Boycott Workfare Go To Brighton To Smash Benefit Sanctions

sanction-sabsBoycott Workfare joined the Civil Service Rank and File Network (CSRF) and Brighton Benefits Campaign in Brighton yesterday to lobby the PCS Union to take meaningful action on the brutal benefit sanctions currently driving hundreds of thousands of people into unbearable poverty.

The rally was called outside the annual PCS Conference, with claimants, disabled people and public sector workers joining forces to resist the endless attacks on the welfare state that PCS members are being expected to administer.

Shortly after the rally began, disabled protesters from DAN Cymru arrived with an impressive banner and launched into an impromptu direct action, blocking the busy road along the sea front.  They were soon joined by folk from Boycott Workfare and several PCS members for a noisy and angry demonstration which drew a small police response.  One lane was eventually opened to allow some traffic to pass through and the blockade stayed in place for almost an hour whilst PCS conference delegates mingled outside.

When Universal Credit is finally launched, Jobcentre staff themselves, along with many other part-time public sector workers, will face the same regime as unemployed claimants.  Sadly two motions calling for some form of workplace action against these measures were removed from the PCS Conference agenda.  An emergency motion brought before the conference yesterday to discuss sanctions was also not discussed.  The PCS leadership has dismissed calls for any form of real action to defeat benefit sanctions.

The same PCS leadership were conspicuous by their absence as the drama unfurled outside their conference yesterday, but it was reassuring to see some PCS members take to the road and support claimants and disabled people.  This, along with the efforts of the CSRF in organising the lobby, shows that amongst the rank and file at least of the PCS, there is support for practical action to support unemployed or disabled people and low paid workers.

The day also saw the first appearance of the mysterious Sanction Sabs (pictured above), follow them on twitter @SanctionSabs

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

16 responses to “Boycott Workfare Go To Brighton To Smash Benefit Sanctions

  1. off topic
    Two people with mental health problems have won a legal challenge against the government tests for sickness benefit.

  2. I would imagine it would of only been a few PCS members who took to the road and supported claimants and disabled people. Majority of them are only interested in reaching targets to sanction claimants, f**k the PCS members they will never get my support.

    • It may well have only been a few brave souls who stood up to shame their union leadership, but this was the union’s national conference, so it’s doubtful that anyone other than the most active or faithful of the union membership attended.

      I share the contempt of those who would sanction at a moment’s notice, but I think we’d be doing ourselves and our movement a disservice if we were to close the door entirely. If those DWP workers who are at present doing the department’s bidding have a crisis of conscience they will need support in order to stand up in opposition. That’s quite likely not going to happen until significant numbers of part-time DWP workers, (and possibly also PCS members) start to be affected by the changes. In the likely absence of any support from their union, they will need support and however despicable their previous actions may have been it is important that they are supported by us who have always been in opposition, otherwise it will achieve exactly what the Tories want: division. I’m not suggesting any kind of forgiveness, but rather a drawing of a line under the past, and also conferring upon our movement the higher moral ground, (not that hard given the lack of any morality from this government).

      People can change from acting in ways that conform to the ideology of a regime, remember Oscar Schindler and his actions. He was initially concerned merely with making money until his crisis of conscience. We are still a long way from having to deal with such a regime, but the principles of the actions of the DWP staff is exactly the same, namely making decisions and taking action that is just fundamentally wrong merely because they have been ordered to.

      This issue actually highlights the craven attitude of the PCS leadership, with their claim that it isn’t a workplace issue… no, maybe it isn’t directly so at the moment, but it almost assuredly will be once DWP staff, (and PCS members) start being assaulted by people who being sanctioned feel they have nothing more to lose, especially when those staff themselves face similar sanctions.

  3. it is vital for every one to do all in their power to end sanctions imposed on, welfare benefits…this is a key 1st step, to reforming the benefits system, and reversing crippling poverty, many of us now face and/or will be plunged into, in a race to oblivion….!

  4. “The same PCS leadership were conspicuous by their absence ”
    Too busy mulling over the fine detail of who gets what positions in the “new” structure if the Unite/PCS merger goes ahead, I imagine.
    Well that with the added “what makes you think these socialist tyro’s actually do give a damn?”

    • It’s pretty small-scale at the moment, but increasing numbers of mainstream union members are becoming ‘dual carders’ and also joining the grass roots IWW. It’s a ‘non-political’ union (i.e. not affiliated to any political party, or any political system) that is run for and by the ordinary membership without paid officials or leaders. Take a look.‎

  5. your link to this union is showing nothing when you link up sibrydionmawr., I would be interested to see who started it up and who is running it and why members would want dual carders.

  6. If their union is being so un-caring and ignores their concerns…why not try set up another union? Or is that too simplistic or too difficult? The present sanctions regime brought in last year may not have set targets now….so they tell us,…but the new rules on conditionality are set so stringent now, that targets aren’t really needed. All it takes is for DWP staffer to consider pleb hasn’t done enough that week to look for work. They seem to be applying sanctions for almost anything now. The DWP ppl are supposed to apply a degree of common sense, but there seem to be many instances they don’t.
    And if person so much as raises their voice, even a wee bit that is considered “aggressive.” If person leans over desk to see DWP peasant’s name on badge when person wants to complain,..that is seen as being “threatening” I know, because I just had a run in with one of them this week and that is what they said of me.

  7. SanctionSab #00006

    There were numerous DWP PCS workers who engaged with DAN Cymru and had scathing opinions – in leaflet or oral formats – about the failure of the PCS management to discuss the two motions that were initially sidelined. Only later in the day, when the rejected Emergency Motion made the more cynical schismatics comprehend the correlation between coprophilia and an over-priced end of the pier “Log Flume” did the sense that the TUC gravy train was a miserable holiday funded by real poverty set in.

    But by then the SanctionSabs had gone home to point the finger and laugh at the sad old swoppies who believed that the whole Benefits Justice Campaign would be undermined if the PCS leadership were shown to be in thrall to the dubious “legal advice” provided to the Union’s Standing Orders committee. It might involve the courts and stop the General Strike!

    Or it might just make the swoppies look foolish when their PCS funders back out of the Benefits Justice Campaign. Obviously any of the current Parliamentary options are going to make mealy-mouthed conference promises a priority for repression over an economy-crippling “General Strike”. Unless the “General Strike” is already known to the SWP to be a mythic beast of course.

    Which my friend Karen Eliot suggested.

  8. seems to me the top of the PCS have been bought off or some dodgy handshake deal has taken place with the government/DWP.
    Blindingly obvious when you look at it.

  9. Unions are now like the robbing insurance companies, that have excess charges and don’t put out in a crisis, they are just there to take the money.

  10. While some JSA staff are just imposing sanctions because they’ve been told to, a lot of them would do it regardless of orders from above or a Labour government.

    The New Deal saw a similar idea to Workfare where you were put on a training course to get worthless qualifications (such as Microsoft Certified Professional) after taking an exam. Of course, there were a couple of months left over in which you had to work for free regardless of your exam results.

    Of course when the time was up the companies lost interest and so you either went back to the Jobcentre or the firm with the New Deal contract offered you a job (and since it dissolved a few years back that didn’t work out so good)

  11. Bioycott Workfare have really screwed up. What kind of PR stunt is it to appear in a balaclava the day before a terrorist attack?

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