Young people have the most to lose from staying in the European Union (EU) and must vote to leave to secure their future, trade unionists have warned.
Pointing to the eye-watering levels of youth unemployment found within some member states as a result of the Eurozone crisis, Brexit campaign group Trade Unionists Against the EU have urged Britain’s youth to vote to leave the bloc for the sake of their futures.
“Mass youth unemployment began in Britain in the mid-1970s when we joined the European Union and its key demand of allowing capital to fly free of its country of origin started,” said Doug Nicholls, the former General Secretary of the Community and Youth Workers’ Union.
“Well paid manufacturing, technical and scientific jobs disappeared. We deindustrialised as a nation and lost political power.”
In the intervening years, Mr. Nicholls said the picture has gotten steadily worse for young people as the EU imposed work place reforms: “We saw the removal of skilled apprenticeships, the creation of an unaffordable housing market, the break-up of social housing, the development of zero hours contracts and precarious work.”
Many on the left claim that zero hours contracts are consequence of the EU’s Agency Workers Directive, which Ed Milliband admitted back in 2014 “allows firms to avoid paying agency workers at the same rates as directly employed staff.”
But those on zero hours contracts may be thanking their stars that they are not one of the millions of unemployed currently languishing in southern EU states in particular. Spain is suffering under a youth unemployment rate of 45 per cent, while in Greece it is an astonishing 50.4 per cent, down from a high of 60 per cent in 2013.
The effect on young lives, Mr. Nicholls says, is devastating.
“[Youth unemployment] is deeply unnatural and takes away pride and hope and skill and causes mental illness and anguish early in life.
“This sucks life out of the economy and hope out of a generation.
“Youth suicide rates are on the rise right across the EU.”
He believes the answer is to leave the EU and strike out on our own.
“Out of the EU we would be able to prioritise, as our predecessors did, building a society without unemployment and with secure, skilled, well paid jobs. We would be able to tackle the unaffordable housing market and enable young people to start earlier on the ladder and gain their independence.
“Above all we would be able to engage young people through votes at sixteen and civic engagement in social structures and politics that they would influence and determine. People would start getting elected again to positions of office unlike all the unaccountable financiers who run the banks and corporations that run the EU.
“Young people must have a central vested interest in how society is run and should be central to decision making and power not marginal from it and victims of brutal decisions by those who represent only the super-rich 0.1%. Young or old: low growth, low productivity and mass unemployment is a bleak future. We need to leave the EU on June 23rd.”
A recent poll by ICM on the referendum question showed that people under thirty were currently set to vote two to one in favour of remaining within the EU.