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From The Socialist newspaper, 7 July 2009

JOBS NOT DOLE

Youth Fight For jobs demonstration, photo Paul Mattsson

Youth Fight For jobs demonstration, photo Paul Mattsson

With every passing week yet more companies announce yet more redundancies. The figures are astounding. Earlier this year we saw the largest quarterly fall of people in employment since 1971. I have experienced a drastic fall in both opportunities and standards in two very different sectors.

Neil Obler, Reading

I worked as a self-employed IT contractor, quite a rewarding occupation, albeit hard work. One week I was calling at four to six major high street chains, building societies and government departments a day to resolve IT issues. The next week I was being informed that contract after contract was terminated with work to be carried out 'in-house' or by small companies battling to offer the lowest price.

The occasional job that came through was at very short notice, with very short timescales to complete large-scale projects. I often found myself working with a group of extremely tense and nervous colleagues, desperately exchanging contact details of clients and agencies. Some you'd see again in a week's time and some you didn't. Soon there were no calls. Nobody was calling out for field engineers. Long-standing clients ended all contact.

After months of desperately negotiating work, the next step was to resort to registering with a construction agency I had worked with years before. It was as if the previous three years of work hadn't happened. There I was, up earlier than dawn, protectively equipped to the scalp, working at least 50 hours a week. I laboured alongside workers from up and down the country who, despite having the security of a permanent employer, debated which small few of them would be first in line for the next job.

A large Charles Church residential site was close to completion, with just another block of flats and seven or eight houses, out of roughly 200, to be finished. Then Charles Church announced that the project would not be completed due to 'mismanagement of budget'.

This site was part of a larger project comprising 1,500 houses. Less than ten of these houses are housing association. This is an outrage when you look at the number of families desperately seeking accommodation in the Bracknell Forest area and nationally.

As such 'residential economic disasters' became the trend, more work was offered on commercial sites where agency workers were 'touted' to tradesmen on site. For an average 45-hour week the average weekly take-home wage, after various agency fees and tax schemes, fell to 180.

I couldn't support my family on this and I had no choice but to leave it behind. Eight months, two weeks IT work, and much grief later I have tried to get back to work on site. Now nothing from steelwork to casual labouring is on offer. I can, unfortunately, foresee that the 600,000 or so students leaving school, college and university, who have studied dedicatedly, and apprentices who have worked for a pittance while training, will find no better fortune. The increasing number of young people signing on at Jobcentres across the country paints a grim picture.

Fortunately the Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) campaign is right behind the unemployed, students and exploited youth with full knowledge of the difficulties these young people will face down the line. YFJ has the ability to rally them together, to lend them a voice in the hope of turning this situation around.

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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 7 July 2009:

Action now to defend public sector


Youth fight for jobs

Jobs not dole


Socialist Party editorial

Brown's dead duck government

Postal workers need a national fightback


Socialist Party news and analysis

National Express goes off the rails

First Bus - no to pay freeze

Demanding justice for Shrewsbury 24

News in brief


Socialist Party women

Why women don't have real equality


International socialist news and analysis

Police trigger ethnic clashes in Xinjiang

Honduras coup - a warning to workers in Latin America

Sri Lanka: Protest over DfID role


Socialist Party reviews

Stalin's Nemesis: The Exile and Murder of Leon Trotsky

Arundhati Roy - politics and literature


Education

Higher fees in higher education

Drama students enter the stage of struggle

Teachers' MOTs

First strike against Trust schools

Strike against BSF proposals


Socialist Party workplace news

RMT Annual General Meeting: "If provoked - Will strike"

Save jobs at Vestas wind turbine plant

Private companies caught in jobcentre scam

South West Wales Media: Fight for jobs, defend conditions

Oilc - fighting for decent working conditions in the North Sea


 

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