Category Archives: Fighting Back

Fightback Against Byteback And Their Grubby Workfare Exploitation

UPDATE: Byteback are out of workfare, top work everybody and fair play to them for admitting to making a mistake

byteback

A computer repair shop in Bristol has become one of the first companies to be caught boasting about forcing people to work without pay on the latest workfare scheme.

Byteback IT Solutions were recently featured in the Bristol Post after being visited by George Osborne due to their involvement in Community Work Placements.  These placements involve six months full time workfare under the threat of benefits being stopped.

This is a wonderful arrangement according to the company’s director Andy Town who said: “We recycle old computers so if they turn it on and make it work, everyone’s a winner but if they don’t, there’s nothing to break and it hasn’t cost us anything,”

When challenged by one critic of the scheme, @andygale on twitter, the company claimed, in a string of now deleted tweets, that people on workfare are ‘employees of the state’, as if it’s perfectly acceptable for private  companies to have their wage bill met by the tax payer.  This is the real culture of entitlement, bosses and businessmen scrounging off the state.  In truth workfare workers are nothing of the sort, employees get paid minimum wage after all.

As pointed out by @refuted, Byteback are a profit making company who charge a minimum of £45 an hour to fix computers.  DWP regulations require that any mandatory unpaid work schemes are for organisations which can demonstrate a community benefit.  Whilst Byteback carry out computer recycling, what this means in practice is that you can drop off your old computer and they’ll strip it for parts they can flog on for a profit.  Depending on what you want to recycle, they might even charge you.  It is difficult to see how this company has any more of a community benefit than the local scrapyard or second-hand electrical shop.

With proper community organisations increasingly condemning Community Work Placements as exploitative,  it is likely to be smaller companies like Byteback who have a dirty little workfare secret.  It is vital that they are exposed as the workfare profiteers they are so that all their customers can make up their own minds about whether they want to use the services of a company involved in forced labour.  It’s time to send a message to every grubby two-bit business out there who thinks they can make us work for free – snip – see above tweet, Byteback say they are out of workfare.

To name and shame companies and charities using workfare visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?page_id=16

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Take Action: CESI Festival of Workfare Exploiters and Apologists #intowork2014

brumconferencebwFrom Boycott Workfare

This annual gathering of organisations profiting from workfare – or hoping to – is being held at the Arena Convention Centre in Liverpool on Tuesday 8th & Wednesday 9th July.

If you’re near Liverpool, take part in the protest as the conference opens on Tue 8 July at 9am-12noon.

Wherever you are, why not let the private companies, charities and think tanks involved know what you think online #intowork2014. If you only have a minute – use our handy tweet buttons!

The conference is being organised by CESI (Centre for Economic & Social Inclusion) – self appointed ‘thought leaders’ in the welfare to work industry. People who make their money supporting policies that mean forced unpaid labour and poverty for many, but escalating profits for the few.   Tweet them @InclusionCESI

More info and details of the bastards involved at Boycott Workfare

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Iain Duncan Smith In The Dock Again Over Unlawful Atos Assessments

MHRNThe DWP are back in court next week for the closing part of a successful challenge to the despised Work Capability Assessment (WCA).

This is the test run by Atos which is used to find people ‘fit for work’ and stop their sickness or disability benefits.  It is mired in chaos with a huge backlog of appeals and an ever growing number of tragic deaths linked to the process.  Even Atos themselves are pulling out of the assessments after fierce campaigning saw their carefully managed corporate identity demolished due to their involvement in the cruel and bungled system.

The WCA has also had its share of legal problems after a Judicial Review last year ruled the assessments are unlawful under the Equalities Act for those with a mental health condition.   Rather than accept this defeat and improve or scrap the tests for this group of claimants – or better still everybody -  Iain Duncan Smith appealed this decision and lost.  During the time this took many people will have seen their mental health worsen, been admitted to hospital or even taken their own life due to being forced to undergo assessments which are not suitable for their condition.

Next week’s court case will largely be about what amendments can be made to make the WCA legal.  As Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) explain:

“Under the Equalities Act of 2010, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is required to make “reasonable adjustments” to mitigate any disadvantages experienced by disabled people. The forthcoming hearing will be concerned with establishing what adjustments the DWP should make to the WCA process. We already know from the original hearing that they plan to run a pilot study to assess the “reasonableness” of obtaining further medical evidence. We want to ensure that any study will be fair, honest and approached with an open mind. Unfortunately we find it hard to trust that this will happen.”

A vigil called by MHRN and supported by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) will be held outside the court next week on Tuesday, 8th July 2014 at 12 noon to 2 pm.  Head to the Royal Court of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL.  Full details at: http://dpac.uk.net/2014/07/vigil-for-the-wca-judicial-review-tues-8th-july/

MHRN say they have been too cautious about publicising this important victory.  Sometime people have been working so hard for so long that they don’t even see when or what they’ve won.  But the Work Capability Assessment – introduced by Labour and which looked unbreakable at the time the current government weren’t elected – is beginning to look broken.  That didn’t happen by accident.  It happened because disabled people and benefit claimants have fought these vicious assessments in the courts, on the internet and in the streets.

The real opposition to this Government has not been the Labour Party, the unions , charities or even the growing range of celebrity left-wimgers.  It has been people who are disabled, sick, carers or people on their own with kids to look after.  People dealing with shit housing, homelessness, low or no wages, the bedroom tax, workfare, benefit sanctions and most of all poverty.  The people that liberal do-gooders call vulnerable and the Tory press calls benefit scum.  Yet we keep winning and those victories should be shouted from the rooftops.  As MHRN say:

“We believe that it is vital that people do know about this victory. After all, outrageous lies about disabled benefit claimants have been shouted from the rooftops in much of the national press. Yet where have the front page headlines about this victory been? Nowhere! We now want to rectify this by making as much noise as possible about the truth: that the WCA does not fairly assess people with mental health problems and there has been terrible suffering as a result.”

Please blogs, tweet,share and spread the word about the MHRN/DPAC vigil, and about the court case.

Don’t forget this Friday’s Independence Day Party outside the DWP and around the UK called by DPAC.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Shame Of The Church of England: Dean of Westminster Allows Hundreds of Police To Attempt Stamp Out Of Disabled People’s Peaceful Protest

westminsterabbey-protest2

This is what Christianity looks like

The leadership of the Church of England showed themselves to have the morals of sewer rats today after hundreds of police were drafted in to prevent a peaceful protest by disabled campaigners.

A protest was taking place in the grounds of Westminster Abbey, where Disabled People Against Cuts, backed by Occupy and UK Uncut, intended to establish a camp for independent living to highlight the shameful decision by the current Government to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF).  Whilst many people were able to enter the grounds of the Abbey, with several disabled activists taking control of the gates, they were soon joined by hundreds of police.

Whilst the protest was being established a letter was presented to the church explaining the reason for the disruption.  This was completely ignored by the Dean of Westminster, John Hall, who instead of meeting with the protesters, or even giving a statement, cowered inside and allowed the police to carry out his dirty work.  At the time I left two people had been arrested, for reasons which are currently unclear.  Over 200 police kettled the 60 or so protesters, which included many severely disabled people who use the ILF themselves.  Police refused to allow any food or drink for those inside the Abbey grounds, and even prevented a severely disabled person’s personal assistant from entering the kettle.

At one point, so desperate were the police to arrest someone for nothing,  they charged into the crowd causing people to fall onto several wheelchair users.  Such was the sudden aggression of police it is a miracle no-one was severely injured although unconfirmed reports suggest one disabled person did have to receive treatment after this assault.  Police also attempted to remove access ramps for wheelchairs users to prevent them from being able to peacefully protest in the Abbey grounds.  Equipment was damaged and police prevented the planned disabled toilet and other infra-structures to be created which would have led to a safe event.  Throughout the afternoon all those inside the grounds remained at risk of violent arrest, and in fact, as you read this, that might be happening.

The protest was held on private property, meaning that the church leadership were happy for all of this to take place.  At any point the Dean of Westminster could have demanded that police stand down, yet he chose to allow this abuse to continue unchecked throughout the afternoon.  Hundreds of people contacted him on twitter demanding the protest be allowed to continue without this police harassment.  The Dean ignored all of them.

Throughout the afternoon all attempts at negotiation with the church leadership were rebuffed.  Instead the Dean of Westminster let the boots and fists of the ever willing London Met do his talking for him.

Whilst no-one expects anything less from the police, who have a history of attacking and injuring disabled protesters, the action, or inaction of the church leadership is a fucking disgrace.  The Dean of Westminster would rather disabled people are abused, kettled, assaulted and kept without food or water than allow a creative protest against vicious cuts which are likely to lead to some people being forced to live in institutions.

The latest news is that those inside the Abbey grounds are currently meeting to decide what to do next.  With no word from the Church then staying could mean mass arrests in the ground of the Abbey.  Whatever the occupiers decide you can show support by telling Westminster Abbey @wabbey and the Dean of Westminster @deanwestminster exactly what you think.  After today’s shameful behaviour he must be hoping that the existence of hell really is just something liars use to scare children with.

Then come and join next Friday’s Independence Day demonstration outside the DWP and make it the biggest protest yet to show that no-one is going to be frightened away from fighting to save the ILF.

For the latest news follow @Dis_PPL_Protest on twitter or visit their website at:  http://dpac.uk.net/

Read the statement from DPAC on the reason for the protest: http://www.independentliving-fightback.uk/online/

UPDATE:  Protesters have now left rather than face violent arrest.  Also, as someone has pointed out on twitter, Westminster Abbey is a Royal Peculiar, meaning it is technically under control of the Queen.  Day to day management of the site however is down to the Abbey meaning it is almost certain the police would have stood down had the Dean demanded it.  Yet he didn’t even try.  All the signs so far suggest he did the opposite and would have been happy for the police to clear the site.  There has still been no comment made about today’s events by either the Dean or Westminster Abbey.  Of the two arrested, it seems one was not held and was released during the protest and another was taken to Charing Cross police station.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Disabled Protesters Occupy Grounds of Westminster Abbey and Set Up Camp

DPAC-LogoDisabled people have today occupied the grounds of Westminster Abbey in protest at the closure of the Independent Living Fund.

In a bold escalation of the campaign against this vicious move, the protesters are currently establishing a camp for independent living,  Campaigners want to draw attention to this Government’s treatment of severely disabled people who depend on the ILF to lead independent lives.

The camp is being organised by Disabled People Against Cuts with backing from Occupy and UK Uncut and comes after over three years campaigning against the closure of the ILF, a move which has already been found illegal in the Appeal Court.  Disabled people’s organisations have warned that shutting down the fund is likely to lead to some people being forced to live in  institutions due to local council cutbacks.

The camp will help build for an Independence Day protest on July 4th which could see the biggest demonstration yet outside the Department of Work and Pensions.  Meet at 2pm outside the DWP, Caxton House, Tothill Street, SW1

In the meantime those at the Abbey have called on people to come down and support the occupation, and help spread the word!

Please blog, tweet, share etc.

For the latest news follow @Dis_PPL_Protest on twitter or visit their website at:  http://dpac.uk.net/

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

UK Uncut Set To Boot Out Boots

ukuncut_logoVisit their facebook page, please join and share – and come!!!

Saturday 28th June 3.00pm

107 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6RA

It’s football season and time to BOOT OUT BOOTS!

The Government won’t make Boots pay, so we will! Boots have dodged £1.3bn in Tax since 2007. That’s £1.3bn of our money that could be spent on safe homes, schools, hospitals, women’s services, legal aid and keeping our NHS public. The tax dodged by Boots alone could pay for 78,000 nurses or 5.2m ambulance calls.

Despite numerous calls for an investigation, HMRC are not interested in looking into Boots’ dodgy tax deals. The Government refuse to make them pay yet continue to slash our much needed health and welfare services saying there is no money left.

Don’t just get angry, get your football boots ready, get your kit on, pull your socks up and join UK Uncut on 28/06/14 for a football-themed action.

Follow #BootOutBoots for a SURPRISE

See you on the Streets!

Please spread the word.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Disabled Protesters Heading Back To DWP As Fight To Save Independent Living Heats Up

dwp-protest2

A previous protest outside the DWP in protest at the closure of the ILF

The fight to save the Independent Living Fund (ILF) is heating up with a fresh court challenge to this needless cut which could lead to some disabled people being institutionalised to save money.

A judicial review has been launched against the closure whilst protest is also hitting the streets with an Independence Day Party starting outside the DWP on July 4th.

The ILF provides vital support for 18,000 severely disabled people and is used to top up to local authority funding for people with particularly high support needs.  Should the fund be closed then people will be dependent on already cash-strapped local councils leaving them little control over their care and support packages.  There are very real fears that this could lead to disabled people being placed in institutions, or trapped in their own homes with no options for living independently.  Combined with local authority cuts already taking place, such as the removal of taxi-card schemes and care funding being slashed, the result  of closing the ILF will be devastating.

A legal challenge against the closure has already been successful when the Appeal Court ruled the the move was illegal in November last year.  This was down to a ruling that the then Minster for Murdering Disabled People Esther McVey hadn’t bothered to learn the facts about the impact of closing the ILF and therefore was unable to make an adequate assessment of the consequences.  McVey was eventually moved and put in charge of workfare, however new minister Mike Penning spitefully announced in Spring that the closure was now back on due to them filling out a form properly or something.

According to Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) the DWP has since admitted that “in considering the proposal once again it had not consulted with any organisations or individuals outside of Government. It had not gathered any additional information from local authorities or other sources about what level or type of support former ILF users would receive from social services once the ILF element was removed and how many people would be likely to go into residential care or lose their ability to work or study.”

Therefore the fresh legal challenge will be along the same lines as the first.

A nationwide day of action for independent living has also been called for July 4th.  In London an Independent Living Tea Party is being held which promises fun. games, entertainment, and of course civil disobedience.  The event will begin at 2pm outside the DWP, Caxton House, Tothill Street SW1.

Campaigners have called for action around the UK, to find out more visit: http://dpac.uk.net/2014/06/july-4th-our-independent-living-day-party-and-picnic-london-and-around-the-country/

There will also be a Twitter Party using the Hashtag #IL4JULY.  Please share, tweet, blog and help spread the word about all events.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Mandatory Work Activity Is Wobbling, Keep Kicking Till It Breaks

salvation-army-workfareIn a victory for anti-workfare campaigners, the number of people forced to work without pay on the Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) scheme is steadily falling.

MWA is just one of several workfare programmes and involves four weeks full-time work for charities or so-called ‘community organisations’ under the threat of meagre benefits being stopped.  2,670 people were sent on the scheme in February 2014, compared to a high of over four thousand during the same period last year.  In December 2013 only 1,720 starts were recorded, the lowest figure since the scheme was just beginning in the summer of 2011.

The fall in the number of unpaid workers comes after two years of campaigning against by Boycott Workfare and other claimant’s groups which has now seen hundreds of charities rejecting forced labour schemes.  Household names such as Oxfam, Scope and Shelter have been joined by over 300 organisations to sign the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement which firmly rejects unpaid work under the threat of benefit sanctions.

This month’s figures are particularly embarrassing for the DWP as they attempt to roll out the most draconian workfare scheme yet.  Community Work Placements will see thousands of people sent to carry out 780 hours work without pay.  Where they will be sent remains shrouded in mystery.  The DWP refuse to say which charities are using workfare to protect the reputations of these supposedly ethical and transparent organisations.

We do know that @salavationarmyuk, @YMCA_England and @TCVtweets have all said they will not take part in Community Work Placements, but they are all still happy to use forced workers on the Mandatory Work Activity scheme.  All three of these charities are complicit in processing benefit sanctions which have driven people into destitution. 

Workfare quango @Groundworkuk also use free labour on the MWA scheme, and are the only national charity we know for sure that will be involved in Community Work Placements.

The fight against workfare is a long way from over, but as decent charities everywhere distance themselves from forced work, it is a fight that can be won.

To join in visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/

The MWA statistics are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pre-work-programme-support-mandatory-programmes-may-2014

Sign the petition to scrap all benefit sanctions without exceptions.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Class War Candidate Trounces Lib Dems – A Seismic Change Is Coming

class-warSteve Norman, who will be standing as a candidate for Class War in next year’s general election, has trounced the Lib Dems in a Bristol constituency where he polled just under 4% of the vote.

Norman stood as an independent candidate in Avonmouth in preparation for Class War’s planned assault on next year’s elections.  In a stunning early victory for the campaign he polled 135 votes, just behind the Green Party and beating the dismal performance of the Lib Dems who could only manage 108.

These results will also be worrying news for the dreary Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).  Norman polled over eight times higher then their candidate who could only manage a lacklustre 16 votes.

If a bunch of retired colonels, city spivs and chinless public school wankers like Nigel Farage can send shockwaves through the Labour Party then imagine what a populist party of the left could achieve.  A party that unlike UKIP doesn’t want to flog off the NHS and would never dream of referring to benefit claimants as a “parasitic underclass of scroungers”.  Instead Class War have pledged to double all benefits and scrap bills for pensioners.  And all to be paid for by fleecing the rich.  Who could argue with that?

The choice will be simple.  If you want more money in your pocket vote Class War next year and in the meantime support the election campaign.  Because all of the rest of them are wankers.

You can now follow the Class War campaign on twitter @Classwar2015

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

 

Support The Lifeworks Occupation!

lifeworksThe occupation of the Lifeworks centre in Cambridge is now entering its tenth week with protesters promising they aren’t going anywhere soon.

Lifeworks is a project for people with borderline personality disorders, a condition which in the worst cases can lead to serious self-harm or suicide.  The service is funded by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust’s (CPFT) who have made the decision to close the centre as part of a £6 million cost-cutting exercise.

The service users were not consulted about the move and are furious that  vital support they were promised for the rest of their lives is now being swept away.  The occupation began after a sit in protest by Lifeworks users at the beginning of March.  Speaking to Solidarity newspaper those inside said:

“Lifeworks is our lifeline. It was called Lifeworks because it was meant to be for life. Our condition is lifelong, and they want to see people discharged from the service well again, but with us this is a lifelong condition.

“Once you’re referred to Lifeworks, when you have your well episodes you can go away and live your life to the best you can, but when you get ill you don’t have to go back to your GP, you can come back here. The staff here know your triggers, Lifeworks is always there for you.”

This is exactly the sort of comprehensive service that the NHS should be delivering, particularly against a backdrop of savage cuts to benefits.  Lifework service users came to support this week’s protest against the scrapping of the Independent Living Fund outside the DWP.  They have asked that people show support by signing, sharing and helping publicise the petition to save the project at: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/61183

You can also join (and share) the occupation’s facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/SaveCCS

Please help spread the word.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid