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.
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