On Sunday 25 October, student and young worker activists will be coming together from across the country in a rally hosted by the Young Socialists and Socialist Students to discuss the fight against the mounting youth unemployment crisis, which has reached 13.1% between June and August it has been announced.
Alex Hutchinson, youth officer of the Hull and District Trades Council and Young Socialists organiser said “We in the Young Socialists warned about the bosses and their Tory government making young people pay the price for the new economic crisis.”
“The Tories’ Kickstart Scheme, supposedly designed to give young workers help with finding work in reality is there to give big business a source of cheap labour. Just like after the last financial crash, they’re selling our futures down the river. We in the Young Socialists have been campaigning for trade union action to fight for a decent future for young people – for real apprenticeship and training schemes for young people and for a mass programme of government investment in socially useful job creation. We demand the right to work and we’re going to fight for it.”
The new figures on rising youth unemployment come at a time when there is increased anger amongst students and staff on the campuses following the Tories’ unsafe and rushed return to university for the new academic year.
Michelle Francis, a Socialist Students organiser at Bangor University, said “The approaching avalanche of job losses is going to be felt by students on the campuses, many of whom rely on part time work to supplement the pathetic student loans we receive. This all comes on top of the fiasco of the rushed return to campus by the university bosses and the Tories which has highlighted the years of cuts and underfunding of our education system, which is jeopardising the health of students and staff alike. Socialist Students has been out across the country campaigning for the scrapping of tuition fees and for the establishing of democratic staff and student oversight of health and safety measures on campus.”
Both Michelle and Alex will be featured speakers at the rally on 25 October. For further comment from either of them, or for more information about the national zoom rally, contact 07747 174 833 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Young Socialists received the below email from an A-Level student on results day. He has given us permission to publish his letter here.
I am an 18 year old student who has had their future undermined and made a political point out of. I am disgusted at how our government attacks the state school and supports the private. I know you may not use it, but I wrote this and wanted, needed, to show it to someone.
Usually in life when things don’t go how we want them, it is our fault. On the thirteenth of August I found that things hadn’t gone to plan, disastrous is the word – it is hard for a straight A* student to swallow having been accepted by no university. Do I blame myself? Obviously I do, but am I right to? No. Quite simply in a word, I can express exactly all I need to, exactly what hundreds of thousands of students feel – we say that we pride ourselves in Britain that we live in a meritocracy, that if you work hard enough it will pay off and life will be grand. It seems this is only true for as long as the government does not interfere in your life, for the A level results were nobody’s fault but the government. The same holds for great results, they were not achieved by hard work but rather by statistical luck, nobody in the entirety of the United Kingdom had truly achieved, or failed, at anything on that day. Today is the day I see that we are not students to them, we are not even people, rather we are an aggregate of information, nothing more. If it is politically expedient to disrupt an entire year of students, making those students from poorer backgrounds feel a fool to have even attempted to dream that they may achieve those results they had worked years for. If we are to live in a meritocracy, then we ought to stop in our tracks, because what is happening is not just, is not fair, is not rewarding those who dare to dream, but rather breaking their backs, rather destroying their hopes, it is a system that remorselessly tramples and crushes the aspirations of hundreds of thousands of young people.
Young Socialists press release for immediate use – 11/08/20
Protest at Downing Street, Saturday 15 August, 12 noon
Plus nearly 20 actions in 12 towns and cities across the country.
On Thursday 13 August thousands of young people will be receiving A-level results. It has been reported that a large proportion of these results – 60% of large entry A-Levels, will be based only on past performance and pupil rankings, ignoring teachers’ predicted grades. Similar measures by the SQA in Scotland last week saw the most deprived hit hardest by these adjustments to their grades downwards, which the Scottish government has now been forced to retreat on.
Young Socialists National Organiser Theo Sharieff says:
“The government is trying to make young people as a whole, but especially working class youth, pay a Covid penalty on our futures. Young people today are being forced to get into thousands of pounds of debt for university courses which are overcrowded and underfunded, even before the coronavirus crisis. We demand that universities are run in the interest of students and society – not big business. It looks to us like the lowering of grades will funnel working class students into bargain basement courses for which they’ll rack up a lifetime of debt. We demand that every course is of high quality, free, taught by well-paid staff and with a decent job at the end of it.
“We are facing mass youth unemployment, bogus training schemes and poverty pay. That’s what is ahead of us unless we organise and fight. That’s why we in Young Socialists have called nearly 20 actions in 12 cities with more to be announced to fight for our future. “
A-level student Oisin Mulholland who is expecting his results on Thursday says:
“These measures are going to hit working class students the hardest. It has been predicted that nearly 40% of A Level grades will be downgraded. This just highlights the unfairness already present in the education system. We want decent and quality university places and courses that young people want and need. We have called for action to say ‘don’t fail the class of covid’. We want any young people angry at being thrown on the scrapheap while those at the top are getting richer to join with us and fight back.”
Black Lives Matter and socialist activist Deji Olayinka says:
“The Black Lives Matter protests showed that racism and class oppression are interlinked. Young people understand this because it is their lives – and this results fiasco confirms that. The slogan on BLM protests, ‘Britain isn’t innocent’ refers to the institutional racism of the capitalist system that incorporates education and life chances. Young Socialists have participated in BLM protests across the country and now we’re going to be linking the fight against racism with the fight for a future for all young people. That means fighting for a socialist alternative to capitalism which only promises poverty and inequality for the majority.”
The Young Socialists demand:
Fully fund a high-quality university place for every applicant – scrap tuition fees, cancel student debt, and reverse marketisation of the universities
For real jobs and training for school leavers
Make the rich pay for the crisis, not working class youth! Take the banks and biggest businesses into democratic public ownership to fund decent education, jobs and training for young people!
For further comment from Theo, Oisin or Deji, contact the Young Socialists either by email, at email@example.com or by ringing 07747 174 833.
For more information on the London protest, contact Young Socialists organiser Isai on 07479 676 093.
Young Socialists involves young people who have been protesting with Black Lives Matter, defending the policies promised by Jeremy Corbyn against the Tories and Labour’s right wing – and are gearing up now to fight for our futures – real jobs, education and training.
On school exam results day in Scotland – youth organisation announces protests for Thursday 13 August.
Next Thursday, 13 August, Young Socialists is organising a series of protests and actions around the country when thousands of students will be finding out their A Level results.
Theo Sharieff, a Young Socialists national organiser, said: “Today in Scotland thousands of working class young people have discovered that they’ve been marked down from their estimated grades. Twice the rate of the poorest 20% of students have been marked down from a pass to a fail compared to students from the richest backgrounds. *
What we’ve seen in Scotland today is working class young people being made to pay a Covid penalty on their futures. This year’s A Level results day in England and Wales falls in the middle of a monumental crisis facing young people. Mass youth unemployment, a collapse in apprenticeships and placements, and the funding crisis engulfing the university campuses are all a huge threat to young people’s futures unless a serious fightback is mounted.
We will be protesting next Thursday to demand that young people aren’t made to pay the penalty for the Covid crisis with our jobs, education and futures.
The SNP government, already under pressure because of the attainment gap, allowed Scottish Qualifications Authority to estimate grades partly based on previous attainment results of poorer schools in working class areas.”
For further comment from Theo contact the Young Socialists either by email, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by ringing 07747 174 833.
Young Socialists involves young people who have been protesting with Black Lives Matter, defending the policies promised by Jeremy Corbyn against the Tories and Labour’s right wing – and are gearing up now to fight for our futures – real jobs, education and training.
Like every aspect of the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Rishi Sunak’s “plan for jobs” is more headline than substance, and doomed to fail in its stated aims.
The Tory chancellor’s summer statement set “a clear goal: to protect, support and create jobs.” The very next day, Boots and John Lewis announced thousands of redundancies. In fact, almost daily, news arrives of thousands more job losses from almost every sector of the economy.
The statement represents the government’s strategy for life beyond furlough. The ‘job retention scheme’ has paid 80% of 8.9 million workers’ wages from government funds but is being wound down from July, and ended in October.
At its peak, the scheme has cost £14 billion a month, which the Tories judge to be too expensive for British capitalism to continue to fund. But it’s clear that many bosses are preparing to respond to the end of the scheme by sacking thousands more workers.
So, in a feeble attempt to encourage companies to keep staff on, Sunak plans to give employers a one-off £1,000 ‘job retention bonus’ for each formerly furloughed employee who hasn’t been sacked by the end of January.
In reality, for many big companies this will be yet another government subsidy – paying them to keep on workers they would have done anyway without the ‘bonus’. This on top of the hundreds of billions already doled out to companies and owners who have spent the last period swimming in profit and dishing out huge dividends to shareholders.
For other companies, faced with a shrinking market and profit margins, £1,000 represents a tiny, shrivelled-up carrot, dangled a long way in the distance, and will do little to encourage them to retain workers.
The furlough scheme should be extended for those small companies that are genuinely struggling, but only after their financial books have been opened to inspection by workers and the trade unions. Large companies threatening redundancies and closures should be taken into public ownership under democratic workers’ control and management – with compensation paid only on the basis of proven need. If the public is paying to keep big businesses afloat, then the public should own them!
Youth ‘Kickstart Scheme’: real jobs, not workfare!
Youth unemployment is set to more than double this year, likely rising to over a million workers under the age of 24. The Tories’ ‘strategy’ to address this has echoes of the ‘workfare’ schemes introduced by the Con-Dem government after 2010.
This time, the ‘Kickstart Scheme’ will fund six-month ‘work placements’, paying the pitiful youth minimum wage rates, for 25 hours a week. The Tories say these must not replace existing workers, but only the trade unions can really ensure that unscrupulous employers do not lay off staff today to replace them with super-exploited young people tomorrow.
The trade unions must prepare now to fight. There should be no compulsion for young workers to enrol on the Kickstart Scheme; the placements must provide real training, paid the union-agreed rates for the job, with the guarantee of a permanent full-time job at the end.
Sunak’s plans are doomed to fail, partly because the funding falls a long way short of what is needed given the scale of the crisis that faces the economy. But primarily because it is based upon a capitalist system now in a permanent state of crisis.
The Covid-19 pandemic, together with the previous economic crisis, have shown that the market cannot organise the provision of what we need. Blind competition for the private profit of the rich must be replaced with conscious planning of the economy.
A real plan to save jobs and prevent all the devastating effects of economic crisis, including a massive programme of socially useful job creation, needs to be a socialist one. This means nationalising the banks and top 150 companies that control the big majority of Britain’s economy, under democratic workers’ control and management.
A socialist government would lay the basis for the working class to democratically organise the economy as the only way to ensure full employment and a good standard of living for all. Spending and production could then be directed not on the basis of aiding competing bosses in seeking profit, but on the basis of a plan to meet the needs of society.
The last few weeks’ Black Lives Matter demonstrations have brought young, working-class people onto the streets, enraged by racism and police brutality – but also by all the problems facing young people. The Socialist Party has most often been the only organised political force on the protests. So what is the Socialist Party fighting for to improve things for young people?
Many young black people have taken to the megaphone and shared experiences of racism in Britain. This has included police raids on family homes, family members who have suffered in police custody, and racism from bosses in the workplace.
Our ‘socialist charter for young people’ demands democratic, collective, community and trade union control of police policy and hiring, as a way for working-class people to fight for control over how our communities are policed. And more than this, it calls for a mass movement to unite working-class people against discrimination, to fight for decent jobs, homes and public services for all.
Many on the protests have linked the issue of police racism to wider issues. The generation to the fore has spent its teens under austerity. Now we are facing possibly the greatest economic depression in recent history because of the pandemic.
Young people were among the worst hit by the 2007-08 financial crash, and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) young people even more so. Unemployment among young black men doubled to 56% in three years.
The capitalist elite will attempt to make working-class and young people pay for their economic crisis again. Even many of those lucky enough to get to university and receive a graduate job offer have already seen those offers rescinded as companies announce hiring freezes.
The Socialist Party’s youth charter demands mass creation of decent jobs, and a £12 an hour minimum wage – without youth exemptions – as a step towards a real living wage of at least £15. And we call for fully paid training schemes, for socially useful work, with guaranteed jobs at the end.
And it’s been three years since the Grenfell Tower tragedy. There has still been no justice – and no improvement in the housing crisis. Young people are all too familiar with the disregard that most landlords have for their tenants, forced to pay huge rents for poor quality housing.
Most of us have no prospect of being able to own a home or get a council house. If we want to move out of the family home, our only option now is to be exploited by private landlords.
The Socialist Party’s youth charter demands councils introduce rent control with democratic oversight by the local community and trade unions, and start a mass programme of council house building.
A decade of austerity has severely weakened public services. Our youth charter addresses the need to provide young people with somewhere to go: youth clubs, libraries, leisure centres.
We demand that local councils restore these services, and lead a fight for the funding they need. And our call for a right to a job for all would play an important role in preventing a vulnerable minority from being trapped in a life of crime.
The charter demands free education and the cancellation of all student debts too. And at every level of education, a say in what we learn: democratic control of the curriculum by school workers and students. This is a vital step in ‘decolonising’ the education system.
The underfunded, part-privatised NHS has also struggled to deal with the pandemic. And the government has been making migrant workers pay an additional tax to use it – rather than taking money back from the billionaires.
It was only after intense pressure that the government backed down from making the very same migrants who work for the NHS pay this tax. However, many others still face it. We say the NHS should be free at the point of use for all – no charges for prescriptions, dentistry or migrant taxes.
But the Socialist Party’s charter for young people is not just a list of things we want. It also describes how we can start to fight for them.
Having never seen any effective change, or even an effective political alternative, our generation is looking for a path to a better future. The ‘Zoomer’ generation (those born around the new millennium) is majority anti-capitalist.
Many of us are searching for organisations to support our fight against racism and injustice.
In the workplace, trade unions are the basic collective self-defence organisations of the working class. We campaign for unions to actively recruit young workers to help lead the fight against racism and capitalist exploitation.
On campus, student unions often lag behind students’ demands to fight racism. And the National Union of Students has all but disappeared under a right-wing leadership.
However, Socialist Students has been an effective force for organising students on campus to fight for change. And unlike Labour Students and other societies, Socialist Students has been a visible force at these demonstrations, consistently rising to fight against racism.
And in politics, Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies gave many young people a glimmer of hope. However, the failure to battle the right-wing rot which dominates the Labour Party means Labour does not represent the demands of workers and young people.
Keir Starmer even called the pulling down of a slaver statue “completely wrong.” And he has failed to address racism against left MPs from officials in his own party, recently revealed by leaks.
It’s clear the Labour leadership is more committed to kicking out socialists than fighting racism. If you want a party which is 100% committed to fighting racism and capitalism, for a socialist society controlled democratically by the working class – join the Socialist Party!
Millions of working-class and young people are being made to shoulder the cost of the Covid-19 pandemic and a new economic crisis with their jobs, pay and futures. But the magnificent mass movement against racism has shown that young people are ready to fight back.
The extent of the new economic slump which has struck British and world capitalism unravels further day by day. GDP – a measure of the total output of capitalist economies – has collapsed. Production and trade have fallen off a cliff edge.
Big business and its political parties will always look towards the working class to pay when their system enters crisis. This crisis will be no different.
To prevent total collapse, the Tory government has been forced to prop the capitalist system up with measures totalling hundreds of billions of pounds. The super-rich and the Tories are going to fight tooth and nail to make the working-class majority pay for it.
Young people will be first in the firing line. Young workers have been some of the worst-affected so far by a crisis which is still unfolding. It’s the consumer-facing industries where young people are mainly concentrated – such as hospitality and retail, which have naturally been hardest hit by a lockdown on public activity.
As such, more than one in three 18 to 24-year-olds are now earning less than before the coronavirus outbreak. Out of all age groups, 18 to 24-year-olds have suffered the greatest number of furloughs (read: a 20% wage cut) – and job losses.
What’s clear is that this won’t simply be a temporary ‘blip’ of hardship for young people. One think tank, the Resolution Foundation, predicts that by the end of the year, 600,000 more young people will be made unemployed, taking the total to over a million. Mass youth unemployment is posed.
And the crisis threatens to cast a long shadow over the longer-term futures of young people too. Additional research by the Resolution Foundation predicts that in three years’ time, employment rates for mid and low-skilled workers who enter the labour market now, during the crisis, could fall by 27% and 37% respectively. Even for graduates, it’s projected to be a 13% fall.
All young workers will suffer. But those from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, who already experience discrimination, are likely to suffer even more. The UK’s official unemployment rate was 3.9% in the first three months of this year, but for BAME workers it was 6.3%.
On the basis of capitalism, the future hasn’t looked this bleak for young people for a very long time. Many will be looking for how best to fight for their futures in the midst of this new crisis.
Big business and their political representatives, especially the Tory government, are also searching for potential solutions. Let’s not be fooled, however – this isn’t because they suddenly care about young people and our futures. Their priority will always be to act in the best interests of big business, and do what’s best to protect their profits.
But they understand they are risking a massive explosion of anger from young people who face devastating attacks. The overwhelmingly young and working-class protesters marching against racism are also angry about the lack of decent jobs, homes and services. This mood could develop into a threat to the Tories’ own continuation in government – and more broadly, even to the rule of the super-rich who they represent.
Boris Johnson at a recent Downing Street briefing spoke about providing a new apprenticeship scheme for young people facing a future on the dole. Aside from saying that young people in particular should be given an apprenticeship, Johnson remained woolly on the details of what such a scheme would look like.
It’s no wonder. Tory apprenticeship schemes in the past have offered no path for young people into a decent and independent life.
Just ask the thousands of apprentices paid £4.15 an hour for their hard work, many of whom have now been left without a job. Or the thousands of young people who were forced to work for free for employers to earn their dole money in scandalous Tory ‘workfare’ schemes.
How to fight
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) – the umbrella organisation for all Britain’s unions – has also entered the discussion, with its report, ‘A new plan for jobs’. This outlines the threat of long-term unemployment facing working-class people – in particular young people, who are two-and-a-half times more likely to work in a sector which is now shut down.
The report describes the potential not only for a short-term spike of youth unemployment, but for a period of sustained, mass youth unemployment – and the potential long-term devastation this threatens for a new generation.
But apart from correctly outlining the desperate situation, the TUC completely fails either to put forward the programme necessary for providing young people with a decent future, or to chart the action necessary to win such a programme.
The report states that the economic crisis presents “an opportunity to help create good, secure jobs in all parts of the UK.” It makes a series of recommendations to the Tory government. The summation is that the government should create a scheme to provide those facing long-term unemployment with new jobs – for six months!
The TUC hopes this will ensure young people get the skills they need to act as a stepping stone into permanent work. But what permanent work? It even goes so far as to say that ensuring a minimum six-month job would represent “meaningful and sustainable work”!
Young people don’t need more bogus apprenticeships or training schemes to do the office tea and coffee. We need genuine training for the skills necessary to do skilled work. And rather than the current, pitiful ‘youth rates’ of pay, we need living, trade union rates of pay.
The Socialist Party demands the abolition of youth rates. We campaign for the unions to fight for an immediate increase in the minimum wage to £12 an hour, as a step towards a real living wage of at least £15 an hour.
And crucially, we need a full-time job guaranteed at the end of our training, not just to be left on the scrapheap after it’s finished.
A key part of the struggle for all this would be unionising young workers, and fighting to establish democratic trade union and workers’ monitoring and control of any training and apprenticeships schemes.
This could ensure decent wages and conditions, and that proper skills are taught. It could also stop the bosses trying to replace existing staff with newer or younger workers on lower wages and worse conditions.
These are the kinds of bold demands the so-called leadership of the workers’ movement, the TUC, should be putting forward and leading a fight for. And if the TUC won’t do it, the left union leaders should step up.
We absolutely cannot leave it up to the Tories to decide what young people can or can’t have in terms of a future. Young people, whether in work, in study, or unemployed, need to get organised and fight them for what we need.
Yet despite the Tory track record, the TUC has said the pandemic has revealed the need for “more collaborative working between government, employers, working people”! Who could possibly conclude, from the events of the pandemic and its aftermath, the need for more collaboration with the Tory government and the big business employers they represent?
While the rich have been given billions in bailouts, workers and young people have been forced to sacrifice our jobs – and even our lives. We need less Tory collaboration, and more fighting, collective action!
In order to ensure a decent future for young and working-class people, including the availability of a decent, well-paying job for all, control of society must not any longer be left in the hands of the super-rich and their Tory representatives.
The coronavirus has graphically demonstrated that the market cannot deliver. It failed to deliver on the life-or-death questions of PPE, ventilators and mass testing. Why should we believe it can deliver on the issues of a job and access to decent training for all?
Despite the failures of the market, there is more than enough wealth in society to provide everyone with a decent job. But with the capitalist economy in a long-term crisis, big business has no route to making profits for its owners through mass investment and job creation. Never mind that the alternative will mean destitution for millions – on the basis of capitalism, if it isn’t profitable, it’s a no-go.
The question should be: who owns and controls society’s vast wealth? We stand for taking the top 150 biggest businesses and banks into democratic public ownership, controlled and managed by the working-class majority. Workers and young people could start to plan society’s resources to provide the majority with what we need, not to enrich a tiny handful at the top.
Such a plan could start with a democratic discussion throughout the whole of society about what kind of work needs doing, and from that which kind of socially useful jobs need maintaining or creating.
Part of that discussion would have to be focussed around a massive programme of job creation in green energy and an environmentally sustainable economy. Workers in the fossil fuel industries could be reskilled and redeployed without loss of pay.
From there, working-class and young people could direct the mass investment necessary into a programme of socially useful job creation. In the process this could provide young people with appropriate apprenticeship and training schemes, under the democratic control of the working class itself – not the lying and hypocritical Tories.
This would ensure that trainees are paid a real living wage with decent conditions, linked to a job guarantee at the end of training. And on this basis – a socialist basis – the economy could not only could guarantee a livelihood for all young and working-class people, but a free and quality education, access to affordable housing, quality public services, and more.
Working-class people, as the coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated, are the ones in the best position to make decisions about how society should be run. In a new era of capitalist economic crisis – with the backdrop of a killer virus, and a climate crisis which threatens the future of all humanity – the task of reorganising society to meet the social needs of all becomes an ever-more-urgent task.
To achieve all these gains and make them permanent, the fight for every improvement – higher wages, more jobs, better homes – must be linked to the fight to overturn capitalism, and transform society in a socialist direction. That fight can begin with young people saying that we are not going to pay for this crisis with our futures.