Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/603/8394
How could full youth employment be achieved?
Instead of throwing millions on the scrap heap, the available work should be shared out. In Britain the working week is one of the longest in Europe. The average working week for full-time workers is 41 hours, 1.5 times longer than the European average. While some of us are working every waking hour, and, as the retirement age is raised, keeping going ever longer, others are left languishing on the dole or on short time working.
Sharing out the available work without loss of pay would immediately and dramatically cut unemployment. In the recession the capitalists have shown they are happy to cut hours - more than half the workforce in Britain have had their pay or hours cut - but only as long as wages are cut as well.
In addition socialists demand a massive job creation programme. This could provide all the public services that are so desperately needed. Many examples could be given. In Britain we have 2.4 doctors per 1,000 patients, two thirds the ratio of France, Germany or Italy and little more than a third of the ratio in Cuba. Why not train more doctors, nurses and other health care workers? Schools and universities are increasingly overcrowded. Universities have an average of 18 students per tutor, compared to just nine in 1980. Poorer universities commonly have 30 students per tutor. If, as the Socialist Party demands, free education was reintroduced - something that was enjoyed by almost all New Labour ministers, it would mean more people might choose to go to university. Instead of saying there is no room for them, why not train far larger numbers of lecturers and teachers?
Earlier this year the Vestas wind turbine workers were forced to occupy their factory to try to prevent its closure. For Vestas it was profits, not the environment, which mattered. Socialists demand massive investment in the development of clean energy - wind, solar, wave and geothermal power.
There are currently more than 60,000 construction workers on the dole. An incredible 53% of architecture graduates have not been able to get work. Yet there are now five million people on the waiting lists for social housing. For the last 25 years every government, Tory and New Labour, has systematically undermined council housing. Twenty years ago there were more than five million council homes, now there is barely half that number. From 1949 to 1954 an average of 230,000 council homes were built every year. We demand a similar mass house-building programme today to provide high-quality, affordable, environmentally friendly public housing.
All of these initiatives, combined with other measures such as the development of cheap, green and improved public transport, would not only put the existing workforce back to work, they would provide work for a new generation. It would be possible to immediately create a real 'future jobs fund', with well paid high quality training and a job at the end - rather than slave labour 'make work' schemes.
The capitalists say that these modest proposals are unaffordable. The Socialist's answer is that if that is the case we cannot afford capitalism - a system that bails out the banks without a second thought, while leaving the next generation without a future.
This year workers have shown that, if they refuse to accept the onslaught on their pay, conditions and public services, it is possible to win victories. The Lindsey oil refinery construction workers, the Visteon and Linamar car component workers, the postal workers and now the Leeds and Brighton bin workers - all have fought back with some important victories won. The trade union movement has to prepare for a mass movement in defence of jobs and services up to and beyond the general election. A crucial part of that is building Youth Fight for Jobs into a mass movement to demand a decent future for young people.
Equally important is putting the case for socialism. The case for bringing into democratic public ownership the 150 giant multinational companies that dominate Britain's economy - with compensation paid only on the basis of proven need - so that all the tremendous science and technique created by capitalism can be harnessed to build a democratic socialist society. That new society would offer the next generation the prospect of a life freed from poverty, insecurity and unemployment.
In The Socialist 24 November 2009:
Socialist Party editorial
Marxist analysis: history
Environment and socialism
War and occupation
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news
Socialist Party review