Friday, 28 November 2014

Causes of London's housing crisis

Title above by Dude Swheatie of the KUWG

From Z2K

Z2K at the Mayor’s Community Reception


boris-johnson-798004737
What did we learn from Boris Johnson at last week’s Mayoral Community Reception – besides banter of beavers and babies?

That London is facing a housing crisis. Many of the guests at the reception, like Z2K, work directly with the poorest and most vulnerable who it affects most acutely. In recent decades, the lack of investment in social housing, combined with the introduction of right to buy schemes for council homes has generated a serious shortage of affordable housing in the capital. Add to this a welfare reform agenda which is committed to removing the safety net for the poorest households by capping housing benefit and penalising families who are under occupying their homes, despite a shortage of smaller properties to move them to.

Continue reading  on Z2K website→

Government denies WCA's abject failure

From Z2K


Government fails to recognise WCA’s abject failure

dwp
Yesterday the Government published their response to the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s damning report into Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). The response makes for disappointing reading for those who had hoped that the committee’s series of strong recommendation would finally make DWP sit up and take notice of the walking disaster that is the WCA.

The main thread that runs through the response is a refusal to acknowledge the true extent of the WCAs failure. Indeed in response to the committee’s call for a fundamental redesign of the WCA they say that ‘…the Department does not agree that the WCA is a flawed mechanism for assessing a person’s functional capacity’.

DWP point to the successive independent reviews and claim the fact that they have introduced 60 of the 83 accepted recommendations show the WCA is improving and is not in need of a redesign. But when Professor Michael Harrington, author of the first three reviews, gave evidence to the committee he felt that despite his recommendations the WCA had not fundamentally improved. This is the continuing experience of our clients too.

Of course one might expect the department to stick to its guns and reject the need for redesign but to other key recommendations are also dismissed. For example the call to pay claimants assessment rate ESA while undergoing Mandatory Reconsideration rather than forcing them to apply for JSA is apparently unworkable as there is ‘no legal basis’ to do so. Perhaps the Government has forgotten that they have the power to change the law!

Also published on the same day was the fifth and final independent review of the WCA. Telling the review notes that:
‘…despite these changes and some undoubted improvements, there remains an overwhelming negative perception of the WCA’s effectiveness amongst people undergoing an assessment and individuals or organisations providing support to them.’

Continue reading on Z2K website....

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Toward an epetition against number-crunching job applications

By Dude Swheatie of the KUWG

In a comment on Kate Belgrave's blog piece Learning difficulties and need support to sign on and avoid sanction? Too bad, EricGreenwood has written:
I once worked in a human resources department for a month while someone was off sick..they transferred me from marketing .. i was told to bin 90% of all cv’s application forms. even if they had the best qualifications. and only 10% got through, and out of those 10% maybe 1% forget. this was before the job centre/work programme started mass pushing for application forms to be sent out..

I reckon that is an excellent point, as anyone who has had direct experience of recruiting processes in the voluntary sector or any other sector can attest. Maybe someone could set up an epetition against benefit sanctions that cites the waste of business time through 'targets' that emphasise quantity of job applications over quality, as well as the drain on jobseekers' morale? The Government epetitions website states that 100,000 signatures to an epetition can get the matter it relates to discussed in the House of Commons:

What are e-petitions?

e-petitions are an easy, personal way for you to influence government and Parliament in the UK. You can create an e-petition about anything that the government is responsible for and if it gets at least 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in the House of Commons. You can find more information about how the House of Commons deals with e-petitions on the Backbench Business Committee website This link opens in a new window.
Yet beyond the matter of whether an epetition can raise enough signatures for the matter to be raised in a House of Commons debate, there is the matter that petitions can be tools for helping to raise awareness that is a precursor to challenging existent and misguided public opinion.





Osborne's Autumn Statement-related London actions by People's Assembly Against Austerity

From People's Assembly Against Austerity

The People's Assembly Against Austerity
On 3 December George Osborne will be giving his Autumn Statement where he's set to triumph the success of austerity and announce further cuts and privatisation.

In London, the People's Assembly is organising two events:

Thursday 27 November

Economic briefing ahead of Osborne's Autumn Statement | #AusterityMyths
Austerity Lies and Myths: what the government doesn't want you to know6.30pm, NUT HQ, Hamilton House, Maybledon Place, London WC1H 9BS
Click here to register
The panel includes:
Owen-Jones_g.jpgjames-meadway_g.jpgFaiza-Shaheen_g.jpgMichael-Burke_g.jpgchristine_blower.jpg
Owen Jones Journalist, James Meadway Senior Economist, New Economics Foundation, Dr Faiza Shaheen Head of Inequality & Sustainable Development, Save the Children (personal capacity), Micheal Burke Economist. Chaired by: Christine Blower General Secretary, National Union of Teachers
Join our panel of leading economists, journalists and trade unionists for discussion and debate on the true state of the economy and the lies underpinning the Government's austerity programme.

Limited space so please register your place:
Click here to register

Protest: Tuesday 2 December

Protest on the eve of Osborne's Autumn Statement | #AusterityFail

Austerity has failed: Sack George OsborneFrom 5:30pm, Downing Street, London

Please share & invite your friends on Facebook
autumn_statement_fb_cover.jpg

On the 2nd of December, dozens and dozens of George Osbornes will descend on Downing Street before the real penny-pinching George gives his Autumn Statement. But while he will be hiding the truth from us, our gaggle of Georges will be doing no such thing.

In a rare moment in politics they will all be telling the truth about austerity, busting the myths that the ConDem government want us to believe are facts, and admitting all the ways they have stolen from us and our public services.

But honesty is tiring work for a politician so the Georges will be sitting down to a feast as well. While they treat themselves to champagne, our volunteers will be helping the public by giving away a sweet version of the scraps our government allows us to have.

So come along to Downing Street on Tuesday 2nd December at 5.30 pm and join the hundreds who will be showing what austerity really is. Help us tell the truth about the damage of the Budget before George Osborne makes his excuses. Maybe you’d like to play a Greedy George, or share the sweet scraps with the passersby. Or maybe you just want to stand with a placard held high and be heard.

The People's Assembly Against Austerity
http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/

Friday, 21 November 2014

Crapita's bullied confessions deny vulnerable people justice

Title above by Dude Swheatie of the KUWG

 

 Report below from Z2K — Justice for vulnerable debtors


Investigating benefit ‘fraud': a case study

Housing-Benefit-form
As part of their contract with Westminster Council Capita have been paying companies to conduct investigations into allegedly fraudulent housing benefit claims. Often these investigations have been triggered by people falling out with their neighbours or similar petty reasons. Most investigations rarely, if ever, lead to a prosecution. The stress caused to our clients is phenomenal.

Throughout the investigation our clients are lead to believe they cannot have a housing benefit claim. This often leads to threats of eviction and proceedings. Fraud investigations like to pretend that they have additional powers and rely on intimidation to coerce people to agree to the claims. Often the reasons for these claims are not fully explained to our clients, even when they have a solicitor involved. Caseworkers from our organisation are not allowed to access vital information often until our client has signed a document ‘confessing’ their ‘crime’.

Continue reading this on Z2K's website.....

Swheatie concludes: Isn't it high time that the company Private Eye aptly calls 'Crapita' was barred from 'public service delivery'?

Jobcentre calls in the cops! This time it's not on account of a KUWG leafleting session

Sanctions & staff sickness create tinder boxes of jobcentres

By Dude Swheatie of the KUWG

Often in the experience of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group, when we stand outside a jobcentre with bullhorn megaphone, the police are called in by the lawless place where people are degraded and treated like dirt with no inherent human rights. Of course, the bullhorn helps alert all around to the silent screams for help from jobcentre 'customers' who — unlike jobcentre management — greet us with smiles and thumbs up and really want to talk to us.

And the police, when they arrive, realise that we are not the problem and go on their way, agreeing with us that the jobcentre management are really wasting police time.

Yesterday, however, the KUWG were not leafleting outside Kilburn Jcp and the police were called in and stayed a while as the tinder-box effect was heightened by staff illness and understaffing added to the tensions caused by the staff remaining being left to implement nasty policies that degrade not only the 'service users' but also those hired to implement those policies.

You can read more about the specifics of why the police were called into Kilburn Jcp yesterday on Kate Belgrave's blog. Perhaps the presence of the KUWG outside a 'sanctions centre' with placards, leaflets and bullhorn as well as understanding ears serves as more of a safety valve than an agitant when pressures mount?

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Expressions that defame us are too often parroted without examination

By Dude Swheatie of the KUWG

Sanctions mercenaries are the ones who are really 'swinging the lead'
"There are people swinging the lead":
Cameron vows to get tough with anyone refusing to make the effort to find a job.
On a previously cited BBC Radio 4 'You & Yours' clip with reference to a steep rise in ESA sanctions, Dame Anne Begg MP who chairs the Work & Pensions Select Committee in the House of Commons states that there are undoubtedly some benefit claimants who are 'swinging the lead'. I have heard that phrase before and not understood its meaning; and it occurs to me that those who use it may not have properly examined what they might be 'communicating'.

Fortunately, for those who want to find out, it is possible to do an online search. So I fed the keywords
"swinging the lead" meaning 
into a Yahoo! search page. You can search through some of the answers by following that page link. But let us consider the facts more closely when it comes to the application of benefits sanctions.

A major factor to consider is who is applying the sanctions and why. Are benefit claimants with any level of bargaining power sanctioning JobCentre-funded course providers for 'swinging the lead', making it appear that the Community Work Placement provider is really helping the person get back into waged employment? Honorary Member of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group Kate Belgrave has helped expose several examples of private companies sponging off the taxpayer as they swing benefit claimants all around the place to no real good end and for maximisation of private profit. (Eg, Threatened when we complained the "work skills" course was useless: more stories from the jobcentre.) No, of course, despite what the official Government statements say about such schemes, right wing 'welfare reform' is not about 'jobcentre customer satisfaction'. Right wing welfare reform is more about reducing claimant's bargaining power and removing standards inspection in favour of so called 'payment by results'. (When will stress induced sickness of claimants swung around and around at taxpayers' expense be regarded as a 'result' for which course providers, jobcentre staff and government ministers can be fined?)

Ofsted does not have remit to inspect the premises of such providers. If they did, what would they think about the caseloads of scheme providers? One claimant 'adviser' on a privatised scheme revealed in 2011 on the 'Welfare to Work industry portal' Indusdelta that he had as many as 250 people on his caseload. Another comments on the same page:
I have come across rumors that business plans concerning staffing levels around WP [work programme] were primed to start at minimum staffing numbers as they were expecting a SLOW start to the provision based on past JCP take-up rates to new contracts. The intension was to start off with minimum staff and slowly increase numbers over the next 6 months. However it seems things are going mad out there and referrals for WP have hit the roof with some providers starting to show signs of needing help to cope with the influx - this may mean more staff might be needed sooner than expected in order to keep the caseloads down to manageable levels....
 So, in the absence of any real standards inspections of these awful companies, who is really 'swinging the lead'? And might not a great danger of this set up be the tendency of such companies to sanction claimants in order for the company to get a 'payment by results' bonus for allegedly identifying a claimant who has been 'swinging the lead'?

After all, the monthly figures of those 'unemployed and claiming benefits' do not include those who would be '.... claiming benefits' still if they had not been sanctioned as 'inelligible'.

See also:

Steep rise in ESA sanctions






Save NHS from privatisation! Candle-lit vigil outside Parliament from 19:00 on Thurs 20 Nov 2014

From Unite the Union Press Office

Candle-lit vigil on eve of bill ‘to save the NHS from privatisation’ - Unite press release

Unite Press Release

Immediate release: Tuesday 18 November 2014

Candle-lit vigil on eve of bill ‘to save the NHS from privatisation’

A symbolic vigil to highlight the plight of the NHS will be held on Thursday (20 November) on the eve of the second reading of a private member’s bill that would roll-back the privatisation of the NHS.

Activists from the health unions, Unite, Unison and the GMB will be staging the candle-lit vigil at Old Palace Yard SWIP 3JY, opposite the House of Commons, from 19.00 on Thursday until the vote by MPs on the National Health Services (Amended Duties and Powers) bill due at lunchtime on Friday (21 November).

The bill is being promoted by Labour MP for Eltham, Clive Efford and is aimed at ridding the NHS of the worse parts of the government’s pro-privatisation Health and Social Care Act 2012, by rewriting the rules that force competitive tendering of NHS services.

The bill will also restore the responsibility to the secretary of state for health to provide a comprehensive health service, free at the point of delivery and prevents foundation trusts from prioritising private income at the expense of NHS patients.

Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “This is a symbolic vigil to drive home to MPs the importance of voting for Clive Efford’s bill as the first step on the journey to next May’s ballot box to restore the NHS to a service free at the point of delivery for all those in need.

“It will also have the effect of banishing the privatisation tentacles that are currently enveloping the NHS for the benefit of shareholder profits of the private healthcare companies.”
GMB national officer for the NHS Rehana Azam said: “Clive Efford’s draft bill is an important moment in the growing campaign to restore a publicly-run NHS. Backbench Tory and Lib Dem MPs will have to answer to their constituents if they don’t take this chance to undo the damage done by the coalition’s hugely controversial changes. 
“We are moving into a government-induced NHS crisis this winter. Health workers are taking a second wave of industrial action in the week commencing 24 November in a dispute over pay. 
“Since the coalition pushed through the Health and Social Care Act in 2012, NHS services have been sold off at an alarming rate. We have seen almost £12.5 billion worth of NHS services put out to market and some 70 per cent of contracts handed to the private sector. GMB campaigned against the Tory-Lib Dem reforms from the beginning. 
“The NHS should be the provider of health services and alternatives desperately need to be found to the toxic PFI contracts that NHS trusts simply can't manage.”
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham is expected to join the vigil at some stage.

ENDS

For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940 and/or the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org 

Notes to editors:

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Fuel Poverty Action mass action Fri 28 November, 11:30am

From Izzy Koksal of FPA

Please join and share with your networks



On the day the government reveals how many people died last year from the effects of fuel poverty, join Fuel Poverty Action and Reclaim the Power to demand ‘No More Deaths from Fuel Poverty: Energy Rights Now!’
We’ll be meeting outside the Institute of Directors, on Pall Mall before marching to Energy UK – the body who represent and defend the Big Six profiteers, for an inclusive and creative action.
The day will end with a tutorial on knowing your energy rights and how to protect yourself and your community from energy companies.
In 2012/2013 10,000 people died from fuel poverty, including thousands of people in London, and we are likely to learn that thousands more died last winter. At the same time the Big Six energy companies made £3.7bn in profit – this is equal to £370,000 profit for every person who died.
Join us to express sadness, anger and solidarity with those who have suffered; and to point the finger at those responsible. We will end the day by empowering one another to fight for energy rights and energy justice.
We need affordable, sustainable and publicly and community owned energy. We don’t need greedy profiteers represented by Energy UK.
If you have mobility needs, would like a buddy for the day or would like to enquire about us possibly subsidizing your travel fare for the day, please get in touch by email: fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com
Please join and share our facebook group for the event https://www.facebook.com/events/1486809398267145/?ref=22
A Pensioners Block will be meeting together at 11am at Charing Cross station to walk down to the demo meeting place together. Young and old welcome! facebook event https://www.facebook.com/events/708554315906912/
Can anyone insulate public opinion against smear stories about 'benefit claimants'?

See also: Steep rise in ESA sanctions. Swheatie says: "Now it's not just the absence of winter fuel payments that can do sickness benefit claimants in."

Steep rise in ESA sanctions. Swheatie says: "Now it's not just the absence of winter fuel payments that can do sickness benefit claimants in."

By Swheatie of the KUWG


Harsher sanctions against ESA claimants were introduced in December 2012

Yesterday's 'You and Yours' programme on BBC Radio 4 had a feature on a steep rise in the number of people in the Employment & Support Allowance 'Work-Related Activity Group' (WRAG) who had been sanctioned, while the overall number of people sanctioned on Jobseekers Allowance had fallen.
"In the first six months of this year, compared to the first six months of last year, there were around 54,000 fewer sanctions. So that leaves around 383,000 able bodied [sic] benefit claimants who have been sanctioned because they have broken the rules. And the rules say, 'You have to be looking for work.'.... Fewer people overall claim the sickness benefit Employment & Support Allowance, but the increase in sanctions that we have seen in the first six months of this year is really steep.

"So in the first six months of 2013 there were 9,000 people on Employment & Support Allowance who had their claim suspended, and then for the same period of this year, for the first six months, that number had leapt up to 25,000!..."
The programme goes on to say that while the Department for Work & Pensions says that the rules are clear and the sanctions generally last for only [sic] one week, people with learning difficulties and mental health difficulties are particularly amongst those sanctioned. And an Oxfordshire Welfare Rights Adviser says that the reasons for the sanctions are not clearly explained, which makes appealing against the sanctions much more difficult even for trained advisers, and especially as those advisers are facing increasing workloads as a result of the steep rise in sanctions against people on ESA.

There is a real lack of awareness and Disability Equality Training among the staff who apply the sanctions. John, an underperforming JSA claimant with learning difficulties who was disallowed ESA and had to go onto JSA is interviewed after being sanctioned for not meeting his target of 10 job applications in one week by one job application. (5 mins 14 secs to 7 mins 32 secs into the programme.) He has been told that he has been sanctioned up till the end of this year; and the very first indication that he had been sanctioned came when his Housing Benefit was stopped! The Department for Work & Pensions say that they will look into John's case more closely. Hopefully, that experience will lead to documentary evidence that he should be on the Employment & Support Allowance that he has been turned down for three times. (John is not the only JSA claimant with learning difficulties that can seriously impede online jobsearch activities, as Kate Belgrave has revealed elsewhere.)

Labour MP Dame Anne Begg who chairs the House of Commons Work & Pensions Select Committee is interviewed, saying that there should be sanctions for those not trying hard enough, but the increase in sanctions experienced through her own casework as an MP and the circumstances of those sanctioned shows that something is clearly wrong and that her Committee will need to look further into this matter.

She says that there has always been some level of 'conditionality' in the giving out of unemployment-related benefits, but seems to ignore any idea of bargaining power and 'consideration'. In contract law, bargaining power helps differentiate claimants from potential slave fodder and consideration implies that the DWP as 'employer' should consider what the claimant requires in order to fulfil their side of the deal. Existing UK benefit levels alone — ie, without all the bullying that goes on within JobCentre Plus! — show so little regard for the vulnerability of claimants that I am reminded of the chorus of the Allan Taylor song, 'The Morning Lies Heavy on Me' that he wrote for his Vietnam War draftee brother-in-law:
Tell me who's the one who fights until he's broken —
Is it the ones who sit in judgement of us all?
I wouldn't care if it was their lives they were taking,
But they don't listen or even answer to the call.
On poverty levels of income, every day is a struggle for survival.

Welfare reform and statistical respraying of Incapacity Benefit claim closures due to claimant death

And I'd say that we must remember that a great deal of what is currently happening under the Conservative Government with investment banker Baron Freud as Welfare Reform Minister can be tracked back to when an earlier incarnation as David Freud was appointed by Labour's Work & Pensions Secretary John Hutton in late 2006.

Around that time, I was demonstrating outside Parliament with a group of disability activists while I was on JSA and the then Government talk was rumoured to be about reserving the 'no need to apply for work' group of would-have-been-Incapacity-Benefit-claimants to people whose claim was on the grounds of incontinence. A case of disability stigma there, along the lines of, "Don't tell us what your disability or health condition does to you; tell us how it can piss others off."

A few months on from that it had been revealed in Disability Now! magazine that a backbench Labour MP's research using official government figures had revealed a direct correlation in the fact that Incapacity Benefit claimants below the age of 60 were denied the winter fuel support availabe to even government ministers aged 60+ on much higher salaries, and a steep seasonal rise in Incapacity Benefit claim closure due to claimant death in winter.

How did Work & Pensions Secretary John Hutton respond? Perhaps with the respray skills of the David Freud who led the Euro Tunnel flotation on the Stock Market. Hutton told BBC radio news in early 2007 in relation to the transformation of Incapacity Benefit toward what is now ESA that his department's figures revealed that after two years on IB, a claimant was more likely to retire or die than get another job.

Subpoena those whose policy-making negligence puts vulnerable people's lives at risk
Would you willingly place any lives in these people's hands?

See also:

Monday, 17 November 2014

Austerity lies and myths — what UK Govt doesn't want us to know

From the People's Assembly


You are invited to attend:

Austerity lies and myths: what the government doesn't want you to know

Economic briefing:
Thursday  27 November, 6.30pm

Hamilton House, Maybledon Place, London WC1H 9BS

The panel includes:
James MeadwaySenior Economist, New Economics Foundation
Dr Faiza ShaheenHead of Inequality & Sustainable Development, Save the Children (personal capacity)
Micheal BurkeEconomist
Join our panel of leading economists for discussion and debate on the true state of the economy and the lies underpinning the Government's austerity programme.
This economic briefing comes just a few days ahead of George Osborne's Autumn Statement where he's set to triumph the success of austerity and announce further cuts and privatisation.
Have your questions answered and find out the real effects and intent of austerity that the Government doesn't want you to know...

  • The People's Assembly is also organising a protest outside Downing Street on the eve of Osborne's Autumn Statement. Join us from 5:30pm on Tuesday 2 December to send a clear message: Austerity Has Failed: Sack George Osborne! More details to follow...

The People's Assembly Against Austerity
http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/The People's Assembly Against Austerity

Friday, 14 November 2014

Benefits sanctioned? Take mass action! Write your MP!

Even if you don't yet know your MP's name, read on!

A letter from a constituent means far more than dry statistics

By Dude Swheatie of the KUWG


In February this year it was revealed that the number of benefits claimants sanctioned had increased dramatically to an average of 356 Londoners per day. (100s of London jobseekers sanctioned daily.) Given that that London has 73 parliamentary constituencies, that is an average of 1736 constituents per parliametary consituency sanctioned each year. (List of Parliamentary Constituencies in London fromWikipedia.)

What if every benefits sanctioned Londoner wrote their Member of Parliament?


In the 1980s when I was a respectable anti-nuclear weapons campaigner alongside being an unsuccessful and undersupported disabled jobseeker, I was advised on the anti-nuclear weapons and anti-armaments-trade campaigning sides that MPs regarded letters from consituents very seriously. That was because it was reckoned that MPs regarded a letter from a constituent as representing the views of hundreds of constituents who felt the same way but did not get around to writing. (Besides, how many constituents know the name of their MP even?)

One possible impact of everyone who has been benefits sanctioned in each parliamentary constituency writing their MP could be that the MPs concerned could be highly alarmed if their 'postbag' and/or Inbox revealed a greater than average number of constituents who have been sanctioned personally. (This author does not believe that all Tories are fundamentally evil. Bear in mind also, that in the catchment area of most jobcentres and private companies exploiting — and more profusely sanctioning — benefit claimants, it is generally the least literate benefit claimants who are usually picked on as priority 'fair game'. Those sanctioning benefit claimants are themselves being bullied.) And if the MPs are highly alarmed, what sort of state would jobcentre managers be left in should they be contacted by the local MP to explain their actions?

Further, the nasty 'North Kensington Jcp' [sic] that KUWG has recently been focusing on in its leafleting and bullhorning for awareness-raising and self-help support has a catchment area that takes in the constituency of at least one Tory MP. (One of the potentially most dodgy practices that some jobcentres such as North Kensington Jcp practice is bullying claimants into disclosing their Universal Jobmatch password, and threatening them with sanction if they do not comply with that demand. While UJ password-related bullying is beyond the specific scope of this blog piece and would require a separate blog piece, your MP could be alerted to the fact that that specific kind of bullying is going on, probably in defiance of what the DWP has agreed with UJ database provider Monster Jobs.) 

Whatever the reason of your sanction, tell your MP about it and how vulnerable that makes you!

Now, consider the arguments of some senior Tory figures in right wing tabloids that the rise in use of food banks has absolutely nothing to do with the impact of government policies regarding benefits sanctions. It is much easier for retired electoral electoral representatives such as Edwina Currie to makesuch claims than it is for current representatives to do so. (How much is she paid to tell such untruths?) Current Tory MPs are likely to have to face at least a few constituents at their 'surgeries' once those constituents have been sanctioned. And with a General Election due in about six months time, even Tory MPs in 'safe seats' are more likely to want to intervene to help the constituents in distress.

Making it easier for you to write your MP


For people who are online, 'having access to the Internet as the world's largest library', it is easier to write your MP than it was in the 1980s and you don't have to pay postage. That's if you know where to look for the necessary contact details, that are listed.
Write to Them —  Email your politicians, local or national, for free: https://www.writetothem.com/
    Over 200.000 messages sent last year
Contact your local MP — UK Parliament: http://www.parliament.uk/about/contacting/mp/
     Our Find your MP service can help you to find out who is your Member of Parliament and their contact details.
Writing to Your MP — How to write all kinds of business....: http://www.letterexpert.co.uk/WritingToYourMP.html
     How to write to your MP about a matter of local or national concern. Highlighting relevant issues that are of importance to you and how you might get your MP to take ...
Letter writing - ORG Wiki: http://wiki.openrightsgroup.org/wiki/Letter_writing
      Writing a letter to your MP is a great way to get our message across. For every constituent who makes the effort to write a letter, MPs often assume there are many....
Emailing your local MP might increase the overall size of an MP's correspondence account on this matter. So, maybe a handwritten letter might be rated more highly by the MP than an emailed one and definitely more valued than a 'form letter' as supplied by a campaigning group. I suppose that much depends on how good your handwriting and grammar are, if you have access to this article and its linked contact details.
Exert pressure on your oppressors!

But if you've been benefits sanctioned, think of your writing your MP as a means of scaring your oppressers into changing their plans. And as we in KUWG know of at least one person from various jobcentres writing their MP about the way that they have been mistreated, you will be strengthening the case of those who are already writing their MP.

Hear some inspiring words on the power of one and one and one and one engaged in the same activity. They are from the preamble to the constitution of the United Mineworkers of America, so Dude Swheatie once read.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Orgreave Truth and Justice demo 14 November, 12 Noon to 2pm

From Pilgrim Tucker at Unite Community, London & Eastern Region

Please come along to a lunchtime demo to support the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign.

IPCC Offices, 90 High Holborn, WC1V from 12-2 on Friday 14th November.

 The demo is to demand that the Police Complaints Commission act after it has dragged its feet for two years in its 'scoping exercise' to investigate the truth on what happened on the picket lines at Orgreave when the police attacked the picket lines and nearly 100 striking miners were arrested.
 
The campaign aims to discover the truth about what happened at Orgreave. To achieve an open and transparent public inquiry into Orgreave. To discover who planned the attack, and to identify those responsible, and hold them to account. 
 
The Orgreave Truth and Justice campaign leaders are also Unite Community Members so please make every effort to support this protest.
 
for more information contact Liane.groves AT unitetheunion.org
 
 
And for those who were too young to remember the miners strike here's a few facts:
 

Statistics on the miners' strike 1984/5

165,000 miners went on strike for 1 year, from March 84 to march 85, fighting for jobs, the coal industry, their communities and a future for their families. This was in response to the threat of 20 pit closures and the loss of 20,000 jobs.  The subsequent release of the Cabinet papers earlier this year revealed what the miners at the time has always suspected that the pit closures program and job losses were to be 70 pits and 70,000 job losses.

During the year long strike

11,313 miners were arrested
7,000 injured
5,653 put on trial
960 sacked
200 imprisoned
11 dead ( 2 on picket lines, manslaughter in South Wales, rest coal picking)

The Thatcher government responded to the strike with unprecedented state suppression in its determination to beat the miners including:
  • Introducing new anti-trade union laws
  • No benefits for strikers or their families
  • Mobile police squads
  • Coal stocks built up prior
  • Oil fired power stations taken out of mothballing
  • Duel fuel Power stations switching between oil and gas
  • Nuclear power cranked up
  • Switch coal from rail to road
  • Recruitment of non trade union lorry drivers

Thatcher's framing of striking miners as 'the enemy within'

Dude Swheatie of the KUWG adds: Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine is highly incisive regarding how Margaret Thatcher campaigned against the striking miners as 'the enemy within'. Thatcher manipulated the disaster of an Argentinian invasion/reclaiming attempt regarding the Falklands/Malvinas and the subsequent military victory against a military junta that her Government had gladly armed to commit human rights abuses up until the Falklands/Malvinas War, into the prelude to a war against the miners as 'the enemy within'. You can read some key excerpts online at Third World Traveller's Surviving Democracy, excerpted from The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein.

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On April 2, 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a relic of British colonial rule. The Falklands War, or the Malvinas War if you are Argentine, went down in history as a vicious but fairly minor battle. At the time, the Falklands appeared to have no strategic importance. The cluster of islands off the Argentine coast was thousands of miles from Britain and costly to guard and maintain. Argentina, too, had little use for them, though having a British outpost in its waters was regarded as an affront to national pride. The legendary Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges scathingly described the land dispute as "a fight between two bald men over a comb."

From a military standpoint, the eleven-week battle appears to have almost no historic significance. Overlooked, however, was the war's impact on the free-market project, which was enormous: it was the Falklands War that gave Thatcher the political cover she needed to bring a program of radical capitalist transformation to a Western liberal democracy for the first time.

Both sides in the conflict had good reasons to want a war. In 1982, Argentina's economy was collapsing under the weight of its debt and corruption, and human rights campaigns were gaining momentum. A new junta government, led by General Leopoldo Galtieri, calculated that the only thing more powerful than the anger at its continued suppression of democracy was anti-imperialist sentiment, which Galtieri expertly unleashed on the British for their refusal to give up the islands. Soon enough, the junta had Argentina's blue-and-white flag planted on that rocky outpost, and the country cheered on cue.

'When news arrived that Argentina had laid claim to the Falklands, Thatcher recognized it as a last-ditch hope to turn around her political fortunes and immediately went into Churchillian battle mode. Until this point, she had shown only disdain for the financial burden that the Falklands placed on government coffers. She had cut grants to the islands and announced major cutbacks to the navy, including the armed ships that guarded the Falklands - moves read by the Argentine generals as clear indications that Britain was ready to cede the territory. (One of Thatcher's biographers characterized her Falklands policy as "practically an invitation to Argentina to invade.") In the lead-up to the war, critics across the political spectrum accused Thatcher of using the military for her own political goals. The Labour MP Tony Benn said, "It looks more and more as if what is at stake is Mrs. Thatcher's reputation, not the Falkland Islands at all," while the conservative Financial Times noted, "What is deplorable is that the issue is rapidly becoming mixed up with political differences within Britain itself which have nothing to do with the matter in hand. Not only the pride of the Argentine Government is involved. So is the standing, perhaps even the survival, of the Tory Government in Britain."

Yet even with all of this healthy cynicism in the run-up, as soon as troops were deployed, the country was swept up in what a draft Labour Party resolution described as a "jingoistic, militaristic frame of mind," embracing the Falkland Islands as a last blast of glory for Britain's faded empire.

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Thatcher was fighting for her political future-and she succeeded spectacularly. After the Falklands victory, which took the lives of 255 British soldiers and 655 Argentines, the prime minister was heralded as a war hero, her moniker "Iron Lady" transformed from insult to high praise. 25 Her poll numbers were similarly transformed. Thatcher's personal approval rating more than doubled over the course of the battle, from 25 percent at the start to 59 percent at the end, paving the way for La decisive victory in the following year's election.

The British military's counter-invasion of the Falklands was codenamed Operation Corporate, and though it was an odd name for a military campaign, it proved prescient. Thatcher used the enormous popularity afforded her by the victory to launch the very corporatist revolution she had told Hayek was impossible before the war. When the coal miners went on strike in 1984, Thatcher cast the standoff as a continuation of the war with Argentina, calling for similarly brutal resolve. She famously declared, "We had to fight the enemy without in the Falklands and now we have to fight the enemy within, which is much more difficult but just as dangerous to liberty. With British workers now categorized as "the enemy within," Thatcher unleashed the full force of the state on the strikers...

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By 1985, Thatcher had won this war too: workers were going hungry and couldn't hold out; in the end 966 people were fired." It was a devastating setback for Britain's most powerful union, and it sent a clear message to the others: if Thatcher was willing to go to the wall to break the coal miners, on whom the country depended for its lights and warmth, it would be suicide for weaker unions producing less crucial products and services to take on her new economic order. Better just to accept whatever was on offer. It was a message very similar to the one Ronald Reagan had sent a few months after he took office with his response to a strike by the air-traffic controllers. By not showing up to work, they had "forfeited their jobs and will be terminated," Reagan said. Then he fired 11,400 of the country's most essential workers in a single blow-a shock from which the U.S. labor movement has yet to fully recover.

In Britain, Thatcher parlayed her victory in the Falklands and over the miners into a major leap forward for her radical economic agenda. Between 1984 and 1988, the government privatized, among others, British Telecom, British Gas, British Airways, British Airport Authority and British Steel, while it sold its shares in British Petroleum.

Much as the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, would take an unpopular president and hand him an opportunity to launch a massive privatization initiative (in Bush's case, the privatization of security, warfare and reconstruction), Thatcher used her war to launch the mass privatization auction in a Western democracy.

Unite Community London & Eastern Region Updates

From Robin and Pilgrim at Unite the Union Community Section, London & Eastern Region

(Currently, Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group members are entitled to a year's free subscription to Unite the Union Community Section)

Dear Unite Community members,
Please read these three important updates and see what you’re able to get involved with. Travel and childcare costs can be covered for members wanting to attend actions, meetings and trainings.
Support Our West Hendon
Can you support people on the West Hendon estate who are going to court to have their homes repossessed?
The Our West Hendon campaign desperately need volunteers at the moment to door knock at the flats where residents have been called to court for repossession order hearings. 
We also need a list of volunteers that are willing to come and support residents at court - Willesden County Court, 9 Acton Lane NW10 8SB. The cases are over a period from 17th to 25th of November at various times morning and afternoon.  We will be in touch with exact times for the dates you are available - we especially would like people who have knowledge of housing rights/law on these days but can provide everyone with a briefing.
If you are willing to help you can get in touch with  janette876@hotmail.co.uk or 07913999255 or  Paulette pauletteasinger@me.com


Protest Friday: 10am@ IDS; 12pm @IPCC
  1. IDS Out!
10am, Friday 14th November, Chingford Assembly Hall, Station Rd, Chingford, E4 7EN
Iain Duncan Smith, the detested Tory Work and Pensions Secretary will be hosting a jobs fair at his constituency in Chingford from 9am. People from all walks of life are planning to pay him a visit to show him our opposition to everything he stands for. With ATOS tests, Universal Credit, Sanctions Targets, Workfare, Ian Duncan Smith is intent on destroying social security, driving misery, poverty and exploitation.
  1. Support the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign.
12pm-2pm, Friday 14th November, IPCC Offices, 90 High Holborn, WC1V
The demo is to demand that the Police Complaints Commission act after it has dragged its feet for two years in its 'scoping exercise' to investigate the truth on what happened on the picket lines at Orgreave when the police attacked the picket lines and nearly 100 striking miners were arrested.
Community Organising Workshops
Saturday 6th – Sunday 9th December
Organising Our Communities
All Unite Community members and contacts are invited to attend four days of Community Organising Workshops in London.
Our members draw upon a wide range of life-experiences, traditions, skills, passions, talents and beliefs and these workshops showcase what we’re all about. They provide a space to develop practical community organising skills, be creative, generate ideas, network and plan effective action.
This is a draft agenda, and we will confirm venues and workshops times as soon as possible. Please put the dates in your diary. We will send out registration details next week.
 
Having the argument: Economics
 
Having the argument:
Welfare
 
Theatre of the Oppressed
 
Music of Resistance
 
Fight Back, Feel Better
Student Workers
 
Solidarity Against Sanctions
Housing Justice
 
Mindfulness & Sustainability
Consensus
Co-Creation

Screen Printing /
Leaflet Design
 
NVDA /Eviction Resistance
Action Casework
Right to Protest
 
Housing Rights training
 
Listening/Organising
on the
Doorstep & Street
 
Mapping our Community &
Identifying campaigns
 
Public Speaking
Journalism/Short films
Social Media
 
Welfare Rights
training
 
Finances
Administration
Membership
 
Communication
Welfare
Equalities
In solidarity,
Robin Sivapalan                                                 Pilgrim Tucker
07860 955 361                                                            07970 126 249
robin.sivapalan@unitetheunion.org                                                  pilgrim.tucker@unitetheunion.org
Unite Community and Unite in Schools Coordinators
London and Eastern
33-37 Moreland Street
London EC1V 8BB