Reports and Campaigns
Reports and campaigns:
Fight for a future for the 99%
No jobs, no education, no future - that's the grim vision that the establishment politicians have for young people.
More than one million young people languish on the dole. School and college leavers are finding themselves priced out of higher education. University applications have dropped 8.9% for the first year of £9,000 tuition fees. Vital youth services have been axed.
None of the mainstream political parties will stand up for working class youth and students. Youth Fight for Jobs and Education (YFJE) was launched in 2009 to provide a voice for young people. This feature shows edited extracts from its new manifesto, A Future For The 99%.
Under the slave labour workfare schemes, young people have been forced to work for their dole, while big businesses get bungs of over £2,000 to take Jobseeker's Allowance claimants on temporary contracts.
YFJE held demonstrations and protests up and down the country that named and shamed companies using slave labour. As a result many companies pulled out of the work experience scheme and the government made concessions by removing the sanctions on those who drop out of that particular workfare scheme.
If there are jobs that need doing, then people should get a living wage for doing them.
- Stop all cuts. The economic crisis was caused by big business, bankers and irresponsible governments. We should not have to pay with our jobs and services
- Scrap all workfare schemes
- Government run apprenticeship and training schemes that provide a living wage and guarantee a job at the end
- Open the books - if a company claims that it has to let workers go due to lack of money then it should prove it
- A programme of useful public works, such as house building and infrastructure projects, to provide jobs and training for young people
Youth services and leisure
£100 million of cuts are being made to youth services over three years. That's going to mean we lose 7,000 professionally qualified staff, 30,000 trained youth support workers and half a million volunteers.
Youth services are not a luxury, they're vital. They can help save money. One report showed that a young person in the criminal justice system costs the taxpayer over £200,000 by the age of 16 but one who is given support to stay out of it costs less than £50,000.
Youth workers have warned time and time again that these cuts will result in more anti-social behaviour and gang crime. In Haringey, where the August 2011 riots started, eight out of 13 youth clubs had been closed because of council cuts.
- Immediately re-open all youth services that have been closed, including re-instating sacked staff
- Huge investment into youth services, including training of many more youth workers. Every young person in the country should have access to support, advice and leisure facilities
- A building programme which includes public parks, youth clubs, sports centres and other leisure facilities in every area, in consultation with young people, youth workers, trade unions and community groups
When you add uni fees of up to £9,000 a year to the costs of living, a three year degree could cost £50,000. Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) being scrapped in England has left many college and sixth form students without the funds to pay for books or travel. Colleges in England have reported a drop of up to 50% in applications since this cut was implemented.
Over-24s in further education (FE) did have 50% of course costs for BTECs, A-Levels or level two apprenticeships covered by the government. But students starting in September 2012 will foot the whole bill themselves!
Thousands of teaching and support jobs are threatened, leaving students with overworked and undervalued lecturers.
In higher education (HE) a plan for privatisation and marketisation is being formulated by the government, including new private universities such as the 'New College of Humanities'.
School students face overflowing classes and crumbling buildings as funding is slashed. The rolling out of academies and 'free schools' represents the breakup of the state education system.
- Immediately reinstate EMA and expand it to be available to all 16-18 year olds
- Scrap university fees, for higher education that is universally free
- No to marketisation and privatisation. For education that is fully funded, publicly owned and free at all levels
- Abolish all tuition fees in further education
- For living grants for all college and university students
- Scrap academies and free schools. For a genuinely comprehensive secondary school system, including smaller classes and more teachers
Young people face over-crowded, squalid housing and starvation rent levels, or being forced out of the cities and areas they are connected to.
Whilst wages have stagnated or been cut and jobs have been slashed, rents have risen 8% since 2009, reaching a record high at the end of 2011.
And for low paid young people, who cannot get mortgages, the housing ladder is missing the first ten steps.
90% of new housing benefit claimants in the past two years were low paid workers. Due to the attacks to housing benefits, young people are now forced to stay living with parents or in shared accommodation until they are 35.
In February 2011, homelessness had jumped 14% nationally in a year, 36% in London, with a 44% increase in households who are homeless after repossession.
- Cap rents at an affordable level
- No eviction of people who fall into rent arrears
- A living minimum wage for all - no lower youth rates
- All housing and housing benefit cuts should be reversed
- No age discrimination in benefit entitlement
- Invest in a mass programme of building high quality council housing to create jobs and alleviate the housing crisis
- Reopen and renovate empty properties for affordable accommodation
- Banks must offer cheap, no or low interest mortgages. If they refuse they should be fully nationalised with their resources used to meet social need
The government and the super-rich know that, faced with massive attacks on our jobs and public services, ordinary young and working class people will fight back and question their system.
New Labour was in power for 13 years, but refused to reverse Thatcher's anti-trade union laws. It wouldn't have cost a single penny, but it would have made defending our jobs and services today a lot easier.
To force through brutal tuition fee rises, education cuts, and the scrapping of EMA, the government used the police and university managements to attack student protests and intimidate activists in 2010. The police used widespread 'kettling' to criminalise all protestors.
Police racism and the shooting of Mark Duggan by police contributed to riots kicking off across England in August 2011. Black people in England and Wales are 30 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than white people.
In the wake of the riots, the government encouraged draconian sentences and punishments to the people who had been caught up and their families.
- Defend and extend the rights to protest
- Scrap the anti-trade union laws and laws that trample on civil liberties
- End police harassment, scrap Section 60 and stop and search
- For all workers to have the right to democratically decide to strike
Rights at work
Young people face some of the worst working conditions of all workers. Many young people find themselves in low paid insecure jobs such as in shops, restaurants and call centres. Around two million people are estimated to be in what is termed 'vulnerable employment'.
For those aged between 18 and 20, the minimum wage will not increase in October 2012, staying at just £4.98. For those 21 and over it will increase by a massive 11p to £6.19.
83 graduates are applying for every graduate vacancy. The most that many graduates can hope for at the moment is an unpaid internship. While the government and the press are busy portraying young people as lazy and workshy, big business is exploiting young people's desperation just to 'get a foot on the ladder'.
- A living wage of £10 an hour
- Share out the work to simultaneously solve the problems of unemployment and long working hours - for a 35 hour week, no loss of pay
- All apprentices and interns to receive a living wage and a guaranteed job at the end of the training period
Fight their system!
The capitalists - bankers, big business and the rich - are currently faced with a deep crisis, a crisis of their own system. They are plotting a 'way out' built on misery. But there'll be no belt tightening and austerity for 1% whose reckless greed precipitated this crisis.
Capitalists are refusing to invest in production and infrastructure, which could bring jobs to millions. Lying idle in the vaults of big business and the super-rich are an estimated £750 billion, hoarded as they can see no profitable way to invest it.
We are fighting for a system for the millions not the millionaires, where we would plan production to meet the needs of ordinary people, providing decent jobs, homes and services for all.
The top companies and banks should be nationalised so that instead of the wealth and resources of society being held by individuals, it would be collectively owned and democratically managed. Join us, get involved and help us build this fightback today.
A Future For The 99%
Manifesto of Youth Fight for Jobs and Education
£1 including postage
020 8558 7947
PO Box 858, London E11 1YG
To join, text 'manifesto99%' with your name and postcode to 07766 585543
Youth Fight for Jobs
Support the campaign and sponsor the manifesto
Youth Fight for Jobs and Education is sponsored by six national trade unions and many local branches. If your union, branch or campaign is able to sponsor the production of this pamphlet or give the campaign support in any way, get in touch.
Austerity Games 2012
This summer the Olympic Games will be taking place in London. Whilst many will marvel at seeing some of the top athletes in the world, even more people will be struggling under the burden of the attacks of the Con-Dem government. In the areas where the games are taking place there is widespread poverty, and the so-called Olympic legacy will do nothing to stem that. The accommodation built for the games is to be sold off as luxury apartments despite the homelessness crisis in nearby Newham council being so bad the council plans to send people to live in Stoke! Youth Fight for Jobs is organising the Austerity Games this July to help highlight these issues and launch our 'Manifesto for the 99%' to put forward a real alternative.
Welsh Labour opens door to college privatisation
Edmund Schluessel, UCU Wales Council (pc) and NUS (pc)
The Welsh Labour government intends to allow privatisation of Welsh colleges, according to a recent White Paper.
Trade unions hailed Labour's 2010 promise to disincorporate the 14 colleges in Wales, a move which would have returned the institutions to public control. Incorporation of colleges in England and Wales in 1993 by the Tory UK government took colleges out of local authority control and made them independent institutions. It also led to the bankruptcy of 10% of colleges in the first four years, along with huge cutbacks in courses.
Welsh Labour has now gone back on that promise. Instead, the role of college principles and chief executives will be enshrined in law. Colleges would be forbidden from keeping reserves while being allowed to borrow money, and to dissolve themselves and hand over all their property to private companies.
While college students in Scotland are close to winning autonomous students' unions, the White Paper makes no mention of college students' voice.
The need for fighting FE unions will increase as the Welsh government plans to force further college mergers, meaning students would have to travel longer, at greater personal expense, to attend larger classes.
Labour also now proposes to cap the number of Welsh students receiving places in publicly funded universities. Cuts in student numbers of up to 20% have already been imposed on universities in Wales.
The paper admits the fee system in Wales is to blame but offers no alternative - despite both lecturers' union UCU and the National Union of Students calling for the abolition of fees. (In September 2012 students from Wales will be charged up to £9,000 per year but get a grant of up to £5,525, alongside a loan to pay the rest of the charge.)
The Welsh Government now plan to create a new grant for students studying at private universities, of which there are none in Wales - yet. At the same time, some Welsh universities are losing all their public funding for teaching.
Welsh education minister Leighton Andrews and deputy minister for skills Jeff Cuthbert have both previously said that they oppose privatisation but consider themselves powerless to stop it. Their White Paper would surrender powers to stop privatisation, while keeping the direct responsibility for sell-offs out of ministers' hands.
Students, education workers, and the broader community should mount a vigorous response to the proposed legislation.
Nottingham students fight back
On Thursday 5 July, over 100 students from New College Nottingham (NCN) protested outside the High Pavement campus against attacks being made.
ArmajitBasi, the principal of the college, is proposing to move all students to High Pavement and close the two other NCN campuses. There is already a strain on resources and not enough teaching time - a situation which will worsen if these changes go ahead. There is also a proposal to increase the number of hours students will be in college to 9am-5pm every day. Many students work part-time in the evenings, which they rely on more now that EMA has been cut.
Basi is one of the founders of entrepreneurship 4FE, a company which is trying to change the way colleges teach in order to promote 'entrepreneurial skills' and has used some of the money from the college to invest in this business.
Basi came out to confront the students at one point and was booed back inside the college.
Some members of staff brought out pizza, flapjacks, tea and coffee for the students and congratulated them on what they had achieved.
Andrew Truglia, a student at the college, said: "We've been trying to give our opinions on the changes but have been completely ignored. We're here to get our voice across and show management that we are here to be listened to because we are an essential part of the college."
Fellow students from the other campuses will be contacted with the possibility of holding a joint demonstration.
College elects socialist to fight for students
The students of Pembrokeshire College have elected me as student governor, on a socialist platform, with three times the votes of my opponent.
As a member of Youth Fight for Education I will use this opportunity to improve the conditions of the students of the college. The Welsh Assembly has axed the bus subsidy that means students over 19 years old will now have to pay £15-£20 a week to get to college. Access to EMA, which is still available in Wales, is being restricted to those with the lowest household income.
We need to campaign against this, as part of a full programme to stop all cuts and bring back grants and EMA.