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Plotting and scheming for Welfare not Workfare

no-to-welfare-abolition | 04.12.2009 01:02 | Workfare

On 12 November, it became legal to force unemployed people to work for their benefits – to do 40-hour-weeks for under a third of the minimum wage. The Government's Welfare Reform Act introduced 'Work for your Benefit' pilot schemes, which once completed can be rolled out without any further debate. It also attacked single parents – who face sanctions if they fail to prepare for work outside the home as soon as their child turns three – and people with impairments, disabilities or severe and enduring illnesses.

Two days later, members of twenty-three different groups from around the UK met to share information and plan resistance to these pernicious attacks, which will take their toll on working-class and low-income communities.

Groups present included Unemployed Workers Unions from six cities across the UK, the Disabled People's Direct Action Network, Southwark Mind, WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities), Single Mothers' Self-Defence (part of Global Women's Strike) and members of the union in the Department of Work and Pensions – PCS. They were joined by feminist and other groups (all listed below).

The strength to be gained from meeting in solidarity with each other was immense and created a real sense that a movement is building: a movement which will not only fight the immediate attacks of the Welfare Abolition Act, but draw out the connections between our struggles and together challenge the ideology driving them.

The Act seeks to make our worth dependent on work; work defined in the really narrow terms of waged work for someone else's profit. By making us compete with those in waged work for non-existent jobs, it helps drive down wages and conditions. We all take the brunt as the rich make even more money out of us.
• We want solidarity with and from people in low-income, temporary and insecure work. These are the jobs that 'work-for-your-benefit' would replace.
• We want caring to be recognised as important work in society. Single parents are already working and benefits are their entitlement to a social wage.
• We want justice for people with severe or enduring illnesses. The drive to get people off incapacity benefits and Employment and Support Allowance and into work is making people more ill with stress. Only we know what we are capable of and it is wrong for conditions and sanctions to be imposed on us to force us into unsuitable work, unwanted “work-related activity” or “motivation sessions” which press us into their programmes of treatment for addictions and other conditions.
• We want the right not to work. People not in waged work contribute loads to their communities. We do not want to be forced into mind-numbing, insecure work that leaves us no better off, or worse off than on benefits and definitely not at £1.27 an hour!
• We want free, high-quality, public services to support older people and people with impairments/disabilities. People should not have to become employers managing 'individual budgets' in order to access the care they need.
• We want to stand in solidarity with migrant workers. Just as unemployed people are pitted against people in work, so migrant workers are pitted against us. We believe that we must stand together and demand all of our rights together.
• We want to fight privatisation of the Department for Work and Pensions. Attacks on DWP and Jobcentre Plus workers are attacks on our rights to access welfare. We will support the PCS' fight against cuts.
• We want an end to the apartheid system of benefits, healthcare and housing for asylum seekers. UK Border Agency support should be scrapped -- where people are forced to survive on incomes far below benefit levels – which are already set at subsistence level. No slum housing and dangerous and dirty hostels, dispersal, or vouchers.

After a day of info-sharing, outrage and scheming, we formed a few working groups. If you're able to help out with any of the projects, please email

1. Media working group – monitor and respond to hostile articles in the media.
2. Our propaganda – creating posters, newsletters etc to get our messages out
3. Website – put together a website as a space to share resources, feedback and comment, get the word out about our campaign and publicise local and national action.
4. Our welfare rights – compiling information to help us access our rights now and creating 'Know your rights' leaflets.
5. Defeating the Work for your Benefits pilots – research to support the network to take action against the pilots.

If you want to stay in touch, please join our discussion list here:

If you agree with our demands above and would like to take part in our campaign, please ask your group to sign up to this statement and email

And put the next national meeting in your diary now.... 17 April in Manchester!

The meeting had people in attendance from: South Manchester Community Union, London Anarcha-Feminist Kolektiv, London Coalition Against Poverty, Feminist Action, Defend Welfare Newcastle, Manchester Unemployed Workers Union, Cambridge Unemployed Workers' Union, PCS, Hackney Unemployed Workers, Single Mothers' Self Defence, Winvisible, Alliance for Workers' Liberty, Disabled People's Direct Action Network, Southwark Mind, Women's Office Manchester Student Union, Riveters feminist group in Manchester, Feminist Fightback, Industrial Workers of the World, No Borders, Stop Deportations, Anarchist Federation, Communist Students, Salford Unemployed Workers' Union.

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Previous report from Freedom

04.12.2009 01:16

New Labour’s new vision of a privatised benefits service

New Labour took another step in dismantling the welfare state with the passing of the controversial Welfare Reform bill into law in what campaign groups are calling an all out assault on the poor, vulnerable and most needy. The bill, which sets out changes to the benefits system, overcame its final hurdle on Wednesday 11th November when the House of Lords backed down in opposing the legislation, specifically over the government’s plans to fine jobless single parents with pre-school age children if they do not prepare for work while receiving benefits.

Jim Knight, the welfare reform minister, defended the plans in the Lords as “reasonable” to expect parents to take up compulsory training while their three- and four-year-olds were in government provided childcare – and right to hit them with financial penalties for not doing so.

The Welfare Reform bill is part of New Labour’s attempt to reduce the government’s financial burden by forcing claimants off incapacity benefit through the new means tested Employment Support Allowance (ESA). More controversially it will also transfer more of the service to private companies who will be paid more the less benefits they award, along with increasing punishments for claimants who refuse to work for their benefits, cuts on carers’ allowance and compulsory two parent registration on birth certificates, including survivors of violence. The Department of Work and Pensions aims to reduce those eligible for ESA, through an inability to work due to sickness or injury, by 1 million by imposing more stringent criteria for claiming, and bullying potential claimants back into degrading and useless work.

Radical campaigns groups from across the country met in Manchester on November 14th for a planning meeting to co-ordinate a nationwide strategy against the implementation of the new act and discuss a campaign of action. A coalition of grassroots organisations including The London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP), Disabled People’s Direct Action Network and Feminist Fightback have already staged a week of actions to highlight the draconian measures forced through Parliament, essentially turning the unemployed into second class citizens.

With the latest attack on benefits has seen the re-emergence of claimants groups. Both LCAP and it’s Edinburgh equivalent ECAP, along with Nottingham Claimants Action, have been at the forefront of raising awareness amongst unemployed workers about their rights and entitlements, as well as participating in direct action against benefit agencies. In London there is the newly formed Hackney Unemployed Workers and Newham Claimants Union, and the formation of Unemployed Workers Movement in Merseyside, where unemployment is 6.15%, almost 2% above the national average. An Unemployed Workers Union has also been established by the Unemployed Workers Centre in Salford with an appeal for the formation of a national campaign.

According to government statistics unemployment reached 2.46 million in September, with the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in October 2009 increasing by 12,900 to reach 1.64 million, the highest number of claimants since April 1997.

As part of the national campaign there will be public meeting in London on November 21st on “How will the Welfare Abolition Bill affect us?”

Freedom press
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04.12.2009 12:44

there's a scary bunch of groups featuring some dead dodgy patronising gits above..looks like I will back back on Welfare To Work again.


@ thatcherskids

04.12.2009 13:30

Which groups?

need to know

right to work

04.12.2009 19:08

>>>>>>> We want the right not to work. People not in waged work contribute loads to their communities. We do not want to be forced into mind-numbing, insecure work that leaves us no better off, or worse off than on benefits and definitely not at £1.27 an hour!

I think you will find that nearly the whole population would jump on that bandwagon if so mad idiot put it into practice. Then the shops would be empty of food and people would be killing each other over a can of baked beans.

"We want the right not to work."
F-sakes. No one is going to take you seriously with phrases like that.

We want the right not to feed people who can't be bothered.


Oh, for @@@ sake, Max

05.12.2009 22:25

"We want the right not to be forced to do exploitive and alienating work for somebody else's profit at the whim of a government that thinks nothing of shitting on us when it's expedient to do so. We want to choose to do the work that is essential and fulfilling, that truly contributes to our community and meets human needs, but does not meet anybody's greed. We want the right to work only the hours that are necessary to meet people's needs, and to be able to work the hours we choose. We want child-raising acknowledged as an essential contribution to society in itself, not considered a distraction from wage-slavery as though how much money our labour makes for somebody else was the only measure of our worth. And if this capitalist society cannot provide us with work, we insist on adequate financial support as of right. The working class paid for the welfare state, we want our own money back again when we need it."

Annie Citizen
- Homepage: http://www.rightsand