events to sign young people onto the electoral register.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Young people get lower pay and less job security than other workers, and long-term youth unemployment has been much slower to fall than for other workers. But with less than 100 days to the election, we haven’t heard enough from politicians about the problems young people face like low pay, youth unemployment, high rents and rogue landlords. And if young people remain less likely to vote than older generations, politicians will continue to see them as an easy target for more austerity and will carry on ignoring their problems.”

Chair of the TUC Young Workers’ Forum Fern McCaffrey said: “If more young people decide to use the ballot box, we could bring about a political earthquake. If younger people register and vote as much as older generations, we have the power to decide the result in hundreds of seats.

“By registering to vote, we can warn politicians we are ready to use that power. We can make sure that our jobs and pay, our chance to buy a home, our chance to study without crippling debt – our future – is at the heart of this election.”

* Register Your Workplace: A ‘How to’ Guide on Engaging, Educating and Registering Young People in your Workplace can be found at http://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/Register%20Your%20Workplace.pdf

* More information about National Voter Registration Day can be found at http://bitetheballot.co.uk/

*TUC http://www.tuc.org.uk/

* More on the issues in the 2015 General Election from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/generalelection2015

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