"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

Unemployed

Opinion: I Remember, In Fact I’ll Never Forget…


“Remember when Teachers, Civil Servants, Policemen, Ambulance staff, Nurses, Midwives, Doctors and Fireman crashed the stock market, wiped out banks, took billions in bonuses and paid no tax? No, me neither.”

So goes the recent profile update that is doing the rounds on Facebook and Twitter.

While I agree wholeheartedly, there are however things I CAN remember.

I remember the first time I was brutally assaulted and knocked unconscious by a tooled up gang….of police.

I remember losing my house due to unsubstantiated complaints by a neighbour who was in the BNP….by the nice people in the housing office.

I remember it taking five years to get custody of my small vulnerable children from their mentally ill mother because my word as a father was not given as much importance as the denials of maltreatment by their mother…by the nice lady social worker.

I remember being cut off the dole and having to beg on the street for money due to refusal of help…from the nice people at the Jobcentre.

I remember years of verbal, mental and physical abuse….at the hands of teachers.

I remember being brutalized and tormented while in custody and how currently a friend is having his mail thrown away…by prison officers.

I remember the year long battle to sort out my PAYE deductions that left me having to work an extra 4 hours a day just to break even…by the most helpful people at the tax office.

Yes, I remember.

It’s just as well I also remember that I’d never cross a picket line and I’ll be phoning in sick on November 30th because members of my union are going on strike. Ironic isn’t it….

Rick Dutton

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Community Resistance: Kirkby Rent Strike 1972, Somethings Don’t Change.


Background: “Since 1945 Liverpool and its dockland have changed almost beyond recognition. Devastated by war and then transformed by post-war strategies to address some of the appalling social conditions, initiatives to attract industry to the area and the registration of dockers with schemes to decasualize port employment, the economic, social and cultural life of the dockland has been turned upside down. One of the most significant changes however, has come with the attempts to tackle the enormous problem of housing. Slum clearance programmes decanted many thousands of families from dockland Liverpool to purpose built overspill estates on the outskirts of the city. One of the most significant of these outer developments was Kirkby, located at the northwest edge of the city. This was a village of around 3,000 inhabitants in 1939, which by 1961 had grown to become a new town for over 50,000. Ultimately envisaged as a self-sustaining community with its own economic, social and cultural functions, Kirkby’s further expansion was ensured when in 1965 Liverpool Corporation committed itself to the clearance of another 30,000 ‘unfit’ dwellings, mainly from the traditional dockland areas.


The growth of Kirkby was not without its difficulties. It has often been cited as a classic illustration of the failures of planning and mistaken overspill development. The image of a tough community, uprooted and placed by an uncaring local authority in a bleak estate with no facilities or services, suffering high unemployment and racked by vandalism was a caricature, but nevertheless contained elements of truth. Problems with housing in Kirkby, particularly the poor quality of design and construction combined with a long backlog of repairs, were manifest from the earliest days. On the whole women were left with the responsibility of tackling the local authority about these problems in what were predominantly family homes. Furthermore, when in the early 1970s factory closures and growing unemployment further threatened Kirkby, women on the Tower Hill estate formed a discussion and support group to help themselves and their families through the crisis. However, when the 1972 Housing Finance Act resulted in a further £1 rent rise, this brought grievances that had been bubbling under for the previous decade to a head. The women formed an Unfair Rents Action Group and responded by organizing a 14-month long rent strike.

Militant collective organization no longer remained the preserve of male members of the household. In the new setting of the overspill estate, women recognised the value of the militant tradition. Outside of the labour movement or the factory floor, women in Kirkby mobilized to forge their own solidarity and collective organization. This movement sought not only to benefit the household economy through the fight against unfair rents, but for a time would also campaign for the benefit of the whole community. Traditional dockland militancy and community solidarity had clearly evolved to remain of use in its new location.”

Wake up Lefties, start finally dealing with the real issues which are in our communities, the issues haven’t changed and neither have you! 


A Young Mans Perspectives On Reasons And The Social Issues Behind The Summer Riots In The UK


From The Guardian…One man involved in last month’s disturbances on what motivated him to join the riots. He discusses his experience of police brutality; the effects of a lack of education, opportunities and government investment in his community; and the pressure to acquire luxury consumer goods

 

 


Opinion: Solidarity Is A Two Way Street…



It’s been an interesting week, watching the media talk up a riot, public servants ‘STRIKING…RALLYING…MARCHING!’

Yet it seems it doesn’t have enough ‘oomph’ anymore for the press. It’s only newsworthy if there’s a ruckus involving ‘latchers on’ from the ‘anarchist movement’…heaven forbid an anarchist might themselves be part of a Labour Party recognised trade union…

HEADLINE! READ ALL ABOUT IT! THE SCARY UNIONS HAVE LOST THEIR MOJO! HOODED MENACE TO TAKE OVER PLANET! More dangerous than Al Qaida…till next week…

Likewise it’s been an interesting and pleasing week watching friends and comrades rising to the challenge in defending the unions and taking the struggle to the streets against the Tory/Liberal ‘coalition’ government…who seem hell bent on destroying our welfare state…much to the derision of the press and unions in equal measure of course…

It’s also been a sad sad week. A week where comrades have been taken from us…

You know solidarity is a great great thing. There’s not enough of it about these days. So it fills me with joy to see it on display.

It is however a two-way street. And it is rarely reciprocated.

Over the last year I’ve spent a lot of my time involved with my organisation in our local ‘Coalition Against The Cuts’. Those on the inside ‘leading the fight’ are a hodge podge bunch, of local and regional union officials, some permanently involved in the usual paper-sale and petitioning for this months big issues, others less politicised but falling into place behind their more ‘senior’ union members. Hidden caucuses, caucuses hidden or within caucuses that are hidden from caucuses…

They use great and meaningful words like ‘worker’ and ‘working-class’. Even…’comrade’…although it’s often followed my a snigger and a red face…

These words however just seem to roll off the tongue.

There’s little passion there. It’s as if they’re acting out a part and the main lines of the script have become their catch phrases.

They talk of ‘fighting’ and ‘uniting the class’…

And this friends is where they start to lose me…when they eagerly discuss booking whole trains to take down to demos held in London which would ‘easily be filled to the carriage’ by a happy throng of ‘the class’…who would be eager to ‘rally to the cause’…

Only it’s all just fantasy…

As is all the talk of ‘the class’…

Class… They don’t belong to my class. Increasingly…they don’t belong to my class…Increasingly they don’t share the same life experiences, of dole, and housing office queue…of the prison…

They work for the state, they increasingly have the degree (that’s not a dig), often work in comfy offices, they have ‘expenses’, and something called’by the mile’… they work a rigidly set working week, hours never to be tampered with or there’ll be hell to pay…most of us don’t…and they have things called pensions…and their idea of conflict with the state…

Many of us too are currently in conflict with the state…and all it’s little branches…it’s offshoots…it’s wheels and centres of enforcement…

They work in the police station, the social services, the job centre, the housing office…’the public services’…the very services that many of these individuals will never ever have to utilise themselves… the very services that many of us have to deal with on a regular basis when we’re unemployed or in need of housing or desperate for work and money…or banged up…

‘NOW JUST HOLD ON!’ I hear you cry…’There’s nothing wrong with having a degree or working for the state and going on strike over pensions!’

You’re absolutely right, there’s not and my hat goes off to them…Likewise I remain steadfast and committed to the principle ‘a grievance to one is a grievance to all, I SHALL NEVER CROSS A PICKET LINE…’

But It would be nice if the solidarity that you and I believe in would be…and here’s that word again’…’reciprocated’.

It would be nice to know that those on the marches and rallies waving their flags shouting ‘support us’ and ‘join us’…that those same people this Monday weren’t going to be throwing us out of our houses, taking or children away, cutting our dole money, putting us in prison, and being the holders of the keys to our cell doors…

Because they will be.

Yes it would be nice if there was…solidarity…

The recent attempts made by the Norfolk Community Action Group within the local coalition to try and bridge this situation fell on deaf ears. So we chose to part company.

Our arguments that if they want ‘popular support’, and yes folks that does mean engaging with the Sun reader and the Daily Mail reader, then they will have to stop solely ‘agitating’ within their unions…an ‘agitation’ that often is nothing more than an email and a flyer on the union notice board or a phone call to the very same people who attended the meeting the week before, the pathological ‘preach to the converted’ who can only be bothered if it affects ‘them and theirs’…and get off their arses and physically start engaging with their local population explaining and arguing why they BELIEVE they are RIGHT to take the actions they are taking, in plain words with the use of plain English, without the use of a pre-script or the handing over of a leaflet that will never ever ever in a million years dear God get read because it’s cold, it’s heartless, it will not engage…

It can not engage.

Because there’s no soul in a leaflet…or a petition…especially when it’s a petition for OUR benefit…and our benefit only…

Yes that means job centre staff walking onto council estates, Yes that means teachers walking onto council estates, Yes that means housing officers walking onto council estates…Yes that means social workers walking onto council estates, Yes that means trade unionist from each and every sector of public services in this ‘country’ of ours walking onto council estates…

And engaging…

Not destroying peoples lives and being the first port of call of the oppressive state…

Only they won’t will they?

They won’t because there is a barrier…

They won’t because there is a barrier of ‘us’ and ‘them’…

They won’t because there is a barrier of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and ‘service provider’ and ‘service user’…

That is…dare I say it…a barrier…of one class against another, even if that ‘class’ can not be easily differentiated. They would if they could though comrades…’differentiate that is…

Long gone are the days of Dave Douglass and the great Hatfield Main branch of the NUM, all the miners, the steel workers, the toilers, the manufacturers, the print workers…

They have been taken over…by the bureaucrat…the degree in trade union studies…and the Tolpuddle Martyrs, more an historical quaintness than a model, example, direction and template of struggle…

Increasingly…not…my…class…

Increasingly…not…my… fight…

Unless miraculously new Dave Douglass’ appear and return the trade unions to their rightful place…holding meetings at the bottom of our streets, discussing and showing ‘solidarity’ and helping the unemployed with education and training, and building a real resistance to the aggressive Tory doctrine that has recently returned to plague us…

Unless…

You know comrades, only 26% of the workforce in Britain today are unionised…and it’s falling daily…

They had better appear soon…before trade unions go the way of the Tolpuddle Martyrs..and become ‘a quaintness’..

Did you notice the use of the word ‘they’?


Atos Mobbed – Poverty Pimps Shut Down By Benefit Claimants


The Second National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts took place yesterday with events targeting poverty pimps like Atos Origin and A4e.

Over 100 disabled protesters and claimants gathered at Triton Square, London where a noisy mob made their way to the front doors of Atos’ shiny corporate headquarters despite the best efforts of police to stop them.  Police formed a line protecting Atos whilst chants rang out of ‘Atos Kills’.  Many people spoke out of their often heart-rending experiences at the hands of Atos’ medical testing which has repeatedly stripped sickness and disability benefits from the most vulnerable.

Anti-poverty and disability protest groups were well represented including Disabled People Against CutsWelfare Action HackneyLondon Coalition Against PovertyMad Pride and many more.  Also present were members of PCS Union’s Euston branch who work in Euston Tower which overlooked the protest and who expressed solidarity with claimants.

Over the top as ever, the police briefly kettled the protesters.   After some time however people were able to leave if they agreed to be escorted from Triton Square, which lies on a privately owned business estate where protest is presumably not part of the corporate strategy.

One disabled protester valiantly attempted to breach the police line, but was bundled to the ground and dragged away to chants of ‘Let Him Go’.  With cameras everywhere and no doubt fearing another Jody Mcintyre youtube sensation they complied and as far as we know there were no arrests on the day.

Speeches and chanting continued as well as one impassioned song whilst many people, who had brought food to share, laid out a picnic alongside the impromptu free shop that had also been established.

It is unclear whether Atos closed their offices, but certainly the only people going in or out for the afternoon appeared to be cops and private security guards.  Also doing slow business were Virgin Health Clubs who found their main entrance inside the police lines and were therefore effectively closed for the afternoon.  They might like to think about that at their next meeting cosying up to the Condems in the hope of stealing a slice of the NHS.

As the day wore on police melted away and around 20 protesters headed to the Atos Testing Centre  and Jobcentre Plus administrative offices just up the road at Marylebone.  Entering the, admittedly almost closed building, they briefly occupied the Atos waiting room leaving messages of their experiences of Atos stuck to the walls.

Protests also happened around the country.  Atos testing centres were leafleted in Nottingham, Archway and Glasgow.  The protest outside Atos’ Scotland offices, reportedly in the middle of nowhere, still drew around 40 people and an equal number of police who surrounded the building and once again protected the poverty pimps.  Latest reports indicate heavy-handed policing but the good news is it appears Atos Scotland’s offices were closed for the day.  It’s nice to see Atos Origin being the vulnerable ones for a change.

A protest held in Leeds outside Atos called by West Yorkshire Solidarity Federation and autonomous claimants was successful in closing the Leeds branch of Atos’ corporate empire whilst a smaller, but successful protest in Burnley gathered significant local support.  Protests were also held in Newcastle, Lydney, Birmingham, Crawley, Chesterfield, Hastings and possibly elsewhere, please send details to notowelfarecuts (at) yahoo.co.uk.

Earlier in the week the Cardiff Unemployed Disco drew a fine crowd and they’re holding another one on February 18th.  It’s not over for Atos yet either as Brighton Benefits Campaign are holding an event this Saturday highlighting the pantomime which is the Work Capability Assessment.

Finally tories the length and breadth of the internet were well and truly trolled as part of the second National Troll A Tory Day.  Comments were left, letters to MPs written, petitions signed and Atos were not left out as many took advantage of their recently published health advice phone-lines.

Benefit claimants have vowed to be back with a third National Day of Action to be announced soon.  Atos Origin, the rest of the poverty pimps and the farcical Condem coalition should know that we are not going anywhere.

Pics of the London demo can be found at:http://www.flickr.com/photos/peteriches/with/5385496598/

 

http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/atos-mobbed/