Northern Ireland has a shocking statistic; just under 1 in 5 young people aged 18-24 are not in education, training or employment! This closely mirrors the situation in Britain, where a million young people are in the same dire situation. We are unable to find meaningful employment, stuck on the dole and denied access to training.
The reality is that these jobs don't exist. Neither the Con-Dems nor the Northern Ireland Assembly have any desire to spend money on young people. Instead they dangle promises of tax breaks, lower corporation tax and even free slave labour (through Workfare and Steps to Work) to attract their big business mates. Over £750bn is sitting in the banks of big business, which they’re refusing to invest in jobs and services, because they don’t see it as “profitable”. To pay for mega-rich tax breaks and bailouts our governments choose to slash youth services, attack benefits, cut EMA and increase uni fees - making a generation of young people pay for the banker's systemic crisis.
In the context of these draconian cuts in our future, Saturday 12th May saw Youth Fight for Jobs – Northern Ireland’s Launch Rally & Gig in the heart of Belfast. The gig featured live music from local acts such as Desperate Breakfast and Belfast Hip-Hop group Mindesigns, and boasted young trade unionists and other young speakers from Britain and here in the North.
The cuts affect us personally. Tiarnán Millar of the NIPSA (Northern Ireland Public Services Alliance) Youth Committee informed the crowd about his mother who worked in a local department store for 14 years, before being given a week’s that shw was to be replaced by three young people forced to work for their dole on the Steps to Work scheme.
Ann Orr, a young call centre worker, stated how terrible working conditions affect young workers’ mental health. Many with no choice are driven into temporary contracts in call centres where severe depression is skyrocketing. A blight on the government’s attacks on our rights, some are even forced into taking their own lives.
Ian Pattison, from Youth Fight for Jobs in Britain and one of the young unemployed people that marched on the 2011 330-mile Jarrow March for Jobs spoke on how deep the cuts go. Young people in all areas of Britain face a bleak future. The trebling of uni fees and scrapping of EMA in England has cut access to education off from many working and middle class students.
The event was extremely significant for the campaign here, bringing together trade unionists and young people from both sides of the sectarian divide, to form a united mass campaign to fight for young people who are being made to pay for a crisis caused by mega-rich bankers and speculators with our jobs, education, homes, and future.
Fight their System – Demand Our Future!
Youth Fight for Jobs – Northern Ireland