Sunday, 29 January 2012

Jarrow March article in Guardian - Comment is free Website

The 2011 March for Jobs from Jarrow, recreating the heroic traditions of the two hundred who marched in 1936, has now reached London. Physically, the last few weeks have been a test, but also an unforgettable and inspiring experience. I have felt humbled to be part of recreating a great working-class tradition that means so much too so many.
We've been humbled by the people of Jarrow who with tears in their eyes waved us off on 1 October, humbled by the countless folk who beeped horns, shouted encouragement, who threw hard-earned cash in our collection buckets and fed, housed and encouraged us on the way.
We've felt inspired by the solidarity of the trade union movement, the local branches and national organisations without whose support the march would never have been possible, workers we met fighting for their jobs and against attacks on their hard-won conditions, communities battling cuts.
Why walk hundreds of miles? Why not live the stereotype and laze about on benefits? Because for myself and all the other marchers there is a responsibility to organise a fightback, to offer a programme of demands that chime with the aspirations of our generation. We hope to make a contribution to building a mass movement, linking the campaigning and industrial strength of organised workers in trade unions with the energy and rage of dispossessed young people opposed to all austerity cuts.
Growing up in a single parent family and in poverty, education was an escape for me. The ladder is now being pulled away from under my feet, with the withdrawal of the education maintenance allowance (EMA) and unaffordable university fees. Millions of working-class youth are being thrown on the scrap heap. We have marched for the reinstatement of that EMA and for free high quality education for all. We have said young people need support, not criminalisation, we demand the reopening of closed youth services and their expansion.
Since leaving education and finishing university, I have been in and out of work but my living conditions have remained the same. I have never had the space of my own house (or even flat), but have always lived in small rooms in shared accommodation. The Jarrow march speaks for the millions on social housing waiting lists, the tens of millions at the mercy of the high rent slum landlords. We demand that the skills of unemployed construction workers are utilised in a massive building programme of environmentally sound, cheap social housing.
After being unemployed for over a year, I have been forced on to the coalition government's work programme, an unaccountable, private-sector organisation that now profits from my job seeking. I face the prospect of being used as slave labour, working full-time hours for my right to benefits making profits for the bosses. I have marched against all workfare schemes and for a publicly-funded, socially useful job creation scheme, including apprenticeships and training paid at least the minimum wage or the agreed trade union rate, with a guaranteed job at the end.
The Jarrow march is part of an international youth revolt provoked by the crisis of capitalism. Millions of young people across the globe – from Spain to Egypt to Chile – are fighting for secure jobs in the midst of economic destruction, for education not exclusion, as access to learning becomes a commodity. For control over our own lives, not to be slaves to the bosses, or have our standard of living dictated by the anarchy of the markets.
We share the slogan of the Occupy London and Wall Street movements. We are the 99%. We have marched on the city of London, a temple to the financial markets and a casino for the 1%. Our brothers and sisters, the Spanish indignados, have marched from their squares to Brussels, the home of the financial institutions who inflict a war of austerity on workers and the poor across Europe. We urge all young people and workers to join us for the last mile of the Jarrow March in London on Saturday from Embankment at noon to Trafalgar Square.
Matt Dobson Youth Fight for Jobs Dundee

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