Monday 16th August 2010
RIGHT TO WORK
A great man may have passed away this week but the values he fought for have never been more important.
I was fortunate enough to spend time with Jimmy Reid and as a young shop steward in the shipyards he was an inspiration.
He believed that decent hard-working people had the right to work and was prepared to take on – and beat – those at the very top to make this point.
The stand that he and the other workers took saved thousands of jobs and gave hundreds of young people who followed opportunities into work.
Times have changed since then but many of the challenges remain the same.
Just this week, figures by the STUC revealed that the number of young people claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance has increased by a third.
Government cuts here in Scotland mean that just one in 10 probationary teachers are being offered full-time jobs.
In our hospitals, newly-qualified nurses and midwives are being frozen out of their chosen profession due to cuts already being made to the health budget.
The Futures Job Fund – a job creation scheme that has given opportunities to more than 200 young people here in Inverclyde – is to be axed next year with nothing in its place.
Even those hoping to go on to university have found that places all taken up, particularly for those who didn’t get the results they were expecting.
Despite the best of efforts of men like Jimmy Reid in taking on the Tory goverment, the shipyards and other big employers did close and consigned a generation of young people to the unemployment scrapheap.
It caused serious damage to communities like ours but we came through the other side.
Yet again, we face tough economic times and it is vital that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.
That means creating opportunities for the young people of Inverclyde and Scotland and ensuring they don’t pay the price for the actions of greedy bankers.
Monday 16th Augu