Red Youth report from Wigan
On October 1st we saw the demise of JJB Sports, once Britain’s biggest sports retailer as it moved to close 133 of its stores, and in the process making 2,000 workers redundant. JJB has now been bought out by current Sports Direct and Newcastle United football club owner Mick Ashley, who paid 23.77m for the 20 most profitable stores, brand and website.
For anyone who is does not know much about the history of JJB’s it is notable for being established by Dave Whelan (a former footballer and current owner of Wigan Athletic) in the working-class town of Wigan in the North West. Former JJB owner Dave Whelan spoke to Sky News following the announcement of JJB’s demise “One question I would like to ask would be, what you have done with all the money you have raised? It is so bad that they have had such bad management. I feel so sorry for those who have lost their jobs”. Touching sentiments indeed from a man who is a loyal supporter of the Conservative Party and in 2008 alone donated £250,000 to the Tories. In October of 2006 workers were in a battle over pay against their multi-millionaire employer but while this battle raged Dave Whelan was in Barbados having a holiday with his family. And such was his loyalty to JJB’s workforce that he sold the company in 2007 for a cool £190 Million!
Currently in the town of Wigan there remains the Martland Mill HQ where 153 employees have been made redundant. The future of the HQ remains in doubt but shops in Glasgow, Leeds, West Bromwich and a host of other mainly working class towns should survive in some guise. In the North West, where the company was founded, just three remain; Rochdale, Chorley and Liverpool.
The problem of unemployment
Looking at September’s figures for unemployment, it was the second month in a row Wigan’s unemployment has gone up and now touches to 9,471 (official figures at least). In October’s figures on unemployment in Wigan, the people out of work has fallen but the number of under-25s on the dole has risen. In the Wigan borough 16 to 25-year-olds make up a third of the jobless population of the town.
Wigan has always been a working-class town and a very proud one at that, and if you talk to any family I am sure they can tell you about someone who is worried or has been made redundant. For me personally my mother works at the Martland Mill HQ but luckily she was one of the people kept on at the HQ, and for the last few months my mother has been unsure if she will still be in work and the last few months we have talked about if she will still have a job in the coming weeks. Luckily when it came to it she kept her job unlike so many who were made redundant. The thing that hit me about all this was her response to what was going on “It’s just a sign of the times”. This only shows the pessimism endemic throughout the working class as a result of years of betrayal by Labour and social democratic leadership in the movement. But we shall not settle for “a sign of the times” and it is times like this when communists can put forward our powerful revolutionary alternative, the socialist alternative!
The poor are always hit the hardest and this is the case in Wigan, they may not have the qualifications to get a job but also in an evermore competitive job market the poor will always be on the back foot. The constant waiting to see if you have got a job when in the end you don’t even get a reply is both demoralising and depressing. I have many friends who have gone round stores handing out their CV’s and mostly getting nothing, most being told “Sorry were not taking on”. What hope can we give our youth if they are instantly rejected from a job or not even given a chance! As we know most jobs would ask you to have some form of work experience, but most people are unable to get experience in the first place! Some have their first taste of work experience while in high school, but in the case of many young people their schools cannot afford the insurance to give them the opportunity to experience even this unpaid slavery!
The youth just settle for a job in Tesco’s, Asda, McDonald’s and your high street shops. Where is their future in all of this? I have many friends who have just settled for trying to get a job in the army and going to fight and die for the profit of a select few. We should not let our youth feel like their only option is to join the Army and kill working class and oppressed people overseas. Our youth will have a future! Everyone should have their fair share of wealth and everyone has a right to a job. Red Youth will take a revolutionary spark into the working classes!
Each one, teach one!