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Youth :: Apprenticeships
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Thank you for your letter regarding the petition handed to the government by the Youth Fight for Jobs Jarrow Marchers on 5 November. But I'm afraid that we have to disagree with you on just about everything in the letter.
We marched over 300 miles against sky-high levels of youth unemployment. We did not march so that we could become unpaid skivvies for your big business mates. This is what your "coherent package of major reform" (read austerity agenda) actually means. Schemes like the Work Programme and the Youth Contract simply give the green light to big business to exploit unemployed young people.
In your letter you outline two ways in which employers will be subsidised to take on Jobseekers Allowance claimants. If these companies claim they can't afford to pay real wages, we demand that they open their books so that we can see where the money has gone.
The companies administering these slave-labour schemes are making huge profit out of other people's misery too. For example A4e, one of the Work Programme providers, is currently worth £70 million. Or how about the Gotches' firm whose profits shot up to £10.3 million in 2010 off the back of economic crisis?
Not only does this treat those who are looking for work like modern day slaves, it also represents the starting gun in a race to the bottom. These employers will now have the go ahead to drive down the wages, terms and conditions of existing workers.
If I were you I would think very carefully about what you are doing. We don't support riots as a method of fightback but the violence that erupted in the summer in our inner cities was due to the fact that a whole generation is seeing every avenue to a decent future being closed off. There are already one million 18-24 year olds unemployed. The figure for those not in education, employment or training almost mirrors that.
We have seen education ripped away from all but the wealthiest in society. The number of young unemployed is only set to increase as the public sector is cut to the bone with the leftovers gobbled up by private sector vultures. If you continue on this course then the type of violence we saw erupting on our streets this summer is likely to happen again and again.
If this is what your offer of support to young people is going to be then I'm afraid we'll have to say thanks but no thanks. We want the government to invest in job creation. Recent research has shown that almost two billion unpaid hours of overtime are given by UK workers every year - the equivalent of one million jobs. The work is there, it's time young and unemployed people were paid a decent wage to do it.
So we'll have to decline your offer. We want to have a future. We will continue to fight against slave labour schemes. We want real jobs, apprenticeships and training schemes on a living wage and with decent conditions.
We will fight for free education - it is a right, not a privilege to be enjoyed only by the sons and daughters of the rich. We will fight to keep youth services open and re-open those that have already been closed as a result of the drive to austerity.
We refuse to be punished for a crisis caused by the bosses and bankers. They have had over £180 billion thrown at them as a reward for causing the worst economic crisis in generations. All the while the rest of us are expected to pay with our jobs, livelihoods and services.
We refuse to be made to pay. We will fight every inch of the way for our futures. They are the 1% and we will fight their rotten capitalist system. We will fight for a socialist system run by and for the 99%.
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Article dated 11 January 2012
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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