New generation of Queensland workers confront emerging workplace issues

By The Queenslander Staff

As a new generation of workers in Queensland face rising challenges in their workplace experiences, Southbank TAFE bore witness last weekend to over 100 young Queensland employees from various sectors including health and hospitality, who gathered in Brisbane to advocate for improved workplace rights. The occasion was the third annual Young Workers Conference, which was convened to help a new generation of employees confront emerging workplace challenges, such as insufficient work breaks and impacts of the gig economy, as well as struggles that would be familiar to older generations of workers.

Bianca Reed, an organiser at the Young Workers Hub, was impressed by the spirited turnout and high engagement levels indicating a robust desire among young workers to continue striving for change within their work environments. Reed emphasised the importance of continued advocacy for employee rights such as superannuation support and compensation for gig workers, pinpointing these as essential to achieving true equality and safety in the workplace.

Jacqueline King, the General Secretary of Queensland Unions, the organisation hosting the gathering, said it was inspiring to hear young people sharing their lived experiences in workplaces.

“Issues like insecure hours, wage theft, and harassment are sadly very much still alive for young people in the workplace.

“On top of this, they are having to navigate things like dodgy contractors and gig work, alongside really big issues related to their mental health, safety and the economic future,” Ms King said.

The conference allowed the workers gathered to discuss numerous issues to be addressed including inadequate job security, wage theft, harassment, and the dilemmas posed by precarious contractual work, which intersected with other significant concerns regarding mental health, safety, and economic prospects.

The theme for this year’s gathering, “young workers, old struggles”, and featured presentations and workshops led by industry professionals that delved into a historical overview of the labour movement’s victories. At a time of increasing job insecurity for young Queenlsanders, the organisers said they hoped that by reflecting on historical strides made in areas like gender equity would fortify the resolve of young workers, bolstering their understanding of what can be achieved through unified efforts.

While it remains to be seen what concrete changes these young advocates will be able to successfully campaign for, the conference participants pledged to enhance their involvement in key issues ranging from inadequate breaks and staffing pressures to insecure employment and the need for better educational resources regarding workers’ rights. Plans were set into motion for the Young Workers Hub to work with schools throughout Queensland in the ensuing months to bolster awareness and education on workplace rights among students.

“It’s clear young people need to keep using our voices to progress our rights in the workplace. Until we can secure really vital things like superannuation paid to young workers for every dollar we earn, and workers compensation for gig worker, young people are not equal or safe in their workplace,” Ms Reed said.