Stupid or malicious? You decide: STUPID SANCTIONS.
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
This is going viral on social media, we have no connection with the author but thought it was worth sharing.
AN OPEN LETTER – TO JD WETHERSPOON
I have dined in your establishments many times but I write to inform you that I will never do so again and nor will any of my friends or family.
The reason for this is that my stepson has the misfortune to work in your Thomas Sheraton bar in Stockton and I am now aware of the basis upon which you operate and profit.
He is “employed” on a zero hours basis and earns barely enough to feed himself. Not long after joining your establishment he got into trouble with his rent due to the extremely low wages and was evicted from his home. I blame the basis of his employment with you for this. He now lives 2 miles away from your bar and is obliged to walk this distance to and from work as he does not earn enough to afford public transport. Yesterday my wife was obliged to buy him new shoes as he had worn holes in his existing ones. I think it is appalling that you do not provide your kitchen staff with appropriate footwear. If you feel that this communication is becoming a stream of negative comments then I urge you to read on as I have more to say. This 4 mile round trip trudge is sometimes made to attend a one hour shift. Unbelievable, a day’s work of just ONE HOUR. Furthermore, if he attends expecting a longer shift this is sometimes not the case as he is sent home if trade is slack. He, your employee takes all the risk, you the employer take none. You’ll note that I do not mention his name. This is for fear of reprisals. Before you scoff, let me tell you this: When he first joined you, after two months of working every single weekend he politely enquired if he might have a weekend off. He was given the weekend off but worked no other hours either. A genuine ZERO hours. This was clearly a reprisal and he has never asked for the weekend off again.
The only way he can survive on such grindingly low wages is by getting benefits top ups. In order to do this he must provide pay slips which you do not provide. He is obliged to download them and print them himself and given that he will never be able to afford a computer and printer so long as he works for you, he must go to the library. I put it to you that it takes him more effort to work for you for a pittance than it does me to fulfill a full time job.
Clearly your business model requires that the public purse subsidise your employee’s wages. This to my mind makes your firm and others like you one of the benefit scroungers we hear so much about these days.
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!
Elaine Atkinson of Poole Council was questioned about the recent Bournemouth Uncut ‘Who wants to evict a millionaire’ action during her interview on the Sunday Politics South  show her response was:
“I mean, it was awful, it was an awful attack on local democracy, because these councillors are ordinary people who are giving up their time to do a job and help to their local communities, and frankly Bournemouth Uncut I have to say they are intelligent, they are articulate, they are organised, go and get a job.”
All Bournemouth Uncut actions are held on a Saturday or bank holidays. This is because the overwhelming majority of people that organise or come to our actions are employed full time. For Atkinson to use her platform to promote the myth that all protesters are unemployed, without any evidence of the group she is subjecting to these claims is utterly shameless. This shows how little she is in touch with the local electorate. Bournemouth Uncut is open to anyone who wants to join us, our turn out has been made up of a very wide range of professions, higher education students and those in-between jobs.
Kim Elkin of Bournemouth Uncut is currently volunteering at the Soup Kitchen at St Johns Church in Parkstone, she said “We care very much about our community and the people in it. That is why we do what we do. We don’t just protest against the cuts, we go out and help the people directly affected by them as well. Bournemouth Uncut is a fun, creative and family friendly way to engage with the public, and it shows people that there are alternatives to austerity. It doesn’t have to be this way. The bankers that got us into this mess are receiving tax breaks, and avoiding tax, while the poor are suffering for the mistakes of the rich.”
Atkinson claimed “councillors are ordinary people who are giving up their time to do a job and help to their communities“ In reality Elaine picked up £32,095 in the period 1st April 2011 – 31st March 2012 for giving up her time to Poole Council. She is in fact the highest paid councillor in Poole. Bournemouth Uncut will continue to do their day jobs and help their communities for free in addition to taking creative direct action in their spare time.
589 households in Bournemouth affected by bedroom tax and 635 households affected in Poole. That’s 1224 vulnerable social housing households affected. How many of these households will be able to move to a house with the correct amount of bedrooms? How many will find that the houses just aren’t available and have to pay the tax? How many will be pushed into more expensive rented homes, wasting more tax payer money? Do you know Elaine? We would love to know the figures. So far we have seen no guarantee given by Bournemouth or Poole borough councils to its social tenants that they will not be evicted if they fall behind on rent arrears because of the ‘bedroom tax’. Other councils in the country have given such assurances, but neither Bournemouth nor Poole borough councils have.
When the traditional routes of engagement with MP’s and councilors has been exhausted, and people’s concerns and issues have not been adequately dealt with, then yes, people turn to protest and direct action to get their voices heard, it is a healthy part of living in a democracy. To say that it was an attack on local democracy is ironic to say the very least.
Bournemouth Uncut is part of UK Uncut a grassroots movement using creative direct action to fight the cuts and highlight alternatives to austerity.
For more information and interviews:
Call 07596 388 848
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.
A group of us travelled up to London to attend the ‘thatcher’s dead’ party called by Class War about a decade ago. During the day we divided ourselves between UK Uncut’s ‘bedroom tax’ action at Lord Fraud’s house and North London SolFed’s workfare pickets in Wood Green.
The workfare pickets continued both SolFed’s campaign against Poundland and supported Bristol AFed’s new initiative against Homebase; we were able to have some interesting conversations with staff and customers. The area is stricken by the government’s austerity programme with the crappiest jobs imaginable drawing hundreds of applicants. People here are in absolutely no doubt what is being done to them, why, and by whom. Homebase pickets were simultaneously conducted in Bristol and Bath.
Meanwhile in Bournemouth: Bournemouth Uncut took on the Tory MP’s and councillors of Bournemouth and Poole this weekend for their “Who wants to evict a millionaire?” action. Their homes were dressed as crime scenes with yellow markers, crime scene tape, evidence bags with ‘blood’ soaked cotton buds, and some lovely eviction notices. Some of the lucky recipients of our crime scenes were Robert Syms MP, John Beesley of Bournemouth Council, and other usual suspects like May Haines, Carol Evans, Ann Stibley, Mike White and Peter Pawlowski. At a time that people are facing losing their homes due to the bedroom tax, we thought it high time those architects of misery felt (for a few seconds) what it would be like to face eviction from their own homes. Very nice homes indeed…with plenty of spare bedrooms.
On to Trafalgar square, a picture circulated on twitter showing the square fenced off and surrounded by police proved to be bogus, trying to put us off? Not a hope, even the rain couldn’t do that, the vibe was joyful and good-natured, and solidarity was palpable. During the course of the evening a steady 3000 revellers divided their time between the square and surrounding pubs. A few incidents of police misbehaviour were swiftly and efficiently dealt with by the crowd, who had to clear them all out of the way from time to time; similarly, a smattering of fascists showed up to spoil the fun and got battered for their trouble. It’s worth pointing out that we can do this perfectly well without the ‘vanguard’ of press photographers that hurl themselves into the fray at the first hint of bother.
Of course this was not just about celebrating the death from natural causes of some demented old fascist (what was her name again?) who was admired in some circles for doggedly sticking to her principles of greed, self-interest and disdain for anyone who didn’t share her precise ethnic origins and social prejudices. Many present had their own lives blighted by the Dead Thing and had good reason to gloat; but far more importantly this was a positive affirmation of our determination to bury her mean-spirited ideology with her.
We, the working class will do this, we have no faith whatsoever in political or industrial representation, our future is in our hands, as the hangovers fade, let’s get organised!
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.
Immediate download of 71-track album in your choice of high-quality MP3, FLAC, or just about any other format you could possibly desire.
[bandcamp album=480282326 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=grande3]
On Friday 1st February 2013, fascists carried out an arson attack on Freedom anarchist bookshop in London, UK. Thankfully nobody was hurt, but the shop and stock suffered extensive damage.
Since the attack, individuals and groups across the world have offered their support, in both word and deed, in an unequivocal display of international mutual aid and solidarity.
This compilation is our small contribution to the rebuilding effort. All artists have given their time, energy and creations for free, and we’re hugely humbled by their selflessness. It means that every penny raised here will be used directly to benefit Freedom.
We understand that not everyone can afford to make even a small donation. We’d rather you had music to help you through tough times, so we’ll shortly be offering a high-quality mp3 version of this compilation for free download. Stay tuned.
Thanks for listening, donating, supporting and spreading the word. We really appreciate it.
The Iron Column Records Crew
released 21 March 2013
To get everyone in the mood for SolFed’s southern regional conference, host local Solent called a flash picket of the devious workfare provider on Commercial road; A joint action with CNT-AIT Caen France, Forest of Dean Anarchists, Wessex Solidarity and other comrades.
Poundland’s repeated protestations that they have given up the DWP’s slave labour scheme have proved to be worthless. As always, we talked to the staff and handed them some literature: the stakes were raised somewhat as it turned out two of them were working for JSA (about £2 an hour). It was only fair to share this information with the Saturday morning shoppers, and it was enough to put most of them off.
Bit of déjà vu for Holland and Barrett but they just happened to be next door and there wasn’t room for us all to stand outside Poundland’s shop window. Passers by were mostly friendly including some passing Trots, who were impressed with our level of organisation! Cheers comrades, did you know it was the 92nd anniversary of the start of the Kronstadt Rebellion?
From thence to our secret conference venue, multiple breakfasts and plotting the downfall of the bourgeoisie. The day rounded off with a sociable evening of radical folk, punk & noise. You should have been there!
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.
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
Brighton Anti-Fascists present a matinée showing of Casablanca: 1pm Sunday 9th December.
Although most famous as a classic Hollywood love story, Casablanca is far more than a wartime romance. Leading pair Rick (Bogart) and Ilsa (Bergman) are caught up in the struggle against Nazism as Ilsa seeks to escape Vichy Morocco with her fugitive husband Victor Lazlo, a legendary Czech resistance leader. On the run, Ilsa is reunited with Rick, a seemingly cynical American bar owner and lost love of Ilsa’s, who holds their only chance for freedom. Torn between his feelings for Ilsa and his idealistic past, Rick must decide: which side is he on?
Come as you are or Casablanca style. Prizes for the best dressed.
A film benefit for Brighton Anti-Fascists. Tickets £7 and £6 concessions.
Duke of Yorks Picture House Preston Circus Brighton BN1 4NA
Which side are you on?
They are going to give us an outlet for our misery while they do their best to help this government of comedy toffs save capitalism. On our behalf they are going to bleat and beg the selfish millionaires, very loudly – until they get their seat in the house of lords.
Who wants to work? There is plenty to do, to be sure, saving the environment, feeding and housing the people, eradicating poverty and disease; but the only activity which will earn you a qualified right to survive in their warped universe is that which enriches someone else.
The TUC echoes the bourgeoisie in fetishising work and money – we already have too much of of both!
Save the economy! Create jobs, stimulate economic growth – which is nothing more than the expansion of debt. We must work longer for less, why? Their money is just other people’s debt and worthless unless someone is prepared to work for it, fuck ’em! All we need is a fair distribution of resources and and end to wastefully producing commodities for exchange.
Fuck the economy, save the planet and the people, it’s time we took back the world we built with our hands, eyes and brains and put it to our own use.
If you can’t be arsed to listen to speeches from a load of career politicians and time-servers who aspire to nothing better than changing sides in the class war:
Stay free, stay safe, no comment, see you on the streets!
Please sign our petition
The start of this year’s Libdem conference was met by a noisy march and demo called by Brighton Stop the Cuts and the local Trades Council. Speeches followed, the final one being given by a member of the Solidarity Federation who called on those present to join us in shutting down workfare in Brighton. For the rest of the afternoon, the centre of town was dominated by anarchosyndicalists, their friends and comrades. Red and black flags and banners were ubiquitous the length of London road as members of SF locals Brighton, Bristol, Croydon, North London, Solent, South London and Thames Valley picketed workfare parasites and handed out thousands of leaflets to the staff and shoppers. Two branches of Poundland were picketed along with Argos, Costa’s Coffee, Primark, and Superdrug. We were also graced with a visit from Brighton’s lonely fascist photographer who fucked off after a group of anarchists decided to picket him.
Brighton Benefits Campaign: Austerity demo & mass workfare picket
On Saturday Brighton Solidarity Federation were joined by Brighton Benefits Campaign on our first picket in the national campaign against Workfare profiteers Poundland. Over the course of two hours we handed out a thousand leaflets and struck up many conversations with the public at their North Street store. This follows the high court ruling that the DWP were within the law to force two unemployed workers out of voluntary work and into unpaid labour at the store.
“Trades unions and community groups have called on the Bournemouth and Poole College to withdraw its support for the government’s discredited Work Programme which seeks to coerce the unemployed into unpaid work, after it emerged the college was encouraging employers on their website to “Try before you buy” – describing the unemployed as expendable commodities.”
From Bournemouth and Poole Anti Cuts Coalition (BPACC): –
It seems that The Bournemouth and Poole College Students’ Union are supporting this, either unwilling or unable to condemn such practise from the College; when the chance to comment was offered to BPC SU via Facebook, they chose to delete the post (Click to enlarge):
Surely they don’t represent the views of real students – who could just as easily starve to death with their feet up! Dorset has 3,635 residents claiming jobseeker’s allowance and just 2,111 listed vacancies, according to latest figures. – Get in touch if you want to do something about it.
B.P.A.C.C. plan to “target the college with a wave of protests if it refuses to distance itself from the Work Programme.”
Having stuffed it up Holland & Barrett our flying pickets are getting restless… We’re in!
Following the sudden caving in of Holland and Barrett, our local anti-workfare group convened outside a branch of Argos in Poole. A diverse range of activists’ groups answered the call out and our peaceful picket commenced, following the usual format:
Reassurance was given to staff and a letter explaining the action along with a copy of Solfed’s Workfare Pamphlet. We had the usual mixed response we get round here: some are already affected by this, some are worried about it, some ignorant but interested, some right right behind us and a few “I’m all right Jack, bugger off”.
After a while we were joined by some sinister black-clad figures who scowled a great deal to no good purpose; they turned out to be the security prats from the nearby Dolphin Centre arcade; a good-natured plod appeared and basically told them to mind their own business as we were doing nothing illegal.
After the picket we took a short-cut through the Dolphin Centre on our way for a coffee, and found ourselves followed by a crowd of the aforementioned prats who were evidently desperate to have a row, near the exit, for some inexplicable reason, several comrades were assaulted, including a grandmother and a teenage girl.
We had resolved to maintain Boycott Workfare and SolFed’s strategy of peaceful protest – which is clearly working – and with Holland and Barrett’s spurious claims of violence uppermost in our minds, we took great care not to harm any of these buffoons, making it our priority to just get everyone out of there safely – though they really were asking for it.
Anyway they did us a big favour because the gathering crowd were suddenly interested to hear all about our protest and the workfare campaign.
We’ll be back!
The usual suspects will be conducting a picket of the hypocritical workfare slave-mongers in the Poole area on 7th July. If you’d like to be involved contact us
A spur of the moment picket was called by Bournemouth Uncut and Occupy in solidarity with comrades in Liverpool on Saturday 23rd. It was well attended, supported by members of BPACC and Solent Solfed. Two shops picketed; police called in relation to attachment of flags and placards to street furniture, despite the plethora of bunting and advertising material in the precinct – we were only asked to take it with us when we’d finished.
At the arcade, the security prat in the jeweller’s next door asked us to go outside (there were two entrances, one inside, one out), another prat in a suit came out, he was asked to prove that he was an agent for the landowner. After variously claiming to be the owner, chairman of the committee and some company he couldn’t name, he “couldn’t be bothered to argue” and went back in to call the police – which he didn’t – so there you go.
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.
Solidarity callout from residents of Brighton and Hove – make a stand against racism and fascism: Oppose the March for England.
”We, as Brighton and Hove residents, are calling on all communities to oppose the spread of racist and fascist ideas under the banner of ‘March for England.’ Harangue, mock and disrupt the march. Line the route. Gather in groups along Queen’s Road, from Brighton station to the Clock tower at 11am. Together we will drown out their message of hate.”
They’re having their conference in Bournemouth, who’s up for it?
H&B really are taking the piss; having announced that no less than a quarter of their workforce is to be unpaid – and heavily subsidised by the taxpayer through the offices of Chris Grayling’s mendacious cronies.
So it was with some relish that we descended on our local purveyors of quack remedies to neurotic old hippies. Under the banner of Wessex Solidarity, members of IWW, Solent Solfed, Portsmouth Anarchists, Bournemouth Uncut and Surrey/Hants Afed picketed two branches of this bogus medicine show, later we were joined by a couple of SWP. A letter was handed to staff explaining the action along with a copy of Solfed’s Workfare Pamphlet.
Our ginger ninja on the megaphone harangued passers-by with her acidic wit while the punters scurried in in search of cures for their creaky joints, failing eyesight and uncompliant third leg.
The manager showed up: “are you allowed to be here?” What? On a pavement in a shopping precinct on a Saturday! He claimed to be ‘creating jobs’ then bemoaned the fact that we were going to cost him his £59 bonus; we were all set to move on to the next one when we found out he’d called the plod with some spurious allegations so we had to hang around on principle. “Who’s in charge?” – where do they get it from? Our letter now in the hands of babylon we can all expect some traffic on our web sites over the next few days.
As time was cracking on the group then split, a second H&B was picketed while Bournemouth uncut did their thing at vodafone. Having run out of fliers we reunited in top shop on our way to the pub; we brightened up when the guvnor announced security were going to “remove us using force” but they evidently didn’t fancy it and called plod again. I think it was the same copper, they all look the same to me.
One thing that struck us from talking to people was how many posties there are who are pissed off with their jobs and their union. if any CWU members are reading this give us a shout and we’ll put you in touch with others who want to do something – and don’t forget the picket of CWU headquarters on Monday!
A las Barricadas…
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?