Here we publish the text of a leaflet Youth Fight for Jobs has produced for February 1st – the biggest day of coordinated trade union action so far in the current strike wave.
The Tories are again attempting to punish young people for the crisis of their capitalist system.
Amid a historic cost-of-living crisis, the Tories have confirmed new ‘youth rates’ of pay for young workers. From April 2023, 16-17 year-olds can expect to be paid as low as £5.28 an hour, for instance. But why should the bosses be allowed to pay us less – and pocket extra profit – just because of our age?
Meanwhile, university students are being told to survive with just 2.8% extra maintenance support next year. And all young people are threatened by a new round of cuts and privatisation to public services, including the NHS, schools and libraries.
Strike wave introduces trade unions to new generation
Fortunately, millions of young people are now discovering a powerful means to fight back. Stirred by continued attacks from the Tories and the bosses, a force has re-emerged in Britain on a level not seen before in our lifetimes: the working-class, organised in the trade unions.
Through a historic wave of strike action, the trade unions have shown themselves to be the frontline for defending the conditions of everyone in society. By going on strike, health workers are not just fighting for their own pay rises, but to save the NHS altogether. Education workers are not just striking on pay, but for the funding that our schools and universities need to provide a decent education for all. Workers in rail and mail are fighting to protect their industries for future generations to use and work in.
So the current strike wave shows that when workers organise to unite and fight together, they have the power to change not just their workplaces, but society in general. Imagine what almost seven million workers organised in trade unions across Britain could do to combat all the other miseries of capitalist society – like racism and sexism, inadequate housing, or the climate crisis.
Young workers: join the strike wave!
Seeing the potential power of the organised working class for the first time, there will be thousands of young people wondering: “How can I get involved?”
As a first step, all young workers should join a union, which you can do online via tuc.org.uk/join-a-union. But young workers can’t just stop at joining; we need to get active in the trade unions, to turn them into spaces where young workers can lead struggles and become the next generation of trade union activists.
Young trade union members can start by getting active in their union’s youth section. Youth Fight for Jobs campaigns for the building of democratic, fighting youth sections in every trade union, to channel young workers’ collective energy and transform the unions into real vehicles for mass struggle against the bosses and their political representatives – be that the Tories, Starmer’s Labour, or any of the other establishment parties.
At the local level, could you help organise a delegation of young workers to visit picket lines and discuss with workers in struggle? Picket lines are places where striking workers ask other workers to respect their strike and not go into work, but they are also important forums for discussion and debate about the next steps forward in that dispute and for the working class. It’s through discussing and hammering out ideas that workers can take their struggles to the next level.
We also know that under capitalism, the bosses will fight tooth and nail to claw back any gains won from them through collective struggle. That’s why Youth Fight For Jobs campaigns not just for union-led struggle to improve our living standards in the here-and-now, but for a socialist society based on workers’ democratic planning of resources to ensure a good quality of life for all.
Youth Fight for Jobs says:
- Support the strikes. All trade unions involved in strike action should coordinate their strikes for the same day. Prepare now for a 24-hour general strike
- Young people need to get organised to fight for a decent future – join and get involved in your trade union!
- End low pay. For trade union struggle for a £15/hr minimum wage. Abolish youth rates!
- End job insecurity and underemployment. Scrap zero-hour contracts!
- For a mass programme of socially useful and environmentally friendly job creation
- Make the 1% pay for the cost of living crisis – for democratic public ownership of major industry and the banks to provide us with a future