Jobs crisis prompts new Jarrow march

PLANS for a new Jarrow Crusade to highlight the crisis in youth unemployment have been launched.

Jarrow marchers set off for London in 1936
Jarrow marchers set off for London in 1936

PLANS for a new Jarrow Crusade to highlight the crisis in youth unemployment have been launched.

Campaigning young people plan to retrace the original 1936 Jarrow March to London later this year, including the great grandson of one of the original protesters.

The launch of the new union-backed march yesterday came as official figures showed unemployment in the North East increased by 4% to 129,000 in the three months to January – with 5,000 more people on the dole queue.

It means some 10% of the North East is now unemployed, with the region the highest in the UK.

The number of 16 to 24-year-olds out of work nationwide jumped by 30,000 to 974,000, the highest since records began in 1992.

The unemployment rate for young people rose by 0.8% to 20.6%, also a record high – which David Cameron described as “disappointing”.

Across the country unemployment has reached a 17-year high of more than 2.5m, the worst figure since 1994. The jobless total jumped by 27,000 in the three months to January.

The grim news comes as the 75th anniversary of the original Jarrow Crusade nears. In October 1936, 200 unemployed men set out from Jarrow to Parliament in London demanding help for those out of work.

The Youth Fight for Jobs campaign now plans to follow in their footsteps from October and ending in London five weeks later – mounting protests along the way, including outside Nick Clegg’s constituency office in Sheffield.

College student Dylan Hussey, 17, said: “It resonates with me because the Jarrow March is something my family members have talked about since I was a child. My great-grandfather was one of those men who matched from Jarrow to London.

“My nan used to tell me stories of her life on Jarrow in the 1930s where she would run around with no shoes on because no-one had money for their kids’ shoes, except for the one pair of black pumps for Sundays at church.”

Ben Robinson, chairman of Youth Fight for Jobs, said: “We are recreating the Jarrow March on the 75th anniversary, when 200 unemployed workers marched 250 miles on Parliament, demanding jobs and the right to a decent living.

“This march took place at the height of the Depression of the thirties, but for young people today they face a return to the same conditions.”

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU firefighters’ union, said: “Youth unemployment is a horrific blight for young people.

“I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s when people were talking about a lost generation and I think we are in danger of repeating that in the early 21st century.”

Backing the campaign in Parliament, Labour MP John McDonnell said youth unemployment was a “modern day tragedy” and urged people to cheer the marchers and join protests on the route.

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