Solidarity with unemployed activist arrested for representing a jobseeker – call out by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty.
Take part in a day of action at job centres Britain-wide, 25 February 2015.
Scottish Unemployed Workers Network activist Tony Cox was arrested on 29th January after Arbroath Jobcentre management called police to stop him representing a vulnerable jobseeker. We urge you to join a Day of Action on 25th February at Jobcentres round Britain to show your solidarity.
We must fight back against this clear attempt to intimidate claimants and deny us the right to be accompanied and represented. Tony will be in court in Forfar on 25th February facing charges of “threatening behaviour, refusing to give his name and address and resisting arrest”. That same day we call on people to descend on jobcentres round Britain to show their solidarity with Tony and distribute information to claimants urging them to exercise their right to be accompanied and represented at all benefits interviews.
As we face unprecedented sanctions and benefits cuts, it’s more important than ever that we support each other and stand up to the DWP bullies. The Scottish Unemployed Workers Network, Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions and other groups have established a strong presence at the Jobcentres in Dundee and in nearby towns and cities like Arbroath, Perth and Blairgowrie, supporting claimants in opposing sanctions and harassment.
On 29 January Tony was accompanying a vulnerable woman claimant, who suffers from severe dyslexia and literacy problems. The claimant, D, had been signed up to the Universal Job Match (UJM), the computerised job search system, and was being forced to complete five job searches per day, the pressure of which had led to her having several panic attacks. Tony proposed that D’s UJM account be closed, and that her number of job searches be significantly reduced. The adviser refused to consider this, and so Tony and D met with the Jobcentre manager.
The manager likewise refused to even look at the issue, falsely claiming that all jobseekers had to be registered with UJM. She even suggested to D that she should arrange another meeting without Tony or any other witness or rep present. Despite the pressure D was being put under by the manager, she replied that she would not attend another meeting without Tony. At this point the manager demanded that Tony leave the building or the police would be called. Tony refused to leave, but the meeting ended when it was agreed that a further meeting be arranged to discuss the issue further. Tony was arrested after he left the Jobcentre.
The right of claimants to be accompanied to interviews, and for the accompanier to have the right to speak, has been established by groups like Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, who have forced the DWP locally and Britain-wide to apologise for calling the police on ECAP reps, and to affirm claimants’ right to representation. The DWP clearly state “Claimants accessing Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefits and services can have someone to accompany them to act on their behalf…”
The attack on benefits and claimants is part of the austerity assault on the entire working class. We call on all unemployed and claimants groups, anti cuts and anti austerity groups, human rights groups, workplace activists, and all working class people, waged and unwaged, to show solidarity with Tony and the right of the unemployed and all claimants to organise collectively to fight back.
Visit your local Jobcentre on 25th February with banners and placards and distribute leaflets to claimants on Tony’s case and the right to be accompanied to all benefits interviews. Download a leaflet about Tony’s situation and another to inform claimants of our right to be accompanied (PDF here) which you can print and use at the demos!
- Send a message of support to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Complain to Noel Shanahan, Director General Operations DWP, Caxton House, Tothill Street London SW1H 9NA
- Sign the petition
- There will be a picket of the Forfar court before the hearing at 10am on 25 February, by activists from Dundee, Tayside and area – for details contact email@example.com
- There will be two solidarity actions in London:
* 09.45-10.45am, outside Kilburn Jobcentre with Kilburn Unemployed Workers
* 3pm, DWP, Caxton House, Tothill Street London SW1H 9NA (Nearest tube St James’ Park or Westminster) with Boycott Workfare
- See a full list of actions in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Dundee and more here.
Call out by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty – firstname.lastname@example.org
And don’t forget Disabled People Against Cut’s Day of Action the following week on 2 March!