Y.C.W. Indicts State Youth Centres
The Young Christian Workers enthusiastically back up the CATHOLIC HERALD Work-For-All plan. In their magazine for November they stress the need of giving the unemployed the chance to train so that the work of national developmentagriculture, afforestation, land drainage, road building, house building, canal modernisation-may be properly undertaken.
Obviously a system of training camps to which the unemployed could volunteer would have to be set up. The Y.C.W. makes it clear, however, that such training camps must not be modelled on the existing Government training centres for boys and young men of the distressed areas.
At the Haverstock Hill centre of the Y.C.W. contact is made with many young men who have been to these Government centres and from their experiences and independent enquiries made by members of the Y.C.W. the following account of life in a Government training centre is derived.
Five Boys a Room " During the six months' training the young workers receive 21s. a week. A panel of landladies is kept at the centre where boys can get lodgings at 17s. a week. The 17s. covers breakfast, tea and supper, as well as lodging. The midday meal is taken at the camp.
" Many of the boys share a room of 8s. 6d. a week each. This is not officially recognised, so that the boys cannot complain to the authorities. If they paid 17s. a week they could complain but this would mean having only 4s. a week pocketmoney. " We have often had cases where these boys live under revolting conditions. In one case a boy slept in a room with five others and no facilities were available for washing clothes. So he kept his one shirt on for six weeks until he was able to move out.
" The boys work at the centre from 8 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and from 1.30 p.m. to 5 pm. The intensive training they received, though excellent in itself, is insufficient to get any clear knowledge of the trade they are learning.
8d. or 9d. an Hour " When they leave the centre they are found jobs by the Ministry of Labour. The firms they work for pay them 8d., 9d. or 10d. an hour. There is a danger of the Centres becoming markets for cheap labour. We know boys who have been drafted from the training centre at Letchworth to factories in Slough. At one of these factories, a large radio firm, the permanent staff is small, the majority of workers are drawn from the training centres.
"The work that this majority does is monotonous work on drilling machines, assembling, etc., in which the operator is responsible only for one or two small actions-putting in a few screws, drilling holes in Bakelite. The work can be learned in an hour. The training of six months goes for nothing."
The Y.C.W. sums up : " Any national plan for the unemployed must take into account adequate training, of at least two years, with jobs at full trade union rates for those passed out as proficient."