Rare sighting of Tories in Scotland

Jamie Cocozza, Youth Fight For Jobs Scotland

Protesters far outnumbered attendees at the Scottish Tory conference; considering there are more pandas in Scotland than Tory MPs, this shouldn’t come as a surprise!

As the 24 March Scottish TUC demonstration passed the conference venue suited delegates – protected by a seven-foot-high fence and a police cordon came to meet us with mocking smiles and waves, serving only to make the Youth Fight for Jobs contingent even louder.

Youth Fight for Jobs responded to Scotland’s first national demonstration against youth unemployment in a generation by launching a strong campaign across Scotland including daily street stalls, leafleting colleges and workplaces, and protests against workfare and the austerity budget.

Over the last few weeks young people flocked to stalls to sign up to the campaign, enraged by the prospect of joblessness and the freezing of the minimum wage for under-21s.

Youth Fight for Jobs made the 1,000-strong demonstration lively, bringing young people who had never demonstrated before into contact with the trade union movement. We marched alongside young members from the PCS trade union. Our vibrant contingent chanted “no ifs, no buts, no public sector cuts” and “we won’t be a lost generation, fight for jobs and education”.

Youth Fight for Jobs speakers explained why we were marching, the demands of the campaign, and why we are refusing to give in to the Con-Dem programme of austerity. People applauded and gave us the thumbs up.

Arriving at the official STUC rally on the promenade, young people, seeing our contingent in action, queued up to sign our petition and join the campaign. Unfortunately, despite our letter in advance to the STUC, we were not allowed to speak on the official platform.

We set up a fringe meeting where YFJ members spoke to assembled marchers on our demands of real job creation, scrapping workfare and the introduction of a living wage.

23 young people signed up for more information on the campaign, including school students from nearby Irvine. We now have YFJ groups in local areas with public meetings over the next few weeks and plan to organise a Scottish March for Jobs in the summer.