Recent figures released by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) on levels of unemployment will no doubt have the North West’s politicians lining up to express their shock and disappointment in the local press. Little comfort of course for those of us having to scrape by each week on benefits however the elections have long since past and all this is a matter of statistics to those up on the hill.
The DETI’s latest figures clearly shows that Derry remains the North’s unemployment blackspot with an estimated 4,980 people (7.2% of the working age population) out of work across the city. This comes as no great surprise as other towns such as Strabane and Limavady poll equally as bad, double the rate of that in other areas east of the Bann.
But what about the campaign ‘Stand Up For Derry’ surely they have made some inroads by creating jobs? Unfortunately not! All that has come from this bandwagon has been empty rhetoric. What else can be expected from a party political lead initiative rolled out time and time again for the media and photo opportunities on the steps of Stormont.
No doubt a useful tool for the political representatives involved, making it look as if someone is actually speaking up for the growing hordes of the unemployed leading up to elections. It was never a project to organise the disorganised simply a tool to bash other political opponents at times when political points are needed.
Earlier this month news broke that an estimated 2000 people applied for just 35 vacancies at the new seven-screen Brunswick Cinebowl at Pennyburn Industrial Estate. Similar "phenomenal" stories can be found in the other towns across the North West and with growing austerity measures being rolled out scenes like this are sadly set to continue. But who will stand up for the growing ranks of the unemployed?
For anarchists the answer is clear. It’s certainly not the media conscious politician, notoriously renowned for riding several horses at once, but the unemployed standing up for themselves. Over the last several months unemployed workers and claimants have come together forming independent union branches in both Strabane and Derry. This has to be welcomed as a new beginning for working class militancy but if it is to succeed it will have to remain independent from politicians and those who seek to use it a vehicle to obtain votes next time round. With a total of 55,850 people now signing on in the North more work needs to be done and that should take place on our streets.