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From The Socialist newspaper, 21 January 2015

Youth unemployment: anxiety and anger

Fight for real jobs! photo Sarah Wrack

Fight for real jobs! photo Sarah Wrack   (Click to enlarge)

Laurence Maples

A new report by the Prince's Trust shows the devastating impact of unemployment on young people in Britain. Over half of those interviewed - under-25s not in education, employment or training - suffer from anxiety in everyday situations. One third reported they regularly "fall apart" emotionally.

Two in five are not eating properly. More than a third avoid leaving the house. The impact on long-term unemployed youth is even worse: 25% have self-harmed and 32% contemplated suicide. Rather than treat them, the government has cut youth mental-health services by 50 million.


Joblessness is rampant, due to the economic crisis and government austerity. Officially, there are 754,000 unemployed young people - a staggering 17%. Yet the government claims this as a success, because it is slightly less than a year ago! And the jobless figure doubles when including those who have given up looking, discouraged after months or years of rejections.

The benefits system is not designed for the unemployed and low paid. It is deliberately so complex that most struggle to navigate it.

There is little help towards real training and jobs. Instead the unemployed are bullied into slave-labour "workfare" schemes. Nearly a million benefits claimants were sanctioned last year, with welfare withdrawn for reasons as petty as turning up a couple of minutes late.


Even if young people do find work, the problems don't end there. 5.5 million are languishing on zero-hour contracts. Workers under 21 don't even qualify for the pitifully low full minimum wage. And many jobs are dressed up as "apprenticeships" where employers legally pay as little as 2.73 an hour.

Money-grubbing bosses are not interested in developing young workers. They simply want to maximise profits, through blatant, brutal exploitation.

Unemployed workers have a proud history of resisting. Between the wars there were enormous demonstrations demanding work. They were supported by fighting, working class political representatives - such as those in Poplar, east London. Those Labour councillors fought the Liberal-led coalition government, and their own party's leadership, for more money to increase welfare payments.

In 2011, the trade union Unite launched "community membership" to help organise the unemployed. Jobless workers' struggles must be linked to the connected interests and organised strength of the wider trade-union movement.

Crucially, we need a political alternative to represent ordinary people, based on trade unions and community campaigns. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC - see centre pages) is a step towards this. All unemployed activists should consider standing as TUSC candidates in local or parliamentary elections, to show the bosses we won't pay for their crisis.

The Socialist demands:

■ End slave-labour workfare schemes

■ Benefits we can live on - no to starvation rations

■ End benefit sanctions - 'sanction' the criminal bankers who caused the crisis!

■ The right to decent benefits, education, training or a job, without compulsion

■ A massive programme of home building and job creation

■ A 10-an-hour minimum wage with no exceptions

■ Scrap zero-hour contracts - for flexible working on our terms, not the bosses'

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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.
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  • 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.
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In The Socialist 21 January 2015:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Take the wealth off the super-rich!

Labour Party won't protect our NHS

Youth unemployment: anxiety and anger

Oil price crashes as world economy slows

Care home scandal: When profit comes first...

Them & Us

International socialist news

Greece: Syriza victory would raise workers' hopes

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Opposing establishment parties is not 'wasted vote'

Don't just boo - help fund the fightback!

Socialist Party workplace news

Striking NHS workers say: 'Give us pay we can live on'

Safeguarding PCS against vicious Tory attacks

Unison activists discuss reclaiming the union

UCU: Clear strategy needed to reignite pensions action

Barbour workers accept improved offer

Essex FBU fight lockout

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Cardiff happy to get the blues

Hackney women give TUSC their blessing

5,000 residents force council debate on pool closure

Readers' comments

Tesco: every little cut helps

Halt the cutbacks in hearing aid provision

Privatisation worsens NHS crisis

TTIP it into the Atlantic

Why I joined the Socialist Party


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