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Saturday, 18 October 2008

Open Letter to TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber

In 1995 the Tories was preparing to bring us the Job Seekers Allowance, I was marching with the TUC March for Jobs in the Midlands which was part three of a three nations march for jobs converging onto Sheffield. We where calling for the right to work, & calling for the scrapping of the “Job Seekers Allowance Act”.

I met Brendan Barber on that March in Sheffield before he became General Secretary of the TUC, I welcome his recent comments on the front page of the (“Morning Star” October 15th) regarding the unemployment situation in Britain & how we are treated & blamed for unemployment. To the eternal shame of our TUC & our General Secretary – you have been far too silent on the issue in recent years. Just for the record – with regard to the government blaming the unemployed – it’s never been acceptable to harass or blame us – you should have been coming out with this strong condemnation years ago Mr Barber. The unemployed had the same treatment back in the 1930’s with less than supportive response of the Labour Party and the trade unions to the plight of the unemployed during the depression years. Now is the time for our TUC & you Brendan to become the Champion of the unemployed.

Prior to Job Seekers Allowance Act JSA the Employment Service / Job Centre described the unemployed as clients or claimants; the Act imposes the expression jobseeker. Part of the underlying purpose of both the Act and the change of nomenclature is to suggest that the State has no role in job creation and that it is the individual who is responsible for his or her unemployment. Governments see no role in job creation responsibility.

Governments must change course in job creation responsibility. Governments both Labour & Conservative to their eternal shame took the opinion – let’s leave it to the markets to create jobs. We saw the failed polices of “lets leave it to market forces” in the destruction of our Mining Industry. The economic chaos unfolding around the world proves if any is needed that governments are needed to govern. Shrugging your shoulders & having ultra light touch regulation on how business operate within the markets is a failed policy. Capitalist business operations have been about greed not need – this has got to stop, but it’s the unemployed who are the forgotten victims & who seem to be demonised, patronised & blamed for unemployment within the wider media.

The Government sees the individual responsible for his or her unemployment, but what choice do we have when the economic crisis dictates how long you keep your job for? Unemployment increased to 1.67 million between last April and June. This was the highest level in over 15 years. Unemployment increased to 1.79 million between June & August which is the biggest rise for 17 years. Within the next year the unemployment count will soar well over the two million mark towards three million as Britain enters recession / depression.
Living in Scotland its clear to me that issues dominating Scotland's politics today is the Scottish Parliament's lack of powers: its inability to deal with crises of housing, unemployment, energy, transport & manufacturing, its continuing subordination to external neo-liberal policies, its lack of finance & constant pressure on public sector services, jobs & wages.

It’s an outrage that this Labour Government can manage to find – Hundreds of Billions Pounds to bail out the Stock Markets. The Scottish capitalist within our banking sector have been bailed out by nationalising some of Scotland’s Banks.

It seems criminal to me that people are force to go without heating & electric as this Government cares more about helping bankers than ordinary folk. How come this government can find the money to help capitalist criminals but can’t find the money to Nationalise Gas & Electricity Companies who force ordinary people to live in fuel poverty. Scotland’s Parliament needs the powers to act in the best interest of its people

To tackle unemployment within Scotland alone, powers need to be transferred from Whitehall to the Scottish Parliament - those extra powers must be seized.”

Most people in Britain care little about personalities but care more about the vision of that government – this government has used deception to hold us down for to long, the “Government Welfare Green Paper” means unprecedented attacks on welfare delivery & the welfare state as we know it – demand to know from your Member of Parliament / Member Scottish Parliament / Welsh & North Ireland - Assembly Member, where they stand on the subject.
“Lets us at last realise our true power & win the battle of ideas”.

Unions call for end to war on unemployed

Tuesday 14 October 2008

UNIONS warned new Labour on Tuesday that ministers must stop blaming the jobless for unemployment as jobs continue to be slashed across Britain.
In recent months, the Brown administration has unveiled plans to attack some of the most vulnerable people in Britain, with Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell boasting that privateers will be handed multimillion-pound contracts to harass people back to work.
However, the TUC insisted that, as unemployment soars due to the economic crisis, government policy towards the jobless must now change.
As new unemployment figures are predicted to show at least a 30,000 increase in the dole queue, the TUC said that three immediate policy changes are now needed - increasing statutory minimum redundancy pay, greater tax relief on redundancy payments and a reverse in cuts to front-line staff at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) who deal with the unemployed.
In the medium term, the TUC also believes that there needs to be a full review of government policies aimed at getting people back to work, scrapping current policies based on the assumption that unemployment is the fault of the jobless, such as "work-for-dole" plans.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said that this is a policy based on "blaming the victim," which will also threaten the jobs of people doing paid work which could be done by the unemployed in a "workfare" scheme. Mr Barber noted that Britain had got used to record levels of employment but that the world has changed and new policies for jobless times were now needed. "There can be no assumption that the people who are losing their jobs will find it easy to get new ones and they will need all the help they can get with redundancy pay, retraining and personal advice," he said. "Ministers must reverse DWP job cuts, increase minimum redundancy pay and let people take up to £50,000 redundancy pay tax free. The government must also drop work-for-dole plans that pander to the prejudice that unemployment is the fault of the unemployed, but do nothing to help people get jobs.
"As unemployment increases, more and more people will either lose their jobs or know someone who has," added the TUC leader.

"These 'blame-the-victim' attitudes will quickly change and so must government policy."
GMB general secretary Paul Kenny added that his union has been warning the government for years that the problem in the labour market is a lack of jobs.
"The facts speak for themselves and the government must listen," he said.

A CWU spokeswoman added: "Nobody wants to be unemployed. There can be a terrible stigma attached to being on the dole. "Employment remains a central concern in today's uncertain economic climate and we welcome the TUC positive suggestions on improving provisions for the unemployed."

Left MP Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the TUC report and insisted that the green paper should be withdrawn because it was "morally wrong." He insisted that "it is wrong to make people work for their benefits and it also undermines people already in work," he said. "It is also an attack on the living conditions of some of the most vulnerable people."

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