Thursday, 27 August 2009

Union for the Unemployed

I came across this that appeared in the Salford Advertiser it's a great idea, grass-roots activity. Hope it builds!

A UNION for the unemployed has been launched in Salford - 80 years after the Battle of Bexley Square when police and jobless clashed.The decision comes as new figures show a 75 per cent rise in the number of people out of work in the city in 12 months.In October, 1931 police baton-charged a large demonstration of unemployed people outside Salford town hall - now the magistrates' court. The incident featured in the classic film Love on the Dole.Organisations for jobless workers were common in the 1930s when unemployment reached record levels.Now the Salford Unemployed and Community Resource Centre has set up a modern Unemployed Workers Movement, with its first meeting yesterday.Centre manager Alec McFadden said: "With so many people out of work and unemployment rising weekly, the need for a union for people without jobs is obvious."Employers are simply taking the easy route and sacking workers, while the government puts billions into the rescue of banks. Nobody is standing up for the unemployed
The Campaign :
"The idea of the union is to create a voice and representation for unemployed people, and campaign for free training and jobs at a proper rate of pay."Nobody in modern Britain either speaks or represents the unemployed or their families."In July, 7,321 people in Salford were claiming Jobseekers Allowance - 5.2 per cent of the city's workforce. The official unemployment figures show that 2.44m are out of work in Britain - the highest in 15 years.Mr McFadden said: "Jobseekers Allowance is £64.30 per week, which is clearly not enough for a person to live on. "This situation will only get worse unless more focused government action is taken."The government could nationalise some workplaces and increase training and apprenticeship schemes."


Chris H said...

Not sure what this new 'union' could offer or achieve that existing trades unions can't. Seeing as Alec McFadden is or was a TUC representative for the North West or something like that then I would hope he truly has seen an area where fresh and realistic support can be given to those who I would describe as casualties within our system.

Jim said...

Hi Chris,

I like the idea of a ‘union’ for the unemployed and I think that it would very much be down to what the unemployed could do for themselves in terms of campaigns i.e. against benefit cuts and sanctions, for a living benefit that pays bills and against welfare to work for starters. I think it will not be long before some left party or other highjack’s the whole unemployment thing and we will see marches up and down the country may even go on one!

In the 1980s I worked for three years in a TUC centre for the unemployed didn’t achieve that much really for the unemployed overall; but unemployment in London wasn’t as bad as it is now, my area of responsibility was working with the homeless and I was mostly involved with some very important campaigns. I’m only mentioning this because I happen to notice you say that you’re reading a Pilger book. Well you may be interested or not to know that I had the privilege of working with him on one of my campaigns for a few months back then, it’s recorded in his book ‘Heroes’ along with my name kindly put in the acknowledgments, and tells of a public meeting that we deliberately held in the old Poplar Town Hall. As I write this post I’m glancing at an old B&W photo on my wall of Pilger and myself addressing that very large meeting that was in 1984 - happy days!

Chris H said...

Interesting history Jim. I've put 'Heroes' on my list of books to read.

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