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From The Socialist newspaper, 30 January 2013

9th November 2012 demo, photo Paul Mattsson

9th November 2012 demo, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Jumping through hoops for a job

The latest unemployment figures showed a small decrease in the number of people officially unemployed.
But it's a drop in the ocean when compared to the scale of the problem. Below Jack from Brighton explains his experience of looking for work.
Jack isn't alone, around a million young people are unemployed, while only 489,000 vacancies exist according to the latest official figures.
And, as Jack describes, those who are 'lucky' enough to have a job are generally facing appalling conditions - poverty pay, insecure contracts and bullying bosses.
Youth Fight for Jobs is launching a new initiative aimed at these young people - the underemployed. We will be organising campaign stalls, press stunts and public meetings asking, are you sick of your boss? If the answer is yes, get in touch to get involved or to tell YFJ about your experience of work, unemployment or looking for a job:

Since graduating from university last year I, like many other young people, have discovered the harsh reality of trying to find work in Con-Demed Britain.

The only work I've managed to find was a two month temporary job on the minimum wage. Apart from that I've been surviving on housing benefit and Jobseeker's Allowance, both of which are threatened with withdrawal or cuts.

Recently I applied to a call centre through a recruitment agency, hoping to earn a bit of money and be able to stay in my current house.

Call centres, particularly where I live, are often the only source of employment available to young people.

In recent years there has been an increase in students working in them attempting to make ends meet.

Rotten conditions

Pay slightly above minimum wage is attractive, however this is offset by rotten working conditions and an incredibly insecure position - you can be removed for any reason, at any time.

The TUC has recently described call centre work as being dangerously similar to the conditions factory workers faced in the 19th century, with long, heavily monitored hours, few breaks and cramped working areas.

When I arrived for my interview I was placed in a large waiting room with around 20 other people and was told to fill out an application form.

Along with the usual questions, there were tick-boxes asking what work you would be happy to take part in for the job.

One asked if you would be happy to "fund-raise for political parties and their campaigns". Unwilling to work on behalf of the very people who were cutting my benefits, throwing hundreds of thousands on the dole, and claiming thousands of pounds in expenses, I did not tick this box!

The second part of the interview involved groups of four in a mock telephone fund-raising scenario. This was used to cut down the groups, so only half the people who arrived for the interview got past this stage.

We were told this brutal process was necessary because of the "extremely high level of applicants" - they were 'interviewing' around 50 people that day.

Cross section

The people in my group were a first year uni student who had to work to stay at university, a recently retired man who was being forced back to work as he couldn't afford his living costs, and a middle aged man who had recently been made redundant by another call centre - a cross section of the people on the receiving end of the government's austerity programme.

Anyone who 'passed' the mock telephone step spoke to an interviewer for five minutes. We had waited for well over an hour.

I heard from the recruitment agency later that day, informing me I had not got the job. They gave no reason, but I suspect my refusal to take part in campaigns for political parties had something to do with it!

My 'choice' was to live on benefits, which are under constant attack or campaign for the axemen in government who are cutting jobs left, right, and centre - resulting in the huge levels of applicants for places like call centres.

This is no choice for young people, or any person in society. What is needed is a huge job-creation programme.

There is plenty of work that needs doing that could create millions of well-paid, secure jobs. But as long as the wealth remains in the hands of the 1%, the banks and their politician friends, this will not happen.


Young people need to fight back against these conditions and for a society that offers real opportunity, not a life on benefits or low pay.

At the same time we need campaigns and trade unions that organise call centre workers and others in insecure jobs.

We deserve a decent level of security and pay in work - something that an effective trade union campaign could fight for.

Youth Fight for Jobs campaigns on all these issues and offers a chance for young people to not only get angry, but to get organised. This is how we can resist austerity and begin fighting back to improve our lives.

Sick of your boss?

Youth Fight for Jobs demands:

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

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In The Socialist 30 January 2013:

Socialist Party NHS news & campaigning

NHS workers resist cuts

Privatisation: Bleeding the NHS dry

Heatherwood hospital campaign shows determination

East Midlands: Campaign forces retreat on ambulance station closure

Life as an NHS worker: bullying and stress

Socialist Party news and analysis

Cameron takes a gamble by threatening EU referendum

Austerity's utter failure

Taxing words from Cameron?

Aaron Swartz: a fight to free information

Them & Us

Fighting the cuts

Southampton councillors have a choice ... Don't vote for cuts!

Hull councillors ready to vote No

Brighton's Greens vote for cuts in workers' allowances

Labour meltdown in Stoke-on-Trent continues; and Unison withholds funding

Stop Sheffield children's centre closures

Workplace news and events

Twelfth day of strike action by Tyne and Wear metro cleaners

DfE strike ballot

London teachers call for strike action against Performance Related Pay

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party review

Fired up by Fire in the Blood - a story of big business cruelty and neglect

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Jumping through hoops for a job

Shrewsbury 24: What is the government hiding?

Wales conference - confidence in socialist ideas

Server appeal: Members provide a huge boost to our resources

Socialist Party National Congress 2013


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