Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Join the Scottish March for Jobs and Public Services against Austerity

Stirling to Glasgow 17th-20th October
Over 100,000 16 – 24 year olds in Scotland are out of work. Colleges, schools and universities are being savaged by cuts. Thousands of young people are being exploited by big business through workfare schemes. The lack of affordable housing is condemning a generation, to living with their parents, renting from slum landlords, facing poverty and homelessness.
Politicians in Westminster, the Scottish Parliament and local councils implement cuts without regard to the effect on young people’s future.  
Youth Fight for Jobs Scotland together with the PCS Young Members Network is organising a March for Jobs and Public Services against Austerity to highlight the conditions this lost generation face but also to put forward a fighting strategy of young people organising with the trade unions.

The march will begin at Stirling Castle on Wednesday 17th October and end by joining the mass demonstration called by the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) on Saturday 20th October in Glasgow. We aim to mobilise people for the STUC demonstration on route bringing people from workplaces, colleges and towns.

The March recreates a labour movement tradition going back to the 1920's and 30's of marches for jobs against mass unemployment, which is once again blight on Scotland's communities.

In the autumn of 2011 the Youth Fight for Jobs campaign, with the support of the trade union movement, successfully recreated 1936 Jarrow March (a group of young people, including some from Scotland, marched from Jarrow to London, participating in hundreds of local marches, meetings, rallies and awareness raising social events on route). In every town the marchers passed through young people were inspired to get active and fight the cuts. The 2011 Jarrow March also raised the profile and relevance of the trade union movement amongst young people.

We believe a Scottish March for Jobs will have a similar impact and act as a rallying point for the struggle against the cuts in Scotland and as a mobilising tool for the important STUC demonstration on October 20th.

We aim to generate a massive amount of media publicity for the follow anti-austerity demands which we are sure will be supported by young people and trade unionists across Scotland.

We have been inspired by the struggle of the working class across Europe against austerity, the determination of the Greek people and the Spanish miners. We want to bring together the energy and anger of the lost generation seen in the Occupy and student movement together with the organising power of the trade unions.     

If your young, unemployed, at school, college or university, in a workplace, unionised or unionised and angry contact us on the details below to become a marcher!    

So far we have had support from PCS, Edinburgh RMT and the STUC. Add your union branch or campaign to the list of supporters. Contact us on the details below
To support our financial and organising appeal.  

We are marching to give young people in Scotland a future. We want

· An increase in public investment into a program of real job creation to create at least 100,000 jobs in Scotland through public works and fairly paid skilled apprenticeships.
· For these jobs to pay, as a minimum, the Scottish living wage of £7.20 an hour.
· The reversal of cuts to college courses. Fully funded grants for all students at university and college.
· The scrapping of slave labour workfare. All training schemes to pay the living wage and guarantee work on completion.
·   The reversal of attacks on welfare and benefits. For all claimants to receive housing allowance that meets the cost of rents and JSA and other benefits to reflect the cost of living with no age exemptions.
·   Stop all attacks on pensions. Increasing the pension age to 68 is unfair on older workers and steals job opportunities from young people.
· Massive public investment into a program of home building, renovation and ‘green’ technologies to provide work for the unemployed and affordable, sustainable housing for the next generation.

Contact Youth Fight for Jobs Scotland for more details, get involved and support the march. Email Twitter follow YFJ Scotland 

Monday, 26 March 2012

Youth Fight for Jobs takes the fight to the Tories in Troon

Jamie Cocozza Glasgow Youth Fight for Jobs (Photos Leah Ganley)

The demonstration at the Scottish Tory Conference in Troon represented a major step forward for Youth Fight for Jobs in Scotland.
Youth Fight for Jobs responded to the first national demonstration against youth unemployment in a generation, by launching a strong campaign across Scotland including daily street stalls, leafleting of colleges and workplaces and protests against workfare and the austerity budget. Over the last few weeks young people have flocked to stalls to sign up to the campaign and shown interest in the demonstration enraged by the prospect of joblessness and the freezing of the minimum wage.

Youth Fight for Jobs made the 1,000 strong march in Troon a lively affair bringing young people who had never demonstrated before into contact with the trade union movement. Our vibrant contingent with the blue Jarrow March for Jobs T-shirts looking resplendent in the afternoon sunshine led chanting of “no ifs no buts, no public sector cuts” and “we won’t be a lot generation, fight for jobs and education”. We were honoured to march alongsideyoung members from the PCS trade union, who helped us mobilise for the demonstration and we stand shoulder to shoulder with them in their battle against attacks on pensions and pay.
As we passed the conference venue suited delegates – protected by a seven-foot-high fence and a police cordon - came to meet us with mocking smiles and waves, which only served to make our contingent even louder. Marchers far outnumbered attendees at the conference; considering that there are more pandas in Scotland than Tory MPs, it shouldn’t come as a surprise!
Youth Fight for Jobs speakers announced to all watching why we were marching, the demands of the campaign, and why we are refusing to give in to the ConDem programme of austerity. Locals came to their windows and stood applauding on the streets, giving us the thumbs up. Hundreds of leaflets were handed out to local youth.
Arriving at the official STUC rally on the promenade, young people, seeing our contingent in action, queued up to sign our petition and join the campaign. Unfortunately despite our letter in advance to the STUC we were not given the nod to speak on the official platform.
We set up a fringe meeting in the vicinity of the rally. Youth Fight for Jobs members spoke to assembled marchers on our demands of real job creation, scrapping of workfare and the introduction of a living wage, receiving a warm reception.
Notwithstanding selling over ten copies of the Spark, twenty-three young people signed up for more information on the campaign, including school students in nearby Irvine. We now are setting up groups of the campaign in local areas with public meetings over the next few weeks and plan to organise a Scottish March for Jobs in the summer.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Budget day protests Glasgow and Dundee

Youth Fight for Jobs took to the streets of Glasgow and Dundee to show opposition to George Osbourne’s austerity budget and promote Saturday’s demonstration against the Tory conference in Troon.
In Glasgow our street stall was inundated with folk wanting to express opposition to the minimum wage freeze for young workers. Several people signed up for the bus to the demo at the Tory conference on Saturday. While the budget was being announced the local trade unions were considering booking more buses for Troon as the budget enraged workers and young people.

In Dundee local trade unionists and protestors from Occupy Dundee joined our protest in the city square. Wayne Scott Dundee Youth Fight for Jobs organiser was interviewed on the two local radio stations calling for an alternative budget creating real jobs and an end to cuts.

The BBC were in town to film people’s reaction to the announcement that the computer games industry (one of Dundee’s only private sector industries left) was getting a tax break. They obviously wanted to put a spin on events as disgracefully despite our best efforts they cut out the filiming of our protest.

This didn’t stop support from locals as students, pensioners and even a council worker stopped to sign our petition.

March against the Tories bosses budget this Saturday (Troon)

Youth Fight for Jobs is  protesting today against this bosses budget, set by the rich, for the rich that will institutionalise poverty. George Osbourne has announced a "budget for working people"  when his government is carrying out a jobs massacre creating long term mass unemployment.  This budget will increase the misery of jobless young people, now numbering over 1 million. Young,low paid workers are having their incomes frozen below inflation while therichest 1% receive a tax break.
 The Tories are destroying our generation’s future with a threat of five years of austerity. They think they will be able to win thesupport of people for this austerity budget and turn their anger against benefit claimants, by breaking down public spending costs, in a personal statementsent to households. Youth Fight for Jobs demands that a full outline of thecosts of tax avoidance by big business and the rich and a breakdown of the expenditure of the bosses and super rich toff’s that benefit from the tax break is made public. On Saturday 24 March, Youth Fight for Jobs will be marching on the Tory Conference in Troon demanding a budget for the 99%. Instead of postcode pay cuts and pension robberies from public sector workers we demand an end to public sector cuts. Instead of slave labour workfare schemes we want increasedinvestment in a program of public works, real job creation schemes and skilled paid apprenticeships.

Assemble South Beach Esplanade (Victoria Drive) Troon 12pm

Friday, 16 March 2012

Building for Troon demonstration with the PCS Young Members Network

Youth Fight for Jobs joined PCS young members network activists in Bathgate HMRC to leaflet and campaign for the demonstration at the Tory party conference in Troon on March 24. Young workers signed up to get involved in the young members network and for more information about Youth Fight for Jobs, a campaign to which PCS is affiliated.
A PCS young member commented " Young people at this time of economic instability face the brunt of a job market that is unstable. We are forced in some cases to find work in low paid and low skilled sectors. The government have so far ignored demands for job creation and equality of opportunity. In these harsh times it is clear that the youth of today need to work together to change the governments stance of job cuts. We have the strength, ability and motivation to make real changes to what we are currently facing.

PCS has one of the most organised young members’ networks, a very easily accessible support network that can be accessed by new or existing activists. We have already taken action to fight for our employment rights, jobs, pay and services and this fight will continue, with the help and support of the young members’ activists.

In order to take this first step of working together with other young activists, PCS is working with Youth Fight for Jobs.  We are planning on taking our fight to the Government at their party conference in Troon.
I hope that many of you will be able to join us and show the government we are not to be taken lightly and we will not take their cuts agenda lying down".
If your a PCS member
Contact PCS young members network in Scotland for any information regarding joining up and getting more involved. Email or

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Dundee youth demand a future at Tories sham unemployment summit

Dundee Youth Fight for Jobs disrupted Scottish Secretary of State Michael Moore’s National Summit on Youth Unemployment, with a large protest at Dundee College’s Gardyne campus that included local trade unionists, anti cuts campaigners and the Scottish Unemployed Workers Network, on March 15.

Clearly the Tories wanted to bury the day’s bad news, the highest youth unemployment figures since 1995 by staging a public relations circus in an area of high unemployment. Politicians from all the main parties gleefully accepted invitations to the summit, as did big business lobbyists.

The only people left marginalised outside were the college students who had their classes and campus disrupted and unemployed youth, of whom a handful were allowed to enter as long as they didn’t utter a word of opposition.  Given the anger over Workfare schemes being exposed as slave labour for big business, it’s not surprising that the guest speaker Tory Cabinet minister, Iain Duncan Smith was kept as far as possible from protestors.

This summit was a sham, with no debate or chance to question the politicians who were allowed to promote the Workfare schemes and attacks on the unemployed, unchallenged.

Youth Fight for Jobs activists put the alternative case in the media and won the support of students and staff who signed our petition against Workfare and asked for more info about Youth Fight for Jobs.

Dundee College student and Youth Fight for Jobs activist Wayne Scott was interviewed on local and national radio and quoted in the major Scottish press.

Wayne explained that young people in Dundee want to work but are being failed by the politicians of all the main parties whose policies of public sector cuts are condemning a generation to mass unemployment.

 He called for the scrapping of the entire infamous work programme, designed by the Tories and Iain Duncan Smith to exploit and stigmatise benefit claimants and enrich private fraudsters at our expense.

Wayne raised the demands of the Youth Fight for Jobs campaign an increase in public investment to create real jobs that pay a living wage and skilled paid apprenticeships that guarantee work on completion.

In 2010-11, Dundee College was decimated by the cutting of twenty courses and the closure of two campuses. College managers seemed proud of the fact they were hosting politicians who are destroying education, treating the protest with contempt and used the police to block students taking part in the protest back into the buildings for refreshment or classes.
So as not to inconvenience the politicians and dignitaries at the summit, they closed the car park to students and staff for the whole day much to the anger of many who had to get buses or walk to a campus that is situated in the outskirts of the city.
As the protest got larger and louder, politicians and big business dignitaries in smart suits rushed past. We met a chief executive from a multinational energy company (she wouldn’t tell us which!)based in Aberdeen who in her words wasn’t interested in youth unemployment but saw the summit as a good opportunity to lobby UK and Scottish government ministers.
Local Labour MSP Jenny Marra tried to talk Youth Fight for Jobs activists into joining the Labour Party, but had no answers when we explained that the Future Jobs Fund scheme was also exploitative as young people would be paid less than the minimum wage for working full time and that Labour would not commit to reversing the Tories public sector cuts.
Health and Social care students rushed out to join us and brought a banner they had just made in class after persuading their tutor to give them a break to join the protest. Under the SNP government’s cuts package, amounting to removing £55 million from Scotland’s college budgets their course provision will be ended in a matter of months, and they will have to travel hundreds of miles to continue studies. Dundee Youth Fight for Jobs will be meeting the Health and Social Care students in the next weeks to set up a campaign. 

The SNP’s new Youth Employment minister Angela Constance, invited three protestors, including Wayne Scott from Youth Fight for Jobs into the summit for a discussion.  He reported that “I did agree with one point that Angela Constance made, that we are never going to find common ground. The minister commented that she sympathises with our protest as she considers herself an “ordinary person”, However most ordinary people are not on a salary of over £60,000 a year. I met her with a student who was voicing her concerns over the number of places on her social care course being cut in half. This measure would see many students not have a place at college next year possibly thrown into the dole queues. When I pointed this out, she replied that it would be impossible to not follow the  cuts agenda passed down by Westminster.
She was also not clear on her position on the slave labour workfare scheme. Commenting that she thinks such schemes give young people work experience. Why then can unemployed people on these schemes not receive a living wage? Massive companies like McDonalds who are part of this scheme made over £1 billion in profit last year and can easily afford to pay all of their workers a living wage.The SNP are posing as a radical alternative to the Tories but in reality their opposition to Workfare is weak and their proposals to create jobs are guided by the same principles. The training and apprenticeship schemes they are creating will still see young people exploited by big business and charities for a low income. We demand the Scottish government reverses the cuts and invests in a program of real job creation and public works, expanding public services”

For over a year anti cuts and unemployed activists in Dundee such as Harvey Duke, have publicly challenged Iain Duncan Smith to come and debate his ideas on the welfare state and unemployment. He has until now, refused to come anywhere near Dundee, but the summit at Dundee College provided a safe photo opportunity, IDS didn’t have to worry about being challenged as only his politician and big business friends were allowed to speak.

Youth Fight for Jobs activists got word that Iain Duncan Smith was visiting one of the two job centres in Dundee city centre (he is planning to close the other one!) later in the afternoon. We hoped to renew the Youth Fight for Jobs campaigns long running saga of encounters with the work and pensions secretary (see for recent reports of IDS dismissing the Jarrow Marchers and manhandling a YFJ activist on an anti workfare protest in London).

IDS and his aides sprinted past us into the building helped by the police presence and private G4S security guards. We never got to see him come out as he sneaked away through a private back entrance.

But the Tories won’t escape us that easily! On March 24, we will be demonstrating with Scotland's trade unions at the Tory Conference in Troon against youth unemployment, austerity and workfare.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Tell the Tories we won't work for free! March for Jobs (Troon, March 24)

March for Jobs at Tory Party conference
Saturday 24 March, Troon
Assemble 12pm South Beach Esplanade

Scrap Workfare, We want real jobs now!  

Huge public anger exists at the exposure of companies like Tesco participating in the government’s workfare schemes forcing unemployed youth to work for free.  The government has announced it will drop threats to stop benefits if people pulled out part way through their ‘work experience’ scheme.
This is another nail in the coffin of workfare, but unfortunately ‘work experience’ is only one scheme amongst a number. In many of the other workfare schemes the threat of sanctions has yet to be removed.
The past few weeks have seen a number of companies pull out of or suspend/review their involvement with these schemes as the protests organised by Youth Fight for Jobs and others have panicked them. HMV and Burger King have announced they are dropping out in the last week, with Boots joining them even after the government made its announcement. The effect of all this is to show these schemes up for the shambles they really are.
These companies have plenty of money to create jobs that pay a decent wage. McDonalds made over £1 billion in profits, Primark £300 million over the last year. The scandal is that they already make huge profits by exploiting a low paid workforce of mainly young people, and by avoiding tax. Rather than creating jobs, the government is effectively subsidising these companies with public money, both in terms of giving them some free workers for 4 or 8 weeks at a time, but also subsidising the training of their workforce. As well as workfare schemes using the unemployed as slave labour they are also an attack on the conditions and rights of paid retail workers.
Tory ministers such as Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling have attacked Youth Fight for Jobs and opponents of Workfare for being “job snobs” and claim that we want to prevent young people from getting valuable work experience.
Youth Fight for Jobs activists have explained to millions in the media and on the streets, over the last few weeks, that young people are not lazy or snobs, we want the chance to work. But we will not be forced to work for free!
We won’t work under threats of losing the money and benefits we need to live and we won’t work for free for fat cat bosses who make huge profits and then don’t even pay their tax.
The main argument that the government has attempted to marshal in their defence is that this is the only way young people can gain experience of working for their CV to make themselves employable. But this belies the real issue of why young people can’t find work. The reality is that there are only around half a million job vacancies and over two and a half million unemployed.
Whilst the government has been claiming a 50% success rate for the scheme, in reality this is the number of people who are not claiming JSA by the end of 13 weeks, which could be for a multitude of reasons including going into education or even dropping out entirely. Looking at figures presented by companies they are far below the government’s 50% claim, Tesco gave jobs to 300 out of 1400 participants, 21%, Holland and Barrett gave jobs to 50 out of 250 participants, 20%, and the Greggs gave jobs to 14 out of 40 participants, 35%.
As well as the private companies who benefit from these slave labour schemes, shady private companies such as A4E, are acting as middlemen taking contracts worth hundreds of millions from the government to put unemployed young people into the grasp of the companies who want free labour. Emma Harrison the former head of A4E paid herself £8.8 million out of public money living in her words in “utter luxury” at our expense. A4E is now being investigated for alleged fraud amid claims it made up figures of people it got back into work.
We will continue to keep up the pressure on the companies on our high streets who want to exploit young people with protests and expose the fraudster work programme providers. On March 21 Youth Fight for Jobs is organising anti workfare protests across the UK.  
Youth Fight for Jobs welcomes the initiative of the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) in calling a national demonstration against youth unemployment and austerity cuts at the Scottish Conservative conference on March 24. This is an opportunity to begin to bring together the trade union movement and young people across Scotland to build mass campaign against the threat of long term mass youth unemployment and slave labour workfare schemes. As well as focusing anger on the Tories and the coalition in Westminster, the demonstration will show opposition to the cuts to colleges and education and job losses being implemented by the SNP Scottish government and by Labour led local council administrations.
Despite being critical of the Tories on workfare, none of the main political parties in Scotland have protected Scotland’s young people from unemployment and the effects of the cuts, or offer an alternative.  
The SNP’s new youth employment minister, Angela Constance, has arrived with a fanfare promising to invest £30milllion in job creation. Much has been made of the first part of this funding package, creating over 1,000 temporary jobs for young people in the third sector.  This will have little impact on the scale of youth unemployment, with the latest figures showing 102,000 16-24 year olds out of work in Scotland.  Added to this the 70,000 job losses and recruitment freeze implemented by the SNP in the public sector, and the fall in private sector vacancies with Scotland slipping into recession means thousands of Scottish youth joining the dole queues every month.  
Labour in opposition offer only the Future Jobs Fund, a scheme where public sector workers who have had jobs cut are replaced by young people doing the same work but being paid at “apprenticeship level” below the minimum wage. The politicians accept the logic of market driven austerity and the idea of worsening the conditions of young people, forcing our generation to pay for the banker’s crisis. They tell us that the basic elements of a decent standard of living, a paid job, access to education and public services are unrealistic as long as their system, capitalism, is in crisis.  It’s up to young people and with the support of the trade union movement to organise and fight for our future. 

Youth Fight for Jobs Scotland will be marching on the Tory conference demanding:

  • A day’s pay for a day’s work! All unemployed people on work schemes to be paid, no exceptions

  • All work schemes should guarantee a job at the end and be paid at a minimum wage of £8 an hour.

  • Scrap the entire work programme! For a trade union led public inquiry into the fraud of private  providers kick them all out of the welfare state, open the books and seize the profits of these thieves, use their ill gotten gains to create real jobs.

  • Build a mass campaign against workfare involving the trade unions, anti cuts campaigns and young people.

  • Massive investment into a program of creation of real socially useful jobs and skilled, paid, apprenticeships

Contact us to get involved in the campaign and transport to the Troon demonstration.
Ring/ text 07927342060 Email   Twitter follow YFJ Scotland