Tag Archives: unemployment

Esther McVey is out of touch!

Tory (un)employment minister Esther McVey has said the problem with young people today is that we expect too much, none of us are willing to take entry level jobs. McVey has suggested we go and work at Costa Coffee. Again, the Tories have proven how out of touch they are, shielded from the austerity measures they’re implementing. Before being given her current post, McVey was previoulsy Tory minister for disbaled people, responsible for removing DLA (Disability Living Allowance) and drastically cuting benefits for disabled people.

Below you can see an article by Nottingham Youth Fight for Jobs from February 2013 when 1900 people applied for just 8 jobs at a Costa Coffee branch.

A small and new branch of Costa Coffee in Mapperley, Nottingham featured in national news headlines yesterday when around 1,900 people applied for just 8 vacancies. The area manager for the East Midlands was shocked by the number of applications, particularly as many of them were by university graduates including nursing graduates.

Youth Fight for Jobs activists in Nottingham have been pointing out for the last few years the lack of jobs available in the area. In some places in Nottinghamshire, there are at least 15 job seekers for every vacancy. This example shows that young people are willing to work, even in minimum wage jobs, despite what government ministers like Iain Duncan Smith might say. The problem is that there aren’t enough jobs out there.

Whilst there is plenty of socially useful jobs that could be done, such as nursing in the NHS, young people with skills are being forced into part-time and temporary jobs.

Some of the people applying had previously lost their jobs from chains that have gone into administration such as HMV. The government’s claim that the private sector will ‘pick up the slack’ is proving again and again to be a lie. Youth Fight for Jobs demands that the government creates decent jobs with decent pay for the millions of young people who are unemployed or underemployed.

Today, the unemployment figures will again show the level of misery being inflicted on ordinary people Britain as a result of the Con-Dem’s misery. Youth Fight for Jobs members in Nottingham will continue to campaign for a future for young people.

Rachel Reeves out does the ‘nasty’ party on welfare cuts

Leading trade unionists angrily condemned Rachel Reeves when she became shadow work and pension’s secretary for Labour after she promised to be tougher than the Tories on welfare. Yesterday (Monday 20th January) Rachel Reeves fulfilled her promise.

Ian Pattison, Youth Fight for Jobs

Rachel Reeves is demanding unemployed people who failed a maths and English tests and refused further training would lose their benefits. The media and their friends in the main pro-cuts parties try to blame unemployment on workers lacking the skills. The reality is, there are just not enough jobs out there. Youth Fight for Jobs is in favour of supporting anyone develop their English and maths, but we don’t support cutting their benefits. With further welfare cuts proposed, Reeves and colleagues will be more than happy to do just that.

Reeves has suggested people finding themselves out of work after long-term employment should get a £120 windfall over a 6-week period. How £120 is supposed to make all the difference after your job is cut, Reeves hasn’t explained?

Reeves has said Labour’s welfare changes will not cost a penny. Most likely, she’ll find savings by cutting benefits for those of us who’ve never worked, even if we’re out of work through disability or illness.

Unemployment has vastly increased as the cuts and the economic crisis has destroyed jobs. The proposals announced by Rachel Reeves today will not reverse job destruction initiated by the Con-Dems. Rachel Reeves wants to create two-tiers of benefits – benefits that are already below what we can live on. Disabled people, who may have never worked, will be penalised. Young people from my generation, less likely to find work, and already entitled to lower benefits than the rest of the population, will be further ‘punished’ if Rachel Reeves’ plan goes through.

To stop the race to the bottom, Youth Fight for Jobs is working alongside the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU) on a new campaign, ‘Fast Food Rights’. We’re holding a national day of action with protests at exploiting fast food chains on Saturday 15th February. Youth Fight for Jobs is also holding another wave of protests to scrap zero-hour contracts on Saturday 29th March.”

BFAWU bakers’ union ‘Fast Food Rights’ day of action – Saturday 15th February


Youth Fight for Jobs protests – Saturday 29th March

The ‘precariat’: fighting for real jobs

Workfare protest 25 Feb 2012, photo Senan

‘Get a job!’ is the constant refrain of privileged Tory ministers and vicious right-wing tabloids. A million unemployed young people are the subject of a relentless campaign of smears and lies.

But what about the people who have ‘done the right thing’? What about those who’ve been lucky enough to find work, despite the fact that, on average, five jobseekers chase each vacancy? According to the politicians and the media, everyone’s on their side.

Claire Laker-Mansfield – Youth Fight for Jobs

The toils of the low-paid worker are frequently invoked by Cameron and his ilk – usually as a supposed justification for benefit cuts. But is this sympathy genuine? Are the Tories really ‘making work pay’?

Despite waxing lyrical about hard-work being the ultimate test of a person’s moral fibre, the government’s policies are really ensuring it’s far less rewarding. Real wages have fallen by 10% since 2008.

Yet, big business’s demands for a more ‘flexible’ and ‘competitive’ labour market are continually indulged.

At the behest of the multinationals, the Con-Dems gleefully attack employment rights and give the green-light for further squeezes on terms and conditions.

Their workfare schemes represent the ultimate expression of the race to the bottom. Taxpayers fund paltry dole payments for the unemployed, while companies are offered their labour power for free. Profits soar. Misery deepens.


Anti-workfare protest in Bristol, 3.3.12 , photo Bristol SP

So for workers, finding a job can be a happy occasion. But it’s a happiness often short lived. Because signing-off at the jobcentre rarely heralds the start of a new, stable period in a person’s life.

The opportunity to settle into relatively secure living – confident that bills can be paid, rent supplied and that a regular pattern for work and leisure can be established – is a ‘luxury’ few are allowed.

Insecurity is the name of the game for huge numbers of workers. It’s no wonder ‘precariat’ has become something of a buzzword.

Over 2.5 million people are unemployed including one million young people. Young people are also suffering severe underemployment.

Studies have found that underemployment has dramatically intensified since 2008. In fact the disparity between the number of extra hours people would like to work and those people would like to give up has almost doubled since the onset of the crisis.

But rather than sharing out the work – redistributing hours to those who want to work more (without loss of pay, as socialists demand) – capitalism reinforces this.

Older workers are told they must work more and retire later, meanwhile a ‘lost generation’ is left out altogether.

Zero-hour contracts are now almost ubiquitous. These represent the ultimate deal for employers. Workers are required to be ready to work on demand, whenever the company deems it necessary, but the employer is under no obligation to provide any hours at all – nor any wages.

People on these contracts live in a state of perpetual insecurity, never knowing whether next week will bring enough hours to pay the gas bill, to pay rent or even buy food.

Once hours are given, they’re usually rewarded at minimum wage or close to it. Breaks are rarely paid, shift patterns changed at the whim of the boss and being bullied is a normal part of working life.

In fact, despite the rhetoric coming from the Con-Dems, many of these workers are actually dependent on state benefits for survival; benefits which are being capped, cut and scrapped altogether, ostensibly with ‘making work pay’ as the aim.

It’s because of this that Youth Fight for Jobs has launched the ‘Sick Of Your Boss?’ initiative. We are aiming to work with trade unions and young workers to fight for a better deal.

It’s only by fighting collectively that there’s any hope of improving the lot of the ‘precariat’.


TUC demo 20 October 2012 with placard calling for a 24 hour general strike , photo Senan

As a starting point that means protesting, highlighting how workers are being treated, naming and shaming the bosses responsible.

But it’s also necessary to get organised within the workplace itself. Trade unions can channel the potential power workers have and, through organising industrial action, fight for and win improvements.

The ‘logic’ of capitalism means that the interests of workers and the bosses are in fundamental opposition.

Put simply, the smaller the wage bill for the boss, the larger the profit margin for the shareholder.

It’s only through working people being organised, and in particular, workers exerting economic power through withdrawing their labour – striking – that we have at times been able to secure increasing wages, greater security and other improvements.

‘Liberalisation’ of the labour market really means loosening all constraints placed on bosses – freeing them to pay workers as little as possible. It’s an attempt to reverse the rights won by previous generations.

‘Sick Of Your Boss?’ aims to take the fight to some of the most exploitative employers in the business.

Many casualised young workers are left feeling isolated. Our campaign aims to give workers confidence from knowing they’re not alone – the confidence that comes from organising and fighting alongside others facing similar problems.

We call for decent breaks that workers can take without being ‘clocked off’. We’re demanding pay that provides enough money to live on, without people needing benefits to act as a top-up.

And we’re demanding an end to the ‘zero hour contract’ – proper contracts and full employment rights.


Some would say that, in this time of austerity, it’s unreasonable for young workers to be demanding a better deal.

They would say that we should be grateful we’re not stuck in the dole queue like so many others.

But surely it’s far, far more unreasonable that, in this time of austerity, the bosses are demanding a still greater share of the pie.

You’d think that they might be a bit more grateful for the billions they’re already sitting on. You’d think that, in hard times, what we really can’t afford, is to further swell the purses of the fat cats.

After all, theirs is money we’re unlikely to ever see again. Because not only do the multinationals avoid and evade billions in tax, they are not even investing their money.

That’s why fighting for a better deal for young workers is more than just dealing with bullying managers and nasty companies.

It’s also about challenging a system that demands the super-exploitation of the many to satiate the greed of the few.

If, while in private hands, companies can’t provide young workers with basic security and enough money to live, it’s time they are placed in public hands.

And if capitalism – a system where the accumulation of private wealth is the only universal goal – cannot provide a bright future for the 99%; then we need a system that can.

We need to fight for jobs, for decent pay, for security, and for a system that will provide these to all – a socialist system – one run for us, not the bosses!

Sick Of Your Boss demands:

  • Decent tea and lunch breaks
  • Give us proper contracts, guaranteed hours and full employment rights
  • Pay us enough to live on
  • End ‘fire at will’
  • We won’t be used as cheap or free labour
  • We have the right to get organised at work
  • Scrap the anti-trade union laws
  • Build democratic campaigning trade unions
  • No to benefit cuts
  • Fight sexism and discrimination in the workplace

Sign-up to the ‘Sick of Your Boss’ campaign!

Sign-up here to the ‘Sick of Your Boss’ campaign here…
Get involved in the campaign that says #enoughisenough to being messed around with your hours, to not getting proper breaks, to zero-hour contracts, to bullying management and low pay!

Keep checking here for latest details on launch events and protests near you…


Download the Sick of Your Boss Leaflet PDF here.

Press release: Labour benefits scheme offers no alternative to the Con-Dems says youth campaign

Paul Callanan, Youth Fight for Jobs and Education national organiser said: “Today Labour unveiled a new scheme to get the unemployed into work and training. This scheme will see people who have been unemployed for more than two years forced to take up a government provided job. Tellingly, Balls and Byrne are yet to say whether these jobs will come with a secure, long-term contract or whether this will be just another workfare style wheeze. Short-term or insecure contracts will leave the doors open for companies to use unemployed people as a source of cheap labour. When it comes to people seeking work, Labour have bought into exactly the rhetoric of lazy workshy scroungers as the Tories. Yet again politicians say they will stop benefits for those who don’t take up a job.

YFJE says that if politicians are serious about getting people back into work then they would support our demands. Rather than cutting public sector jobs, the government should be making sure that people get the training and work they need. They could invest in socially useful public works to provide jobs and apprenticeships. And all of these jobs should offer a long term secure contract, paid a living wage. Today’s announcement from Labour demonstrates the fact that none of the mainstream parties have any answers. YFJE will continue campaigning against austerity and for a future for ordinary people.

Youth Fight for Jobs was launched on 2009 in response to rising levels of youth unemployment. We have recently completed the 330 mile Jarrow March for Jobs. We were backed by the Unite, PCS, RMT, CWU, UCU, FBU, BECTU and TSSA trade unions.


For more info see www.youthfightforjobs.com, email youthfightforjobs@gmail.com call 020 8558 7947 or 07713 355616 or follow us on



Last original 1936 Jarrow Crusader dies aged 96

Youth Fight for Jobs is saddened to learn that the last surviving marcher from the original 1936 Jarrow Crusade, Con Shiels, has died aged 96.

Ian Pattison, Youth Fight for Jobs

In 1936, 200 unemployed workers marched from Jarrow in the North-East of England over 300 miles to London. At the time the policies of a coalition government were destroying jobs and tearing communities apart. The 1936 Jarrow Crusade was one of many long ‘hunger’ marches that took place throughout the 1920s and 1930s, against soaring unemployment. After the First World War, unemployment reached over 1m, while people were facing humiliating schemes to get inadequate support. The Communist Party set up the National Unemployed Workers’ Movement (NUWM), and although they didn’t organise the 1936 Jarrow Crusade (that was to be strictly non-Communist), they did organise many hunger marches during the era. Before each NUWM hunger march each marcher would swear an oath blaming the failures of the capitalism system for unemployment, promising to fight so future generations would never know the horrors of joblessness.

It was this movement, including the 1936 Jarrow Crusade that Con Shiels participated in, that has inspired a new generation to march again. Unemployment is rising, particularly among young people. In Britain, where almost 1 in 4 of us are out of work, and across Europe, where 18.5m people are out work in the European Union (EU), more than half of young people in Spain and Greece. At the end of 2011, in the midst of the worldwide ‘Occupy’ movement, Youth Fight for Jobs supporters traced the steps of the 1936 Jarrow Crusade. We marched the 330 miles from Jarrow to London, holding protests and public meetings in every town and city we marched through. We weren’t there just to commemorate Con Shiels, and the other Jarrow Crusaders, but to fight for real jobs, free education, and our future. The Jarrow Crusade had a lasting effect on the labour movement and the marchers themselves, as it did on the new generation of Jarrow Marchers in 2011.

You can hear more about the exploits of the 2011 Jarrow March for Jobs and its origins in the book written by the Jarrow Marchers themselves, ‘Organising the Lost Generation: Jarrow to London 2011 – March for Jobs’.

Trade unionists lobby for 24 hour general strike

This morning, nearly 100 trade unionists joined the National Shop Stewards’ Network lobby outside the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Headquarters, Congress House. This was organised to build support for a 24-hour general strike and put pressure on the TUC’s general council, meeting inside, to call one. Back in September, TUC congress overwhelmingly backed a motion mandating the leadership to look into the practicalities of organising general strike action across the private and public sectors. Today’s protest, attended by workplace reps, leading trade unionists and youth and student activists, demanded the TUC turn that resolution into action.

The lobby was addressed by Glenn Kelly, victimised trade union activist and Bromley Council Staff Side Rep, who said “the fight-back isn’t being held back by the anti-trade union laws, but by the cowardice of the trade union leaders”. He pointed out that simply waiting for a Labour government to come in and reverse cuts isn’t an option – especially since most Labour councillors are now gleefully implementing the cuts handed down by the ConDem coalition. Nancy Taaffe, a librarian made redundant because of cuts, said the fight isn’t just about the ‘here and now’; we’re fighting for the jobs and services of future generations.

Paul Callanan, Youth Fight for Jobs and Education (YFJE) National Organiser, spoke about the grim future being mapped out for young people by the government. He pointed out that it was the duty of the trade union leadership to fight, not just for working people, but for those being shut out of education and the million young people on the dole. He said that if the TUC leadership were not prepared to give the people a lead then they “should step aside and let those people that are prepared to fight”. The lobby was wrapped up by Rob Williams, chair of the National Shop Stewards Network, who led the crowd in chants of “TUC hear us say, general strike, name the day!”.

The government has declared war on ordinary people with a brutal onslaught of cuts to our jobs and services. We cannot respond with the white flag of surrender. Instead we must use the most powerful weapon in our arsenal: a general strike. This would win the support of all those young people struggling against attacks on our rights and living standards. This would be the first step on the way to building the kind of mass movement we need to roll back the tide of austerity. YFJE will work alongside trade unionists to campaign for the TUC to make its words a reality.

Scottish Youth to March for Jobs, from Stirling Castle to Glasgow

Press Release for immediate use

Scottish Youth to March for Jobs, from Stirling Castle to Glasgow

From the 17th -20th October, unemployed youth, young trade unionists, students, school students and anti-cuts campaigners will be marching from Stirling Castle to Glasgow, against cuts to jobs, benefits and public services.

March Assembles for rally at Stirling Castle car park at 12pm Wednesday 17th October.

The march has been organised by the Youth Fight for Jobs Scotland (YFJS) campaign and the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Young Members Network.

It is sponsored and supported by trade union branches and organisations across Scotland. The march will conclude by joining the demonstration organised by the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) on Saturday 20th October in Glasgow city centre.

YFJS is holding a press conference for the March, at 6:30pm on Wednesday October 10, at the Glasgow City Unison office, 84 Bell Street. Marchers and supportive trade unionists will be speaking.

In response to George Osborne’s proposal to cut housing benefit for under 25’s,Ryan Stuart, young Unite member and chief steward of the march said  “We are marching to highlight the misery caused by austerity and offer young people a campaigning strategy, by uniting in mass struggle with the trade unions. The cut to housing benefit, Osborne is proposing, will cause mass homelessness of the most vulnerable youth in society. We call for all claimants to receive benefits that meet the cost of living and rent.  We hope to bring the spirit of the recreation of the Jarrow March, organised by Youth Fight for Jobs, last autumn which raised opposition to the cuts in the mass media. We have been inspired by struggles of workers and youth across Europe, such as the Spanish miners who marched on their capital, against job destruction.  I would appeal to young people to join us on the march, we hope to mobilise thousands for the STUC demonstration”

Luke Ivory, long term unemployed from Glasgow, “We are marching for an increase in public investment into a program of real job creation. Over  100,000 Scottish youth are out of work, we need public works and skilled apprenticeships. Instead of slave labour workfare, we demand jobs and training schemes paid at the living wage of £7.20 an hour. Apprenticeships are being introduced by the Scottish Government and local councils but they are low paid and temporary, with young people’s hopes being raised and then they are thrown back on the scrapheap. We demand guarantees of a job or further training on completion.

Leah Ganley , PCS Young Member “We are marching for an end to attacks on pensions. Increasing the retirement age to 68 is unfair on older workers and steals job opportunities for young people. We also need public investment into a program of home building, renovation and green technologies to provide work for the unemployed and affordable housing for the next generation.

Wayne Scott, Dundee University student, “We are marching for the reversal of cuts to education courses. We demand fully funded grants for all students at university and college”.

David Mundt, School Student marcher “We are marching for an end to school cuts and mergers. Future generations can’t pay for the mistakes of the bankers”

Contact marchers for interviews and more info on 07927342060, youthfightscotland@gmail.com, Follow Twitter @YFJScotland, See Marchers blog at http://scottishmarchforjobs.wordpress.com/ Visit the website www.youthfightforjobs.com.

The March for Jobs and Public Services has been supported by: PCS Scotland, Glasgow City Unison, Edinburgh RMT No1, STUC, and the following PCS branches: SG Tayside, Motherwell Pensions, Dundee Pensions, Dundee HMRC, Saughton, Elgin Job Centre, Glasgow DSS, Passport Office, Kirkcaldy DSS, Highlands and Islands, Historic Scotland, West of Scotland MOD.



Press release on Tory housing attack

Tory’s plan to cut housing benefits for under 25’s

Youth Fight for Jobs and Education plans fortnight of protest against tory cuts from the 13th October

Suzanne Beishon, Young Londoners Forced Out organiser said “This is an absolute farce. At the same time as they telling us to get on our bikes and look for work they are forcing many young adults back into living with their parents. Its measures like this that run the risk of infantilising a whole generation of young people.

People should get out and join the protests that are being held up and down the country. We are also building for the TUC demo on October 20th. Young people should join this protest alongside trade unionists in a huge show of opposition to austerity.”

The Youth Fight for Jobs and Education Fortnight of Action (FoA) will take place from the 13th October to the 27th October. We will be holding protests up and down the country against attacks on our rights and living standards. We want to use the FoA to build momentum for the October 20th demonstration and build support for the call for a 24 hour general strike. We are also building support for our manifesto “A future for the 99%”.

Youth Fight for Jobs was launched on 2009 in response to rising levels of youth unemployment. We have recently completed the 330 mile Jarrow March for Jobs. We were backed by the Unite, PCS, RMT, CWU, UCU, FBU, Bectu and TSSA trade unions.



For more info see www.youthfightforjobs.com and www.londonersforcedout.com

Email youthfightforjobs@gmail.com or call 020 8558 7947

How Not to Inspire the Lost Generation!

Voter apathy is held up as one of the biggest phenomena of our times. In the ward I live in Leeds, less than 20% of the population voted in council elections earlier this year. According to the electoral commission around 56% of people aged 18-24 are registered to vote in the UK, only 39% of 18-24 year olds voted in 2001 and 37% in 2005 which compares to about 60% of the whole population.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Youth Fight for Jobs

Seeking to examine why this is so and make some suggestions about, the Labour Uncut blog, recently posted a piece by Amanda Ramsey entitled How do we Re-engage Young People in the Electoral Process? Ramsey highlights several immediate suggestions around how elections are organised, some of which, such as lowering the voting age to 16, that Youth Fight for Jobs would support.
Yet her arguement doesn’t really develop beyond this arguing for more education and a registration drive. The key issue in relation to low voter turnout only gets touched on tangentially when an interviewee is quoted as saying “…We have to have a voice in what that world will be,” the lack of a mass political organisation that young people feel will act in their interests.

As the article comments many young people were deeply disappointed when the Lib Dems went back on their pledge to scrap tuition fees, and instead joined a coalition with the Tories and voted to treble them to £9,000 a year. Yet, the alternative that Ramsey advocates, Labour under Ed Miliband, is little better, advocating a slightly lower increase to £6,000 a year rather than pledging to reverse the tuition fee hike, the same goes the scrapping of Educational Maintenance Allowance. The only positive alternative given is the puny pledge to provide 6 months work for 18-24 year olds who have been unemployed for a year. But given the austerity cuts, particularly the plans to scrap housing benefit for under 25s, what use is 6 months work when you’ve been homeless for a year!
Given the misery that all three mainstream parties are offering young people, combined with the expenses scandal which caught MPs from all major parties sticking their hands in the till, it shouldn’t be much of a suprise that young people don’t want to vote for political parties that repeatedly break their promises and only act in the interests of the 1% at the top of society.
A mass party that took up the demands of Youth Fight for Jobs – for decent jobs paying a living wage for all funded from taxing the rich and bringing the banks into public ownership under democratic control, to scrap tuition fees and bring back EMA, for decent affordable housing for all and other measures – would win a mass of support from young people.

Yet, challenging these issues should not just be left to election times, these attacks keep being made by the Con-Dem coalition every week of the year. A mass campaign on these issues, built amongst the unemployed, students, disabled and crucially the organised working class represented by the trade unions, could force the coalition to make even more U-turns than they have already and fight back the tide of these attacks. The TUC demo against austeroty on 20th October and the NUS demo on 21st November represent excellent opportunities to begin such a fightback.