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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 October 2021

I'm unemployed: For me vacancy crisis is a lie

Job Centre Plus, photo Helen Cobain (Creative Commons)

Job Centre Plus, photo Helen Cobain (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

An unemployed Socialist Party member in London

I'm writing this at 7.10am. The other night, I had an interview at a local Tesco for the night shift.

I had applied for pretty much every job going locally on their website, but only the night shift application resulted in an interview. Knowing I was writing this article for the Socialist, I asked the store manager how many applicants they'd had: "125 applications, 20 interviews, three jobs".

So this is what being one of the lucky few feels like, waiting for a bus gone midnight at the side of a motorway in an ill-fitting shirt and tie. And it's definitely progress.

I'd had months of submitting CVs and filling in forms online with no response. So I rewrote my CV from start to finish, omitting many of my skills, because employers couldn't put them to a productive use.

A month ago, I did an online course on CV writing. It is part of the privatised Restart scheme the government gave Maximus roughly 700 million to run.

This scheme is intended for people who have been unemployed longer than a year, something that doesn't apply to me.

But it is hard to argue when job centre staff pose it point-blank: "Do you want a job? Because if you refuse to go on this course, we'll have to take it as a sign you don't." That would mean my Universal Credit would be slashed, and I'd be unable to pay my bills.

On the CV course was an older man, close to retirement. He'd worked all his life, paying into a pension. A decade or two in the past, he would have been able to retire on that. But big business declared a pensions crisis, and the politicians acquiesced, raising retirement ages and forcing him to look for work alongside the rest of us.

As far as I can tell, Maximus mainly adds an extra layer of bureaucracy and blame for the unemployed.

Struggling to get interviews? "Please send us screenshots of submitted applications, so we know that you're actually looking for jobs."

Moreover, unwilling to travel for hours before dawn, and before public transport is running, spending multiple hours' wages to get there? "We have to remind you that you've got an obligation to find employment as soon as possible." So you find yourself feeling that you have to say 'yes', just out of self-preservation.

I want to work. I'm confident I can learn how to do the roles I'm applying for. I'm also sure this applies to the others looking for work I've met on online courses or in staff cafeterias, waiting to be interviewed.

The system puts the blame on us as individuals, with the threat of benefit cuts held over your head. But the reality is that it's capitalism that is failing us, not providing the opportunities to put our productive talents to use.

We're constantly told that there are lots of vacancies out there. But my experience is very different.

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In The Socialist 20 October 2021:


Fight for a socialist recovery

Tories to blame for GP crisis

Container delay carnage makes the case for socialist planning

Socialist nationalisation not bailouts for the bosses

Workplace news

Unite union policy conference

University workers ballot for strike action

Unite and fight for 30,000 permanent DWP jobs

Gwent valleys Stagecoach bus drivers strike for fair pay

Reinstate Gary Evans! Llanelli postal workers strike

Napo AGM 2021: Union placed on war footing

Scunthorpe scaffs strike for pay

People's budgets

People's Budgets - a socialist answer to cruel cuts

Brighton bin workers' victory in sight

Fight to defend homelessness services

Ealing People's Budget - cuts can be resisted

Northampton People's Budget - cuts and privatisation is a failed strategy

Fighting the cuts at the ballot box in Liverpool

Fall of apartheid

The fall of Apartheid in South Africa

Climate change

COP26: Trade unions must fight for a socialist transition to renewables

Save the planet from capitalist climate catastrophe


Austria: Chancellor Kurz resigns amid allegations of corruption


Obituary - Tony Davison: "I work for Militant, but Laing's pay my wages"


"Are you the socialist cabby?"

Housing crisis: Tories and Labour are not on our side

Liverpool arms fair: Hundreds of protesters defy police 'dispersal zone'

Hackney children's centres - more education cuts are devastating

Biggest protest yet to save Stratford Circus

Doncaster: Vigil condemns violence against women

Readers' opinion

I'm unemployed: For me vacancy crisis is a lie

TV review: Squid Game


Home   |   The Socialist 20 October 2021   |   Join the Socialist Party

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Related links:


triangleTen years since our 330-mile Jarrow March for Jobs

triangle1920s-30s Britain: A working-class movement fighting unemployment and capitalism

triangleBooks that inspired me: The Road to Wigan Pier

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleLeicester Socialist Party: Universal Credit - Universal Misery


triangleWhat did you think of Socialism 2021?

triangleSelling the Socialist

triangleObituary: Ted Austin (1940-2021) - working-class socialist stalwart

triangleNorthampton: Phoney consultation to mask cuts


triangleYouth fight for well-paid green jobs and socialist change

triangleRMT AGM: Delegates focus on the looming battles

triangleTV review Maid


triangleChina: Bureaucracy grapples with new crises

triangleSunak's climate finance agenda typifies capitalism's COP26 failure

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