By a Dundee University Socialist Student
I have found myself employed in part-time jobs, most of which take place within large companies making a high amount of profit through sales.
However, most of these companies are only willing to pay the minimum wage. Often, especially at weekends, work is hard and will take a decent skill level to get through.
To reward this work with a measly £5.90 an hour (for those like me between the ages of 18 and 21) is insulting. As well as the poor wage rates, these companies also utilise zero-hours contracts.
These contracts are often misleading and may either cause overworking or the lack of hours. For example I was only given six hours to work in a one week period recently.
What is most insulting is the emotional labour that is also exploited by these companies. A work training event that I recently attended highlighted to us various customer service skills that would need to be put in place.
Most notable of these skills was empathy. Sympathy, we were told, was not good enough – we were told to treat every customer like a friend, or someone we were excited to see.
While the thought of empathising with the clientele is easy for a number of us, it is extra emotional labour for those of us only making minimum wage.
Many workplaces that require emotional labour often employ a largely female base – women and their emotional regulation and empathy are often systematically exploited both in social and employment situations.
This situation in itself further adds to the narrative that we must defeat capitalism and achieve socialism if we are to end the oppression of women.
If we are to expend excess emotional labour, then we must be paid for doing so. Bosses cannot expect us to be therapists and friends as well as waged workers, without paying us a suitable wage.
Unionisation of young workers is clearer than ever to fight for at least a £10 an hour wage. Socialism and trade unionism can unite young people to fight for what we deserve.