Two posts on the EU referendum from members of Disabled People Against Cuts.
For an out vote: EU:should we stay or should we go? By Ellen Clifford
For an in vote: Why we should say Yes to the EU By Debbie Jolly
Stupid or malicious? You decide: STUPID SANCTIONS.
Below is a list of landlord M.P.s who voted against the amendment to the Housing and Planning Bill to ensure houses are “fit for human habitation”, whom according to the register of members’ financial interests as of December 2015, had also recorded under Section 6(ii) “Income derived from property: over £10,000 in a calendar year”. That’s on top of nearly 70 grand they get for doing stuff like this. Nearly a third of members and 39% of the tories belong to this clique; those who derive less than 10,000 p.a. are not declared.
The following landlords abstained, the Scots didn’t get a vote.
Information from International Business Times.
On the 24th of October, members of Swindon Anarchists, including SolFed members, took 3 vehicles crammed with supplies to the refugee camps of Calais. As numbers at the camp swelled to over 6,000, the group decided we had a responsibility to offer what solidarity we could to men, women and children forced into cramped, cold and unhygienic conditions just for seeking a life free of war, persecution, poverty and hunger. As well as hoping to improve material conditions in the camp, we reject the concept of national borders, embrace freedom of movement for all and support all those whose circumstances have forced them into conflict with the border regime, the political class and their stooges in uniform.
From the start of our campaign, we worked closely with Swindon People’s Assembly, who offered us invaluable support in raising funds and donations as well as organising a strong and well attended demonstration in Swindon town centre in support of refugees and migrants. We would also like to offer massive thanks to Swindon Pulse, who promoted our campaign, donated much needed supplies and acted as a drop off point for donations. We were also offered useful advice and practical support from Swindon-Calais Solidarity, who have been doing invaluable work in Calais for months. Read full report on SolFed dot org
If you can, a donation to cover their expenses would be really helpful! – Swindon chippenham aid to Calais
What follows was posted as a reply to the blog post here: twice; we then asked the blogger whether our comment had been censored, as we could see other, more sycophantic comments had since been approved by the admin; that reply didn’t appear either. It doesn’t auger well for a future under labour if even their supporting bloggers seek to stifle mild dissent.
From the anti-capitalist point of view of course they’re all the same, – should the turkey vote for Christmas? The Chartist and suffragette campaigns were not primarily about the right to vote, that was just a means to an end. They were an attempt to bring the selfish and greedy ruling class to heel, and they weren’t afraid to fight. But it was too late, they let us have the vote once they had completed the theft of our means of production, and condemned every single one of us to wage labour, which however you dress it up, is an abusive relationship; an abomination. The labour party gave the working class someone to vote for that could speak politely for it in the corridors of power then take its seat again without ever altering the balance of that power.
The worst thing about voting is that it’s an excuse for not doing anything, it reinforces the idea that someone, somewhere, is in control and it’s up to them to solve the problems they created, it isn’t, it’s up to us. People waste their time and energy campaigning in an election and then sit back on their arses as if they’ve done something worthwhile. What a fucking cop out. The working class has power, governments claim to have it; government is a conspiracy between rulers and ruled. Your reward for allowing yourself to be governed is absolution from responsibility for the misery created by the society you inhabit. Recent history has shown that whilst elected governments must bend to corporate interests a handful of determined militants can thwart their best laid plans. An example of the futility of parliamentary democracy can be found here: yet generations of leftists have defeated themselves in this arena. Read how the labour member respects our enemies for their ability to frustrate us.
What if labour do get elected? A thinly-veiled corporatism is sold to us on the basis that it will be slightly kinder; and to the bourgeoisie on the premise that it will be more stable than their cut-throat piracy (in other words we will be persuaded to collaborate in our own exploitation). When we start kicking off, wildcatting, blockading fracking sites, stopping evictions and deportations, closing down exploiters, actually hurting our capitalist enemies, they’ll tell us to stop rocking the boat or we’ll let the tories in again, just like they did in the 70’s. Anyway, here’s our original reply:
“All three parties are fighting this election under false pretences, the idea that countries must balance their books like petty bourgeois households and that abstract debts created in computer programmes exert some moral obligation over real people – much less the working class, who even built their wretched computers for them. The idea that there is a shortage of work and money when in fact there is too much of both. There is plenty to do; to be sure, saving the bloody planet for a start, but the only activity that will earn you a qualified right to exist in their world is one that adds value to someone else’s capital thereby enhancing the fetishised status of the socially useless. A true socialist would have the courage to say so.
Of course the tories are despicable and wish to enslave the working class, but need I remind you the last labour government introduced workfare and lied to the United Nations to start a war in which a million people died, despite an unprecedented and inarguable level of active public opposition. Short of taking up arms against the state the British people were powerless to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe engineered by Tony Blair on behalf of his sponsors in the oil industry – Halliburton – who were at the time running the United States. They’ve got form for this; the Wilson government took a solemn decision in cabinet to lie to the U.N. over Diego Garcia which it had sold to the U.S. for a military base, had the population forcibly removed and left to stave to death on a rock.
Now Miliband will pander to the moral panic painstakingly created by the corporate media over immigration; curiously the public service broadcaster has led the way in this. The BBC incessantly prompts callers for reactionary comments, reassuring wavering racists that it’s understandable to be scared of foreigners. Any fool knows that economic migration is not controlled by governments but by the bourgeoisie, who use it to lower the wages and conditions at the bottom, whilst ‘quality immigration’ – importing I.T. specialists from India or doctors from the Philippines is just a shameful pillage of the education systems of the poorest countries by the richest – primitive accumulation. National borders are of no use to us, being only necessary to maintain differentials in prices and wages to the benefit of the employing class. A true socialist would have the courage to say so.
A ‘Labour’ party would stand for the working class regardless of nationality and expose the concept of national interest for the scam it has always been. It would stop lying about the realities of economics, stop apologising for the excesses of global capitalism, stop trying to fix the economy, stop polishing the turd. If we want an end to capitalism we have to stop trying to make it work. The economy is the mechanism that maintains the dominance of the few over the many and we must push it until it breaks.
We don’t want a different government we need expropriation of private property and to take control of the infrastructure to institute sustainable demand-led production. No political party is going to do that for us, the emancipation of the exploited is the task of the exploited themselves, not some lily-livered apologist for the exploiters.”
Mal C x
As the gentrification and Class/ethnic cleansing of London proceeds apace the people have drawn the line at No 1 Commercial Street. There are weekly pickets at the socially-segregated building in Whitechapel, traditionally a working class stronghold and the spiritual home of London’s Anarchist movement, just a few doors from Freedom Books.
The front door, which resembles a swanky hotel lobby, only serves part of the building. Planning regulations require the developers to grudgingly include ‘affordable housing’ on their sites, knowing full well that few of those who actually make this city work could ever afford to buy a flat in London. Tenants of the 70 ‘social plots’ at no 1 are required to enter through the Poor Door, located down a dingy piss-stained alley; they have separate lifts, which are out of order for days on end.
“ONE ICONIC BUILDING One Commercial Street towers twenty-one storeys above Aldgate East like a blade of light, its glass fin protruding dramatically to add a sculptural quality to Redrow London’s first flagship development.” The developers’ website slobbers.
A three bedroom flat here will set you back over four million quid. The sign in the lobby says: “The concierge is available 24 hours per day. Should you wish to contact the concierge by phone or we are away from the desk, please phone: Mob: 07872108385 Landline: 020 7247 0464″
Please be polite.
“This is the Alamo for the working class of East London, if people put up with ‘one door for the rich, another door for the poor,’ they’ll put up with fucking anything. If there’s ever been an issue that people should stand up and be counted on, it’s this disgrace.” – Ian Bone.
Redrow goes on:
“this development bridges the gap between the square mile and London’s exciting East end”
– Every Wednesday for the past fourteen weeks, Class War and allies have been making the East End a bit more exciting for the toffs and swankers who get to use this door:
Deep blue apartments offer short stays in the flats to corporate sharks working in the City of London, starting at £170 a night for a studio flat about the size of a prison cell. Their website boasts:
“the ideal location in an up and coming trendy area, … right in the heart of the fashionable East End of London … Around the corner, you’ll find the creative hubs of Hoxton, Whitechapel and Shoreditch”
– masturbate furiously!
” The ideal base to return to after a hard day’s work,”
– stripping assets, cutting wages and foreclosing on poor people’s houses, presumably.
Saturday’s action, coming after the TUC’s festival of irrelevance ‘Britain needs a pay rise’ – emphasising the point that the business unions only represent those who get paid in the first place – was joined by anarchists, socialists and wobblies from across the country. North East Anarchists brought the Durham Miners’ banner, Cosmo entertained the troops, drummers drummed – sorry didn’t get their name – the Women’s Death Brigade did the okey-cokey, and blocked the road as well as the entrance, not a single toff did pass for over an hour.
Steve Morgan, Chairman 01244 527411
Barbara Richmond, Group Finance Director 01244 527411
John Tutte, Group Chief Executive 01244 527411
If you can get to One Commercial Street on a Wednesday evening please come along and support this campaign: farcebook event
If you can’t here’s a list and map of Redrow’s developments in England and Wales, and if you’re aware of any development in your area using Poor Doors, tell us about it. Let’s spread this battle until we win it!
While we’re at it, why not come to Bridport and give ‘Evil Oliver’ Letwin a bollocking on the 8th November.
Localise the resistance!
.The action was organised by members of the Industrial Workers of the World and Bournemouth and Poole Anti Cuts Coalition, there was a good turnout and the accompanying communications blockade seemed to be going well. The e-mail and phone blockade was specifically targeted to affect the exploiters alone and not impair services to the clients, thanks to comrades and fellow workers around the world who supported us, we will do the same for you.
More actions will follow. An injury to one is an injury to all!
If you have been affected by cuts to care in any way, whether you have lost your day care, lost you benefits, mobility car, a carer who has had their wage slashed, a care provider who is having to slash their staff’s wages or simply someone who cares please join us in the “CARE CUTS HURT” demo outside Poole Council meeting. Let those that are making the decisions see the human cost, bring a placard, bring your personal story written down to be collected for presenting to the councilors at a future date. Enough is enough with 60% of cuts still to be rolled out we must make ourselves heard.
Lifeways Dorset will today, Tues 28th January, be dismissing what is expected to be the majority of their support workers for refusing to sign an agreement that would mean up to a 60% cut in take home pay with immediate effect. Lifeways is a private health care provider who won contracts for to provide care to people with a severe learning disability and challenging behaviour.
The staff were transferred with the clients when all of Dorset’s Homes for those with a learning disability and challenging behaviour shut. Most staff have worked with the clients for many years and thus have a positive trusting relationship with those supported and fully understand the complex needs and challenging behavior. Not only are the staff to lose up to £2 per hour from hourly rate, all enhancements for unsociable hours, their pensions reduced, sick pay removed, annual leave reduced all expected to be agreed to with the understanding the budget from the Dorset CCG and Local Authorities had been cut. With a backdrop of an overall profit of £12.6 million last year nationally.
How can a support worker with a family to support possibly agree to such severe cuts and thus have no option but the dismissal and implementation of the lower rate after their notice period? Many have already left to find employment that will not force them into poverty, those that remain are living in limbo and worse of all those positive relationships those supported had are being replaced by being supported by a stranger. How is Private health allowed to get away with this?
One in five people sent on mandatory work activity in charity shops face destructive sanctions (benefit stoppages) of three or six months. Sanctions are a major reason for the soaring rise in the use of food banks as hunger is made a daily reality in the UK. The charities still involved in workfare are profiting from making people poorer and giving moral cover to the companies involved as well. Let’s tell them it’s time to pull out!
Last month, a poll of charity workers showed just how unpopular workfare is with the majority of people in charities: 92% thought that the government should publish the list of workfare providers that it is withholding.
Since the start of the year, thanks to your action, five charities have said they will no longer take part in workfare schemes: Sense, PDSA, Capability Scotland, Sue Ryder and the Red Cross. The Children’s Society has also pledged not to use workfare.
This means the workfare schemes which rely on charity placements are on the rocks! Already before the latest withdrawals, the government complained: “The high profile withdrawal of placements from a number of larger charities meant a sharp reduction in placements.”
Let’s help banish workfare from charities: contact these workfare exploiters today.
Fellow animal charity PDSA has already realised that it needed to show a bit more kindness to the human beings working in its shops. Time for RSPCA to do the same and stop using workfare!
The YMCA released a statement in March defending their use of forced unpaid workers, and ignoring the fact they are responsible for pushing people into destitution and possible homelessness through sanctions which can last up to three years. Persuade them to join the list of charities who will no longer have anything to do with workfare.
Phone them on 020 7186 9500 or their shops hotline on 0845 601 0728.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Find contacts for your nearest YMCA shop: http://www.ymca.org.uk/find/ymcashops
Tweet their President, Bishop John Sentamu, has spoken out against workfare in the past: @johnsentamu
The government has praised the Salvation Army for ‘holding the line‘ on workfare. When new figures emerged two weeks ago showing just how disastrous the Work Programme is for claimants, the Salvation Army released a pro-Work Programme report and have publicly claimed that ‘The Work Programme is working‘. They have boasted about the fact they even force sick and disabled people to do their workfare schemes.
Salvation Army UK can be contacted on facebook and on Twitter: @TSA_IHQ and @salvationarmyuk
They can be telephoned on (020) 7367 4500 or emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Salvation Army’s youth section are on facebook here.
To tell Salvation Army branches round the world what is being done in their name in the UK find twitter details here.
British Heart Foundation
Following occupations and pickets in across the UK British Heart Foundation announced they were “moving away” from workfare. Recently they declared they had withdrawn from the Mandatory Work Activity scheme. But they are openly declaring on their website that they are still participating in the Work Programme – despite the fact that in December this scheme was extended to give providers the power to force many sick and disabled claimants on Employment and Support Allowance to work for nothing, or face sanctions.
BHF state on their site: “Our supporters are welcome to contact us directly if they have any questions about our participation in the scheme. Please email email@example.com“.
Don’t disappoint them, get in touch!
Papworth Trust told civilsociety.co.uk:
“Papworth Trust believes that by being involved in mandatory work activity, we can make sure that each work placement is as effective as possible for each disabled or disadvantaged person.”
Now tell them what you think of their use of disabled people on workfare!
And if you’ve got a bit more time, why not get in touch with some of the high street brands profiting from workfare or the green charities exploiting forced labour too? Remember there’s loads of action on the streets this Saturday too!
A broad range of activists responded to B.P.A.C.C.‘s call out to picket council meetings in Bournemouth and Poole on Tuesday. In each case, a question was submitted by a resident of the borough demanding an assurance that none of our fellow residents would be evicted over inability to pay the bedroom tax.
In Poole, the question was submitted by Kevin Smith; as Mr Smith has recently found employment and is required to work a night shift, he was unable to attend in person. It had been agreed by the council that a comrade would read the question on his behalf but the council went back on this the day before, so only a written answer was given.
Write up from a comrade in Poole on Dorset eye: BPACC and UK Uncut Activists stage anti bedroom tax Demonstration in Poole and Bournemouth
Stewart McArthur of Bournemouth and Poole Anti Cuts Coaliton (BPACC) sends a clear message to Poole Council
Demonstrators from Bournemouth and Poole Anti Cuts Coalition, UK Uncut and Wessex Solidarity staged protests against the bedroom tax outside the offices of Poole and Bournemouth Councils this evening. The protest in Poole was in support of a question tabled by Mr Kevin Smith of Canford Heath Poole seeking reassurances there would be no evictions in the event of rent arrears being accrued due to these proposed changes.
Mr Smith was unable to attend the council meeting and the council decided any answer would be provided for Mr Smith in ‘due course’.
Outside of Bournemouth Council offices where a similar protest was staged sources reported there was one arrest.
Graham Horne – Swanage More pictures here
Meanwhile, in Bournemouth, an even more bizarre situation developed; a Public Question was submitted by Mike Cracknell; during one of the most low-key (not to say boring) protests ever, a local activist was arrested for allegedly chalking this picture on the pavement outside Bournemouth town hall.
He was taken away by 4 Babylon including one plain clothes and remained impassive throughout. Subsequently a delegation from BPACC comprising members of Unite, CP, SolFed, non aligned and labour party were denied access to the council chambers apparently on the orders of the mayor’s chauffeur! Our comrade was held 6 hours and bailed, he was not informed that the delegation was waiting for him at the police station.
Meanwhile as evictions do seem likely to happen, please put some serious thought into adding your support and involvement in setting up phone trees to physically stop bailiffs from evicting you or your neighbours. We need to self-organise now so we are ready, if and when, evictions begin. Thank you.
From Boycott Workfare:
“In yet another massive blow to workfare, Argos – which has 740 stores nationwide – appears to have pulled out of Workfare. Argos had previously boasted that it was using Workfare to cover its busiest period at Christmas. In at least one store, Workfare workers were doing ten hours a week more than paid staff. That they have now pulled out is a testament to the strength of feeling amongst the general public and shows the results we can get when we keep up the pressure!
It gets better. Remember how Homebase were exposed for using 25 workfare placements in one store and boasting about it? How we heard some people’s paid hours were cut from 48 a week down to 8 as a result? They faced such a huge response from the public that they took their Facebook Page down repeatedly. People protested at their stores across the UK. Now, they too, have apparently stopped using workfare. Their statement is full of doublespeak, but people protesting during the bank holiday at the store where the story emerged were told by the manager that the last Workfare workers finished on Friday and they won’t be using any more.
These companies were saving thousands on their wages bill by exploiting the unemployed. This, despite the fact that the CEO of Home Retail Group – which owns Argos and Homebase – was paid £1.1 million last year. They didn’t ditch Workfare out of the goodness of their hearts: it’s clear that your actions are making a massive difference, taking two big scalps! Please keep an eye on your local stores to check they don’t slip back into Workfare when the pressure eases off.
There are still many scalps waiting to be taken – a list of which, unless the government manages to find a way out of it, it will now be compelled to reveal soon. One such example is retail chain B&M Stores, which wasawarded a prize for its work with Work Programme provider Ingeus. While the award talks about the people who have been given jobs after their stint of unpaid work, it seems existing staff are having their hours cut as Workfare is brought in.
If Workfare is one side of the coin, then sanctions are the other. Without the threat of sanctions forcing people to undertake Workfare, these schemes could not exist. To underline this harsh fact, last week it was revealed in research by London Assembly and Green Party member Jenny Jones, that one in three people in London and the Home Counties sent to Mandatory Work Activity was sanctioned. Another reason to challenge the London Mayor’s Workfare scheme, which forces young people to work without pay from the first day they sign on.
With your support this campaign will continue to take action action against the businesses, charity groups or organisations exploiting Jobseekers and the disabled through Workfare, as well as those forcing people into Workfare via sanctions. After all, it’s not only basic morality, it’s basic common sense. Workfare makes everyone poorer. It’s up to us to stop it, and as these successes show, together we can do it – and we are!”
Activists from BARF and Bristol Anarchist Federation worked together over the last two months in the campaign against Homebase, so we’ll claim this one, thanks.
We are calling on Bournemouth and Poole councils to give assurances that no social housing tenants will be evicted due to arrears accrued through the Bedroom Tax and will be holding demonstrations outside both town halls prior to full council meetings on Tuesday 18th June. Please show your support and assemble outside either Bournemouth Town Hall or Poole Civic Centre from 6pm. Thank-you
PRESS RELEASE: Sussex ‘Pop-Up Union’ to fight outsourcing
Workers at the University of Sussex have formed a new union in a bid to halt the outsourcing of 235 campus jobs. The initiative comes from rank-and-file members of the three recognised campus trade unions, with the support of students from the now six-week old Occupy Sussex movement.
Announcing the move at a mass demonstration on Monday 25th March, a spokesperson said: “The Pop-Up Union is a result management’s refusal to engage meaningfully with staff, students, and the recognised trade unions for over 10 months. We are now taking things into our own hands.”
“A recent poll found that 70% of students oppose the plans. Numerous academics have voiced their opposition, and the local MP has sponsored an Early Day Motion in the Houses of Parliament. But university management are pushing ahead with this unpopular and unnecessary proposal.”
“We are urging all Sussex staff to join the Pop-Up Union so that we can stand together against the attack on workers terms and conditions that outsourcing represents.”
Notes for editors
1. Outsourcing background. University of Sussex management proposed in May 2012 to outsource 235 campus jobs, including porters, cleaners, security and catering. The Pop-Up Union believes outsourcing will lead to erosion of workers terms and conditions and is calling for the services to remain in-house.
2. Legal background #1. Trade Unions are defined in law under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. The Pop-Up Union has been formed in accordance this definition.
3. Legal background #2. The Pop-Up Union is in the process of becoming ‘listed’ with the Certification Officer, who maintains a list of all known Trade Unions.
4. Campaign info. Occupy Sussex have been in occupation of the Bramber House conference centre since 8 February 2013, and have received support from well over 300 academics, trade unions and public figures including comedian Frankie Boyle, actor Peter Capaldi, and public intellectual Noam Chomsky. Letter to Staff at the University of Sussex
5. Local MP. Local MP Caroline Lucas has tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons opposing the plans, which at the time of writing had attracted 11 signatories:
6. Campus trade unions. Three trade unions are recognised by the University of Sussex – UCU, Unite, and Unison. The Pop-Up Union includes members of all three, and does not intend to replace the recognised unions, but to provide a means for workers across campus to lawfully oppose the outsourcing proposals.
7. Union fees. Dues are set at just 50p per month, making the Pop-Up affordable to every staff member on campus.
On 1st April the government introduced the bedroom tax, making 670,00 people worse off for having a spare room, even if it’s for a disabled partner or child, or foster children to sleep in at the same time as giving 13,000 millionaires a tax cut . In reaction to this and in response to a national call-out from UK Uncut, Bournemouth Uncut took our creative civil disobedience straight to the people who are directly pushing and benefiting from these cuts.
Bournemouth Uncut is a local group part of UK Uncut, a grassroots movement using direct action to fight the cuts and highlight alternatives to austerity. On Saturday 13th April 2013 a group of activists took action as part of UK Uncut’s nationwide “Who wants to evict a millionaire” that saw actions round the country, including London, Manchester and Chelmsford against the governments changes to housing benefit dubbed the “bedroom tax”.
We are disappointed at Cllr Mike White’s decision to brand our actions sick, and feel that what this government of millionaires is doing to single-mothers, disabled people and low-earners up and down the country is what is actually sick.
In reaction to Poole MP Robert Syms statement to Bournemouth Echo where he claimed direct action would make him and his government “more determined to make sure [they] make fairer policy in terms of housing”  Bournemouth Uncut say that they will continue to work with other direct action groups locally and nationally until the “bedroom tax” is added to the ever growing number of coalition u-turns .
For more information and interviews:
Call 07596 388 848
Reblogged from Diary of a Benefit Scrounger – Sue Marsh.
Welfare reform. Much needed shake up of a system out of control or cruel and ignorant attack of some of the most vulnerable people in society? Most have an opinion.
Many like me, were fighting the welfare reform bill way back in 2011. We know every last detail, every twist and turn, every sweeping change and every technical detail. Believe me, it’s cruel.
On the whole, I think the cruelty is in the details. Oh, not the headline grabbing Benefit Cap or Universal Credit. They’re largely PR stunts that won’t save any money at all. Universal Credit could have been rather clever if only ministers had understood the details. If only they’d really understood the people they were legislating for. Their lives, the difficulties they face, the traps in the system, the precarious fear of a life on the margins of society.
One of the most sickening details of all still grates with me almost daily. It was so cruel sounnecessary. It overturned decades of cross-party consensus and decency. It picked on a group so vulnerable it takes my breath away. And it stripped that group of basic rights despite ministers not actually understanding the policy at all. How cavalier can you be? How arrogant and out-of-touch?
It was called the “Youth Premium” It only related to children who were born so profoundly disabled that they would never work as adults. Forget your Work Capability Assessments and your Scroungers, these children would never take part in society like you or I. Many would never talk, self feed, walk, play, laugh, fall in love. But they could still lead independent lives. Because we were a society that believed they should have a right to if they chose to.
The Youth Premium treated these children as though they had paid National Insurance. For a cost of just 11 million pounds, on becoming adults, these children were treated as though they had “contributed” through work and because of that, they were entitled to contributory benefits, they did not have to be means tested.
Such a simple thing, but what did it mean in practise? What did it mean to the people behind the numbers? The lives being toyed with? It meant they were entitled to live independently if they chose to. They were entitled to benefits in their own name, not as a means tested part of their family. Often, such profoundly disabled children had considerable compensation to see them through lives damaged beyond recognition by accidents. This compensation was just that. Money for an expensive future of care, adaptations to homes, aids to independence. For a lifetime, this money would have to pay for support just to make their lives as manageable as society could achieve.
No more. Any money would be part of the means test. They would have to run down reserves of cash or savings before the state would step in. Compensation is not income. Nor should it be. From the passing of the welfare bill, any security or savings put aside by families terrified what life would hold once parents or siblings had passed, would have to slowly seep away, leaving insecurity and hunger a shadow away before these few profoundly disabled neighbours and daughters and brothers could rely on any help or support from the state.
Our elite cabinet talked of how “unfair” it would be if “these people” “inherited” money but were still entitled to support from our social security system. No, they would simply have a little security to underpin the often modest state income someone with profound disabilities might expect. And how many of us can rely on generous inheritances anyway? Is that real life? A likely scenario? Of course not.
You might be wondering why I bring all this up again today. The law passed (you can see me pointing out to Chris Grayling why he didn’t understand his own policy on Newsnight, here :
Well, it’s that 11 million pounds. £11 million. In Westminster terms it would barely pay for the DWP’s paperclips. It is a drop in the ocean of a welfare budget spanning 10s of billions. It only applied to a few thousand of the most disabled children in society (children just like Ivan Cameron, had he lived into adulthood.) But Lord Freud, failed investment banker and Minister for Welfare Reform, insisted that we could “no longer afford it” We could no longer afford to allow such profoundly disabled children lives of dignity and independence. No more security. No relief for worried families that they would be safe once they were gone. A cross-party consensus of decades, stripped away by ministers who didn’t even know what they were doing.
This week, William Hague assures us we can afford £10 million for a ceremonial funeral for Margaret Thatcher. Opinion polls show the public don’t want it, commentators from left and right are mystified, yet 2,200 people have been invited to a decadent funeral for a divisive PM who lies at the heart of many of the problems facing our society today. When I scanned the invitees yesterday, it felt surreal. A mish-mash of variety club has-beens, world leaders she shunned and elite aristocrats who shunned her when alive.
10 million for a dead PM, nothing for those living with some of the greatest barriers to society any of us will ever face. I actually feel a bit sick writing it down.
But perhaps, this is the most fitting legacy of all for a PM who assured us “there is no such thing as society”
Perhaps as she burns or rots (we will all do one or the other) every profoundly disabled life lived in chains of dependence because today’s government didn’t understand the details will haunt her. Perhaps she will see images of each and every one playing like a movie to her soul, wherever it ends up.
I hope so. Those children needed that £11 million. She doesn’t.
UPDATE: Homebase are feeling the heat, time to turn it up! Bristol Demo This saturday ( Facebook / Indymedia ) Bath on Sunday ( Facebook / Indymedia) and two demos called in London. More in the works… In the mean time keep up the pressure online!
Yesterday, sources including Tom Pride’s blog, revealed that Homebase had been recruiting unpaid workers via a ‘work experience program’. Even worse they were actually boasting about getting extra hours of work by exploiting job seekers and reducing their ‘payroll costs’. A poster was spotted in a management office asking ‘would 750 hours with no payroll costs benefit your store?‘. Few companies are this brutally honest about their motivations!
Our first response was to ‘politely contact’ homebase online, and we were far from the only ones. Angry comments on twitter & facebook were popping up faster than they could delete them. They managed to remove ours, only for a many of our facebook friends to repost it. All these responses seemed to worry the management at Homebase and they quickly put out a couple of rushed statements including:
‘[..] The company has not signed up to the workfare programme, but, on occasions, works with local organisations to help unemployed people into the workplace. A number of unemployed people have recently joined our Haringey store through JobCentre Plus in a short, voluntary programme, to gain work experience. They are entirely under no obligation to participate, nor will non participation affect any benefits. Colleagues at this store also have not been impacted by this programme in any reduction of hours.’ and ‘Some of our best colleagues have joined us having previously been unemployed […]‘
Even on a first read through these statements seem to be full of double speak and blatant lies. They start by saying they haven’t signed up to workfare but then describe a workfare scheme they have evidently signed up to! They move on to say it is voluntary even though it has been repeatedly revealed that the job centre forces people onto so-called ‘voluntary’ schemes, by threatening them with sanctions, telling them the only alternative is an even worse mandatory scheme, illegally giving inaccurate information and not explaining to them their right to refuse.
Next they say that the workfare scheme has not impacted staff or reduced over time hours, boycott workfare quickly exposed this as an outright lie with a staff member reporting massive reductions in overtime. They also revealed that Homebase isn’t offering any of their unpaid workers jobs, hardly surprising given the fact that only 4% of people on the work program end up with steady job. As for their claim that some people who got a job with them were unemployed before hand? Well surely this is true anywhere, its quite common to be unemployed before you get a job!
We’re calling on individuals and groups around the country to join us in taking action against Homebase. (facebook event)
Bristol AFed, SolFed and friends at one of our previous anti-workfare demonstrations
We propose that people keep up the contact and criticism via their twitter, facebook, you tube, customer email, media enquiries email, post box, and telephone. Then, if Homebase has not 100% officially backed out of all methods of exploiting unpaid workers at the expense of their paid staff, we call on people to hold protests at their local homebase store a week from now, on Saturday the 13th and Sunday the 14th of APRIL. If there isn’t a Homebase close by, why not hold a protest at an Argos instead, seeing as it also uses workfare in the same way and is owned by the same parent company!
If you are thinking of joining in with the national days of action against Homebase, we highly recommend you speak to the staff working in the shop before hand. If you work their yourself, or know someone that does, this is ideal. Even if you don’t it is worth going down before your protest and politely talking to staff in a relaxed way. Make it clear that your protest is not aimed at them, but at the management and owners of homebase. Explain how if this isn’t stopped it could negatively affect their jobs. Encourage them to get together and talk to other members of staff at Homebase, and consider joining a workplace group or union to fight to protect and improve their pay and conditions (we would recommend the IWW or Solidarity Federation, but the choice will depend on the local situation).
We will be calling for a picket and protest at our local Homebase, in the mean time we have set up a Facebook Event to help people network, share ideas, and advertise their local events. We also suggest using the Boycott Workfare and UK Uncut websites to help network with other people in your area.
Calling a protest doesn’t have to take a lot of time, print off some leaflets (feel free to copy anything from our last workfare leaflet – we will post links to other leaflets produced (send ‘em to us!) so people can copy them if they don’t feel like writing their own), make some placards and banners, text call and speak to your mates, then publicise the event online or on any community notice boards etc.
Additionally, this is the demand we’ve made of Homebase, what would be enough for you to call off your action may vary:
Release a binding statement that clearly states 1) you will never participate in any workfare schemes nationally or locally*1 2) Homebase will stop all current involvement with all schemes (including the ‘work experience program’) that equate to people working for you for no money*2 3) you apologise for the callous nature of the poster that was up in a management office (a picture of which is bellow) and will investigate the manager(s) responsible 4) You compensate anyone who has been on such a scheme with you, and if a paid position is available offer them a job should they decide they want one. Due to the circumstances of the job offer it should be completely acceptable for someone to refuse, homebase should work with the job centre to ensure this in itself does not lead to sanctions. This absolutely must not impact on hours, overtime or pay for current staff members.
*1with the definition of workfare being any scheme where unemployed people work for you without pay, including (but not limited to) so-called ‘work experience’ schemes operated by the job centre and private companies.
*2 Homebase will also ensure that no one suffers any sanctions due to the scheme ending, something they should actively pursue and check up on with the relevent job centres.
Labour controlled Birmingham City Council, which represents around 1 million people, said that from 1 April it would force benefit claimants to use prepaid cards that could be redeemed only in Asda supermarkets. Purchases are restricted to a predetermined list of items excluding phone credit, fuel, tobacco and alcohol.
Another bunch of sleazy slave-mongers has been brought to our attention:
From their website:
JHP Employability Call: 0800 6800 321:
“The Department for Work and Pensions has created a new work programme designed to give those who are unemployed the opportunity to gain new skills and experiences by completing a work placement which will benefit their local community.”
– It beats us how the community benefits from losing 4 weeks full time paid employment when there already aren’t enough jobs to go round. –
“What’s great about the programme…”
– We’re all ears –
”We are giving our clients new opportunities and a fresh start. A 4-week placement gives them the chance to experiene” (sic)
– won’t teach ‘em to spell then – “a new sector or job and”
– wait for it… “give back to the community”.
– There you go, give back to the community that denied you a living by lining JHP’s pockets at your own expense! Who exactly do these bastards think they are? –
“…The programme lasts 4 weeks with each client completing a 30 hour working week…”
If you’d like to support this programme”
– If, like us, you want to put a stop to the exploitation of your Fellow Workers: –
“and provide our clients with this unique opportunity,” – to work 30 hours a week for fuck all –
“please get in touch with our regional team on
0870 4780 919”
Please feel free to tell them what you think.
Bristol’s Budget Day – Tuesday 26th February – an appeal from Bristol And District Anti Cuts Alliance (BADACA)
Please support and publicise these events via any networks you have available. We need you and all your friends there.
Tuesday 26th February – From 1pm – Lobby Bristol City Council
This is the full meeting of Bristol City Council where a vote will be taken on George Ferguson’s budget – £35 million of cuts and 330 jobs lost. Despite the inconvenient timing we need to get as many people as possible to a lobby from 1pm outside the Council House and as many people as possible in the public gallery for the meeting. We have written to all councillors calling on them to speak out against the budget. A large and vocal lobby and a packed gallery may encourage them to do this. Please come if you can an publicise among others – even if you can only get there for a short time in your lunch hour it will help. Bring banners, flags, placards etc. Facebook event.
Tuesday 26th February – from 5.30pm – Lobby the Institute Of Directors
In previous years the council’s budget meeting has gone long into the evening. This year, George Ferguson is attending an IOD event at 6pm – meeting his big-business friends. This means that either the council meeting will be guillotined or will continue without him – meaning he won’t have to hear what councillors think of his budget. BADACA is organising aprotest outside the M Shed Museum where the IOD event is taking place. Please join us there from 5.30pm. Bring banners, flags, placards etc. A flyer/poster for this can be downloaded from our website.
We don’t think it is a co-incidence that the Co-Op have made their statement 3 days before a communications blockade and pickets. Thanks to the individuals and organisations that invited 3200 to the communications blocakde, the 400 who signed up to take part and the dozens who were planning to take part in the pickets. Thanks also to the individuals and organisations who contacted the Co-Op over the months. We will be discussing what to do next over the next couple of days, but unless there is clear evidence that Atos is still part of the bidding process under a different name, we will be calling off the communication blockade and pickets. We will be figuring out other ways to target Atos economically using similar tactics in the future.
When you get bored with Starbucks, there’s a Brighton Benefits Campaign picket outside Superdrug on London Rd (there may also be one on Western Rd if there are numbers) this Saturday at 2pm.
WORKFARE NOW FOR SICK AND DISABLED PEOPLE
Since Monday, sick and disabled people claiming ESA can now be forced to work without pay. As if this isn’t bad enough, many of their placements will be with the very charities which are meant to support disabled people. Charities such as Scope, Sense and British Heart Foundation are all profiting from workfare.
But what we do is having an impact: yesterday Age UK announced they were pulling out; Scope claims to be reviewing its involvement; British Heart Foundation has not pulled out completely, but has announced it is “stepping back”.
REPLACING CHRISTMAS STAFF
We’ve had reports that Argos and Superdrug are systematically replacing paid Christmas staff with workfare. They’re not the only ones. Asda was definitely at it this time last year. http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=306
We’ve heard from staff at Shoezone too: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1778
If they exploit us, we will shut them down!
TAKE ACTION THIS WEEK
After spending 18 months in some of London and Birmingham’s most deprived communities, our research – based on peer-led interviews and workshops – goes beyond figures to highlight the real human, social and economic costs of austerity:
“Even a delay in benefits for a week will send people over the edge”
“Debt advice demand has hugely increased. You wouldn’t believe the type of people the banks lent money to”
“People are on disability benefits for a reason…. it has a huge effect on their ability to stay well, to stay independent, to engage in their community”
“Our wages go on running the household – petrol, insurance, gas, tax, mortgage, all our money goes on that. At the end of all that there is nothing”
Please spread widely amongst your networks.
Please sign our petition
Please find below details of events planned for August and September. As always, your support is welcomed. Even if you are unable to attend, sharing these events with your family, friends and colleagues would be greatly appreciated:
Tues 28th August – 12noon to 1.30pm – The Atos Games
A demonstration is being held against Atos Healthcare Work Capability Assessments outside Jobcentre Plus, Tamarisk House, 1 Cotlands House, Bournemouth BH1 3BG
Click here for more details
Thurs 6th September – 3.30pm – Lobby against South West NHS Pay Cartel
A lobby of the Dorset Healthcare University Foundation Trust AGM being held at the Carrington Hotel, Knyverton Road, Bournemouth
Click here for more details
Friday 21st September – 7pm to 8pm – Fair Tax Campaign
On the night comedian Jimmy Carr visits Poole, come along and help leaflet the audience about the campaign for fair taxes.
Click here for more details
Thank you for your support and Keep On Keeping On
Re-blogged from Occupy News Network
Reproduced by courtesy of Derbyshire Dales, Amber Valley & Erewash Citizens Advice Bureau.
On Saturday 26 May, nearly fifty anti-workfare activists met up in Brighton for a national conference entitled ‘How do we break workfare?’; hosted by Brighton benefits campaign
Participants came from Liverpool, Norfolk, Oxford, Dorset, London, Surrey and Sussex as well as Brighton and Hove. They represented welfare and anti-cuts campaigns, claimant organisations, political groups and trade unions, as well as many individuals opposed to workfare.
We intend a picket/leaflet of one of the national firms participating in a workfare scheme, in the Bournemouth area. This will be followed by a communications blockade on the 2nd. The lucky recipient of our attentions will be revealed in due course – watch this space – but I bet you’ve got a pretty good idea! This is a nationwide initiative originating from the Solidarity Federation but now taken up by a wide range of anti-workfare groups across the country.
This is intended as a non-sectarian demonstration of working class unity, so please invite anyone you think would like to come.
The following events are taking place during March, your support would be greatly appreciated.
21st March – Budget Day Vigil – Bournemouth Square – 6pm
24th March– BPACC street stall – Boscombe – meet just outside entrance to Sovereign Centre – 10.30pm.
28th March – This day is likely to see smaller level strikes regarding the pensions injustice. Details of a local rally to follow once confirmed.
31st March – Is International Day of Action against capitalism.
UK groups are focussing on workfare and Wessex Solidarity is supporting this campaign; despite the government’s recent apparent climb down, the issue is not resolved. Details to follow – get in touch to get involved.
3rd April – Public Meeting regarding the future of local hospitals – The Royal Bournemouth Hospital, Conference Room, Education Centre, Castle Lane East, Bournemouth. BH7 7DW. – 6pm
To contact BPACC see link to the right of the page.
IWW Flyer 2 sided:
Solfed generic flyer:
From Bristol Indymedia:
Generic flyers in English and Welsh pdfs here:
Holland & Barrett specific flyers in colour, B&W and toner friendly grey:
The SF ones with H&B specific page – could print A4 or A5 double sided perhaps.
and Boycott Tesco in English and Welsh:
One of our comrades submitted the following freedom of information request:
Dear Department for Work and Pensions,
Please could you provide a list of organisations signed up to
provide unpaid work placements under the mandatory Work Activity
and Mandatory Work Programme schemes as referred by Jobcentre Plus,
and the name of the linked providers in the Poole and Bournemouth
Well what do you fucking know!
They’re rattled, because it’s working!
Update – here’s another:
From Good Advice Matters – Free benefit advice!
Came across this today. Seems there is a clause in the Welfare Reform Bill which will negate people from claiming assessment rate during reconsideration if ESA is stopped by ATOS forcing them onto JSA. Bastards.
Monday, December 12, 2011 at 9:00am until Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 5:00pm
As part of the National Month of Festive Action Against Atos we are calling for a rolling mass telephone complaint to poverty pimps Atos in the run up to Christmas.
We urgently need towns, cities, groups and individuals to commit to a morning or afternoon shift in the upcoming days and get as many people as possible to ring Atos and complain about their involvement in the Work Capability Assessment.
To maximise the protest we will aim to have as many groups as possible calling Atos at different times in the run up to Christmas. We’ll maintain a list here and on our Facebook event to try and help co-ordinate times/dates and see if we can keep the phonelines buzzing daily in the run up to Christmas.
Either ring your local Atos Offices, or their corporate headquarters, or why not both! Atos’s main numbers (including a handy freephone number) are:
+44 (0)20 7830 4444 (Tel)
+44 (o)20 7830 4233 (Tel)
+44 (0)800 783 3040 (Freephone)
+44 (0)20 7830 4445 (Fax)
Atos ‘Healthcare’ who run the Work Capability Assessment have a main number at: +44 (0) 113 230 9175
If you aren’t part of a local group, or even if you are, support the other protests by calling Atos along with them. Whilst it’s well worth trying to speak to a manager or senior individual if possible please bear in mind most people taking calls will be low paid receptionist/admin staff so we call on people to be be business-like and non-confrontational. Be aware that is an offence to make telephone calls which are threatening, indecent or offensive. Keep it fluffy. Why not sing them a carol?