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Year 2009 No. 63, September 16, 2009 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

In Midst of Crisis, the Youth Are Taking Control of their Future

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In Midst of Crisis, the Youth Are Taking Control of their Future

Vestas Workers Support: Day of Action, Thursday 17 September

Whose Factory? Our Factory! Whose Blades? Our Blades!

For Your Information:
Britain's Economy Less Stable than Peru
Investment in Higher Education the Route to Economic Recovery

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In Midst of Crisis, the Youth Are Taking Control of their Future

Workers’ Weekly Youth Group

As the economic crisis unfolds, the denial of a future for the youth by society in decline is being thrown into relief. At the same time, young people are increasingly taking up their social responsibility for building a future for themselves.

            Youth have borne the brunt of the recession. According to the Office of National Statistics, the employment rate of 16 to 17 year-olds decreased by over 7% between the first and second quarters of this year, while unemployment rate of 25 to 34 year-olds increased by nearly 19%. The BBC estimates that the unemployment rate among 16 to 24 year olds currently stands at 19%. It has been especially reported recently how jobs at graduate level are being eliminated: BT recently closed its graduate recruitment programme to name one example.

            The conditions facing young people are such that the question raises itself: what does the future hold for the youth? In reply, youth are starting to take control of their own future. A current example is the struggle of the workers at the Vestas wind turbine plant on the Isle of Wight. These workers, predominantly aged between late teens to early thirties, have been made redundant and the factory set for closure by the company. They have experienced organising themselves for the first time and have been learning through experience the necessity of keeping the initiative in their own hands, not putting their fate into the hands of other forces. In the political arena, they have quickly become eloquent and shown they are fully capable of being politicians in their own right. These young workers are beginning to appreciate their potential.

            The issue is that, in a society in crisis, young people are taking up the issues of society. They are the future. This is the special characteristic of youth, by virtue of their being the next generation. Young people have a social responsibility to build a bright future for themselves and in so doing, safeguard the future of society. This is both their duty and their right.

            The young Vestas workers, for example, are placing themselves in the centre of progress, putting forward their own solutions in favour of society, from defending their jobs to the environment. They are demanding a say as full participants in decision-making. By engaging as a collective in their very practical struggle, they have been finding out together what is what, which has enabled them to seek alternatives and identify the way forward.

            The Vestas workers are not the only young people working and learning collectively, faced with finding solutions to very real difficulties. Out of the crisis, the youth are proving that theirs is the fresh blood that has the vitality to rejuvenate a worn-out society.

Article Index

Vestas Workers Support: Day of Action, Thursday 17 September

The day of action to support Vestas workers on Thursday 17 September is an opportunity to protest against the closure of the factory on the Isle of Wight, with the loss of 625 jobs, in an industry that is supposed to be expanding and is vital to the future of the climate. The “Save Vestas” campaign has itemised the following actions. If you know of any more or would like advice on organising something in your area, please get in touch with the campaign, either through comments or by email: savevestas@googlemail.com.

·   Thurs 17 September


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Whose Factory? Our Factory! Whose Blades? Our Blades!

From an invitation by the Blade Blockade

Whose factory? Our factory! Whose blades? Our blades!

At the end of August Vestas rapidly started shipping out a secret stockpile of 500 wind turbine blades from the warehouse in Southampton to the USA. Three boats carrying more than half these blades have left…

            Preventing the movement of the remainder of these blades and of the machinery is our best leverage in winning our demands from the government and Vestas management:

            The occupying workers who were sacked must be reinstated with full redundancy pay, and the government must act to take wind energy production under public ownership.

            We believe that wind energy belongs to the people, and that it is workers who have built this factory and made these blades. It is our side that have demonstrated the determination to guarantee the future of renewable energy and the creation of socially useful jobs for all. It is long overdue to take back the power from the likes of Vestas and the politicians who work to defend their profits.

Join the Newport blockade

Vestas are now trying to clear out and remove the remaining blades in Newport so that they can shut down the factory that workers and activists have been fighting to reopen.

            Since the occupation of the building was evicted, we have been picketing the Newport site 24 hours. We believe this blockade has so far forced Vestas to delay their plans. On Wednesday, September 9, we set up a scaffold-pole tripod, a major obstacle, but it will be a show of strength from the people of the island that can turn the tide.

            We will have two hours notice of the Blade Runner barges leaving Southampton, giving everyone on the island time to get down and stop the blades from going.

            Like the well-established Magic Roundabout solidarity camp, the new Marine Gate camp is an inspiring place to be: There is plenty of space to camp with a great view of the river and sunrises.

Article Index

For Your Information

Britain's Economy Less Stable than Peru

By Josephine Moulds, 8 Sep 2009

Britain has a less stable economy than Montenegro or Peru, as a result of the mountain of government debt raised to bail out the banks, according to the World Economic Forum.

The global think-tank ranked the UK 71st in the world for macro-economic stability in a report addressing the relative competitiveness of different countries.

The slide in stability pushed the UK down one place to be ranked the 13th most competitive market in the world, after China, based on its institutions, infrastructure, health and primary education, among many other factors.

The report's authors said: "A significant and growing weakness remains the UK's macro-economic instability, with low national savings, an exploding public-sector deficit (related in large part to recent efforts to bail out the financial sector), and consequential public indebtedness."

The soundness of British banks was ranked 126th in the world, after war-torn Burundi and only four places above Iceland.

The report said the UK does benefit from the efficiency of its labour market, compared with the rest of Europe. Its readiness to embrace technological advances to improve productivity was also praised.

Switzerland topped the table, edging out the US from the number one slot after it was damaged by weaker financial markets.

The Forum's findings conflict with those of the World Bank, which today ranked the UK fifth in the world for ease of doing business, making it the best-placed country in Europe. Its ranking is based on the procedures, time and cost of starting a business, as well as the tax regime, and access to credit.

The World Bank said the UK had eased the process of dealing with construction permits and reduced the time to register property.

Article Index

Investment in Higher Education the Route to Economic Recovery

September 8, 2009

Greater investment in higher education is not only beneficial for individuals but is the key to economic recovery from the recession, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development says.

            The latest edition of the OECD’s annual Education at a Glance report shows that university graduates are less likely to be unemployed, earn higher salaries and enjoy better health than people without a degree.

            A male graduate will earn a gross premium of over £ 112,000 across OECD countries than a male who only completes secondary school. For women, who continue to suffer a gender penalty, the differential is over £ 81,000.

            But as the report reveals, having more graduates also reaps benefits for the economy. Across OECD countries, the average net public return from providing a university education is nearly £ 49,600 for males, compared with £25,400 for a male with secondary education.

            For women the return on a graduate is £ 31,500 compared with £17,000 for a woman with secondary education.

            OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria said:

            “As we emerge from the global economic crisis, demand for university education will be higher than ever.”

            The report comes at a time when the higher education system in the UK has seen demand for university places skyrocket, with an extra 50,000 students wanting to attend university this year. Meanwhile, unemployment among young people is at an all- time high, with 928,000 16- 25 year olds claiming Job Seekers Allowance, according to a Prince’s Trust report published last month.

            Universities in the UK have seen their teaching budget cut this year by £65m, making it impossible for them to provide more university places to meet the current demands, which look set to continue during the recession as young people seek to boost their career prospects.

            Barbara Ischinger, director of education at OECD said that there is a strong case for more investment in education because “the more educated have a stronger attachment to the labour market” increasing “the benefits of education.”

            But while the British government cuts back on higher education funding, it risks losing out to other countries that produce more graduates. In OECD countries the average rise each year in the number of people gaining a university qualification is 4.5 per cent; but in Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Turkey the increase is 7 per cent per year.

            OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria said:

            “To the extent that institutions are able to respond, investments in human capital will contribute to recovery.”

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