Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/574/7138
Youth march for jobs
This is only the beginning!
The G20 meeting, hosted by Gordon Brown, in London was met with an outpouring of anger. However, of all the many protests against the summit, the 'youth march for jobs' on 2 April stood out a mile. The clarity of the demands marked it out. This was a march of young people, organised by young people, fighting for their future. Throughout the day around 600 young people participated.
Sean Figg and, Sarah Sachs-Eldridge
Entering the park, protesters were greeted by a handful of red t-shirt wearing activists. As coaches from around England and Wales found their way through the traffic, this swelled to a substantial crowd.
Having dined in style on the bacon butties provided, the marchers set off. Among them were university and college students, young workers and unemployed people. There were seasoned activists, but also people who have only recently got in touch with Youth Fight for Jobs (YFfJ).
Some had seen the posters on the G20 protest demonstration the previous Saturday and decided to turn up.
Wondering what all the noise was about, students from Tower Hamlets College thronged the pavements. We explained the purpose of our march was to bring a message to the G20 that young people refuse to pay for the bosses' crisis. Hearing this and our demand for the right to a decent future - decent jobs, free education, training linked to secure employment - a number of students joined the march.
As we left Canning Town Docklands Light Railway station a group of school students not only joined us, but pushed to the front of the march shouting out the chants at the tops of their voices.
This protest not only referred to the heroic marches of the past, such as the Jarrow march of the 1930s, but also passed through some important sites of labour movement history.
At the junction of Cable Street marchers shouted "No Pasaran!" They linked the anti-fascist struggles of the 1930s to the fight against the far-right racist BNP today and the need to put forward a viable alternative for working class people.
We passed through Poplar and commemorated the struggle of the Poplar councillors, sent to prison in 1921 for standing up for unemployment rights.
Passing through Wapping where print workers launched an heroic struggle in 1986, we pointed out the need for trade unionism and for socialist leadership.
Rallies at the start and lunch break were addressed by trade union and youth activists, as well as a Tower Hamlets Respect councillor.
Approaching the ExCeL centre, the site of the G20 summit, the sea of red t-shirts was engulfed in a media scrum. The closing rally was addressed by Hannah Sell, deputy general secretary of the Socialist Party, who lambasted the rotten profit-driven system of capitalism which cannot provide a secure future for young people.
Nick Parker, an activist in the public sector union PCS, illustrated this point with examples from the frontline of unemployment at the Jobcentres across the UK.
Sean Figg, YFfJ national organiser, explained how the march for jobs was only the beginning of the campaign. It is now crucial to build the campaign in towns and cities across the country by organising public meetings, local stunts and marches and continuing to build the support in the trade unions and colleges.
Video of the march (opens in new window)
After seeing a poster for the 'youth fight for jobs march' I decided that, as an unemployed youth, I should stand up and fight for my future. I brought along my friend, who felt the same way, and we had an amazing day at the march.
It was so encouraging to be a part of something where hundreds of other people were all there for the same reason.
As young people, we need to throw aside the apathy that so many British people have, and collectively channel our passion for equality into making a difference, and stopping Gordon Brown and the like from taking advantage of us!
Elicia May Westley, Newham
Out of all the different anti-capitalist marches I have been a part of, this one will stick out in my memory for the rest of my life, because what we saw was a genuine feeling of anger and resentment against the bank bailouts. Everyone was in unison, no one caused any trouble, and we shouted loud and proud about what we believe in. It was a collective of a multitude of different people, from all parts of the country. The government does not seem to understand how unemployment affects everyone from each part of society, except, obviously, themselves.
Megan Price, Cardiff
With the vast numbers of unemployed in this country and constant attacks on the remaining jobs, we need to protect every single job we can. I have been unemployed for a long time. I worked part-time in my last job and was sacked unfairly as the company's profits fell.
The march got a very good response from the majority of passers-by with some joining in. It was a very productive and enjoyable day.
David Berrie, Medway
I was on the march representing my members who face pay cuts and redundancies because we are expected to pay for the recession. I went on the march to say it's not our mess and we won't pay for it. We in Greenwich have fought and won before and we are prepared to fight again. Unlike the union leaders who only talk, we were on the march because we want to take action.
Kaz, Greenwich Unison
I went because I think that it's important that, as young workers and students, we stand up for our rights and fight for a better future. It was a real inspiration to see so many young people on the march. We have a long way to go but I feel that this could be the start of something big.
Pete Jones, Hull
I decided to go on the march to make a stand for what I believe in. I'm not going to have enough money to go to university as I have three sisters and my parents can't pay for all of us. And even if I do get to university there's no guarantee that I'll get a job at the end of it. I value my future and I'm not prepared to give it up.
I think the march was really good and fun. I met loads of people who are inspired to change the world.
I think the campaign is an excellent idea and I hope it carries on and gets bigger and bigger. There are thousands of young people who have plans for their future and will not stand by and let them go to waste.
I heard it said on the day, and I agree, they're putting money and power before people and that's unacceptable!
Shannon Tells, Plaistow
I am currently the young members' officer for my trade union branch, and even there it is clear that young people are overlooked, which is wrong. They are the future. It is time for change and time for youth to fight for jobs!
Monique Hirst, Huddersfield
Youth Fight for Jobs conference
Saturday 9 May
Cruciform, Lecture Theatre 1, University College London (UCL), London WC1E 6BT. Near Euston and Warren Street tube and rail stations
10-11am - registration
11-12.30pm - opening rally
Speakers include Bob Crow, RMT general secretary; Tracy Edwards, PCS young members network; and activists from the campaign.
12.30-1.30pm - lunch
1.30-3pm - workshops
Topics include: current workplace struggles to save jobs; organising the YFfJ campaign; the politicians' reaction to the crisis; and defending your rights at work.
3-3.30pm - what way forward for the campaign?
Discussion, resolutions & voting.
3:30-4:30pm - closing rally.
Speakers include Sean Figg, Youth Fight for Jobs national organiser, activists from Greece, and more...
In The Socialist 7 April 2009:
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party campaigns
International socialist news
Socialist Party workplace news