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Claimants Support Job Centre Strikers

plunk | 01.05.2007 12:57 | Mayday 2007 | Workers' Movements | Cambridge

Claimants in Norwich joined the picket line at the Job Centre in support of the demand made by striking PCS union members.

• We want a professional service from well trained and dedicated staff. MPs give themselves 40% pay rises ‘to attract the right sort of people’ surely pay increases above the rate of inflation would help keep experienced staff in the job centres.
• Job cuts will lead to long waits and a poorer service. Some of us have been waiting 3 months for a claim to be sorted out. It can take over 6 months to appeal against a decision.
• We want to talk to real people not phone up some outsourced call centre on the other side of the country or world.

Not Far Enough
However the action does not go far enough. To understand why it is important to realise the role of the Job Centres.
They are not there to help and support people on low income or those looking for work. Their only purpose is to help employers – they provide a source of cheap and willing labour. All the incentives – after school clubs, extra ‘help’ for people on Incapacity Benefit, New Deal… are just to push people into the labour market. This allows employers to pay lower wages with worse conditions – they do not have to attract staff because people are forced into the jobs.
So the staff at the Job Centre are working to enforce a regime which creates the worsening conditions that they are striking about!

We are constantly told that there is not enough money to pay pensioners, to build hospitals or provide decent education but this is the biggest lies told to the British people. The cost of Trident (£75 billion) would pay for over a thousand new hospitals but even this does not really represent the real problem.
The UK is amazingly wealthy. The problem is that most of the wealth is in the hands of a few. Over 50% of the UK’s wealth is owned by the top 5% of the population . The top 50% of the population own 99% of the wealth leaving the other 1% of the wealth to be distributed amongst the rest of us.

Benefit System For The Rich
The state sponsored benefit system is not for the poor but the rich. Rupert Murdoch, owner of The Sun, pays no tax despite his papers constant rants about ‘dole scroungers’. What government would commit political suicide by plugging the loopholes that he uses? Companies such as Tesco’s reap in massive profits while the tax payer has to subsidise poverty wages through tax credits.
A local example is when Chapelfield shopping centre was built there was a danger that there would not be enough shop workers. This could lead to the ‘nightmare scenario’ that shops may have to pay more than the minimum wage to attract workers. Don’t worry said the Council and Job Centre. They instigated a massive plan to recruit single parents and the unemployed to fill the vacancies to keep the wages down and company profits up – all paid for by the tax payer.

Fight Back
We cannot trust people such as Blair to protect us from the greed of the employers. We can only do this by taking action ourselves – the national health system, benefit system and all the small amounts of benefits that we get were not given to us by benign leaders but fought for by collective action of ordinary people.
We can win! For example the Coalition of Immokalee Workers which consists of mainly immigrant farm workers in the US have recently taken on Taco Bell and McDonalds to win massive pay increases and won. They are now after Burger King.
Strikes such as the one taken today can win short term gains which will benefit both the workers and users of their services. However, if we are to gain back ground the struggle has to be seen in a wider context with collective action beyond union and workplace boundaries.

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fear the miserable state

01.05.2007 15:20

"What was it that I was so interested in as a youth, before I was told I had to earn a living?" - Bucky Fuller

I always expected as soon as I left school to be an unemployed, shiftless tramp raking through bins. In reality it took 17 years of hard work and simultaneous self-education before I achieved it. Job Centres are depressing places to be in for half an hour a fortnight, I'd hate to actually work there but it never even occured to me to join their picket, good on you. I hope they strike every second Tuesday from now on until their demands are met. Mind you, I always said I'd get a job when Blair quits his so I'll be needing their help soon. Anything is better than the day-prison that is the 'New Deal', I must be due another one soon.

"Fuller's point in Critical Path was that even many of those gainfully employed are doing nothing very vital to the creation of sustainable life support systems. Market pricing is just the tip of the iceberg of a system of pushes and pulls. At the far end of the cheap jeans is the barrel of a gun, pointed at people who cannot prove legal tenure to the land their ancestors farmed for generations. The prices we pay have a lot of brute force behind them, not just self-interested parties freely making choices. Making cash scarce to keep it valuable, by making those who have it fear the miserable state of those who do not, is a coercive system, not a freedom-loving one." - Kirby Urner, in the R. Buckminster Fuller FAQ

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Respect My Authoritah

02.05.2007 10:22

The skeleton staff at my local Job Centre yesterday obviously have a wicked sense of humour. I just got a letter from them saying I have to apply for a job with my local police. What, the same police that were taking all my family in for questioning a fortnight ago for some IM post I was meant to have written - the same police who I've been told by an insider are trailling me ?

Well, okay, it isn't quite as good as being recruited for MI5 but it made my day. Still, for a £24k to £30k wage, and with the threat of no dole money if I don't apply, who could resist ? Normally I leave the last 6 years of my CV a blank, and get asked things like 'Is there a page missing on your CV ?'

I am sorely tempted to make a new CV just for the Police, listing exactly what I have been up to, and what crimes I am proud of. Spray paining their cars and training college has to feature somewhere. You know, the only jobs my job centre ever make me apply for are the ones they know I won't get. British Energy, Aldermaston, Falsne, Rosthyth, weapons manufacturers, or any 'Must have security clearance'.

I love my local jobcentre staff. They are witty and compassionate and obviously anarchists at heart. I will respond to this job offer in a similar vein, even if I am the first person to go to prison for a job application. It just may take me a day or two to type up all my 'previous roles'. To save time maybe I could just list the ones they don't know about, and then add 'see attached arrest sheet'.

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