Campaigning work is at the heart of what Socialist Students is all about. During last 2010’s student movement, we were able to play an important role locally- organising rallies university occupations, and school and college walk-outs, and nationally – including helping organise the big national demonstrations and days of action.
We recently launched the campaign Rape is No Joke. This has been set up to take up the issue of rape ‘jokes’ and the trend of misogynistic comedy, for more info check out the website linked above!
The following outlines what we’re fighting for and what we can do about it. If you want more info on the Jarrow march or the campaigns you can also visit the YFJ Website.
FIGHT THEIR SYSTEM… DEMAND OUR FUTURE
WE SAY: bring back EMA, scrap uni fees, create decent jobs – not slave labour, save youth services, build good, affordable housing for all
The fight is on. We’re not going to let the government snatch away our future. We don’t accept that we should pay for a crisis of the capitalist system- a system which has only ever benefited the 1%. We demand the right to university education free of charge and to EMA while we’re at college. And we say that we should have a job at the end of it. Not a 2 month ‘work placement’ that we don’t even get paid for – an actual, permanent job with decent pay.
Too much to ask? Not for the bankers. The government found £ 400 billion to bail them out. Not for the super-rich tax dodgers either. The government thinks we can afford to let them get away with £120bn a year tax avoidance. Not everyone has been suffering as a result of crisis and cuts. The rich are still getting richer. In Britain, America and elsewhere ‘rich lists’ have hit new heights this year. So the problem’s not that there isn’t enough wealth in society. The problem’s that most of us see hardly any of it.
That’s why we have to fight for what is rightfully ours. We want a society for the millions not the millionaires. With a 3 million strong strike workers will spectacularly show their enormous potential power. The student movement showed that young people are angry and determined. But anger alone isn’t enough. We need to be organised, linked with workers and trade unions and armed with a strategy to win. The November 30th strike will have dealt a big blow to the government – but it must only be the beginning of the movement. As young people, our entire future is at stake. Youth Fight for Jobs and Education is organising in towns and cities across the country. Join us, get involved and help build the fightback today.
Education has been one of the first areas brutally attacked by the Con-Dems. The scrapping of EMA and tripling of fees threatens to put education out of reach to most ordinary young people.
Even if we do manage to go to uni, when we come out we’ll find ourselves crippled by enormous mortgage-sized debts and we’ll join the queue of 83 graduates applying for every vacancy. Now they’re trying to privatise and sell off large parts of our higher education system. While students pay more and more they will get less and less. But the student movement showed that we’re willing to fight for our right to learn. We won some small concessions from the government such as a one year ‘extension’ of EMA after it was cut. EMA has also not been cut so far in Wales or Scotland.
We have to fight for decent education to be a right for all. We need to revitalise the movement and link it to the struggles of workers. In the past governments have been forced to reverse previous policies and decisions under the pressure of mass action by ordinary people.
- Organise a protest on your college or campus demanding EMA is brought back and fees are scrapped
- Occupy – occupations can be a great way of showing anger at what’s happening. You can make demands of your college/uni management, the local council as well as the government nationally
- Strike – walk-outs are one of the tactics we can use which have the biggest impact. There were literally thousands of these during the recent student movement. We should make sure we coordinate student strike days with workers’ strikes to increase the impact
More than 2.5 million people unemployed – one million of them aged 16 to 24. On any given day there are about six times as many people looking for work as there are jobs available.
The politicians can tell us we’re lazy, fussy or unskilled as much as they like but there just aren’t enough jobs! We need the government that’s supposed to represent us to create jobs and training. But instead they’re sacking hundreds of thousands of people and making the rest work until they’re 68. Those jobs should be ours!
It’s not like there isn’t work that needs doing – teachers, nurses, social workers, builders – has anyone ever thought we’ve got too many?! No. But this government doesn’t care about what ordinary people need, they only care about the profits of their friends in big business and they want us to pay the price with our jobs and services.
We fight for an end to all cuts and for a massive government scheme to create socially useful jobs and training opportunities to make sure that every young person can make the most of their potential.
- Protest outside the office of your local town hall . Young people could dress up as the careers they’re hoping to go into. Hand in a petition calling for the council to create jobs instead of cutting them
- Get in touch with local trade unions and discuss getting more young workers into a union to make sure they can fight together against job cuts and low pay
- Occupy local services that are threatened with closure – for example an occupation of a library to demand that the workers are not sacked
“I was there doing it as if I had walked into the store and said ‘Look I’ll help’”, one Tesco worker said about the government’s Work Experience scheme. Last year Tesco’s profits added up to £3.5bn. But they are just one in a whole list of major companies who are benefiting from slave labour.
The government’s solution to over one million young people unemployed? To force us to work without pay to subsidise these multi-billion profits or risk losing our benefits.
With those profits, Tesco could easily afford to pay its workers and the people forced into its service a minimum of £8 an hour. But instead the bosses and the government are exploiting our unemployment to boost their profits – expecting us to rely on Jobseeker’s Allowance without even travel expenses.
We’ve got to say no. If there’s work to be done it’s got to be paid work, on a wage that you can live on.
- Organise a protest to highlight this exploitation at a Tesco, Asda, Argos, Poundland, Matalan, Sainsbury, TK Maxx, Boots, or anywhere else where people are being forced to work for free.
- If you, or anyone you know, is on one of these schemes, get organised! Join a trade union and Youth Fight for Jobs – you don’t have to tell your ‘employer’ about this. Contact us on the details on the back for more info.
Save youth services
Youth services are some of the worst hit by council cuts. Nearly every project working with 13-18 year olds is under threat.
We face attacks on our right to a job and education and now the services that are supposed to help engage us with our communities, help us get jobs, give us something to do away from the stress and strain of unemployment and off of the streets, face decimation.
7,000 professionally qualified staff, 30,000 trained youth support workers and half a million volunteers all face losing their jobs as a result of the attacks.
We don’t have to take these cuts to our services. We don’t just want all cuts and closures of youth services to be reversed, we want huge investment into youth services, clubs and leisure facilities.
- Produce a leaflet and a petition about the attacks in your area. Leaflet and get people to sign the petition at schools, colleges and youth clubs
- Organise a lobby of the council against cuts to youth services, try and organise an official deputation (where you get to speak inside)
- Occupy a local youth club or service that has/is being closed
Build affordable housing
22% of 18-34 year olds have been forced to move back in with or continue living with their parents because they can’t afford to rent or buy their own home. No surprise really when rents are at a record high – an average of £696 a month and rising.
In the past, people could apply for a council house to partially overcome the high cost of private renting. But successive Labour and Tory governments have sold millions of council houses to residents and housing associations. So now nearly five million people in England alone are on council house waiting lists. And meanwhile 200,000 construction workers’ skills are wasted in the dole queue.
The solution seems quite simple! We want a massive building programme of environmentally sound, cheap social housing. We want rent and mortgage repayment interest rates to be capped immediately so that nobody is priced out of their home. And those who don’t have enough money should be entitled to housing benefit that is guaranteed to cover the cost of their rent, whatever their age.
One brave woman in the audience of a Daniel Tosh comedy gig heckled “rape jokes are never funny” after he had told several in a row. He responded by asking the audience: “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her?”
We’re not laughing. And neither are the 80,000 women who are raped every year in the UK alone. Rape jokes seem to be becoming more and more prevalent – led by high profile comedians like Frankie Boyle and Jimmy Carr, and taking over at open mic nights all over the country.
This ‘comedy’ is lazy and un-intelligent. But it also, combined with prolific violent pornography on the internet, ‘lads mags’ in every corner shop and aggressive sexual imagery in advertising, adds to a culture that accepts, and even glorifies rape and sexual assault.
This is in the context of increasing attacks on women by politicians. Tory justice minister Ken Clarke suggested some types of rape are “less serious” than others. George Galloway claimed that even if the allegations against Julian Assange were true they wouldn’t constitute rape but merely “bad sexual etiquette” because if a woman “goes to bed” with a man they are “already in the sex game”. And its not just a matter of words either – services that support victims of sexual violence are being cut to the bone.
It is estimated that only 15% of rapes are reported to the police. This is partly because of the mixture of emotions many women feel after being attacked. But it also because, given the fact that only 7% of reported rapes result in conviction, women fear not being take seriously. Rape jokes only add to this.
We’ve had enough. Instead of having to make a stand individually, like the brave woman at the Tosh gig, we should challenge this sexism together.
That’s why Socialist Students has set up Rape Is No Joke – a campaign for comedy without misogyny. We want comedians to sign our pledge that they won’t tell rape jokes. We want venues and organisers to agree not to host anyone who does. And we want to educate to begin to tackle the attitude that rape is something to be laughed at. Get involved with the campaign to make rape jokes a thing of the past.