Monthly Archives: July 2011

Support grows for Youth Fight For Jobs Merthyr-Cardiff march

The campaign to build for the Merthyr to Cardiff march for jobs hit Pontypridd on Saturday and got a brilliant response.

Youth Fight For Jobs have organised a march from Merthyr to Cardiff starting on August 4th to highlight the lack of jobs for young people in the valleys and to hit back at the slur of Tory minister Iain Duncan Smith that unemployed Merthyr people should just “get on the bus” to Cardiff to work.

About a dozen campaigners hit the streets of Pontypridd to build support for the march which will leave Pontypridd on August 5th. We received a great response: “Why can’t we march from Maerdy” asked one woman from the Rhondda.

A lot of older people signed to support the march. “If the government was really concerned about the unemployed they wouldn’t be cutting jobs in the public sector” was a common response.

Many people had their own stories of unemployment or were worried about their future prospects, expecting to finish work soon or in seasonal jobs. One woman from the Rhondda reported that she was being paid just £4.50 an hour “I know its illegal” she said “But what can I do. If I report them they’ll just get rid of me”

Unfortunately the sympathy for the marchers was not shared by Rhondda Cynon Taff (RCT) council who stepped in to prevent Youth Fight For Jobs from setting up stalls to get support. The excellent campaigning came to an abrupt end as council officials thretened to call the police if Youth Fight for Jobs did not pack up.

“We can’t win, can we?” said one young campaigner “If we just stay at home then we’re lazy, but as soon as we try and do something to fight for jobs the council threatens us with the police”. “Labour in RCT showed its true colours today” said Rhys, joint organiser of the march, “They like to attack the Tories, but they when it comes to the crunch they make it as difficult as possible to oppose them”.

The march leaves Merthyr Job Centre at 10.00 am on Thursday 4th August and arrives in Cardiff at the Nye Bevan statue at 12.00 noon on August 6th where it will lead a demonstration to the Cardiff Job Centre.

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Harrogate Destination as Youth Recreate Jarrow March for Jobs on 75th Anniversary

See below a press statement put out by Harrogate Action, an anti-cuts group in the area, about their plans for when the Jarrow March arrives in Harrogate. We’re very grateful for their support and would encourage people in the area to get involved; contact details at the end.


In 1936, 207 marchers walked almost 300 miles to lobby Parliament about the unemployment and poverty they were suffering. These intrepid folk passed through Harrogate en-route. In October this year the youth of Britain will mark the 75th anniversary of the Jarrow March by again visiting Harrogate. Recent figures have shown that the issue of unemployment still exists especially amongst youths. At present there are 965,000 16-24 year olds who are unemployed. This year’s march, which is demanding decent jobs and a free education for young people, will visit Harrogate on October 6.

Harrogate Action the district wide non Party Political group, who’s aim is to “highlight the impact of the government’s austerity measures on the folk of Harrogate and demonstrate the alternatives to the cuts.” will be organising the day, with entertainment on the evening and by providing accommodation and food for the marchers. But they need your help, can you put up and feed a marcher on the night of Thursday 6 October? Will you support us by attending the musical evening event ? Or if neither of these are possible then please send us a donation to help support our activities.

Nigel Heptinstall interim chair of Harrogate Action said, “the youth have suffered particularly under this coalition Government’s austerity measures. They have lost the Educational Maintenance Allowance, University fees have reached astronomical levels and unemployment levels for our youth (16-24 year olds) is nationally for Feb-Apr 2011 895,000 (19.3%)1. We cannot allow a whole generation, of mainly the worse off in society, to be treated in this soul destroying way, we must voice our concerns, so please do all you can to support the day.”

Other activities planned by Harrogate Action in the near future is a public meeting featuring prominent local people representing the voluntary sector, non profit making organisations and trade unions to be held at the Catholic Club on 26 September together with a stall and leafleting campaign. Our next organisation meeting is at 8:15 on 1 August at the Catholic Club Robert Street Harrogate, if you support our aims you are welcome to attend. To find out more, or to offer your support, search the internet for Harrogate Action or email


For further Information
contact Nigel Heptinstall, interim chair Harrogate Action, Harrogate Action or email


1 – Figures obtained from
the Office for National Statistics Summary of statistics published on 13 July

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student march on 5 November

Press release for immediate use 26/7/2011

Student activists confused by call for separate student demonstration 4 days after demonstration united with young workers and unemployed

Youth Fight for Jobs Jarrow marchers call for one combined demonstration on 5th November

Youth Fight for Jobs are recreating the Jarrow March on the 75th anniversary, and are bringing together students, unemployed workers, trade union members and activists in a demonstration on Saturday 5 November, assembling at Embankment at 11am. The campaign was confused by yesterdays call by the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) to organise a separate demonstration on 9 November.

Leeds University Against the Cuts (LUAC) press spokesperson Ian Pattison said “I am confused as to why this call has been made. The march on 5 November has been publicly announced for 5 months and has received coverage in the Guardian and Independent. I announced this at the NUS conference and proposed that all student anti-cuts groups work together to build a united resistance to all the cuts, and campaign for a future for all young people, against the governments brutal measures. The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts backed this march at its recent conference. I am confused as to why yesterdays announcement to split the resistance was made without any consultation with student anti-cuts activists such as myself.”

Ben Robinson, Chair of Youth Fight for Jobs, said “The recreation of the Jarrow march has the backing of 6 national trade unions, Unite, PCS, RMT, Bectu, TSSA, FBU and UCU. It also has the support of many student anti-cuts groups and individuals up and down the country who are marching, offering us accommodation, helping to organise the protest and so forth. Many of our members played leading roles in the student anti-fees protests. We hope that the NCAFC and EAN do not try to divide the resistance. We hope that we can get together and discuss with representatives from those groups so that we have one demonstration on 5 November that all activists can build for at the start of the new term.”

Youth Fight for Jobs is a campaigning organisation launched in response to the government trying to punish young people for the recession in early 2009. We have the backing of the PCS, UCU, RMT, CWU, UNITE, TSSA and BECTU trade unions.


For more info contact or phone 020 8558 7947

We can arrange interviews

*corrected at 4:10pm to remove EAN support for the demonstration on 9 November.



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Why we’re marching; Merthyr Tydfil

Con-Dems have no solution to unemployment


Katie Simpson

Cardiff Youth Fight for Jobs

Merthyr Tydfil in south Wales has the fourth highest level of youth unemployment in Britain with more than a third of 16-24 year olds unable to find work.

Last year Tory minister Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) asked why don’t jobseekers in Merthyr Tydfil “just get on a bus” to Cardiff? He blames the unemployed for being out of work.

But for every vacancy advertised in Cardiff, there are nine job seekers living in the city, let alone those outside in places like Merthyr who are looking to commute. In Merthyr itself there are 84 job seekers for every job advertised!

But Iain won’t let the facts get in the way of his ideological campaign to make ordinary working class people and the most vulnerable in society pay for the economic crisis. Bus or no bus, this government’s policies mean there are no jobs! They’re cutting 750,000 jobs from the public sector and, while claiming the private sector will come to our rescue, they’re doing nothing as the high street collapses around us.

And the schemes they claim are designed to help unemployed young people are a joke. I volunteered to do a placement with a private insurance company because I was told that I had an “excellent chance of employment” within the company.

I worked there full-time. After six weeks I became ill resulting in two days off work over the following two weeks. It wasn’t until I had worked for the company for 12 weeks that my manager took me aside and confessed that I was never going to find a job there after I had taken those two days off sick.

She then started questioning my commitment to finding work, completely ignoring the fact that I had been working for her for 12 weeks for free. The truth was clear, I was never going to find a job in that company. The team I was in was a training team so not directly profitable and they just needed a way to increase productivity without breaking the budget.

As you can imagine it was a huge blow to my confidence considering how hard I worked when I was there. Unfortunately many unemployed
young people like me are being exploited in this way.

Youth Fight for Jobs Wales protested when IDS came to Cardiffwith chants of “Duncan-Smith, do us a favour – give us jobs, not slave labour!” and attempted to challenge him about his “get on a bus” idea. We also joined trade unionists at a recent anti-cuts march and rally inCardiff.

From 4 to 6 August, we will show IDS that the unemployed aren’t lazy and go one better than getting on a bus from Merthyr to Cardiff – we’re marching the whole distance. And then in October we’ll be joining the Jarrow march for jobs from Jarrow in South Tyneside all the way to London, which will go past IDS’s constituency office in Chingford.

Both marches will be demanding investment in a programme of socially useful job creation. A report published recently by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University concluded that only a publicly run jobs creation scheme like this can restore economic prosperity toWales.

So far the campaign has received a great response from young people and trade union members in south Wales. In the lead-up to the
demonstration we will be organising a number of fundraising events including gigs and stalls which will also raise awareness and bring in more marchers.

If you can join either demonstration or help us raise money to cover the costs, get in touch:

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Jarrow launch meeting in Newcastle

Jarrow launch meeting

When: Tuesday 19 July 2011, 7:00pm

Where: Tyneside Irish Centre, 43 Gallowgate,, Newcastle Ne1 4SG

This is a launch meeting for the jarrow march for jobs in Newcastle. Speakers include Ben Robinson, Chair of the campaign, alongside speakers from the RMT, Unite and the PCS young members network. All welcome!
Nearest metro stop St James Park

We’ll also be out campaigning at the Durham Miners Gala tomorrow – come along and say hello!

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10k left to go!

…don’t worry, we haven’t started the Jarrow march just yet! We now have a fantastic £16,000 raised and pledged towards costs of the Jarrow march, a big thankyou to all of you who have raised it in your trade union branches, done street collections, and donated out of your own pocket. With this weeks coverage in the Guardian and Independent there is a lot more potential support out there.

However, there is still a long way to go. Firstly, if you have agreed a donation, please hurry it down so that we can start hiring minibuses, buying shoes etc for the marchers. Secondly, if you haven’t yet raised it in your union branch, or can spare an hour or two to do some campaigning and collect donations, please do! All the details of how to get money to us are here.


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longest student occupation in the country supports jarrow march

There is an interview in todays independent with students involved in the longest occupation in the country at Leeds Trinity, who are also supporting the jarrow march for jobs and are possibly arranging accomodation and food for the march when we are in Leeds. The article mentions the role of students in linking up with the broader community in the fight against cuts. However it also glosses over the fact that the room for the anti-cuts group was won in a battle with the management and that the same management are attempting now to kick the activists out!

Student protest against Leeds Trinity’s fee rises is longest sit-in in the country

The activists tell Richard Garner why they won’t give up the fight

Thursday, 7 July 2011

You drive past Horsforth Cricket Club as you approach Leeds Trinity University College. The leafy Leeds suburb gives you no indication you are about to approach one of the most impressive (or militant, depending upon your point of view) examples of student protest witnessed in the past year.


Yet the students at the college have notched up the record for the longest   occupation/sit-in in the country, since demonstrations against the rise in   tuition fees began last November. In some ways, it is a very British protest   – going on now with the blessing of the university management, which says it   is “supportive” of their protest against government cuts.

The students themselves have also been accommodating to the college   management. When they realised it could cost the university money if they   continued to stage their protest in a defunct staff room due for   development, they reached agreement to move to another office.

Andy Smith, aged 28 and a second-year psychology student who is the most   prominent amongst the demonstrators, says: “We’re protesting about cuts   to higher education and we were there to make sure the college spent its   money wisely. If there were delays in the contractor moving into the   building, there would be fines for the college – and that didn’t seem to   make sense.”

The occupation started when the students returned from the first mass   demonstration against the fee rises in November – notorious for the storming   of the Conservative party headquarters at Millbank. The Leeds Trinity group   on that demonstration did not join the occupation but milled around outside   the building, as they knew they had to get back to Leeds by coach that   evening.

At first, it was students from the psychology department who were in the   forefront of the protest. “I think 11 of the 13 that went down to   London for the demonstration were from psychology,” says Andy Smith. It   made it difficult to keep up the 24-hour occupation if there was a key   psychology lecture about to take place. “We had to text round furiously   to see if could get other students to take over,” says Jordan Kelly,   aged 19, who is a forensic-science student.

The protesters were sustained during the occupation by staff at the   university, who kept on bringing them cakes and cups of tea and coffee to   sustain them. This is in sharp contrast to the more high-profile protests at   University College London, where the university took legal action to remove   the students.

Because the students have been so conscientious and well organised, they are   adamant that the occupation has not affected their studies. For the duration   of the occupation, they have operated a sort of rota. In fact, their tutors   predict that those involved in it will do well in their exams. There is also   a note pinned to the door saying that if their present office is unoccupied   at any time, it is only because they have had to shoot off to take an exam   and someone will be back soon. The students themselves believe being   involved in the occupation has bolstered their confidence.

Tanis Belsham-Wray, an 18-year-old first-year psychology student, says: “I   didn’t really do any public speaking beforehand. I’ve got a lot in terms of   organisational skills and the confidence to do things out of it. Also,   there’s motivation – you put so much energy into it.” Andy Smith   adds: “It really does build life skills. Perhaps it should be a   mandatory part of every student’s course.”

Leeds Trinity is a small university with a strength in teacher-training and   journalism courses and 3,500 students. But it does not hit the headlines as   much as its better-known counterparts in the city – the Russell Group Leeds   University and Leeds Metropolitan. As Jordan Kelly put it: “At least   you can Google us and see what we’ve done now.”

The occupation has been scaled back now that the students – who are   independent of the students’ union at the university (although five of them   have won places on its executive next year) – have been granted official   permission to occupy an unused office in the building. There is no need to   mount an overnight occupation because they know they are not going to be   turfed out.

From the university’s point of view, Professor Freda Bridge, principal and   chief executive of the university, says: “We are supportive of their   campaign against government cuts in higher education and have worked   positively with them to ensure they can carry out their protest. The   students initiated a sit-in in December which they have continued to date.

“By providing them with an office base we placed our trust in them to   continue their activities in a peaceful manner and they have respected this   by maintaining a well-organised protest that is not disruptive to our   business and they have been professional at all times,” she adds.

Has this very polite protest achieved anything, though?

One of the reasons the students first started their occupation was a perceived   threat to the university from the Coalition Government’s plan to move   teacher training out of universities into schools. (The university is   adamant that it has a robust future.)

They have taken their protest out into the local community, making links with   local political groups and turning it into a protest generally about the   impact of public-spending cuts and have successfully set up a “Horsforth   Against The Cuts” campaign, which has taken to the streets to oppose   local spending cuts. They probably would not have envisaged that happening   at Horsforth Cricket Club a few months ago.

Will it continue next year? Well, it is being stood down for the summer   holidays but next term it is expected to start again when the students plan   to put up marchers who are planning to recreate the 1936 Jarrow march   against unemployment as they make their way to London.

What academics and students at the university would agree upon is that it has   created a breed of students who will not be apathetic and will want to take   an active part in the future democratic life of the country. Andy Smith, for   instance, stood for election (albeit unsuccessfully) to the local council   this summer.


Any history of student militancy would not be complete without a mention of   the sit-in at the London School of Economics (LSE) in the late 1960s, when   student protests were at their height, brought on by opposition to the   Vietnam war. So the country witnessed protests outside the US Embassy in   Grosvenor Square, London, and also 250 students protesting outside the US   Consulate in Edinburgh.

The 1967 LSE occupation began after the disciplining of two students – David   Adelstein, president of the LSE students’ union, and Marshall Bloom,   president of the university’s Graduates Students’ Association – for the   parts they had played in protesting against the appointment of the LSE’s new   director, Dr Walter Adams. The duo were suspended for their actions. During   their protest, a porter had died.

The appointment was controversial because Dr Adams had previously been   principal of University College, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and was therefore   associated with Ian Smith’s illegal regime, which was running the country   after a unilateral declaration of independence.

Students demanded the suspensions be lifted after a post-mortem examination   showed the porter had died of a heart attack, which could have happened at   any time. They began a boycott of their lectures and occupied the main LSE   building in Houghton Street. Inside were about 400 demonstrators, singing   protest songs and chanting “we shall not be moved”. The occupation   was successful. The students expressed regret and the suspensions were   lifted.

Over the next couple of years, the LSE was the centre of a range of sit-ins   and occupations over various issues – including expressing solidarity with   protesting students in France.

It was followed by further sit-ins at universities around the country – mostly   over domestic, local issues such as student representation in college   governance, demands for better accommodation, lower fees or even canteen   prices.

After the mid-1970s, the student protests faded away and were really only   revived again last year with the series of protests during the winter over   the proposed rise in tuition fees to up to £9,000 a year.

For the most part, they have been peaceful, although a group of protesters did   storm the Conservative party headquarters at Millbank during the first   protest and surrounded a royal car ferrying Prince Charles and Camilla to   the theatre at a subsequent demonstration.

Student politics first emerged in UK universities in the 1880s, but it was not   until 1921 that the National Union of Students (NUS) was formed. As part of   its original remit, it undertook not to indulge in “political or   religious interests”.

That strategy began to be ditched in the 1930s, with the setting up of several   socialist societies at universities. These ranged from being social   democratic to Marxist-Leninist to Trotskyite in their political   affilIations. During this period, the NUS elected its first Communist   president, Brian Simon.


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Youth Fight for Jobs National Meeting

On Sunday Youth Fight for Jobs held an open steering committee, 30 young
trade unionists, students and unemployed activists met to discuss the
perspectives for the campaign. The first session was a discussion on the Jarrow
march for Jobs. Comrades reported on how the plans were going in their areas to
build for the march. We heard reports of what comrades in Yorkshire were doing
to build for the march, including a banner drop from the Humber Bridge in the
lead up to the march to publicise it. Members from Wales reported on the
building for the Merthyr March for Jobs, “mini Jarrow” march, which will be
taking place from the 4th to the 6th August. It was also announced that we are
now on 57% on the Jarrow-meter having raised £14,911.97. Though there is still a
long way to go this puts us in a great position to smash through our target of

The second discussion was building Youth Fight for Jobs. This session
focussed on the attacks on the rights and living standards of young people and
practical steps for building the fight back. There was discussion around the
destruction of jobs on the high streets as retailers begin to close their doors.
Contributors raised the need to unionise young workers who work mostly in low
pad insecure jobs. We also talked about how we use the Jarrow March for Jobs to
build the campaign and how we build it after the march.

We finished off with a report on the work of the campaign. Since the last YFJ
conference the TSSA had affiliated the campaign. We also talked about the motion
at the last Trade Union Congress that commended Youth Fight for Jobs for the
work it had dome so which led on to the January 29th demo in Manchester. There
was also a report on the intervention we had at the trade union conferences this
year. YFJ had official stalls at the PCS, UCU, NUJ, BECTU and GMB conferences.
We also had a well received intervention at the CWU conference and a speaker at
the NUT NSSN fringe meeting..

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British youth protest needs the spirit of los indignados

YFJ national organiser Paul Callanan in the Guardians Comment is Free –

In the past few weeks, Europe has been rocked by youth rebellion. In Spain, young people have taken to the squares and plazas in a movement against sky-high levels of unemployment. In Greece, a huge movement of young people supported by the trade unions has taken to the streets over the government’s brutal austerity agenda. And now if young people are to have anything like a decent future in Britain, we need to do the same here.

At the moment there are nearly 1 million young people unemployed. We have also seen the right to an education snatched away from working- and middle-class students and turned into a privilege for the wealthiest few in society. Public sector cuts will also impact young people disproportionately as millions more are sent to the dole queue, while those services that support unemployed people are slashed to the bone. And this government of Bullingdon Boys wants to heap more misery upon us.

In spite of Cameron’s crocodile tears, the government clearly sees the situation as an opportunity to be seized for rich mates rather than the scourge that it is. Under its work programme, the unemployed will be turned into an army of slave labour working for meagre benefits.

It is fitting that this all coincides with the 75th anniversary of the Jarrow Crusade. Because, if the present economic crisis and attacks on young and working people show anything, it is that capitalism has not been able to solve the question of unemployment and poor living standards in the decades since the march. Yes, we may live much better now but we face 75 years of gains, like the NHS, the welfare state and the right to an education, being blotted out of existence. This government wants to wind back the clock to the 1930s. That is why we are bringing the spirit of “los indignados” to Britain and marching again.


Young people, unemployed people, trade union activists and students from the struggle last year will march from town to town, starting on 1 October and arriving in London on 5 November, myself among them. We will be organising protests, demonstrations and meetings to bring together all these groups. We’re demanding job creation not destruction from the government. We’re demanding a wage you can live on for all, including apprentices and interns. We’re demanding a halt to the brutal attacks on benefits, already lower for young people. To beat this government and to win a decent future, young people need to be part of a broad anti-cuts movement. That’s why the solidarity shown on 30 June was so important. We want the march to help build a mass movement.


The student movement at the end of last year already gave a glimpse of what was possible when young people moved. Not only did that movement break the silence on the Con-Dem cuts, shattering the idea that the cuts were necessary and inevitable, but it also won important concessions showing that mass movement can still win victories.


And events this year have shown that mass movements can change the world. The revolutionary wave that has swept across the Middle East was started by young people in Tunisia and Egypt. In Spain young people are marching from the north coast to Madrid. And just like young people have already done from Cairo to Madrid, we need to stand up and say that we won’t be a lost generation.

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