Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/754/16230
A busy day in the life of a 'shirker'
I've considered myself as many things; a loud-mouthed leftie who tries to treat all equally, who laughs too loudly and tweets nonsensical, insider jokes with my friends. One thing I never thought myself to be was a 'shirker' or 'skiver'.
I have had a lifetime of education (after being force-fed a diet of New Labour's 'you must go to university, lest you perish and starve' initiatives), GCSEs, A-levels, a 2:1 BA (Hons) degree in Politics and an MA in Conflict Studies.
I also worked alongside my studies - with jobs ranging from barmaid, Human Resources advisor, retail assistant and radio presenter.
I did everything in the right order, worked hard to get good grades while notching up some work experience in the process, and volunteering with a youth support charity in my spare time. Millions of students do this on a daily basis. It is nothing new.
For my efforts, I was rewarded with the princely sum of £56 a week state benefit. I do not get the full amount as I am under 25. I turn 25 in August when, incomprehensibly, I will automatically need more money to live. At present all I need, according to CamClegg, is little more than £50 a week.
What irks me is the Con-Dem coalition's wonderful dichotomy of 'Strivers versus Shirkers'. Why am I a shirker? I worked hard at university. I had a full-time, if temporary, role at a local company dealing in mobile phones for the US market. As my temporary contract ended, I found myself unemployed and overqualified.
I endlessly apply for jobs. I note these on a spreadsheet ready for my next Jobseeker's appointment with Tony, who seemed to take delight in telling me that he only had a 'handful of O-Levels and he is in full time work, while I have heaps of qualifications and am out of work'. Yes, how wonderfully ironic, sir.
I reformatted my CV twice, hoping this was the problem, perhaps it did not read well. I scoured CV websites, to ensure I was 'maximising my potential'. I am registered on three agencies' books, in different places in the Midlands.
I have signed up to job alert emails, I scour Monster, Reed and Total Jobs all day, every day, hoping that someone, somewhere will employ me. I recently went into Birmingham and Wolverhampton to hand out my CV around offices, pubs and shops.
But by the standards of Cameron and the Daily Mail, I am a shirker. I spend my dole on flat screen TVs, watch Jeremy Kyle, wear a tracksuit and terrorise old ladies in the street for sport. I am a generation that does not want to work. But this could not be further from the truth.
The economy is in trouble, the banks are out of control, there appears to be a fight for the scraps of work that are out there. But instead of addressing the problems, the Coalition demonises those who are out of work, making jobless people a scapegoat and masking the problems with vile stereotypes. Believe me, if I could afford a bike, I would get on it.
'Sick of your boss!' initiative
- Thursday 21 March - Target tax-dodgers and 'sick' bosses Starbucks with protests and occupations
- Sunday 24 March - London public meeting. Phone for details
For more info contact Youth Fight for Jobs on firstname.lastname@example.org 02085587947, 07749379010 Twitter - @youthfight4jobs
Facebook - 'Youth Fight for Jobs'
Or check out www.youthfightforjobs.com
In The Socialist 27 February 2013:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns