Union membership could restore power to our youth.

Eimear test O'Sullivan

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, media reports and studies frequently showed that young people are increasingly worse off economically than previous generations since the global financial crisis.


Now the pandemic is hitting young people again with the worst side effects. People aged 35 and under are experiencing low wages and slow growth, high unemployment and low job security.

While most age groups have enjoyed pay rises over the last decade, young people are actually getting paid less now than before – and the younger they are, the worse off they’re likely to be.

Unions are concerned about this because the longer these inequalities last, the more entrenched intergenerational wealth disparity will become. This generation will earn less and face higher taxes throughout their life due to the pandemic and an ageing population if something isn’t done.

Union membership is part of the solution

Union membership could be the missing link to improve wage growth and job security for young people. This age group is the least likely to be part of a union so they’re missing out on collective bargaining power and are facing these struggles alone in the workplace.

Union members earn on average 26% more than non-union members.  Workers with a union-negotiated Enterprise Bargaining Agreement always earn more than the award rates, and the ETU also lobbies governments each year to increase award rates for the industry as a whole.

Union members enjoy better job security too. The union supports workers with legal assistance if their employer is acting unlawfully and regularly educates workers about their rights.

For electrical apprentices, the ETU advocates for improved pay and conditions and investment in skills and vocational training. 

ETU National Apprenticeship Officer Mark Burgess said: “Evidence has shown that people aged 15-24 have had their income reduced by 1.6% per year for the last 10 years. The best way to fight this growing inequality is to join your union.

“We fight for apprentice safety, proper training, higher wages, improved employment conditions and to protect your electrical licence. We encourage all members to continue supporting apprentices through their apprenticeships and making sure they are part of the mighty ETU.”

Feedback from union apprentices also reveals increased mentoring and support services from other members in the workplace too. They enjoy being part of a community that looks out for each other. 

While the future for young workers looks bleak, joining a union is the best way for the next generation to unite and turn things around for themselves, and all workers.

Join the ETU today.


Pictured: ETU National Apprenticeship Officer, Mark Burgess and 2019 ETU Apprentice of the Year, Jack Todaro.

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