October 20th and Youth Unemployment
With recent economic indicators apparently showing signs of life in the UK economy (British Chambers of Commerce survey, ONS revising GDP figures up and the UK’s industrial production growing at its fastest rate for 25 years) you’d be forgiven for thinking that we had finally got over the worst of the recession. Unfortunately you’d be wrong. Austerity is starting to bite and people are suffering, but more frighteningly, the UK Government’s austerity programme has barely begun. Under George Osborne’s plans we face at least another five years of cuts and tax increases. And it is clear who will be the hardest hit – young people, low income workers and women. The situation is likely to worsen considerably; with the deficit providing the perfect fig leaf for the Conservative’s to engage in their favourite ideological pursuit of shrinking the public sector and cutting taxes for millionaires.
Plan A (A for Austerity) isn’t working and since the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats formed the Coalition in May 2010, the economy has slipped back into recession. George Osborne’s reckless gamble with the UK economy has not paid off. The Coalition is in a hole and instead of carrying on digging; they should be pumping life back into the economy enabling companies to employ people to help pull them out. Whilst the UK Government has been quick to highlight modest falls in overall unemployment in recent months, the figures mask the true extent of mass youth unemployment and underemployment across the UK. In fact the real story shows that long-term youth unemployment has nearly quadrupled in a year in Wales, and the number of people employed in roles beneath their skill level or who are working fewer hours than they require is growing exponentially. The public sector is being shrunk but the private sector isn’t moving in to take up the slack left by this brutal assault on public sector workers, instead vital services are being lost, possibly forever. The UK Government seems to believe that to incentivise the rich, you should give them things, tax breaks for example, and to incentivise the poor you should take things away i.e. tax credits, housing benefit etc. This is in addition to the sheer unfairness of the cuts – with every person with a protected characteristic being particularly targeted by the Coalition Government, who truly believe in the mantra of survival of the fittest.
Nevertheless there is an alternative and although it’s not a magic wand and won’t be without hard work and sheer determination, it can and will work if given the chance. The vision for the future for the Trade Unions is one in which those that can work have the opportunity to do so and those that can’t are protected and cared for by the state. It’s a vision where people aren’t forgotten or piled high on the scrap heap. Where young people have the potential, belief and opportunities to achieve their full potential. This is why the TUC will be marching on October 20th with the support of affiliated unions, community groups, families and individuals from across the UK. This march will highlight the beginning of the campaign for A Future that Works and will maintain the pressure on the UK Government to change course and not condemn a generation of young people to a lost future. We will march for a positive change of course, growth and jobs, and to show our opposition to the negative and detrimental plans that George Osborne has set out for the UK.
The march for A Future that Works will matter greatly to many people’s lives and experiences and provides ordinary people with the opportunity to stand up to the oppressive UK Government and tell them what they really think. Many people ask why we are marching but the answer is like asking how long a piece a string is. It isn’t a simple question because every person who marches will have their own individual reasons for taking to the streets on that day. What we do know is that those reasons include everything from cuts to disability benefits, pensions and tax credits to the growing inequality in our society. People are united in their anger and in their desire to see these austerity measures halted. They are so angry that they are willing to march through the centre of London on this autumn day to show their opposition.
As we draw closer to October 20th we urge you to join us, and to think about your reasons for marching. We know that these reasons will be deeply personal to you, and they should be expressed and heard by the UK Government. Transport is being coordinated on the false economy website (www.falseeconomy.org.uk/oct20) and you will find that every constituency has buses for people to join. Come and march with us, and let’s start the campaign, let’s show not only our opposition for what’s taking place, but our desire for an alternative, for A Future that Works.
Rhianydd Williams is Wales TUC Campaigns Officer
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