Yesterday Sunday 10th of June at University London youth fight for jobs held its annual national meeting. What was originally titled as a steering committee meeting turned into a national meeting due to the size and demand of the tasks ahead of us. Also the turnout was fantastic.
A good number of young people students, trade unionists, young activists and all those who are not able to find work or afford education were present.
The meeting was kicked off with an excellent outline of the last year by Sarah Wrack of youth fight for jobs and the socialist party. Detailing the struggles young people face across the world not just in the UK with solidarity paid to those students battling bravely against fees and cuts in Quebec in Canada.
The first speaker was an international speaker Brandon Madson from occupies Minneapolis in the US. Brandon is young students who is finding education in the states very expensive and has in the last year got involved in occupy Minneapolis and the movement there has developed to defending people from being evicted from their homes. Brandon recounted some fantastic stories of protests to ensure the poor were not forced out of their homes. The potential for a mass campaign there could be huge as the banks are looking to make ordinary people who did not cause this economic crisis pay for the mistakes of the greedy bankers. How familiar does this sound ?
The occupy movement in the US has perhaps been a little different to others in other countries linking up a bit more with the labour movement and the local communities a bit better than perhaps other occupy’s around the world managed to do.
A really inspirational speech from Brandon was followed up by Ian Paterson a young youth fight for jobs organiser recently getting involved in the organisation side gave a brilliant outline of the current political situation facing us and how austerity is being rejected across the world wherever you look now from France to Greece and more recently in Britain. Although this has not manifested itself in to mass movements of workers and students just yet days like the 30th of November and the fantastic student demonstrations of 2010 cannot be forgotten.
Following Ian’s brilliant speech the floor was opened up for young people to come in and discuss whatever they had to say on big issues like workfare and their horrid experiences of this rotten scheme, students struggling to get by with rental accommodation going through the roof, with graduates struggling to even find voluntary work let alone paid work.
Time after time the meeting highlighted the real victims of this crisis young people who did not cause austerity and pain is being made to pay still. It was very moving to hear such real stories up close and real. It is one thing reading about these things online but another to speak to people involved and going through things like workfare which is effectively slave wage labour where young people especially are forced into unpaid work for the collection of their benefits if they do not they may have their benefits stopped.
The success of Youth fight for jobs was also highlighted with the fantastic Jarrow march in late 2011 talked of and how it opened up a new phase in YFFJ’s progression as the only young people’s organisation dedicated to working and building links with the labour movement and linking with workers in struggle. The brilliant backing the march got opened up new avenues for our organisation and can pave the way for bigger mass movements which are sure to follow.
Youth fight for jobs also played a leading role in the anti workfare protests while victories and u-turns have been forced out of this con-dem government we are keen to stress the schemes still exist and we have not won all out yet. The fight against workfare must continue and be stepped up with national days of action planned very soon.
One of the key announcements of the day and certainly the afternoon session on organisation and where we go from here introduced what we’re dubbing the “manifesto for the 99% an 18 page document detailing Youth fight for jobs’ demands and lists of examples how we can win. Things like an immediate reinstatement of EMA pointing to the two councils in the c country still paying young people EMA to encourage young people to stay in further education with a demand for decent public works with a living wage keeping in line with inflation and for an end to fees and all cuts. The document is far bigger and more detailed but is only in draft form at the moment. We will be launching the manifesto on the 28th of July with a proposed “austerity games” being organised for the day where the media will be about at the Olympic park in London. The austerity games will look to create a public stunt so the media can see that the Olympics is not for all of us and austerity is still here while the rich enjoy their games. More announcements on this too and how you can get involved will be announced shortly no doubt.
All in all today is not a good time to be a young person with little to no opportunities out there for us but with organisations like Youth fight for jobs going from strength to strength growing in numbers and influence all the time the future can be brighter for young people if we get organised and fight back with a desire to eventually change society to benefit the 99% with a socialist planned economy meeting the needs of the many.
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