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Posted on 19 April 2011 at 16:34 GMT

Youth unemployment still rising - Join the Jarrow march

Paul Callanan
Youth Fight for Jobs demonstration in Barking, photo Paul Mattsson

Youth Fight for Jobs demonstration in Barking, photo Paul Mattsson

Last Wednesday the latest unemployment figure revealed that young people are still among the worst hit by the economic crisis and Con-Dem cuts. The number of 18-24 year olds not in employment rose by 12,000 to 963,000 in the three months leading up to February.

This is on top of 218,000 16-17 year olds out of work. The number of graduates not working is currently at the same rate as before, one in five.

The government's answer to this is to turn young people into an army of slaves. It has proposed various schemes to combat the problem of youth unemployment.

One was proposed in January by Work and Pensions secretary Chris Grayling. He put forward the idea that 16-17 year olds who can't find work should do unpaid "work experience" for up to four months at a time.

Last year Iain Duncan Smith proposed that the unemployed should do tasks like litter picking and gardening. These are tasks that should be done by well paid and properly trained workers.

If the government really meant to help young people get off the scrap heap than it would invest in public services and provide training for young people to do these jobs.

  (Click to enlarge)

Instead it is launching a huge assault on public sector jobs and services. This government is cutting over 700,000 public sector jobs as well as terms and conditions.

The assault will have a knock on effect on the private sector where those young people that do work barely keep their heads above water in low paid insecure jobs.

As a result of the cuts, fewer working people will have money to spend and many contractors will lose jobs they have with the private sector. The assault on pensions will also see young people lose out as many older workers will be forced to work until they drop.

This will mean even fewer vacancies for young people. The government probably hopes that this will divide working class people into young and old rather than focussing on the common enemy, the government and its big business puppet masters.

What is needed in order to push back this assault is the biggest working class movement seen in generations. We need a movement of young workers, the unemployed and students to defeat this ConDemolition.

The student movement at the end of last year showed what can be achieved by mass movements. The massive student demonstration on 10 November, when over 50,000 marched against attacks on the right to an education, led to a tidal wave of strikes, protests and occupations sweeping across the country.

The pressure of that movement has already led to concessions. In Wales and Scotland the devolved governments have pledged not to scrap EMA and raise fees.

The Con-Dems have also been forced to bring in a bursary scheme to help stave off the worst effects of the scrapping of EMA.

Half-million strong TUC demo, central London, 26 March 2011, against the government's cuts, photo Senan

Half-million strong TUC demo, central London, 26 March 2011, against the government's cuts, photo Senan   (Click to enlarge)

The magnificent TUC demonstration on 26 March was an important step towards a united movement against the savage austerity programme of this government.

Up to 750,000 people marched against the cuts. The march was composed mainly of trade unionists but unemployed youth and students also marched alongside them.

This demonstrated the seething anger out there over the destruction of public services and should just be the start of the fight back.

The Jarrow March for Jobs being organised for October can become a focal point for that movement. This year is the 75th anniversary of the Jarrow crusade.

In 1936, 200 unemployed men from Jarrow in the North East marched to London to protest against high unemployment and the appalling conditions they lived in.

If recent events have proven anything then it is that capitalism has failed to address those problems in the 75 years since that march. That's why this October young people will be doing that march again.

We will hold protests in towns and cities on the route to say No to the Con-Dem swingeing attacks on our rights and living standards. We will be demanding real jobs, on decent pay and conditions, not slave labour schemes.

We want apprenticeships that pay the going rate for the work and guarantee a job at the end, not to be trapped in an endless cycle of 'working poverty'.

We demand the right to a decent free education, grant funded, not to be buried under mountains of debt for most of our working lives. And we say no to all cuts.

We won't pay for a crisis caused by the bosses and banksters.

This October young people will be taking to the streets to say that we won't be a lost generation! We will fight for jobs and education!

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