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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 September 2011

Youth must join pensions struggle

Strike together as in France 2010

Jack Poole, Brighton University Socialist Students

The government and their friends in the media will always try, as they did in June, to spread division between workers and service users during strike action. It is important to cut across these lies with solidarity action and unity between young people and workers on strike.

Three quarters of a million teachers and civil servants took coordinated strike action in June against the government's decimation of public sector pension schemes.

This unity between students, young people and workers was shown last year in France, in the struggle against the pension reforms. With the Con-Dem coalition likely to face more strike action over pensions this autumn, it is important to analyse and draw lessons from struggles such as this.

Last October, President Sarkozy's plans to raise the retirement age saw a furious and enormous reaction from the French working class, with massive strikes and demonstrations - at the height of the movement, 3.5 million people demonstrated across the country.

A crucial turning point for the dispute was when young people and students began to take part in the struggle in a large and organised way. Ignoring the lies of Sarkozy's supporters and the right wing media who tried to re-assure young people that pension reform did not concern them, student strikes in solidarity with the workers helped shut hundreds of schools.

The idea that raising the retirement age does not affect young people is a downright lie used to divide the movement. For example, with one million young people unemployed in Britain, it is madness for the government to be forcing older workers to work for longer while these young people waste their talents on the dole queue.

Sarkozy revealed a lot when he was quoted as saying about the strikes, "school and college students...must be watched closely like milk on a stove."

Politicians like Sarkozy and Cameron are right to be frightened of a mass movement of youth and workers opposing their austerity measures! Such a movement would stand a real chance of stopping them and their cuts in their tracks.

Young people and students on their own do not carry the social weight to defeat governments, even weak ones such as the coalition in Britain. However, as last year's student movement in Britain showed, the energy and anger of a movement of young people can give confidence and inspire others in society to fight back. Three months after the last major student demonstration, half a million trade unionists marched through the streets of London.

Combined with the organised working class, which holds the power to make society grind to a halt, this kind of action would stand firmly in the way of the brutal austerity cuts of governments across Europe and beyond.

If more workers take coordinated strike action to defend their pensions, young people and students need to unite with them. We should take our solidarity to the picket lines but also organise walkouts at our schools, colleges and universities and join the protests and demonstrations taking place. Any blow against this government is a step towards a decent future for young people.

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In The Socialist 14 September 2011:


Socialist Party features

We need a programme of action to fight back!

Austerity policies strangle growth


Socialist Party youth and students

Pampered politicians plan education massacre... STOP THEM!

Low pay and the housing crisis

Youth must join pensions struggle

EMA cuts: doors close on our future

Cuts hit young people hard in Hastings


Stop attacks on pensions

Hands off our pensions!

NHS pensions - Pay more, work longer and get less!


Socialist Party workplace news

Bombardier

Support Wyndeham workers

No to pay cuts in Carmarthenshire

Workplace news in brief


International socialist news and analysis

How can the national rights of Palestinians be achieved?


Socialist Party news and analysis

NSSN calls on TUC to open the floodgates of mass action

Nationalise the banking system!

Childcare costs push parents into hardship

Save our NHS

Fast news


Socialist Party review

Power and terror


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Save Surrey libraries!

Bristol: Labour's short-lived valour

Hundreds march against Dale Farm evictions

May Day protest case goes to Strasbourg


 

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