South East Wales

Young protesters' jobs march from Merthyr to Cardiff

Protesters on the Youth Fight For Jobs march
Image caption Youth unemployment is top of the agenda for marchers

Young protesters have begun a three-day march calling for more jobs, training and education.

The rally started in Merthyr Tydfil on Thursday and will move to Pontypridd, finishing in Cardiff on Saturday.

Organisers chose Merthyr because Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith suggested that unemployed people there "get on a bus" to find work.

The Welsh Government said it is introducing a jobs fund among measures to address youth unemployment.

The Department for Work and Pensions said it is committed to "creating the biggest and best apprenticeship programme our country has ever seen", with funding in place for 360,000 apprenticeships in 2011.

Conservative MP Mr Duncan Smith sparked anger when he told people in Merthyr they had become static and should seek work in Cardiff.

'Too lazy to work'

The former Tory leader claimed people were unaware they could take a one-hour bus journey to Cardiff for work.

The march has been organised by members of the pressure group Youth Fight for Jobs and will have some backing from trade unions and some Socialist party members.

Around 16 people form the core of the 24-mile march with rallies at the start of each leg.

It has been organised by Jaime Davies, 21, a part-time sales assistant from Caerphilly, who said the work situation for people from Merthyr and the surrounding area is "grim".

He said it is up to the Welsh Government, as well as Westminster, to change policy.

Image caption Iain Duncan Smith said Merthyr unemployed should seek work in Cardiff, some 25 miles (40km) away

He said he believed Mr Duncan Smith's comments "were disgusting because he implied that the unemployed in the valleys are too lazy to work".

"People want to work and provide for their families in the future. I think it's time the Welsh Government took a stand against the Condem Government and realised their roots as socialists."

The Welsh Government said it plans a raft of measures to address youth unemployment.

Jobs fund

A spokesperson said: "In contrast to the UK Government which has closed the future jobs fund, we are committed to improving the opportunities for young people who are not in education, employment or training in Wales.

"In April 2012, the Welsh Government will introduce a Welsh jobs fund. It will create 4,000 jobs for unemployed young people aged 16-24 across Wales for a 6 month period. We are also creating more apprenticeship opportunities for young people in Wales."

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: "We know that people in Wales want to the chance to work and the Government is committed to helping them make the most of the opportunities out there and fulfil their ambitions.

"The Work Programme is the biggest back to work programme implemented since the Second World War, providing youngsters with the personalised and tailored support they need and that employers want."

The south Wales event is preparation for an even longer march in October organised by Youth Fight For Jobs from Jarrow in South Tyneside to London.

It will mark the 75th anniversary of the famous Jarrow March in 1936, where 200 jobless men marched on the government with a 12,000-name petition calling for help.

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