Boycott Workfare: Week of Action 18th – 24th March: Local events

As part of Boycott Workfare’s week of action, events will be held locally outside the following locations to hand out leaflets and stickers to those affected and raise general public awareness:

Tuesday 19th March – meet 9am outside Abilities, 3 Parkstone Road, Poole BH15 2NN. We will also be leafleting Jobcentre Plus, Dear Hay Lane, Poole BH15 1NZ.

Wednesday 20th March – meet 9am outside Prospects, Fairview House, 17 Hinton Road, Bournemouth BH1 2EE. We will also be leafleting outside Jobcentre Plus, Tamarisk House, 1 Cotlands Road, Bournemouth, BH1 3BG.

Thursday 21st March – meet 9am outside The College / Working Links, North Road, Poole BH14 0LS.

All support and help is welcomed.

Workfare can be broken by showing organisations that the public have clearly rejected unpaid work. Dependant upon how many people attend the above events, we can also hand out leaflets outside shops / companies that are known to use unpaid labour. Please email BPACC if you would like further details. Click here for to see the companies and organisations known to have used or be using workfare.

The Government is pushing ahead with increasingly savage workfare policies despite the fierce resistance to the scheme causing many high street names and national charities to pull out.

Unemployed people can now be sentenced to six months compulsory unpaid work as part of the Community Action Programme. And last year the DWP introduced forced work for sick and disabled claimants.

Evidence has shown that mandatory work has no impact in actually helping someone find a job, the stated aim of the scheme. Instead workfare is used to replace real jobs, with some companies even caught taking on unpaid workers to fill temporary Christmas positions.

A recent High Court Ruling on unpaid work placements means tens of thousands of unemployed people who have had benefits docked for not properly taking part in schemes such as work experience and the work programme are entitled to a rebate. However the DWP said it would resist paying out rebates until all legal avenues had been exhausted. The DWP have also sent letters to everyone on the Work Programme re-stipulating that the scheme and any “employment programme or training scheme” are mandatory and people are liable to benefit sanctions if they do not attend (click here to view full letter).

Public Interest Lawyers who act for a number of individuals, including Cait Reilly, who challenged the Government’s “Back to Work” schemes in the High Court released 10 facts about these schemes – click here to view them.

Companies such as Superdrug, Argos and McDonalds, have all been quick to take on unpaid workers on government schemes, have seen a year of boycotts, pickets, demonstrations and occupations due to their involvement in the scheme. Many national charities have pulled out as a result of protests, but some, such as The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) and Salvation Army are unrepentant about their army of government subsidised unpaid workers with some like Sue Ryder recently withdrawing due to public pressure. Many of the new workfare programmes depend on charities like these to provide placements.

Related links:

Workfare Can Be Broken – Join the Week of Action and help make it happen – Boycott Workfare
Workfare and you – BPACC
Workfare – BPACC
College criticised for backing Workfare Programme – BPACC
DWP letter to work programme participants – BPACC<

end unpaid single stick no border temp

Benefit Justice Summit – Saturday 9th March – ULU London

The Campaign for Benefit Justice is uniting all those opposed to devastating benefit cuts. By linking up we can challenge the Government’s divide and rule tactics and unite the 99% of people hit by these cuts. This summit will bring together disabled people, tenants, unemployed , trade unions, students, pensioners, single parents, and others to oppose benefit cuts.

The venue is fully-accessible for wheelchair users – for other access needs, please contact benefitjustice@gmail.com

benefit-justice-summit page 1 - 550
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Click here to download PDF of above

Click here to book your place on the Summit being held on Saturday 9th March at University of London Union (ULU), Malet St, London WC1E 7HY at 11am.

Cut rents, not benefits
Can’t pay, won’t pay
Can’t move, won’t move

Get Involved

If you’d like to get involved in the Benefit Justice Campaign, they would be glad to have your support.

  • Contact trades unions, tenants and community organisations to invite them to our Summit on the 9th March 2013.
  • Add your name to the Benefits Justice Statement
  • Ask local organisations to send a speaker to the Summit
  • Create a local Benefit Justice network, and keep us abreast of your activities by emailing us at benefitjustice@gmail.com.
  • Support the protests in London and across the country on 20th March 2013.

Our Open Letter to the Guardian Published on the 12th February, 2013

Cuts in benefit are an unjust attack on the poor and they must stop. People are already being driven into debt, hunger and homelessness. From April millions more will be hit by the bedroom tax, cuts in council-tax benefit, ending disability living allowance and further vicious cuts. In one of the richest countries in the world, the rise of food banks, destitution and poverty is not acceptable. People receiving benefits did not cause the banking and economic crisis and we do not accept them being scapegoated to pay for it.

The Campaign for Benefit Justice has called a summit event on 9 March in central London, bringing together tenants, disabled people, trade unions, the unpaid and the low paid as one national voice to end the war on the poor. All who support us should contact Benefit Justice via info@defendouncilhousing.org.uk or mail@dpac.uk.net [or benefitjustice@gmail.com]. Collecting unpaid corporate tax, capping private rents, insulating, repairing and “greening” homes, and building 100,000 first-class council homes would be a sane and just way to raise funds, build for growth and cut bills and rents.

Signed:
Eileen Short, Chair of Defend Council Housing
Linda Burnip, Disabled People Against Cuts
Michael Bradley, Right to Work Campaign
Len McCluskey, General Secretary of UNITE the Union
Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the PCS Union
Dave Anderson MP
John McDonnell MP
Austin Mitchell MP
Caroline Lucas MP
Jane Aitchison (PCS), Joint Secretary of Unite the Resistance
Richard Buckwell, Chair of Ashfield UNISON Branch & East Midlands member of UNISON’s National Housing Forum
Glyn Robbins, UNITE member
Dot Gibson, General Secretary of the National Pensioners Convention
Claire Glasman, WinVisible (Women with Visible and Invisible Disabilities)
Kim Sparrow, Single Mothers’ Self-Defence
John Davies, Leeds Hands off our Homes
Dr Stuart Hodkinson, Lecturer at the School of Geography, University of Leeds
Shirley Frost, Sheffield Defend Council Housing, Campaign for Benefits Justice, and UNITE Community Members branch Sheffield
Imelda Messenger, Hackney tenant, Street Properties

defend council housingdpac

right to work

Right, that’s enough, now what are we going to do about it?

People’s Assembly: Saturday 22 June 2013, 9:30am – 5pm, Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate, London, Westminster, London SW1H 9NH

Click on photo to add your support

Click on photo to add your support

The following has been republished from Coalition of Resistance, posted originally on Mark Steels blog and in the Independent

I genuinely hope that George Osborne does it on purpose. That he descends from the podium after a speech and sniggers to Cameron “I said ‘We’re all in it together’ again. Haaa haaaa, I don’t know how I get away with it?”

He continues to use this slogan, this son of a 17th baronet, worth £4 million and heir to many millions more, as he explains the necessity of cutting public services, libraries, pensions as well as payments to the poor, the disabled, and those who will never inherit a single baronetcy, no matter how hard they train for it.

The crisis we’re all apparently joined in – it’s generally agreed – was caused by the failures, greed and recklessness of a clique we call, for short, ‘the bankers’

Yet the people having to pay for their chaos are not the bankers. They’re the disabled and the homeless, the firefighters and lollipop ladies and anyone who depends on them. Maybe George Osborne believes these were the culprits, that it was lollipop ladies telling kids “Wait by the road a minute, love, I’m just loaning ten million quid on the basis that property values are certain to double every six months forever, and awarding myself half a million as a bonus. Right, now that’s done we’re safe to cross.”

For the poor to pay a major contribution towards the crisis created by the bankers would be a screaming injustice, but it’s so much worse than that. Because one of the few professions that doesn’t have to cough up is the bankers themselves. And to ease their pain of watching everyone apart from themselves suffer, one of the few measures taken by this government that gives more money away rather than less has been a tax cut for the richest one per cent.

There are many consequences of this, among them the fact that many people in Britain now express their feelings about economics with a theory that goes, more or less, “Aaaaaaagh.” Sometimes they go into more detail, adding “The BASTARDS.” And then “Aaaaaaaagh.”

But the coalition’s outrages are only part of the frustration felt by so many. Because there can hardly have been a time when so many people, disgusted by their government, have been at such a loss as to what we can do about it.

Until recently, many people found a home for their anger at social injustice in the Labour Party. But the New Labour years, if we’re being harsh, weren’t all that successful at promoting peace and equality. Although there are Labour members who are wonderfully effective, such as Tony Benn and Owen Jones, many of their activists left or became disillusioned.

Left wing groups have collapsed more spectacularly, in a series of crises that makes you wonder whether their activities are organised by the scriptwriters of Eastenders, leaving another layer of socialists and campaigners in confusion.

But another piece of this jigsaw of frustration is that the basis for an opposition is evident. The government is by no means overwhelmingly popular, and the Lib-Dem part of it widely held in contempt. Anyone who watches Question Time knows the easiest way for a panellist to win a round of applause is to make an angry speech about greedy bankers. When a few hundred activists moved into tents under the ‘Occupy’ banner, they won the sympathy of millions and forced ministers to appear on the news making unconvincing attempts to justify their actions.

When an opposition has appeared credible, it has won an astounding level of support – such as when George Galloway won the election in Bradford, or when Caroline Lucas was victorious in Brighton for the Green Party. Campaigns such as the one in Lewisham to prevent the closure of the A&E department at the hospital have amassed tens of thousands of supporters. But for the most part these moments remain in one area, or pass quickly, then it’s back to yelling at the telly, or if you’re really dedicated, the radio as well.

Would it be possible, I find myself thinking, to bring together those who share these frustrations, to connect with each other?

Some people are already in groups or parties, such as UK Uncut, the Greens or Labour, but I’m sure they’d acknowledge there are many people beyond their own supporters who’d be willing to contribute towards a squabble with George Osborne.

It might be tempting to consider these thoughts, then conclude you’d done your bit by thinking them, and if you wanted to do any more you could occasionally arrange them into a moan. But it seems – since enough people are thinking this way at once – that a genuine movement is possible.

For example Owen Jones, one of the most eloquent opponents of the Coalition’s austerity, is eager to help set up such a network. Salma Yaqoob, who many will know as an inspiring opponent of the war in Iraq, is another. Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, feels the same, as does Laurie Penny, the journalist who wrote powerfully as part of the Occupy movement.

The trade unions are committed to establishing this network, which can link the campaigns, the meetings, the petitions and the squeals of anguish that try to prevent the cruelties of austerity. Almost every major union has pledged to back such a movement, which it will call a ‘People’s Assembly’.

And crucially, many of this large and growingly frustrated TV-abusing section of society have greeted the idea with enthusiasm, and even a hint of optimism. For example a single letter in a newspaper announcing the Assembly attracted hundreds of initial supporters. So this is the plan.

Within the next few weeks a series of gatherings in the biggest cities in Britain will take place to launch the Assembly in each area. From there groups can be set up that will discuss ways to oppose the barrage of attacks coming from the coalition, leading to a People’s Assembly on June 22 in London. You can register for that day here

Many possibilities can open up once the connections are made. A group in one part of the country can discuss how to support a campaign to defend a hospital in another part. Even a joint letter to a local newspaper is an improvement on a lonely individual seethe.

It will be a network that embraces supporters of different groups and parties, as well as those with no affiliations. And it will bring together enough people eager to participate, who would rather do something than nothing, who would rather find themselves alongside others who agree than remain on their own.

The evidence suggests that wherever a community unites and campaigns to defend its hospitals, its libraries, it parks and its people, it succeeds at least in part. The aim of the People’s Assembly will be simply to tap into the vast amount of humanity, imagination and wit of those who wish to curtail the injustices swirling around us, and create a place that we all feel better for being in, and all feel better for having helped to create.

That’s all.

And you can carry on swearing at George Osborne on the telly as well if you like.

So leave a name or a message if you’re interested and we can add it to the many who have already said they are, and to show I’m fair, I’ll even let you leave a name and a message if you’re not interested and think I’m completely round the sodding bend.

People Power in the NHS: Bournemouth meeting 1st Nov

Crucial decisions about the future of the NHS in Dorset are being taken right now. Dorset CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) is a body of local GPs who’ve recently been given the power to decide on the shape of the NHS in Dorset and who runs its services.

The best people to ensure that these protections are written in stone into the constitution by Dorset CCG are people like you who live in its catchment area and not lawyers or health service experts. Local meetings are being organised via 38 Degrees

Now is the time to try to influence them to protect our NHS and not open the floodgates to privatisation.

The following meeting is being held in Bournemouth:

Thursday 1st November 2012 – 8pm to 10pm
Flirt café, 21 The Triangle, Bournemouth, Dorset BH2 5RG (google map)

We need to use local people power to ensure Dorset CCG reflects what local people want and care about. We can influence how they are set up, how they listen to the public and what they do with that info. Come and help ensure local commissioning isn’t privatised, is patient-focussed and listens to the public.

If you intend to go along, please confirm your attendance on the 38 Degrees website

Click here to download the 38 Degrees pdf Clinical Commissioning Groups: Protecting our NHS together

What’s a Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)?
CCGs now have huge power and responsibility over our NHS. Every GP surgery must be a member of a CCG. CCGs are groups of GPs that will make the most important decisions about the health service in your area, such as whether to privatise services. They will decide who will provide the services and will enter into contracts with providers. CCGs could choose to enter into contracts with private companies to achieve this.

On the governing body of a CCG, groups will have, in addition to GPs, a least one registered nurse and a doctor who is a secondary care specialist.

CCGs will formally start work in April 2013, but many are up and running in an early form now.

What do you mean by a CCG constitution?
A CCG must have a constitution to guide them in the decisions they make. A CCG constitution is important in shaping the way that the new health plans are implemented. 38 Degrees have worked with lawyers to produce sample wording which a CCG can adopt into their constitution. Lawyers Stephen Cragg and Rebecca Haynes have drafted content for a CCG constitution which in their view satisfies the legal requirements of the Health and Social Care Act, while also committing to protecting our NHS.

What are the lawyers suggesting a CCG should adopt into their constitution?
There are a number of areas in which variations can be made into a CCG constitution. Lawyers have reviewed all these sections of the constitutions and have suggested wording for protecting our NHS. The wording suggested allows CCGs to introduce ethical and moral considerations into commissioning decisions, as well as purely financial criteria, which should help stop the privatisation of services!

Twenty Ten March – A Poem

A poem by Zita Holbourne for Oct20. Copyright 2012 (via Make the March). Zita is a member of PCS NEC, Co-founder of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts, a poet and artist. More of her work can be viewed on Facebook ‘Zita Holbourne, Poet, Artist’

Over one million young people unemployed
Their dreams and aspirations destroyed
EMA slashed, tuition fees tripled
Attack upon attack on the disabled
68 is too late – pensions stolen
Rising cost of living whilst pay’s frozen
Libraries, youth centres, advice centres shut
Communities deprived as funding is cut
Poverty rising, inequality deepening

Stress, depression, sorrow increasing
We are the majority, we need to unite
Organise, mobilise, resist and fight
Be strong, determined, Rise Up as one
March on 20/10 and Keep on Keeping On
Neighbours, colleagues, friends and families
Trade Unions, Trades Councils and Communities
Anti cuts groups, campaigners and workers
Unemployed, students and pensioners
Adult and child, younger and older
Side by side, shoulder to shoulder
Both public and private sector
Stronger when we’re together
In Belfast, Glasgow and London
We’ll be marching, marching on

Against austerity
Against inequality
Against hypocrisy
Against poverty
On 20th October
We’ll be marching for our future

© Zita Holbourne

Solidarity evening

A solidarity evening was held at the British Legion in Boscombe on Friday 28th September with food and a background ambience of soul and ska.

Guest speakers included Gareth Drinkwater (Unison) who gave an update about the SW NHS Pay Cartel and spoke about the leaked document which clearly showed their intentions were to reduce the Trusts’ wage bill from 68% of their overall budget to 60%. Click here more info about the cartel’s proposals.

James Meadway (Coalition of Resistance) explained how the govt’s programme of austerity and their refusal to move away from these policies was sending the country spiralling downwards into a deeper, longer recession akin to the 1930s. James also pointed out the great myth that is constantly peddled that the Public Sector is somehow responsible for the economic crisis. The fact is, public spending prior to 2008 by the previous Labour govt was 39% of GDP, under Major’s tory govt from 1991-97 is what 40% and during the Thatcher years of 1979-91 it was 41%. So the reality is, public sector govt spending was at it’s lowest for nearly 2 decades. This all changed following the collapse of Lehmans in the States, the domino effect it created to banks worldwide and the subsequent bail-outs that followed; including the £1.3 trillion bail-out by our govt to rescue UK banks. He also stressed the importance of everyone opposed to austerity to attend the mass demonstration in London on Oct 20th.

Neil Duncan-Jordan (Chair – BCP Trades Council) stated that, so far, the country has only seen a small chunk of the cuts and seemed oblivious to the fact that a further 80% was still to be implemented. So however bad it seems at the moment, things will only get much, much worse.

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How did we get here – New Economics Foundation

The UK has slid back into double-dip recession and Eurozone unemployment has hit new highs. Uncertainty stalks China, Brazil and other rising economies. We may be heading for a global recession.

Politicians call for austerity and little else. But spending cuts are economically illiterate. They wreck weak economies by locking them into a cycle explained by John Maynard Keynes over 80 years ago:

  • Cuts mean job losses and falling demand for goods and services.
  • Falling demand means firms sell less.
  • Firms selling cause wages to fall and unemployment to rise even more.
  • Demand for goods and services falls further.
  • Then, as demand collapses and economies shrink, debts become unpayable.

Breaking this vicious circle is the first step towards recovery. But we can’t return to the old world of chronic dependence on carbon and debt. Click here to view a short guide to how the crisis broke, and some ideas on how to get out of it.

Human Rights Tour visits Bournemouth 3rd Oct

The Human Rights Tour 2012 will be visiting Bournemouth on Wednesday October 3rd at Room BG11, Bournemouth House, Lansdowne Campus, Bournemouth University, 19 Christchurch Road, Bournemouth BH1 3LH running from 10am to 4pm.

The event will adopt a workshop format: the sessions will be interactive and facilitated towards giving participants the chance to air their views and debate the issues. Additional input will be provided by BIHR and other speakers.

Human Rights go to the heart of the kind of society we want to be. Learn more, get involved, and find out how human rights knowledge can make a difference to you.

For more details or to book a place, please click on the links below:

www.bihr.org.uk/events/the-2012-human-rights-tour
www.bihr.org.uk/bihr-human-rights-tour-2012-online-booking-form