Boycott 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
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