The blatant way in which young people were singled out as easy targets in the recent budget was a draconian and discriminatory attack by the government.
The question they faced was clear- from which group in society could they take the most and expect the least backlash? The young unemployed- the most isolated, unorganised, inexperienced and therefore vulnerable group in society were an obvious choice.
Brian Lenihan may as well have said, “We can’t touch big business because they’re our masters. We can’t touch the banks because they’re our friends. And though we’d like to go after the pensioners, they gave us a bloody nose last time so we’ll leave them alone!”.
Cutting the dole for new claimants under 21 years to €100 a week and under 25 years to €150 a week is a disgraceful act. The idea of this policy is to force young people into yellow pack jobs on poverty wages, in order to facilitate IBEC’s agenda of lowering all wages to make us more ‘competitive’. There’s little doubt that cutting the minimum wage is next on the agenda – young people won’t be able to live on such low dole payments and therefore can be forced into extremely low-paid jobs.
Young people deserve decent jobs and wages like everyone else. Likewise we deserve the (already inadequate) full dole payments. The fact that there are no jobs out there is entirely down to the neo-liberal policies of this government and their beloved profit-system. The continuation of these policies via the devastating budget cuts will only make the crisis worse.
If the government believe that they can make young people bear the brunt of this recession they are very much mistaken. We only have to look at Austria, a country with a similar history of partnership between government, business and unions. In the last year young people have led the fightback, against cuts to education but also against destructive role that the market system plays in every aspect of their lives, in a mass movement that has forced the Austrian government to make concessions.
Socialist Youth has already organised a protest against youth dole cuts. We want to work with any young people who are affected by the cuts who want to get active to fight back. More than ever, young people need to get organised to fight for their rights, to resist budget attacks and to fight for the right to decent jobs, education and a future.