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Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Ed Miliband comments regarding benefits claimants - contemptuous !

With regard to Ed Miliband's, comments regarding benefits claimants - Mr Miliband, your comments are contemptuous to say the least - it is obvious to many that you, as leader of the British Labour Party, you are very much still in tune with some of the ideas around the NEW labour project ! The "New Labour" Project has failed. We seek a progressive labour government. Enough of this "who can smash benefit claimants most" agenda !

It continues to be the major problem within the party at present, with many of Ed Miliband's shadow cabinet and prominent backbenchers being unrepentant Blairites who refuse to come to terms with new Labour's destructive legacy.

When Frank Field praises a Labour leader's reference to people on welfare, it's worth the leader taking a second look at what he's said.

Ed Miliband's juxtaposition of selfish wealthy bankers alongside so-called benefits scroungers was at best unfortunate.

No-one denies that a small number of people classified as jobless have no intention of working for a living, but the single biggest reason for unemployment is lack of jobs.

The blame for that lies with the inadequacies of the capitalist system not the failings of millions of people who would like nothing better than to find a job.

Proposing that allocation of council housing should be influenced by whether applicants are in work meets with Field's approval.

In his book, Labour's approach ought to be one where "benefits should be largely based on contributions and not decided simply on terms of need."

Prioritising those in work to be council tenants is essentially a form of punishment for the unemployed, leaving them homeless because they can't find a job.

It also ignores the reality that homelessness is at crisis point in Britain because successive governments, both Tory and Labour, have turned their backs on the need to meet housing demand by funding a massive council house-building programme.

The construction industry has been badly hit by cuts to the government's capital projects programme, which was unveiled by Alistair Darling in April 2010.

A vast expansion of council housing would bring twofold benefits in making reasonable priced homes available and also providing work to many of the building workers laid off as a result of cancelled capital projects.

This wouldn't win plaudits from the billionaire media moguls who are quite happy to see housing governed by market forces, guaranteeing profits for landowners on the basis of demand outstripping supply.

And of course those same newspaper barons that now blame the last Labour government for the financial crisis had nothing to say about the runaway speculation by the banking sector when it was stoking up the inevitable collapse.

Nor did they criticise the huge profits, shareholder dividends and boardroom bonuses generated by the bankers' reckless gambling.

The mass media joined in the popular mood for banker bashing when the scale of the financial meltdown became apparent, but they homed in on individuals rather than the nature of the system.

Miliband opts for similar populism with regard to top people's pay, which applies not only to the banks but also across the private sector and increasingly the public sector too.

He is right to point out that chief executive remuneration has quadrupled over the past 12 years while share values have stagnated and that, in the past decade, company bosses who previously took 69 times the average wage now draw 145 times.

But his proposals that shareholders should be more involved in monitoring pay levels, that companies should publish the ratio of the pay of its top earner compared to its average employee and that there may be merit in having an employee on the committee that decides top pay are limp in the extreme.

Self-regulation doesn't work with the rich and powerful because they have no incentive to make it work.

The only way to deal with the growing gap between rich and poor is to revamp the tax system so that the wealthy pay their fair share at last.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Workfare IS the Future says British Trade Union

Workfare IS the Future says British Trade Union "GMB" - the GMB is WRONG on this occasion !!

The GMB union with the work program provider Kennedy Scot has this week thrown its whole weight behind `Workfare`, with revelations it is promoting heavily the draconian model used by America to the coalition government.

Unions as a general rule have distanced themselves from workfare but the National Union of General and Municipal Workers (GMB) in its first unprincipled jaunt into the fray of a condemned policy has through a report called `Welfare to Work in the 21st Century` made recommendations that the Department of Works and Pensions pilots a US welfare-to-work programme developed by America Works.

The report authored by the University of Portsmouth and accountancy firm PKF, is notable by its lack of any real content and exceptional by the fact that amongst its four authors are two criminologists; which highlights the disjunction between criminality and how the unemployed are associated. This association is not lost on the company being promoted as `American Works` primarily works with the hardest to help: offenders, disabled and long-term unemployed, who are vilified in the UK`s press.

Describing the company `America Works` as `Innovative` at the launch of its report in the House of Lords the GMB placed heavy emphasis on the company placing over 200,000 US citizen into employment, replete was the fact that this is the number since 1984. The spin doctoring of its success is not however wasted on the American press who have questioned the cost-effectiveness of this company along with its troubled history in other cities, apart from it much vaunted success in New York.

In a statement Paul Kenny, Secretary General, GMB has said “The GMB is looking at how best to support both our members who are facing redundancy as the public sector cuts bite and those suffering the scourge of long term unemployment. We welcome the idea of pilots across the country to evaluate how best to do this.”

Loosing membership as a precursor to this move into workfare could well seem self-serving but ignores the body of evidence available that besides providing cheap labour and subsidizing employers, workfare takes jobs away from other workers and serves as a mechanism for keeping wages down and profits up. Not principles generally associated with unions, however if the management is trying to placate its masters it will suit the business world and the politicians just fine.

We would urge everyone to remain in the UNION, but at the same time we urge everyone to email, write letters & telephone them to protest most strongly, the direction the union going in reference to "workfare"

GMB National Office
22/24 Worple Road
SW19 4DD

tel 020 8947 3131
fax 020 8944 6552

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts - Tomorrow! (14/4)

National Day of Protest

Whatever you do tomorrow stay safe and stay angry.

Let's give it a last push, please tweet, share etc one last time and make this the biggest event yet.

For all those who can't make it person to a demo don't forget to join the Armchair Army or Troll A Tory to make your feelings heard.

Armchair Army

National Troll A Tory Day 3 and Rat On A Rat!

And don't forget, with the week of action against atos starting on May 9th, this is far from over.

Here's the latest list of events taking place tomorrow, with Dundee and Newcastle confirming today.


Thursday April 14th 2-5pm

Churchill Square Brighton


Thursday April 14 · 12:00pm - 5:00pm

Benefit Cuts Hurt Protest - 3rd National Day of Protest

Government Buildings, Flowers Hill, Bristol, BS4 5LA


Thursday April 14 - 12.30
Protest 14/4 at the bandstand in Burnley town centre from 12.30 onwards, everyone welcome, bring homemade placards and banners. Called by East Lancs Right to Work


Protesters should gather at Caledonian House, Greenmarket, Dundee, from 12.30 on Thursday 14th April for a peaceful but lively protest against the abysmal role of private company Atos Healthcare in administering unfair tests which force sick and disabled clients off benefits.


Thursday April 14th - 11am - 1pm
ATOS, York Place (near top of Broughton St)
Edinburgh protest against ATOS


Thursday, April 14 · 1:30pm - 2:30pm
ATOS 'Health Care' Corunna House 29 Cadogan Street
Glasgow Anti-Benefit Cuts Leafleting outside Atos


Thursday, April 14 · 10:30am - 2:00pm

Meeting @ Leeds Train Station 10am before moving to picket ATOS from 10:30 for an hour then move onto A4e/BEST for a couple of hours. The last picket was a great success and we hope to have another good day. Bring banners, flags etc.


Thursday, April 14 · 12:00pm – 3:00pm
Atos Origin ‘Healthcare’ Ltd, Scotland HQ Livingston, Appleton Parkway – Eliburn

Please contact: for details of travel and transport if you are attending this event.


Thursday, April 14 · 8:30am - 9:30am
Islington Protests Against Benefit Cuts

There will be a protest at 8.30am to 9.30am outside the Atos Healthcare assessment centre at 1 Elthorne Road, just off Holloway Road, 2 minutes walk south from Archway tube.

Thursday, April 14 - 2pm
Protest Outside The Daily Mail - Stop the Defamation - Stop the Lies

Daily Mail Headquarters, Young Street (off Kensington High Street), London W8 5TT

Protest Outside Westminster City Hall & Mass Food Give Away!

Thursday, April 14 · 5:00pm - 9:00pm

Westminster City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QP


Protest against Benefit Cuts:
2pm, Thursday 14th April 2011 at Monument, Newcastle upon Tyne
called by Disabled People Against Cuts North East and Tyneside Claimants Union


Outside the Jobcentre at noon. Everyone welcome!


Thursday, April 14 · 11:00am - 4:00pm
Lemon Quay Truro

In line with the third National Day of Action against benefits cuts Cornwall Anti Cuts Alliance will be staging an awareness demo in Truro.

and then Cardiff on Monday 18th April - 2:00pm - 8:00pm

Cardiff Unemployed Daytime Disco
The Rockin Chair, Lower Cathedral Road, Cardiff

message from (Respect For the Unemployed & Benefit Claimants)

Friday, 8 April 2011

Strike To Hit UK Jobcentres This Month !!

Thousands of Jobcentre Plus staff are to stage a 24-hour STRIKE later this month in an increasingly bitter row over working conditions.

We, as Unemployed Workers' (job-seekers) MUST stand shoulder to shoulder with the union who are trying to defend a public service for us claimants.
Many claimants will have suffered at the hands of some of the staff, but this groups notes that NOT all staff are in the Union & the PCS Union has always defended the rights of benefit claimants, unlike this government & the previous labour government.

Governments have tried to force job centre staff to treat claimants in a contemptuous manner by harassing claimants, giving incorrect advice & much more, those same staff have no understanding of solidarity & the PCS union does not support treating benefit claimants in such way..

Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union based in over 30 call centres will walk out on April 18 after accusing management of showing "little willingness" to resolve the dispute.

In a ballot of the union's 7,000 members in the call centres, 70% of those who took part voted for strike action.

The action follows a two-day strike in January by more than 2,000 workers in Jobcentre Plus's seven newest contact centres, who complain of being forcibly moved from processing benefit claims to handling inquiries by phone.

The union says its main complaint centres on "unrealistic" average call times while it is also seeking more flexible working arrangements.

Jane Aitchison, the union's Department for Work and Pensions group president,said: "We are being prevented from providing a good quality service to the public because of unnecessary and unrealistic call centre targets.

"We entered into negotiations in good faith because we care about the help and advice we give to some of the most vulnerable people in society.

It's very disappointing that our management didn't do the same."

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka claims standards are being driven down at Jobcentre Plus as a result of Government spending cuts.

He said: "Instead of punishing people who are claiming benefits through no fault of their own, the Government should be investing in our public services to help get people back to work quicker and to help our economy to grow."

The union says among the call centres taking part in the strike will be those in Glasgow, Dundee, Newport, Bridgend, Bangor, Sheffield, Halifax, Norwich and Southend.

Also those in Newcastle upon Tyne, Middlesbrough, Blackpool, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Derby, Coventry, Exeter and Bristol will be affected.

A Press Statement from the PCS Union: Jobseekers should not be penalised by unfair targets.

Jobcentre staff should not be forced to refer jobseekers to have sanctions imposed to meet cost-saving targets, PCS says.

Following the story in the Guardian newspaper that claimed jobseekers were being tricked into having their benefits taken away, the unions have written to Jobcentre Plus management to ask for urgent clarification.

In an interview with Sky News, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith dismissed the story as "claptrap" and officially the Department for Work and Pensions denied targets were being applied.

But many of our members have reported they are being instructed to make at least one referral a day, even where there are no legitimate grounds.

In the west midlands, for example, advisors have been told they must make five stricter benefit regime referrals a week, one of which must be a refusal of employment.

We are urgently seeking clarification from management what the official position is and whether local offices have discretion to set targets about referrals for sanctions.

We do not believe that targets should be applied and we have made it clear that our members are concerned that the story raises accusations that advisors are acting maliciously.

Respect For the Unemployed & Benefit Claimants

Monday, 4 April 2011

UK Government attacking benefit claimants

Today in the UK, saw the first moves in the coalition's supposed crackdown on sickness benefits for 1.6 million claimants, with the initial 7,000 letters going out calling them in for reassessment of their ability to work.

UK Employment Minister Chris Grayling has been almost beside himself with glee recently, claiming that trial results in Burnley and Aberdeen indicate that around half a million people could be reclassified as fit for work over the next three years, with another 600,000 potentially employable given the right support.

Now, seeing that this means that Mr Grayling can drop them from invalidity benefit onto the considerably lower jobseeker's allowance, he looks to make a considerable saving in his department's budget.

Well, good for Mr Grayling. He will probably get himself a gold star from Chancellor George Osborne for savings above and beyond the call of duty.

It won't, of course, do a damned thing to help the claimants themselves.
Disability activists, claimant groups and anti-cuts campaigners have called a week of action against Atos Origin beginning on Monday 9th May with a picnic and party in Triton Square*, home of their head office, at 2pm.

Atos Origin have just begun a £300 million contract by the Con-dem Government to carry out ‘work capability assessments’ on all of those claiming Incapacity Benefit.

It is claimed assessments are to test what people can do rather than what they can’t.
The real purpose is to strip benefits from as many people as possible.

This testing system has already led to people with terminal illnesses and severe medical conditions being declared fit for work and having benefits cut. GP’s are ignored in favour of decisions made by Atos Origin’s computer.

Plans announced for the scrapping of Disability Living Allowance have also revealed that this intrusive testing is likely to be extended to everyone on some form of disability or health related benefit.

To date around 40% of appeals against Atos Origin’s decisions have been successful.

On the 24th January claimants from around the country demonstrated outside Atos Origins premises, with many choosing to close for the day rather than face their 'clients'. We call on all groups around the UK to take action against these parasites who have been dubbed 'the racial purity and euthanasia arm of the DWP'

A list of Atos Origin's corporate offices can be found at:

Atos testing centres are listed at:

If you are holding an event, protest or action in your home town please add details on the wall below to have your event added to this page and the website. Alternatively contact us at:

In the meantime the Third National Day of Action Against Benefit Cuts is taking place on Thursday April 14th. Visit the facebook page for more info and help spread the word:

*Triton Square is on the North side of Euston Road, just over the road from Warren Street tube and less than five minutes from Euston/Euston Square or Great Portland Street tube stations.
It will reduce the paltry amount on which a large percentage of claimants are forced to exist by around 30 per cent, leaving them in even more trouble than they are already in.

It will affect their lifestyles and standards of nutrition so drastically that those already ill but reclassified as fit for work will see their health deteriorate rapidly, taking them back into unfit classification, but even more ill than they were previously.

Meanwhile, will those who manage not to fall back into serious illness happily join the ranks of the working millions, pulling in a good wage and turning their lives around?

Sorry, but there's precious little chance of that.

It's much more likely that they will merely join the ranks of the 2.5 million already unemployed, because there isn't any sign that this government is putting money into growing the economy.

Quite the reverse, in fact. The cuts elsewhere are due to take and are already taking billions out of the economy, leaving job creation a very remote possibility indeed.

Which, in one way, is a useful get-out for this government because it actually couldn't afford to have the newly classified working people getting jobs.

After all, at the same time it is proposing to turn the private sector loose on job placement, rewarding privateering companies with fees of up to £14,000 each for finding work for clients.

Too much success there and the government could be billions out of pocket, something that it really wouldn't be too happy with.

And the Tories and their Lib Dem cronies can't rely on the apparently increasing state pension to release more money into the economy and stimulate growth.

Because they are emphatic that there won't be any new money and that the higher state pension will be funded simply by removing additional means-tested benefits from the menu.

Which is not the same thing as removing the humiliation of means testing from the system.

In fact, it means removing additional benefits from those who need them and distributing them across all pensioners, leaving those with greater needs with less resources in many cases.

The "simplification" of the pension system, as with the benefits system, appears to mean no more than cuts for those at the bottom of the heap.

Iain Duncan Smith says that removing pension credits means the removal of a huge "disincentive" to save.

Perhaps someone needs to remind Mr Smith that the biggest disincentive to saving while in employment is low wages and no leeway to make savings.

Yet another day of phoney promises, then, and yet another set of Tory attacks to be fought off.
National Week of Action Against Atos Origin

UK Government 'distressing benefit claimants'

New benefit process 'distressing claimants'

The national rollout of benefits reassessment is causing widespread distress among incapacity benefit claimants with mental health problems, the charity Mind warned today.

In a new survey 87 per cent of people said that the prospect of reassessment had made them feel anxious and more than a third said that it had led to them increasing their medication.
The charity said that it was concerned the current Work Capability Assessment was not fit for purpose and called for a slowdown of the reassessment process "until the test is working fairly and effectively."

Chief executive Paul Farmer said: "We believe that the welfare system should support everyone - with dignity - who is unable to work or requires additional support because of a mental health problem. If someone is able to return to work, there should be personalised assistance and support to help them do so."

The survey was based on the responses of 316 people with mental health problems receiving the benefit, conducted between March 18 and 28. .

Friday, 25 March 2011

United we stand for TUC Demo

The March for the Alternative will be a graphic reminder to ministers that the trade union movement does not intend to stand idly by while the government takes an axe to public services built up over decades.
The TUC demonstration on Saturday will be the biggest labour movement mobilisation in a generation, the RMT declared today.

The union, which represents 90,000 members in transport and maritime industries, said that people from as far as Fort William would descend on London for the peaceful protest in opposition to the Con-Dem austerity drive.

General secretary Bob Crow said: "No-one should underestimate the importance of this demonstration.

"Our members and others in the trade union movement are determined to make sure we send the right message to the Con-Dem government - that they halt the cuts."

Over 700 coaches and a fleet of charter trains will bring people to London from across Britain, and there appears to be little doubt that this will be the largest demonstration organised by the trade union movement in a generation.

The size of Saturday's march and rally will reflect the scale of the damage inflicted on communities and individuals by the government's programme of vicious cuts and so-called "reforms."

Already some 226,000 council workers have lost their jobs or have been given notice of potential redundancy - this before the real impact of the government's decision to slash nearly 30 per cent from local authority budgets is felt.

The False Economy website has estimated that more than 50,000 jobs will go in the NHS, despite government claims that health spending is protected.

Each of these job losses means poorer services for the public and increased pressures on the staff who remain. Little wonder that a recent survey found that three-quarters of public-sector workers felt morale in their workplace was average or poor.

The government's cuts and top-down reforms have left staff demoralised, insecure and under more pressure than ever.

Beneath the statistics, cuts in public services and benefits are exacting a dreadful individual cost.

False Economy features dozens of testimonies setting out the human cost of the government's reckless approach to deficit reduction.

We as unemployed workers', health-care workers, parents and school governors, teachers alongside public and private-sector workers, and for pensioners to march alongside students.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

British Unemployed told: This is all your fault !

The unemployed were damned for being "workshy" today as Con-Dem ministers revealed the nastiest welfare squeeze in living memory on top of mass public and private-sector job losses.

As the coalition ruins livelihoods by imposing hundreds of thousands of job cuts under the slogan "we are all in this together," millionaire Prime Minister David Cameron announced a "reform" package that unions argue blames the unemployed for being jobless.

David Cameron describes his Welfare Reform Bill as "the most ambitious, fundamental and radical changes to the welfare system" since the welfare state was set up.

That it may be, but equally valid adjectives would include unfair, discriminatory and mean.

Despite rhetoric about helping the unemployed into work, the real aim behind this Bill is to reduce welfare spending over the next four years by £5.5 billion - slightly less than the £6bn that the banks have devoted to bonuses this year.

"Never again will work be the wrong financial choice," the Prime Minister asserted as he launched the Bill.

The implication behind this statement is that a substantial proportion of those living on benefits do so as a lifestyle choice rather than there being a lack of jobs.

Cameron and his ministers know this reality, but they are determined to draw a line under what the banks did and to blame unemployed workers for the symptoms of a crisis that they had no part in creating.

Their stomach-churning "compassion" for the needy, the most vulnerable and those in old age is just words.

The government is set to train its sights on precisely those sectors of society that need help most and to drive down their living standards at the behest of the City and the rich.

What would this multimillionaire, who has never experienced any kind of deprivation, know of claiming benefits?

And yet he rewrites history to claim that, when the postwar Labour government set up the welfare state, individuals' sense of "private shame" was sufficient to deter them from claiming handouts unless they really needed them.

Now, according to him, couples live apart, the unemployed refuse jobs and people go on the sick because they are better off cheating the system than working.

In fact, the take-up of benefits was low in the late 1940s, '50s and '60s because there was virtually full employment. Youngsters leaving school did not fear a life on the dole queue.

But the capitalist class's obsession with short-term profitability, its refusal to invest in Britain and its readiness to export investment - and jobs - overseas in search of higher returns have made mass unemployment a major feature across the country.

Instead of berating the unemployed for not having a job, politicians ought to have been directing investment into industry and employment.

According to Cameron, one in every £7 of government spending is devoted to welfare, amounting to £90bn a year, and this is not "simply not sustainable."

If anything is not sustainable, it is the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere that have swallowed billions of pounds to no avail, to say nothing of the human cost.

Weapons of mass destruction, such as the Trident nuclear submarine fleet, are also unsustainable, costing tens of billions and contributing nothing to society.

The level of tax avoidance in Britain is also unsustainable, costing the exchequer around £80bn annually alongside a further £20bn uncollected because of staff shortages at HM Revenue & Customs that have been exacerbated by government-imposed redundancies.

The government does nothing about these unsustainable phenomena because they work to the benefit of the wealthy who still don't pay their fair share of taxation.

The coalition assault on working-class living standards forms part of its ongoing campaign to absolve the rich of any responsibility to contribute to society.

Welfare Reform: key points

Benefits to be brought under one Universal Credit, which will also ensure those coming off welfare or increasing hours can keep 35p of benefits for every extra £1 they take home.

Housing Benefit will be restricted to cover only the cheapest 30 per cent of homes in an area with limits on the amount which can be claimed by families of a particular size.

Unemployed people who refuse to accept a job or voluntary work will lose benefits for three months on the first occasion, rising to three years if it happens three times.

A review of sickness absence to end what Mr Cameron described as the "sicknote culture"

Cutting £1 billion by replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with a face-to-face assessment under Personal Independence Payment (PIP), raising fears from charities that hundreds of thousands of disabled people will lose support.
Respect For the Unemployed & Benefit Claimants