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Peter Hadden

Northern Ireland: Youth fight for socialism

(June 1979)

From Militant Irish Monthly, Issue 74, June 1979.
Transcribed and marked up by Ciaran Crossey.

Thousands of young people will soon be leaving the schools and colleges and joining in the hunt for jobs.

The “lucky” few will get apprenticeships or reasonable jobs, but for most young people the only prospect will be a dead end job or perhaps a few months working in some Government Job Creation Scheme or in a Government Training Centre.

For thousands of young people it will be a matter of a short journey from the classroom to the dole queue.

This year’s school leavers will take cold comfort from the latest statistics on unemployment. Today 58,000 are unemployed in Northern Ireland.

In 1978, around 12% of the unemployed there were under eighteen years of age. The Easter batch of school leavers swelled the dole queue by 1,200. In addition almost 2,000 of last year’s school leavers are still without work.

Prospects for youth today are worst than ever. Internationally the capitalist system is on the verge of a new recession which will mean more redundancies and closures. The British Tory Government, already showing its hand openly in favour of its rich backers, has promised cuts in public spending. They have also announced that expenditure for the development of less well off regions will be slashed.

Public Sector

For Northern Ireland such policies will drastically increase unemployment. Years of starvation of investment of private investment has shrunk the manufacturing base of the economy.

Already 50% of the work-force are employed in the public sector – in such fields as public administration, housing and education.

School wage

The Tory policy of rigidly imposing cash limits will mean less job opportunities in these fields. A three month ban on civil service recruitment has already been introduced. White collar public sector jobs with such proscribed qualifications as a few 0 levels or CSES are attracting honours graduates desperate enough to seize any opportunity to get work.

To cap it all, the Tories have announced that the grant promised by the Labour Government to 16–18 year olds staying on at school will be scrapped.

This grant of between £1 and £7.00, based on a means test, was a miserable pittance. But the businessmen of the Conservative Party have decided that the youth do not even deserve a pittance.

Young people must be won to the ranks of the organised Labour movement to fight this rotten system. The Labour and Trade Union Group is conducting a “Youth for Socialism” campaign aimed at winning the young people in the schools, colleges, factories and Government training centres to the struggle for working class unity and socialism.

The Labour movement generally must take up the particular problems of young people.

In every aspect of their lives, young people are coming up against the limitations of capitalism. Not a single fundamental problem is capable of solution under the present system. The “Youth for Socialism” campaign should re-echo throughout the entire Labour and Trade Union movement in Northern Ireland.

We stand for:

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