Forced labour schemes such as Community Work Placements and Mandatory Work Activity may have finished but many claimants still face workfare under other names – Work Experience, Sector-based Work Academies, Work Trial, Youth Obligation, Work Programme, Work and Health Programme and even ‘internships’ with companies like Poundland – all backed with the threat of sanctions. Those on disability benefits have to deal with the farcical Work Capabilities Assessment (WCA), and those joining the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) group from April will experience a cut of £30 a week to their benefits. Claimants continue to be left penniless and sometimes homeless by sanctions and the built-in delays of Universal Credit (at least 42 days and sometimes longer to receive first payment).
The fightback continues
Through protests, leafleting and direct action we can break the silence and challenge the divisive narrative of ‘scroungers’. We can show our solidarity and march together – claimants, workers and disabled – to demand an end to the ongoing marginalisation and ill-treatment of the unemployed and those on benefits.
All these actions are powerful ways to resist these cuts: in resisting sanctions and resisting workfare. They have worked time and again, forcing companies and charities to pull out of workfare schemes. They have embarrassed politicians into resigning – remember Ian-Duncan Smith, head of the DWP?
So speak to politicians in MP surgeries. Campaign on social media. Drop leaflets. Join a protest. Organise a protest. For targets and ideas see below for some of the actions already planned. The government has to work hard to keep the reality of welfare cuts hidden, tying itself in a knot of lies about the ‘burden of benefits’. But we will expose the truth and demand that injustices are recognised and righted. All people should be able to live in dignity and be free of the constant threat of destitution.
Let us know if you are organising an action and we will share this on our blog.
Suggested targets for a protest:
Jobcentres As well as making clear your opposition to sanctions and workfare, it may be useful to have some leaflets that offer some sign-posting for claimants rights. For such leaflets see the leaflets on this website, Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, Scottish Unemployed Workers Network.
Maximus This is the company carrying out the Work Capability Assessments. Offices in London, Exeter, Worthing.
DWP offices London, Sheffield, Mansfield and Newcastle.
Workfare providers See the list on this website. Serco, Maximus, PeoplePlus (formerly A4e), G4S.
Suggested targets on Twitter:
Workfare providers. See the list on this website. @SercoW2W, @MAXIMUS, @G4S.
List of actions already planned:
29 March 1-3pm ‘Cracks in the System’: Room 8 Houses of Parliament London SW1A OAA
South East London Unite Community will be performing ‘Cracks In the System’, a piece of poetry about the impact of benefit cuts and sanctions written by Paula Peters. The performance will be filmed and the video released later that day for everyone not able to make it to share on Facebook and Twitter. #No2Sanctions
Unite has booked committee room 8. Please allow plenty of time to get through security. We suggest arriving at Houses of Parliament by 12.15 to get there in time.
Nearest accessible underground station is Westminster (Jubilee Line) accessible from platform to street level.
Buses 11, 24, 29, 88, 159, 3 go to Parliament Square
There will be actions at job centres throughout the UK – see details below.
Dundee 1-2pm NO to benefit sanctions YES to Independence! Dundee City Centre (outside Boots)
London and South East
All London Unite Community branches will meet at Westminster from 12 noon for 12.30pm banner drop from Westminster bridge.
Camden Unite Community: Meet 1.30pm to release black balloons from Westminster Bridge to remember all disabled people and JSA/Universal Credit claimants who have died as a result of sanctions and cuts to benefits.
West London Unite Community: 1.45pm, leading short march from Westminster to DWP at Caxton House.
DWP, Caxton House 2-3pm: Demonstration (Tothill Street London SW1H 9NA )
Kilburn Jobcentre: 12 to 1.00pm picket.
Peckham Job Centre: 12-2pm
Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Unite Community: Jobcentre at Guilford Street in Luton – 12.00 noon.
Contact: Rachel Holmes, Branch Secretary – Email: RedR8chel@hotmail.com
Tameside Against The Cuts: Weekly Thursday demonstration, 10am -12noon Ashton-under-Lyne Jobcentre.
Sheffield Unite Community
Wirral Unite Community has created a Thunderclap:
The South West
Lemon Quay, Truro 12.00 to 3.00 pm
Tauton and Bridgwater Unite Community
Bridgwater Jobcentre: 11.00 to 1.00 pm
Bridgwater High Street, next to Admiral Blake: 11.00 to 1.00 pm
Film | I, Daniel Blake – 7.00 to 9.30 pm
Venue: Somerset Film @ The Engine Room, 50-52 High St, Bridgwater TA6 3BL Phone: 01278 433187. For more information visit: http://www.somersetfilm.com/diary/?action=evrplusegister&event_id=147