TORY chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday unveiled his latest attempt to resuscitate British capitalism in the midst of a crisis that has destroyed the economic base of the country and is heading for mass unemployment on a scale exceeding that of the Great Depression in the 1930s.
Sunak started by admitting that the IMF was predicting the deepest recession since records began and that his three-step plan was aimed at doing ‘all we can’ to prevent mass unemployment.
Even with the furlough scheme, which he insisted will end in October, the number claiming unemployment benefit will reach 3 million, rising to at least 4 million when the scheme ends.
Young workers have been the hardest hit by mass unemployment. In the first two months of the lockdown the number of 18 to 24-year-olds claiming Universal Credit increased by 250,000 to 500,000.
On top of this, 700,000 school leavers and university graduates will leave education and be looking for jobs. With universities closing down, this figure will be greatly increased as young people are thrown off courses and thrown into a job market that is collapsing.
Sunak’s answer to this is to create a £2 billion temporary job creation scheme for under 25-year-olds.
Under this job ‘kickstart’ scheme, the government will fund six month job placement for 350,000 youth aged between 16 and 24.
Employers will be paid 100% of the minimum wage for every young person they employ but only for 25 hours a week. The government expects the employer to ‘top-up’ their meagre national minimum wage or pay for extra hours worked over the 25.
The fact is that this scheme is nothing more than an attempt by the Tories to enrol youth in a mass cheap labour scheme. Industry and companies teetering on the brink of bankruptcy will welcome the prospect of employing young people for 6 months with their wages paid for by the taxpayer.
At the same time they will seize the opportunity to use a cheap labour source to undermine the wages of workers organised in unions.
The scope for such a cheap, unorganised labour force, that can be dispensed with after 6 months, will be welcomed with open arms by factory bosses, the retail sector and all the gig economy industries that have grown fat exploiting low paid, insecure jobs staffed by youth.
Higher paid workers can be dispensed with after furlough ends with the Tories’ guarantee of hundreds of thousands of young people forced to replace them. They hope to create a split between young people and older workers.
Naturally this scheme was welcomed by TUC general secretary Francis O’Grady who lauded it as ‘a good first step’, adding that the TUC ‘will be checking the small print to ensure every job provides proper training and a bridge to steady employment’.
She went on to call for the government to ‘bring business and unions together in a national recovery council so working people are not made to pay the price of this crisis and ensure we build back better, right across the country.’
Making the working class and youth pay the price for the capitalist crisis is precisely what the Tories and bosses intend, and Sunak’s scheme is a major part in this assault.
The TUC leaders may be willing to prostrate themselves before the Tories and bosses, but youth won’t support any cheap labour scheme and being used to undermine the pay and conditions of older workers.
Youth will unite with workers against the Tories and reject those union leaders who have abandoned the working class in favour of collaboration with the government and bosses.
Youth will unite with workers and lead the fight to build a new leadership that will call a general strike to kick out the Tories and go forward to a workers government that will expropriate the bosses and bankers and replace this bankrupt capitalist system with socialism.
Only socialist revolution can provide a future for youth and workers today. Join the WRP and its youth movement the Young Socialists and build the leadership required to take the working class to power!