Championing Young Workers

A photo story

In 1928 the Ministry of Labour introduced the Juvenile Transference Scheme, to encourage the young unemployed to move to other parts of the country to find work. The TUC opposed the transference of those und er 16 and was concerned they would be exploited as cheap labour.

The 1929 general election was the first to be fought following the Representation of the People Act 1928, which had introduced equal suffrage for women from the age of 21. The leaflet below was produced by the Labour Party during the 1929 election campaign.

In 1937 apprentices went out on strike, in one of the first disputes of its kind. Apprentices were ‘bound’ to their employers, often on low pay and with very few rights. Over 3,500 apprentices went on strike. The dispute was finally resolved with a national agreement for the Amalgamated Engineering Union to represent apprentices.

In 1938 the TUC introduced a Youth Charter for young workers, demanding the raising of the school leaving age to 16, a limit of 40 hours on the working week, a ban on overtime for those under 18 and 14 days paid holiday per year.

In the post-war period recruitment of young people adopted some unusual tactics. In the early 1960s it was not unusual for unions to hold ‘Personality Girl’ contests to try and recruit young women, with events including makeup demonstrations.

The Youth Employment Service had its roots in the post-war Labour government and the 1948 Employment and Training Act and sought to provide advice on career options for school-leavers. By the 1970s the scheme had been replaced by the Careers Service.

The period of economic and industrial unrest in the late 1970s through to the early 1980s resulted in rising unemployment and growing concerns that it was hitting the young particularly badly. In 1981 the TUC also organised the Jobs for Youth Campaign.