Protesting Against Zero-Hour Contracts in Yorkshire

Protest in Sheffield outside McDonalds against zero-hour contracts

Protest in Sheffield outside McDonalds against zero-hour contracts

Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) have responded to the zero-hour contracts scandal by organising protests around Yorkshire (and nationally) calling for them to be scrapped and replaced by real jobs with a living wage. On Monday 5th August we organised a protest in Leeds outside Sports Direct and on Friday 9th August we organised a protest outside McDonalds in Sheffield. Further protests are planned for Leeds and York on Saturday 17th August. For more about the campaign against zero-hours contracts which is part of YFJ’s ‘Are You Sick of Your Boss?’ initiative, see our national website –

Iain Dalton, Yorkshire Youth Fight for Jobs organiser was on a protest against Sports Direct this Monday (5th August) in Leeds, he said

“We were inundated by people passing by wanting to support us, sign our petition and take leaflets. I spent almost the entire protest doing interviews with the local press, both newspapers and radio stations. Many people passing by had seen Youth Fight for Jobs activist Helen Pattison on Sky Newsm (debating zero-hour contract enthusiast and former Apprentice contestant Katie Hopkins) earlier that day and were keen to talk about how we could secure decent jobs with a living wage. Several people wanted to get involved with the campaign. The previous day we had taken the same petition to Leeds Pride and had a similarly warm response.”


‘Are You Sick of Your Boss?’ Yorkshire Launch Rally

'Are You Sick of Your Boss?' Leeds launch rally

‘Are You Sick of Your Boss?’ Leeds launch rally

Around twenty young trade unionists and supporters gathered in Leeds on Saturday 20th July to launch the ‘Are You Sick of Your Boss?’ initiative, the latest campaign from Youth Fight for Jobs which aims to fight for improvements in conditions at work for young people and encourage them to do this by unionising their workplace.

Sanaz Raji explains how she is fighting academic bullying at Leeds Uni

Sanaz Raji explains how she is fighting academic bullying at Leeds Uni

The Leeds rally heard from speakers including Iain Dalton (Y&H TUC Youth Forum convenor), Nick Parker (PCS Young Members Network), Kat Rose (GMB Young Members), Joe Rollins (Unite Community Yorkshire organiser), Sanaz Raji (Justice4Sanaz campaign) and Mikey Divers (Leeds YFJ Convenor). Speakers talked about the appaling conditions they or members of their union face at work and some of the organising initiatives that are taking place amongst young and unorganised workers – with speakers referring to the impressive unionising drives in the USA.

'Are You Sick of Your Boss?' Leeds launch rally

‘Are You Sick of Your Boss?’ Leeds launch rally

In the run up to the event, Youth Fight for Jobs has been doing weekly activity, distributing hundreds of copies of our leaflet to young workers in Leeds. Over the next month a half, Youth Fight for Jobs will be organising follow-up events in other towns and cities across Yorkshire.

Yorkshire Youth Fight for Jobs Review of 2012

After the success of marking the 75th anniversary of the Jarrow Crusade with the Jarrow March for Jobs 2011, it seemed likely that 2012 might be a quieter year compared to the efforts that went into pulling that event off. However, instead we saw a whole swathe of attacks from the government aimed at young people including attempts to expand the work-for-your-dole schemes, plans to remove housing benefit from under 25s and more, as the government continued its attempts to make ordinary people pay the costs of the economic recession.

Throughout the year Youth Fight for Jobs has sought to build links between youth and trade unions, and have supported workers in struggle. Youth Fight for Jobs activists have visited picket lines to numerous to mention over the course of the year, as well as attending other lobbies and protests all over the Yorkshire & Humber region. We have also continued to help build the Yorkshire & Humber TUC Youth Forum, including organising a successful joint end of year gig in Leeds. As ever we have spoken at a number of trade union branches and trades councils over the course of the year, including York Trades Council, Bradford Trades Council, Leeds GMB Civic branch, North Yorkshire Police Unison to list a few.

We have also initiated our own campaigning on a number of issues throughout the region. In February and March we took the lead in organising protests over workfare in Yorkshire, with protests organised in Huddersfield, Hull, Leeds, Sheffield and Wakefield. We also have run Bring Back EMA campaigns in York and Sheffield, a demonstration over lack of investment in jobs and sports facilities in Huddersfield in the run up to the Olympics and a Young Tenants Fightback campaign in Leeds over poor quality private sector accomodation and rent levels. Additionally we have organised a number of awareness and fundraising gigs in Huddersfield and York.

We have also featured quite widely in the media with a feature interview with Iain Dalton appearing on the Guardian Northerner and in the Morning Star in the run up to the October 20th TUC demonstration. We have also had other local newspaper coverage during the year including over workfare protests and protests outside the Tory local government conference which took place in Leeds. We have also done a large number of radio interviews over issues such as housing, EMA and workfare, including debates with Tory MPs and Tax Payers Alliance spokespeople.

Into 2013

No doubt Youth Fight for Jobs will be just as busy this year. Already we are planning the hand-in of our over 1,000 strong petition calling for the re-introduction of EMA to York City Council. Given the growing problem of under-employment, we will be exploring launching campaign initiatives around this issue which mostly affects young workers. We are also looking to launch the book we have produced chronicling the Jarrow March for Jobs 2011 in the region, and would happily send Jarrow marchers to speak at union meetings or AGMs or speakers about any other aspects of our campaigning work.

For the latest news, please visit our local and national webpages at and or follow us on twitter @youthfightforjobs and @yorkshireyfj

Letter of Support to Southampton’s Anti-Cuts Councillors

Dear Keith & Don,

We are writing to support the action you have taken in opposing cuts to to jobs and services in Southampton. We have read that because of your stand, in particularly against the closure of a local swimming pool, you have been suspended from the Labour group and have decided to form your own group on the council – ‘Labour Councillors Against the Cuts’.

We commend you on this decision to stick to your principles and not bend to implimenting the Con-Dems cuts like so many other Labour councillors across the country. Unfortunately the response of many Labour councillors to the cuts has not been the same. When we recently lobbied Labour led Leeds City Council over housing, the response of one of the councillors was that they would try and do something about the issue, but that they couldn’t do anything about the cuts the government are trying to impose on them.

We hope the publicity your stance gets will encourage other councillors to take a similar stand. We hope you will follow this action up by proposing a no-cuts budget when the council comes round to voting on that, to offer a real alternative to working class people to the austerity that is devastating our economy. Of course, a mass campaign throughout the city would be necessary too, but we hear your stance has received the support of the council trade unions which is an excellent start. We will be publishing this letter on our blog to help raise awareness of your stand and offer whatever support we can.


Iain Dalton, Yorkshire Organiser – Youth Fight for Jobs
on behalf of Yorkshire region of Youth Fight for Jobs

Letter of Support to Leeds HMRC PCS Over Campaign Against Nursery Closures

YFJ members supporting Leeds HMRC PCS member on picket line on M10 earlier this year

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

We are writing to express our support for the campaign against the closure of nurseries in HMRC offices across the country including in Leeds.

We are frankly outraged that this government whose MPs have often been in the press claiming that British people are lazy and don’t work hard enough is going to take away vital childcare and potentially deny even more people the opportunity to be able to go out and work for a living, on top of the devastating impact their cuts and austerity agenda has already had on the public sector.

Families are being hit hard already by the governments cuts to tax credits, as well as being hit like everyone else with soaring food, utilities and other bills. Now parents in the civil service will be faced with higher childcare bills or the prospect of having to leave work to look after their children. This is simply unacceptable.

We in Youth Fight for Jobs support the idea of decent, affordable childcare available to all, including provision in workplaces, educational institutes etc. If the government claims this is unaffordable then perhaps they should hire more workers in HMRC to collect some of the £120bn which your union estimates goes evaded and uncollected in tax from the 1% at the top each year. Hopefully, supporters of Youth Fight for Jobs should be attending the protest in Leeds this Thursday, which we hope will be a success.


Iain Dalton
Yorkshire Organiser, Youth Fight for Jobs

Young People and October 20th – Why You Should Go

This article was originally published in Clocking Off, official newsletter of Yorkshire & Humber TUC

Ask any young person what they think about politics and many will reply that that’s nothing to do with them. Instead it’s to do with MP’s living the high life, racking up massive expenses claims, whilst deciding on things in a manner that makes life more and more difficult for them.

If they are trying to find work the youth unemployment remains perilously high, and instead of a job creation programme that can provide well paid meaningful work we have work-for-your dole schemes that even the Department for Work and Pensions which is promoting such schemes say don’t help people find work.

If they’re in work then the minimum wage hasn’t been increased for under 21s this year and we’ve still got around 10% of the cuts to public services to come which will have knock on effects on the private sector too.

If they want to go into education then the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) for college students has now been scrapped and tuition fees have been raised to £9,000 a year for those starting at university this September. And that’s before mentioning the cuts there too which are even putting some universities, such as London Met at risk of closure.

Given all this, it’s no wonder that over 50% of young people don’t vote in elections. If only somebody was doing something to challenge all these policies that are devastating young people’s lives?

Well, on October 20th the TUC is organising a massive demonstration in London to show the huge opposition to such policies. Trade unions, as well as campaign groups, students and others will march through London demanding a future in their interests rather than in the interests of the super-rich chums of the Tories.

But hang on, you may say. Didn’t we have a demonstration a year and a half ago? But after that the Tories and their Lib-Dem allies carried on attacking our jobs, the NHS and everything else?

That demonstration was before the impact of these cuts really started to be felt, it’s one thing to announce cuts to people’s living standards – it’s another to be able to implement them without those people trying to stop you.

And we’ve seen people trying to stop them – we’ve seen young people protest over workfare forcing companies to pull out of that scheme, we’ve seen construction electricians defend their terms and conditions and strikes of public sector workers too. Some have been successful, unfortunately others haven’t – but this government has made an awful lot of u-turns – in fact as I write this my friend who works in the tax office has let me know that his union’s  (PCS) campaign has forced the government to create a 1,000 extra jobs in HMRC.

October 20th will hopefully be a million strong, which of itself will be a tremendous encouragement for those in the trade union movement fighting to defend their jobs and services, but also encourage those angry at the closure or privatisation of their local library, A&E unit and other public services to try and fight to reverse such decisions.

October 20th can be a rallying call, but a rallying call to continue the campaign against austerity in all areas of the country in the aftermath of the march. A mass movement of this nature could sweep away the Con-Dems and their policies of misery for young people.

Austerity should be replaced with policies to benefit young people – reintroducing the EMA, reversing the tuition fee hikes as a step towards free education, a programme of building social housing to provide homes for all on the council house waiting list, a programme of investment into public services to end understaffing and other ills caused by relentless cuts – all of which would create jobs, of course paid at a living wage, to end the scourge of unemployment.

Let’s fund this through companies and the rich paying taxes to support society, rather than constantly dodging their responsibility by loopholes such as moving funds abroad. Let’s have banks that support people by giving cheap loans for mortgages and to small businesses, rather than banks that need the poor to bail them out – after all given the as a country own a few of them we should at least have the right to decide what they should be doing. Let’s have a future that works in the interests of ordinary people, not just those who are already well off.

Iain Dalton (USDAW)

Young Tenants Fightback Launched

Young Tenants Fightback campaign logo

Young Tenants Fightback, a campaign to defend the rights of young renters initiated by Leeds Youth Fight for Jobs, launched last Wednesday with a lobby of and deputation to the city council.

Joe Muller, Leeds Youth Fight for Jobs

Supported by local GMB activists whose union branch had already generously donated towards the campaign, we braved the rain swept streets of Leeds outside the council chamber to leaflet the general public and council workers before short speeches were made by Iain Dalton, YFJ Yorkshire organiser, and Katrine Williams, PCS DWP group Vice President.

Our deputation of three then went into the council chambers. Iain Dalton made an impassioned five minute speech to the council and the Lord Mayor (see full transcript below). Our deputation was well received, with spontaneous applause even breaking out at one point, and the council quickly moved for our concerns to be moved to the Executive Board. We await their response.

Upon leaving the chambers our group was immediately surrounded by several Labour and Green councillors eager to show their support for the campaign. Whilst we welcome support for what we are putting forward, we need action not words from local councils; by refusing to implement the government’s cuts to Housing Benefit, which will massively affect young people, as well as imposing rent caps and offering better protection for tenants in the massively overpriced private rental sector. We recognise and welcome the council’s initial opposition to the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ whereby housing benefit claimants could see their payments cut for daring to live in a property with a spare bedroom (potentially affecting 30,000 households in Leeds alone), we now urge the council to continue the fight for their communities around all the other housing issues.

Young Tenants Fightback, though still in its early days, has already received huge support from local union branches, housing groups and the local media. The strong interest in our campaign shows the very real need for a voice for young people struggling to live independently and for a viable solution to an increasingly urgent housing crisis.
Speech to Leeds City Council

There is a crisis in housing – a crisis in the social housing sector with around 27,000 in Leeds on waiting lists for council or social housing.

A crisis in the private rental sector with average rents across the country consuming around half of people’s incomes.

A crisis in the home-owner sector where only 1,380 homes were built in Leeds last year and to buy even the lowest priced one you would have to earn over £40,000 per year.

This is a crisis that is hitting many young people acutely.

We believe that everyone should be able to live in a decent quality, affordable home. But for young people it’s becoming harder and harder to be able to do this. A record almost 3 million people between the ages of 20 and 34 still live with their parents, an increase of half a million in the last 15 years.

And when you do move out, it is usually into a HMO, a house of multiple occupancy. For some people this is a choice – they like living with other people, but for most it is a necessity to be able to afford to do so, particularly under 35s on housing benefit

In the area I live in, young people, especially students, get crammed into houses, sometimes up to 3 or 4 into what would in the past have been a two bedroom house, because although the rent charged is cheaper for each individual, the total rent taken from a house is greater. This also limits the properties available to couples and families. In effect HMO landlords benefit at the expense of all tenants.

Low pay is a factor in this. Many young people are unable to find full time work, and have to make do with part-time jobs. The TUC estimates that in the UK there are 3.3million people in work who would like to get more hours up to full time work. This is up from 2.3million in 2008. Those in work under 21 years of age have a lower minimum wage than the rest of the population which scandalously will be frozen this year – yet there is no discount on rent or bills to go with the discount employers get on staff aged under 21.

This has an impact on housing benefit, with 93% of new housing benefit claims being from households where at least one person is in work.  Housing benefit is also important for the unemployed, who with the government’s cuts to housing benefits will be expected to make up the shortfall. But with the new proposal to scrap housing benefit for under 25s, then some young people face the harrowing prospect of losing their home as well as their job if made redundant. Whilst we welcome the stance the council is taking on the ‘bedroom tax’ issue, this is only of one the damaging effects of the governments changes to housing benefit.

HMO’s in particular can often be poorly maintained – sometimes because tenants live there for less than a year. I have heard friends tell me countless times about leaky pipes not being fixed, broken ovens and washing machines and other issues. But also because it’s difficult sometimes to know who is responsible for it – the buck gets passed between landlords and letting agencies.

There has been a proliferation of letting agents with various extra charges levied by them on tenants such as credit check charges and the Guardian a few weeks ago even reported about someone who was charged £440 for cleaning that wasn’t even carried out.

This council has a choice over these matters – it can act or not. Whilst we are aware you do not have powers over every aspect of housing, you could, for example, increase the resources to the environmental health team to carry out regular inspections of tenanted properties. You could refuse to carry out the cuts to housing benefit and campaign for the additional funding to make up the shortfall from the government.

There have been councils in the past that have opposed government policies on housing to defend the interests of ordinary people in their areas – such as in Clay Cross in the 1970s and Liverpool in the 1980s.

Where you do not have direct powers at present – you should put pressure onto the government to act on these matters or give you those powers. We think a mass social housing building programme is necessary with good quality housing, as well as a cap on rents at an affordable level. Empty housing could be compulsory purchased and brought back into use.

The money is there for this. The housing benefit cuts at just over £2bn are less than half of what Vodafone were let off tax last year, £7bn out of a total of £120bn each year evaded by the wealthy and large corporations. The government could use its ownership of some of the banks, such as HBOS and RBS, to run them in the interests of ordinary people and, for example, to make cheap, affordable mortgages available for first time buyers.

We believe a mass campaign would be needed to build up the political pressure for this money to be used to start to resolve the housing crisis.

So I ask again, the choice is yours – will you act on this or not?