The Youth Fight for Jobs campaign in Britain caught the attention of Socialist Alternative and Justice newspaper. With over a million young people now out of work, the campaign has organized dynamic, high-profile actions to demand jobs and affordable education. Bryan Koulouris from Justice interviewed Ben Robinson and Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, two leaders of Youth Fight for Jobs (YF4J).
BK: When and why did you start Youth Fight for Jobs?
BR: We launched YF4J in January of 2009 to combat growing youth unemployment. We thought that there was a pressing need for a campaign to fight for job creation giving to young people a bailout like the ones that the banks got.
BK: What has YF4J accomplished so far?
SS-E: Youth Fight for Jobs has organized demonstrations, protests, rallies, and a launch conference. In November we organized a demonstration with well over 1,000 young people and trade union members in attendance. We marched through central London against plans to increase university fees and against plans to use young unemployed people as virtual slave labor.
BR: We also organized local protests against politicians in the pockets of big business who are using young people to undercut older workers. These protests have received a lot of media coverage and shown to young people that there is a campaign out there standing up for them, and that they can get involved to say Enough is enough!
BK: What support have you got from unions?
BR: We have the affiliation of the PCS, a public sector workers union. We also have the support of the transit workers union (RMT) and the postal workers union (CWU). On top of this, we have the affiliation of around 50 local union branches.
SS-E: These unions have all led struggles, including strike action when necessary, that have beaten back the bosses attacks in the last year or so. Young people inside and outside the unions have been active in supporting this campaign to fight against the misery of this capitalist crisis.
BK: What do socialist ideas have to offer for young people?
BR: Youth Fight for Jobs is not just a socialist campaign; YF4J is open to all young people, apart from scabs and fascists. Many young people in the leadership of the campaign are socialist, including myself.
SS-E: Socialists are armed with the idea of another way of running society, based on meeting the needs of the population, not just the blind quest for corporate profit. So when the bosses say pay must be cut, we have an answer: open the books. Lets see how much profit and executive pay you are making. When the bosses say that jobs must be cut, we can answer: put the companies under public ownership with democratic control to save jobs. When the corporate executives and stockholders say that they cant afford to provide us with a future, then we can answer that we cant afford capitalism.