Being a young person in the world of work can mean having to navigate a minefield. Wage-theft, unsafe work practices and bullying and harassment are often waiting around the corner for a young person when they go looking for a job. This summer, lots of young people are going to be looking for casual jobs to earn some money over the break, it may even be their first time joining the workforce. It's important that we as young people know what to look out for as well as what to do in the face of unfair treatment. To understand and build awareness of the full extent of the exploitation young workers are experiencing today, we've called on some young workers to share their stories anonymously - and the results have been shocking. One of the younger workers to share their story was a 17 year old who spoke about the intimidation and lack of respect that young people receive at work, "The manager created a fearful environment just to prevent people from speaking out, regularly bag checking us when we left at the end of the night...to yell at us or threaten us later out the back." They also mentioned that their workplace seemed to only hire migrant or young workers (one even as young as 12-13), which they suggested was not because they wanted a diverse workforce, but rather because they felt like they could get away with exploiting them easier. Unsurprisingly, the lack of respect demonstrated by their employer also carried over into the entitlements they were denied, "When I was first hired I was asked to work 3 unpaid two hour shifts and if I hadn’t told my dad it would’ve been four." This was in addition to being paid below the minimum wage and being asked to cover any shortages from their till with their own money at the end of their shifts. When this young worker raised the fact that what their boss was doing was illegal, they quickly stopped receiving shifts. One of the younger workers to share their story was a 17 year old who spoke about the intimidation and lack of respect that young people receive at work, "The manager created a fearful environment just to prevent people from speaking out, regularly bag checking us when we left at the end of the night...to yell at us or threaten us later out the back." They also mentioned that their workplace seemed to only hire migrant or young workers (one even as young as 12-13), which they suggested was not because they wanted a diverse workforce, but rather because they felt like they could get away with exploiting them easier. Unsurprisingly, the lack of respect demonstrated by their employer also carried over into the entitlements they were denied, "When I was first hired I was asked to work 3 unpaid two hour shifts and if I hadn’t told my dad it would’ve been four." This was in addition to being paid below the minimum wage and being asked to cover any shortages from their till with their own money at the end of their shifts. When this young worker raised the fact that what their boss was doing was illegal, they quickly stopped receiving shifts. Another story came from a 19 year old hospitality worker who had been employed by a popular Canberra hotel. He tells a story about being rushed to the emergency room after a doctors visit an hour before a shift, "On my way there, I rang work to tell them I wouldn't be available. After I got out of hospital, I rang to apologise. My boss berated me and called me selfish." "My boss told me to take the rest of the week off, even though I told him I was fine. Another week passed and he continued to give me no shifts. I rang him and sent him several messages but was ignored. Eventually, my name was removed from the roster, and I was then kicked out of the Facebook group where shifts were organised." It was only after reaching out to his boss again that he was told that he had been fired and that he needed to return the uniform that he'd paid $100 for. "After this, I struggled to find work and subsequently, to afford essential goods for myself." Beyond firing one of their workers for having a medical emergency, this Canberra hotel was also blatantly engaging in wage-theft, "This workplace also never paid me super, and never gave me payslips - I didn’t even know what my rate of pay was. I was young, inexperienced and oblivious, and they exploited me." The awful experience became a learning opportunity for the young worker, "I didn’t know about unions at the time, and I deeply regret not being a member when this happened... because that's the only way we can fight back against a system designed to exploit workers for the bosses' benefit." All of the stories that have been shared, including those not mentioned in this article, speak to the lack of respect, the culture of bullying and harassment, lack of regard for safety, prevalence of wage-theft and of course, the insecurity of work for young workers. The way young people are treated at work has long been ignored and allowed to continue unabated. For the poor treatment of young workers to stop, we need to stand together and fight back. That is exactly what the Young Workers Centre is doing and we need your help. The Young Workers Centre The Young Workers Centre is a group of young people standing together to build knowledge among other young workers about their rights and fighting back against wage-theft and exploitation at work. To sign-up to be a part of the young worker activist network, or to donate to the cause please visit www.wordpress-370095-1161018.cloudwaysapps.com or join our Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/youngworkerscbr/. If you're a young worker in the ACT with any questions or concerns about your rights at work please get in contact through the website for free and confidential advice. Thank you to those who shared their stories for helping us stop wage-theft and exploitation from continuing to happen to young workers.