Gareth Lane is 30 years old and has been unemployed for four months. He lives in Sheffield.
He told Socialist Worker, “People’s opinions of you change when you don’t have work. People look down on you, like you’re going to cheat them out of something. It’s degrading. When you have work people treat you with respect.
“I’ve always worked in the building trade, but there are no jobs now. You have to apply for everything going—I’ve applied for 150 jobs and only had one reply.”
Gareth’s story is similar to that of hundreds of thousands of young people in Britain and across Europe.
He fears that he will soon join the 850,000 people who have been without work for over a year—the highest figure since 1997.
“I’ve got no qualifications, only experience,” he added.
“There is no funding for any courses—it’s all been postponed. I haven’t got GCSEs or A-levels. You have to pay to get on those courses now.”
The government claims that anyone who loses a job can soon pick another one up. And that the private sector will fill in the gaps where public sector cuts hit.
But this is a lie.
The number of people unemployed for over a year is rising rapidly—there are 20,000 more today than there were in January this year.
The Tories have a track record of attacking working class communities. Whole swathes of Britain are still suffering from the onslaught of Margaret Thatcher’s government in the 1980s.
Thatcher took British industry apart piece by piece, attacking groups of workers one at a time.
Her flagship battle was the long, bitter dispute with the miners in 1984-85, something that had a huge impact on the life of Gareth and his family.
“I’ve grown up in South Yorkshire, moving from Doncaster all around for work,” Gareth said.
“It’s always been hard to get work.
“My grandparents and uncle were both miners. I’d have gone into that too—if it wasn’t for Margaret Thatcher.
“I can’t go to university either, I can’t afford it, I feel trapped.”
It’s no wonder. University tuition fees will average over £8,000 a year starting in September 2012 and cuts to universities and colleges are already being felt.
Almost one million young people are unemployed in Britain.
And a shocking 198,000 have been jobless for over a year.
Gareth went on, “The government has got no understanding of what our lives are like.
“As if they understand what it’s like to wait for the dole, to walk around with no money in your pocket, to not be able to afford to go for a drink with your mates.
“They wouldn’t dare come and knock on my door and see my life.”
The government says that we’re all in it together, that we all feel the cuts.
But ordinary people know this isn’t true.
British bosses have seen their pay increase by an eye-watering 32 percent, while millions of people struggle to get by.
There is an answer though.
“We can’t let it go on,” Gareth said. “People have got to fight back.
“We have to fight every job cut, join local anti-cuts campaigns and show the government what we’re all about.”
That’s exactly what hundreds of thousands of public sector workers will be doing on
30 June—striking together against the cuts.
Everybody facing attacks from the government needs to get behind these workers and every battle against the cuts. If we all unite we can beat this nasty coalition.
For more on 30 June see pages 4 and 5