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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 October 2021

Youth Fight for Jobs - why we're marching on 9 October

Join 'Youth Fight for Jobs' protests on 9th October

Join 'Youth Fight for Jobs' protests on 9th October   (Click to enlarge)

On 9 October, Youth Fight for Jobs is organising protests and marches in 14 towns and cities. This is just after the Tories remove the safety net of furlough, which will disrupt the lives of up to one million workers. Four young workers explain why they're protesting.


"One month I didn't have any money at all"

Josh Boyle, Brighton Socialist Party

I'm a third-year humanities student at Brighton University. Until three months ago, I had been working in retail for four or five years. After the second lockdown, I thought: "I can't do this anymore".

Housing in Brighton is horrendously expensive - 1.3 times more than anywhere outside London. I chewed through whatever little savings I had during my first year at uni.

My retail job was 'zero-hours', I didn't have guaranteed hours. There was one month where I didn't work at all. I had no money.

I was relying on what little student finance I had after paying rent, and my savings. I started with a couple of grand in savings. And I've only just started saving again.

My car had an MOT, and that killed what was left of my savings. I needed to find another job that paid more.

It was a shame. I enjoyed the team I was working with. But I couldn't do it anymore. I needed a serious contract.

I now work 14.5 hours a week driving a big green van for Asda, dropping people's food at their houses. It's a lot more stressful, down to a lack of drivers, because of the poor conditions.

I regularly miss my schedule breaks because of delays on the road, and getting extra loads dumped on me at the depot. The conditions and pay are not great.

Because of the hour limits, there's only so much pay you can build up. I finish one to two hours later than I should.

Some drivers say, I only have enough petrol to drive my kids to schools, not to work as well. It's snowballing.

Being on your own can be quite rewarding. But if this crisis continues, some drivers say they're going to go to the union to complain and say something needs to change. Our managers don't know what they're doing, but that's standard in every job.

A 15-an-hour minimum wage would be amazing, not only for young people, but everyone. That uplift would give people stability.


'Low pay worsened staffing crisis'

James Leach, York Socialist Party

I've just started a post-graduate degree. From April until September I was working on a government-funded Kickstart scheme. None of the companies on the scheme have to pay any of the wages for the workers they hire. All the contracts are 25 hours at the national minimum wage - 8.91 an hour if you're over 22, and a lot less if you're younger.

I was working for Jhoots pharmacy, a national chain. In my branch, all the other employees, other than the pharmacist themself, were apprentices. The only people I was ever aware of in other branches were apprentices. They were paid the apprentice minimum wage of 4.30 an hour.

Other than low pay, a major issue was the lack of cover for staff. During Covid, with lots of sickness absence and self-isolating, there was never enough staff to cover. This meant having to cover shifts at the drop of a hat, and going through the rigmarole of sending off forms to prove that you have done overtime.

The only alternative was to risk the pharmacy being understaffed, which in a healthcare situation is dangerous, as it means people don't get their medication. This is explicitly because the company was unwilling to pay for adequate staffing.

Being on the minimum wage meant I have not been able to save ahead of studying to help with rent and tuition fees. I'm planning to try to get a part-time job as well as completing full-time studies. Two-thirds of students work around their studies, because most students can't afford to pay rent and fees with just a student loan and maintenance grant.

Raising the minimum wage to a living wage of 15 an hour would make a fundamental difference. It would go a long way towards giving young people security.

As well, there needs to be an end to 'fire and rehire' and the institutionalisation of insecure work. This is essential to secure a decent future for young people.


School: Lack of support

Work: Low pay and stress

Dana King, Southampton Socialist Party

I am studying at college. I quit my job as a kitchen porter in January because of low pay and stress.

I was doing the same job as people that were older than me. They were being paid minimum wage, and I was being paid less because I was younger.

At college, sexual assault and a lack of support for student's mental health are big issues. I spent a long time on a waiting list for counselling, and many friends have waited longer. There needs to be proper government guidelines for how to organise effective mental health counselling in colleges and schools.

If I decide to go to university, I am worried about debt. I have heard that the government is planning to reduce the threshold that graduates need to start paying back their debt (see 'Sunak's student special' at socialistparty.org.uk).

A lot of young people don't see any way of being able to do anything about what they believe in. Young people should be educated about trade unions in their workplaces, to join and be active. This is the same in schools and colleges, where students and young people can set up student unions.


Black youth unemployment - class and racism

Jay Coward, East London Socialist Party

Between October and December 2020, 41.6% of black people aged 16-24 in the UK were unemployed - the highest rate since the last financial crisis. Unemployment among white workers of the same age stood at 12.4%.

As socialists, we see class as the prime factor in the wealth disparity in our country. As a black socialist, these figures are undeniably telling of the brazen oppression and unliveable conditions black people are pushed into by biased employment, a profit-based economy and nowhere near the desired amount of rights or pay in the workplace.


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  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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In The Socialist 6 October 2021:


What we think

Bakers' union disaffiliates from Labour


News

Sarah Everard trial reveals police abuse of power

Tories plunge millions further into poverty with Universal Credit cut

Capitalist climate hypocrisy

Railway bosses cook the books in another capitalist market failure

Glasgow's equal pay battle set to re-erupt

Pay NHS and care staff to address worker shortages


Workplace news

NEU: National executive agrees campaign on pay

Coordinated FE strike against measly pay offer

Unison LG members reject insulting pay offer

Unite health members say no to 3% and vote for action

Tesco warehouse rep fighting for reinstatement

Scunthorpe steel scaffolders strike for pay rise

Brighton waste workers walk out


Economy

Capitalism's economic instability in the 'new normal'


Youth Fight for Jobs

Fighting for our future

Youth Fight for Jobs - why we're marching on 9 October

Ten years since our 330-mile Jarrow March for Jobs


Campaigns news

Barking NHS: "Sorry, please try again later"

We have the right to breathe fresh air

Nottingham: Punish Labour for cruel cuts

London protest for Texas abortion rights

North West socialists join march against Tory conference

Fighting Fund target smashed - 31,703 raised


Obituary

Obituary - Dave Hardaker, 1952-2021


Review

Caffeine and capitalism - a symbiotic relationship


 

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Related links:

Youth Fight for Jobs:

triangleMarching in Cardiff on Saturday 9 October, during a day of action called by Youth Fight For Jobs.

triangleFighting for our future

triangleTen years since our 330-mile Jarrow March for Jobs

triangleBrighton Socialist Party: The Youth Fight for Jobs campaign

triangleJoin the fight for our future

Youth:

triangleWest London Socialist Party: Youth demand a future

triangleYouth climate protests are back

triangleSunak's student special

Jobs:

triangleUnite and fight for 30,000 permanent DWP jobs

triangleFight for a socialist recovery

triangleSocialist nationalisation not bailouts for the bosses

Low pay:

triangleWorking class under attack

triangleFreeports spell deregulation, low pay and a new race to the bottom

Pay:

triangleScunthorpe scaffs strike for pay

Black:

triangleLeeds Socialist Party: Socialism and the fight for black liberation

Young people:

triangleA Socialist Students stall outside Northampton university, September 2021

Student:

triangleNigeria: Comrade Omomeewa, student leader and socialist campaigner, killed by armed assailants

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