We held a very successful meeting to bring together all those interested in the jarrow march on Sunday 29 May. We will carry a fuller report soon, but below are the introductions from Ben Robinson and Paul Callanan on why we’re marching, where our plans are so far for the new jarrow march, and what marchers can expect.
Monthly Archives: May 2011
It is rather perplexing today to read on the site of Solidarity, the British workers union, that they are supporting the Jarrow March for Jobs. Solidarity is a “trade union” front for the BNP. Youth Fight for Jobs is squarely opposed to Solidarity and all that it stands for. Many of the “union’s” leading members are also members of the BNP or have far-right connections.
Take Simone Clarke, for instance, who is on the “union’s” executive; as well as being a prima ballerina, her BNP membership was uncovered in 2006. We also have Adam Walker, the President of the union, a teacher who last year faced a disciplinary panel charged with racial intolerance. He labels immigrants as “filthy animals”. The “union’s” General Secretary is Patrick Harrington, his links with the far right go back a long way. He was a long standing National Front member and now a member of the racist Third Way (UK) think tank. He was expelled by the RMT in 2003 after it was revealed that he had used a false identity cover up his far-right connections to join the union. These kinds of knuckle-dragging
racists have no place in the labour movement.
The “union” also explicitly rejects internationalism, stating their purpose on Solidarity’s web page that “First, our focus is on the British Worker. This leads us to oppose the shallow internationalism of some Union leaders.” Youth Fight for Jobs is an internationalist campaign; we see the fight for decent jobs, free education and a future for youth as being an international one. The current crisis of capitalism is an international one and working class people all over the world are being made to pay for a crisis caused by banksters and the super-rich. Rather than withdraw inside national borders, the working class needs to mount a united fight back. We not only offer solidarity but also practical assistance where we can to workers resisting brutal austerity measures in the west and also to the revolutionary movements that have exploded in theMiddle East.
Solidarity is a tiny union with an estimated membership of fewer than 200. They have not won any victories for working class people nor can they
claim to represent us. By contrast socialist and internationalist trade unionists have a proud record of defending workers’ interests. One example would be the Lindsey oil refinery strike in 2009. The BNP and Solidarity members claimed to support this strike but in reality they were forced off the picket line and their vile ideas were rejected by workers at the site.
In January of that year, construction workers at the site walked out in protest at their terms and conditions being undermined by bosses paying Italian workers less to do the job. The slogan “British jobs for British workers” did gain a certain echo at the start. But socialists on the strike committee explained to the workers that foreigners should not be the target of their anger and that it was the bosses who were to blame. They
explained that the Italian workers were being exploited just like the British workers and that what was needed was a fight back of all workers at the
site. As a result, the strike was a success and the national agreement between the employers and workers in the construction industry remained intact. Since its launch in 2009, our campaign has been an explicitly anti-racist one. We see the need to unite all workers and all young people to fight against the cuts and attacks on our jobs and living standards. This is regardless of whether you are British or not. In March 2010, we held a demonstration in Barking, London. We marched under the slogan ‘Jobs and homes not racism’. The protest played a role in the electoral wipe out that the BNP suffered in that borough at the 2010 council elections.
We reject the BNP’s attempts to scapegoat immigrants and ethnic minorities for a crisis caused by big business and its attack dogs in government. We are in this mess because we live under a system run in order to secure profits for the millionaires and not provide for the needs of the millions. To fall for the BNP and Solidarity’s bigotry would plunge working people further into misery and do nothing to solve the problems of jobs, rights and living standards that working class and young people face today.
So we say to Solidarity ’Thanks but no thanks’. Your support for our march is neither needed nor welcome. We will not allow Solidarity or the BNP to participate in the march in any way, shape or form. The original Jarrow march was a landmark event for the labour movement, a movement that your predecessors in fascist organisations tried to destroy.
This crisis was caused by the ruling class and their system. We are in this mess because we live under a system run in order to secure profits for the millionaires and not provide for the needs of the millions. To fall for the BNP and Solidarity’s bigotry and scapegoating would plunge working people further into misery and do nothing to solve their problems.
We want the march in October to become a rallying point for the anti-cuts movement. We want it be part of an unprecedented movement, uniting all races, creeds and colours, against brutal attacks on our jobs and living standards. We will be marching to say we won’t be a lost generation; we will fight for jobs and education.
Hi Jarrow marchers,
Here is the final agenda for Sundays meeting.
10am – 12noon Why we’re marching
a chance to meet other potential marchers and discuss someof the issues behind the call for the march. Introduced by Paul Callanan, YouthFight for Jobs organiser
12 noon –1pm lunch
1pm – 2:30pm organising the march in your area
Breaking into smaller groups to discuss building support andevents in your area
2:30pm – 4pm Whats involved in doing the Jarrow march
A chance to find out details about how the marchers will beprovided for, introduced by Ben Robinson, Youth Fight for Jobs Chair
It is taking place in the Cosmopolitan hotel, Leeds. Thereis also a Yorkshire regional conference for the campaign the day before, and a social and accommodation can be organised for Saturday night.
Thanks, and see you soon,
Youth Fight for Jobs has been along to the union conferences of NUJ, NUT, FBU and PCS over the last few weeks. We’ve received a huge amount of support and interest from delegates and activists for the march, from people agreeing to raise the motion at their branches to offers of accomodation and new marchers! We have also spoken at a number of fringe meetings at the conferences, including in the NUT those hosted by Classroom teacher, National Shop Stewards Network meetings (who also support the march), the PCS young members network and others. Thanks to all of those who hosted meetings and allowed young people to speak on the jarrow march. Below is a photo of Nick Parker, TUC young trade unionist of the year, addressing a meeting at the PCS conference in support of the Jarrow march.
Youth Fight for Jobs has also received the support of the TSSA transport union at its conference last week, becoming the seventh national union to sign up in support of the campaign. We look forward to working with them and all the members and activists we have met in the last few weeks, especially in supporting the coodinated strike action and demonstrations on 30 June in defence of pensions.
March for jobs and fight for a future
It’s that time of year again when a fresh batch of school leavers will be thrown head first into the world of unemployment. t will make little difference how many qualifications we have, or how hard we’ve worked at school, almost all of us will be in the same boat.
By Wayne Scott, Dundee
One in five 16 – 24 year olds are currently out of work with little being done to help by the Con-Dem government or their pals in the SNP government in Holyrood.
While we might hear from our politicians that they care about creating jobs for people, they only further the problem. Cutting hundreds of thousands of jobs from the public sector in no way tackles the issue of unemployment. At the same time they have they are cutting millions of so called “scroungers” off benefits!
During the Scottish elections we often heard cries of “apprenticeships!” from SNP and Labour. What they weren’t giving us a guarantee on is whether or not young people will have a guaranteed job at the end of this apprenticeship or whether it will pay a living wage.
Youth Fight for Jobs demand that all apprentices receive the minimum wage that we would demand is raised to at least £10 an hour without exception for all age groups. The youth of Scotland are worth more than just cheap labour.
Unemployment, low pay and cuts to education are just some of the things that lead to a whole range of social issues such as depression, crime and drug abuse, as well as a general sense of frustration with the society they are forced to live in under capitalism.
Youth Fight for Jobs activist Eoin Lesslie recently commented in an interview for a national newspaper that lack of a job or any kind of income had “driven him to despair”.
In the coming months, Youth Fight for Jobs will be producing a manifesto for young people. This manifesto will talk about issues that the youth of Scotland are faced with such as low pay, cuts in benefits, lack of affordable housing and lack of jobs.
We will also talk about who caused this crisis and how it is young people and the working class who will suffer as a result.
This manifesto will however layout an alternative to the cuts agenda of the Con-Dems and try to show young people how they can fight back. It will show how people have fought back in the past such as the Jarrow March in 1936 when 200 unemployed people marched from Jarrow in the north of England to London demanding jobs.
The youth of Scotland face the same situation today that people faced in 1936. This October, Youth Fight for Jobs will be recreating this march and are calling on all young people to join us on the march to tell the government that we refuse to accept their cuts.
We will fight back against every attack against us and will build a mass movement demanding jobs, better pay and free education for all!
In an attempt to demonstrate the ‘unity’ of the coalition after the Lib Dems’ disastrous results in the local elections, Cameron and Clegg attended a series of events to launch their new plan ‘Supporting Youth Employment’. This five point plan essentially claims to address the issues of education, youth services, training, welfare and the economy. In fact from the introduction to the report, you might assume that the government has successfully identified the barriers facing young people. But reading further shows at best vague, empty promises and at worst, more brutal attacks.
1. Raising attainment and ensuring that young people have the skills they need to compete in a global economy, including through quality vocational education and training.
The first section of the document assures us of the government’s intention to raise the educational attainment of young people, ensuring them an easier transition from education into a job. This comes from the very same government who just months ago took the axe to EMA and tripled tuition fees, the same government that has driven through swingeing cuts to school budgets.
But even what is in the document, far from outlining plans for supporting young people in education, amounts to a list of further attacks. On the basis of continued cuts to an already overstretched education system, increasing the age of compulsory participation in education will result in a greatly reduced standard of education post 16.
Many pupils, most likely those from more working class backgrounds, will be siphoned off at 14 to study vocational courses, told academic studies are ‘not for them’. The introduction of the so called English Baccalaureate will introduce a system similar to that of O-Levels and CSEs. Only those pupils who’ve studied the right subjects to be awarded the ‘English Bac’ will have the chance to go to university.
Claire Laker-Mansfield, Socialist Students national organiser
2. Helping young people at risk of falling through the net, by supporting local partners to provide effective, co-ordinated services.
Part of the Con-Dems’ ‘5 Steps to Seeming Like You Are Working In the Youth’s Interest’ is aimed at ensuring that young people don’t “fall through the net” and that no young person is “written off”.
Part of this is more Work Programmes for 18 year olds struggling to go from education to work, and creating more ‘education and training places’ for young people, particularly those from ‘disadvantaged’ backgrounds. The government is also expecting Jobcentre Plus to extend its service and take in the 5,000 most disadvantaged 16–17 year olds, through ‘Work Experience and Work Clubs’.
This comes at a time when funding for Connexions and other youth services has been almost universally slashed by local councils and Jobcentres are being shut left, right and centre. The government is condemning young people to a lifetime of insecure, alienating employment at best, whilst desperately covering their tracks with these feeble attempts at a cure.
Tom Jousselin, Lewisham YFJ
3. Encouraging employers in both the public and private sectors to help inspire young people and to offer more work experience, internships and apprenticeship opportunities to young people.
Extending work for your benefit schemes to 12 weeks long. Reducing oversights of Apprenticeship schemes, as requested by McDonalds among others. Hugely expanding numbers of interns, with a mere promise to ‘ask’ for wages or expenses.
Out of these, apprentices are the only ones guaranteed a minimum wage. However, for those under 19 or in their first year of the apprenticeship, this is set at £2.50, due to rise to a whopping £2.60 in October! There will be an extra 40,000 apprenticeships available.
So for the remaining 960,000 unemployed youth, the government is proposing they work for free. This is a huge attack, primarily on those who are unemployed, but also a threat to the millions on temporary or insecure contracts. It must be recognised for what it is, an attempt to further casualise an entire generation.
Ben Robinson, YFJ chair
4. Promoting personal responsibility by ensuring that work pays and that those on out-of-work benefits who can work prepare and search for work effectively.
The section of the proposals on benefits reads as a list of attacks. They will “ensure that work pays” by introducing the Universal Credit, reducing the number of disabled people who can claim support and forcing parents with young children to look for work – all essentially cuts in benefits. Unemployed people will ‘prepare and search for work effectively’ by being forced onto slave labour schemes that provide no meaningful skills – work that definitely doesn’t pay! And “stronger sanctions” will be introduced for unsatisfactory performance at reviews of how hard people are working at looking for a job – yet another way to slash benefits.
The Con-Dems’ contempt for the unemployed is obvious in every sentence. Claimants are referred to as “Jobcentre Plus customers”. And all the time, no mention of the fact that there are no jobs for the unemployed to find!
Sarah Wrack, YFJ press and campaigns officer
5. Creating the wider conditions for balanced, sustainable growth, including through protecting and extending the flexibilities of the UK labour market.
The final part of the document talks about creating the conditions for sustainable growth. As priorities, the government is claiming that it will “indentify and remove barriers to growth in key sectors in theUKeconomy”.
But the government is the biggest barrier to growth! They want to slash and burn over 700,000 of our jobs and services to pay for a crisis caused by the bankers and the super rich. That’s going to add to the growing army of young unemployed and not help solve the problem.
They also talk about helping “employer-led innovation to raise skills” and creating a more flexible labour market. Great, just what young people have been crying out for – training for a McJob where you can get fired at the drop of a hat!
This document is empty fluff that’s shows just how far out of touch this government of Bullingdon boys really is.
Paul Callanan, YFJ national organiser
Join the Jarrow march – Jarrow toLondonOctober 2011
March for a genuine solution to youth unemployment – for free, decent education and real training on trade union agreed rates of pay that leads to a guaranteed socially useful job at the end. Join Youth Fight for Jobs to fight for a future for young people! If you want to help by marching, fundraising or organising a protest as part of the march, get in touch:
Youth Fight for Jobs are marching for a future for young people; this includes fighting for the right to access education. Below is a speech from Ian Pattison at this years NUS conference and a letter that has been sent to students unions up and down the country.
Dear Students’ Union,
As you will know, the situation facing young people as a result of the economic crisis and government austerity is bleak. 1 in 5 young people are currently unemployed and this is before the full effects of the axing of EMA, tripling of tuition fees and public sector job cuts have been felt. Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) is a campaign that was set up at the start of the recession to combat youth unemployment and to fight for the right to a decent future for young people. We campaign for decent jobs, paid a minimum wage of at least £8 an hour and fight for the right of all young people to gain a good education, regardless of their background.
Since YFJ was set up in 2008, we have organised a number of initiatives. These have included: a 1,000 strong demonstration against youth unemployment, a march of over 500 young people in Barking for decent jobs and against the racist lies of the BNP as well as countless local protests. Most recently we have played an important role in the student movement, helping to organise some of the mass mobilisation against the government’s plans to dismantle Higher and Further Education. Through our work, we have gained the official support of six major national trade unions: UCU, Unite, PCS, RMT, CWU and BECTU. The University of Sussex Students’ Union and Waltham Forest College Students’ Union have also affiliated to the campaign.
With youth unemployment now pushing 1 million and with tens of thousands of graduates out of work, the need for action to defend our futures has never been greater. This autumn, YFJ will be holding a march from Jarrow to London to say we won’t be a lost generation! This will stand in the tradition of the original Jarrow marchers who, in 1936, were forced to march for jobs. 75 years on, young people are facing a government keen to take us back to the 1930s. The difference is that today, after working class people have fought for and won gains such as the welfare state, young people have even more to lose. That’s why we’re marching again.
The march will begin on October 1st in Jarrow (North East England) and will end in London on November 5th with a mass demonstration. We aim to make the march a rallying point for the anti-cuts movement with local demonstrations organised as the march passes through each town and city. On November 5th, we also hope to mobilise thousands of students for the demonstration which will greet the marchers. In the absence of an NUS national demonstration this could be an important rallying point for the student movement. The final demo will be saying no to education cuts and fee rises, for the restoration of EMA and for the right to a decent job after studying.
The march may well be going through your area. This is our info pack:
The YFJ ‘Jarrow March’, as well as gaining a huge amount of support from Trade Unions, is also supported by several MPs. An early day motion tabled by John Mcdonnell has been signed by 21 Members of Parliament.
We are now also asking for the help of Students’ Unions in making the ‘Jarrow March’ and surrounding demonstrations a success. We are asking that you help mobilise students, particularly for the national demonstration on November 5th, but also for the local rallies. There will also be some students who are able to take part in some or all of the 5 week march, and we would welcome you putting us in touch with students at your institution who will be able to do so.
The final thing we are asking from Students Unions is for financial support in putting on the march. The estimated cost of the Jarrow march is £26,000 based on 50 marchers completing the entire march. So far £7,000 has been donated by trade unions but clearly more is needed to make the march successful.
If you are interested in receiving more information about the campaign or the march, we are happy to send you a copy of our latest press pack. If you would like campaigning materials to aid the work you do around the campaign on your campuses we are also more than happy to provide these.
I look forward to you being in touch.
Youth Fight for Jobs National Organiser
The below has gone out to all who have registered an interest in doing the march, or sections of it. If you’re interested you’re welcome, please contact us – details in the ‘about’ section above.
Dear Jarrow marchers!
Thanks for your enthusiasm for getting involved in the march. Plans are going very well, with the support of 4 national unions, PCS, FBU, TSSA and Bectu and more in the pipeline, as well as from local trade union branches, anti-cuts groups and student activists around the country. The reason we called the march was to unite the opposition not only to the huge crisis of youth unemployment, but to fight for a future for young people and bring together everyone who supports that call; we’re well on the route to doing that and with your help can make a very important stand.
We are organising a meeting for all of those interested in doing the march, and in supporting it, in Leeds on the 29 May. This will take place in the Cosmopolitan hotel, details of how to get there here , from 10am to 4pm. We’d like to get you together, to meet up, discuss the practical details of the march, and answer any questions and exchange ideas of how to go about doing it. The day will be in two halves, an organising discussion for the march, and a session on what being a marcher will mean. Please let us know if you can come along by either replying to this email or contacting us via the details below.
There is also a Yorkshire Youth Fight for Jobs regional conference the day before (details here ) and plans for a social on the Saturday evening; the Leeds YFFJ group are happy to arrange accommodation if you’re planning to come up the night before, just get in contact.
If you can’t make it, we can arrange to let you know how its gone, either with a local report back meeting or we can have a chat on the phone.
Thanks, and looking forward to meeting you all,
Youth Fight for Jobs Chair