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Youth demand future at Dundee sham summit
Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) disrupted Con-Dem Scotland minister Michael Moore's national youth unemployment summit on 15 March, with a large protest at Dundee College's Gardyne campus. Local trade unionists, anti-cuts campaigners and the Scottish Unemployed Workers Network, were involved
Clearly the Con-Dems wanted to bury record youth unemployment figures with a public relations circus in an area of high unemployment. Politicians from all the main parties gleefully accepted invitations, as did big business lobbyists.
A handful of unemployed youth were allowed to enter as long as they didn't utter a word of opposition. College students had their classes and campus disrupted. Guest speaker, Tory cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith, was kept far away from protesters.
Dundee College student and YFJ activist Wayne Scott was interviewed by local and national radio and quoted in the press, explaining the reality behind the summit.
In 2010-11, Dundee College was decimated by the cutting of 20 courses and the closure of two campuses. College managers used police to block student protesters from getting back into college for classes. The car park was closed to students and staff for the whole day.
As the protest got larger and louder, politicians and big business dignitaries rushed past. We met a chief executive from a multinational energy company - she wouldn't say which one - who, in her words, wasn't interested in youth unemployment but saw the summit as a good opportunity to lobby UK and Scottish government ministers.
Local MSP Jenny Marra tried to talk YFJ activists into joining Labour, but had no answers about her party not committing to reversing public sector cuts.
Scottish government cuts
The Scottish National Party (SNP) government's cuts amount to removing £55 million from college budgets. Health and social care students, who could see course places slashed, brought a banner they had just made after persuading their tutor to let them join the protest.
The SNP's new youth employment minister Angela Constance invited three protesters, including Wayne Scott, into the summit. Wayne reported that Constance's reply to protesters' concerns was that "it would be impossible to not follow the cuts agenda passed down by Westminster".
For over a year, anti-cuts and unemployed activists in Dundee have publicly challenged Iain Duncan Smith to come and debate his ideas on the welfare state and unemployment. He had, until now, refused to come near Dundee, but the summit provided a safe photo opportunity.
Iain Duncan Smith visited one of two job centres in Dundee city centre - he is planning to close the other one! IDS and his aides sprinted past YFJ protesters into the building, helped by police and private G4S security guards, and later sneaked away through a back exit.
But the Tories won't escape us that easily! On 24 March, we will be demonstrating with trade unions at the Tory conference in Troon. Contact Wayne Scott on 07712607224, Matt Dobson on 07927342060 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
In The Socialist 21 March 2012:
Fighting the cuts
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