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No to mass youth unemployment
Youth Fight for Jobs Fortnight of Action, photo The Socialist
Youth Fight for Jobs fortnight of action 27 June to 10 July
Join the protests!
During the period of high unemployment in the 1980s UB40 famously sang about the "one in ten" of British workers on the dole. That figure is now one in six for 18 to 24 year olds!
Michael Wrack, Hackney YFJ
While the recession is having a devastating effect on the working class in general, youth are facing the effects on a disproportionate scale. The latest figures provided by the Office for National Statistics show total unemployment at a 12-year high of 2.26 million. But youth unemployment is at a 15-year high of 875,000, over double the rate of unemployment among the population as a whole.
These figures are about to get even worse as 600,000 people leave school, college or university and join the competition for what few jobs there are. A recent report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development reveals that 80% of British companies do not plan to take on any 16 year-old school leavers. But carrying on to further education won't give youth an escape route - nearly half of those firms also say they won't be looking to hire any new university graduates this year.
Youth Fight For Jobs demonstration, photo Paul Mattsson
It is not hard to see that youth unemployment will soon be over one million, with total unemployment well on its way to three million by the end of the year.
And that still won't be the end of it. Even as some economists are talking of "green shoots of recovery" for the economy (of which there is precious little evidence) unemployment is expected to continue to rise even into 2011.
So where will the necessary fightback come from? Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, says the government's work-or-training guarantee "is exactly the right priority". But that guarantee would only kick in for those on the dole for 12 months or more, meaning it will be of little or no help to the new generation leaving education this summer.
As long as the official leaders of the labour movement remain more concerned with keeping friendly relations with the New Labour government than fighting for the future ranks of the working class, young people will have to organise to defend their rights themselves.
That's why students, young trade unionists, and unemployed youth have come together to form Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ). YFJ is campaigning for decent, socially useful jobs for all, on a living wage of at least £8 an hour; for apprentices to be paid at least the minimum wage, with jobs guaranteed at the end; and for improvements in the work conditions of young people.
A fortnight of action has been organised from 27 June to 10 July. Be it a march; a public meeting; a fundraising gig; a protest at your MP's surgery, town hall, job centre, or other significant building; or whatever you think you can do, we need to make our voices heard. We need to let it be known that young people won't allow themselves to be used as easy targets during the recession.
Join the Youth Fight for Jobs fortnight of action and fight for your future!
See www.youthfightforjobs.com/action for what's on in your area.