Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Media release circulated on behalf of Stand Up
Stand Up, the youth network of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, has today released initial findings of their inaugural Young Worker Confidence Survey to mark International Youth Day, 2020 – which coincides with a nationwide return to alert level 2, and alert level 3 for Auckland.
When surveyed between May and June this year, respondents were least confident about their ability to find a new job if they needed to – with 62% of young workers indicating that this had become worse since lockdown started. Wellbeing also took a hit, deteriorating for 44% of respondents. This was even worse for those who received no income at all, or those who had not been working and had received lower income than usual. This was echoed in the many comments expressing concern for mental health being impacted as a result of COVID-19. Job insecurity, reported to have worsened by 27% of respondents, appeared to be related to poorer wellbeing. These findings are similar to those recently released by the International Labour Organisation – that young people are at higher risk of losing their employment due to COVID-19, and at risk of deteriorating mental health.
Many respondents felt that young people were wrongly viewed as being bulletproof, and were expected to work harder and in higher risk situations during lockdown, with the assumption that they wouldn’t be at risk from COVID-19. Those working (outside of their home) during lockdown were more likely to report that their health and safety at work had worsened. Many working during lockdown also experienced aggressive customers, higher work pressure and much longer hours – driven by panic buying.
According to Zoë Port, Stand Up Co-convenor and Massey University researcher, the findings give us much to be concerned about. “Past research suggests that those experiencing insecure work suffer when it comes to wellbeing – and our findings here support this. COVID-19 has obviously brought on challenges for workers across the board, but our youth are some of those most vulnerable in the workforce. Many of our respondents shared stories of not being taken seriously in the workplace – having their concerns ignored, if they dared to speak up. They were scared, but also felt responsible for helping New Zealand through their jobs, and wanted recognition for this essential work.”
“With COVID-19 reappearing in the community and a return to higher alert levels, stress is running high. But we can’t forget that at the forefront of this fight are many of our most vulnerable workers. Old or young, there’s no excuse for abusing workers who are doing their job, helping us, while they’re feeling scared too. Just like the young workers we surveyed, these workers are people – children, siblings, parents, friends – giving up their safety and time with their families to earn a living in this scary time.”
“Looking ahead, we need to ensure that vulnerable groups like youth are given a voice in decisions about employment – and helped into secure work, that gives them the certainty to plan their future in an era with more uncertainty than ever. And right now, everyone has a part to play in being kind to workers of all ages,” Port said.
About the Young Worker Confidence Survey:
The survey is the first in a longitudinal quarterly series that will track young worker confidence levels over time. The full report is forthcoming, and can be requested upon release by contacting Zoe Port.