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3 August 2011


Merthyr to Cardiff 4-6 August

Ross Saunders, Cardiff West Socialist Party

Tory work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, singled out Merthyr Tydfil in the south Wales valleys when he implied that the main barrier to jobseekers finding work was their own apathy - 'why don't they just get on a bus to Cardiff?' he asked.

Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) Wales is marching from Merthyr Tydfil to Cardiff from 4 to 6 August in protest at the cuts to jobs and services and the levels of youth unemployment.

A polite version of the response to Iain Duncan Smith's slur on Merthyr Tydfil's unemployed is summed up by Guardian journalist John Harris: "You can't catch a bus to a job that doesn't exist."

The civil servants' union, PCS, was quick to point out that - counting residents of the city alone - there are nine unemployed people chasing every job vacancy in Cardiff.

And despite the figures getting worse and worse, the government plans to close the jobcentre at Caradog House in Cardiff. This not only makes finding work even more difficult, it also throws more experienced public sector workers into the same jobs market in which everybody has to compete.

Young people, with a shorter CV and fewer qualifications are being hit the hardest, especially by recruitment freezes in the civil service and in councils.

The truth is that the government is trying to blame the victims of the recession for unemployment, when the real criminals are sitting in Parliament forcing through cuts and in the board rooms of the banks and big businesses stacking up profits.

YFJ has been campaigning in the area. Rhys Harrison, one of the organisers of the Merthyr march asked a YFJ meeting in Merthyr Tydfil: "why is it that every student on a grant and every young person looking for work is a scrounger, but every banker with a golden handshake and gigantic bonus is a legend?"

Merthyr Tydfil has the highest level of unemployment in Britain and one of the smallest number of job vacancies. One in four adults claims benefits and for every job opening there are 84 jobseekers.

Unemployed people didn't create this situation: they're the casualties of the free-market capitalist system that, in the search for ever greater profits, has brought about the 'Great Recession'.

Steve Fothergill, an academic at Sheffield Hallam University, has calculated that 45,000 people will be thrown off benefits in Wales alone as a result of the government's attacks. Of these, 17,000 will be denied any form of benefits and could face terrible suffering.

These people are being picked on not because they're to blame but because the government thinks they're an easy target. Or, as Rhys says, "they'll always kick those who they think cannot kick back".

YFJ in Merthyr Tydfil and neighbouring valleys are taking IDS' advice and are marching to Cardiff. But they're not swapping one dole queue for another; they're marching to demand an end to attacks on the poor and for decent jobs for all.

Jaime Davies, a young shop worker from Caerphilly, said "We will not be oppressed by capitalist society. We march for our future."

Get in touch with YFJ to join the Merthyr march or the Jarrow march which is taking place from 1 October - 5 November:
020 8558 7947