Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty protested at High Riggs Job Centre on 13 March against the new Welfare Reform Bill. We condemn the legislation, currently under consideration by the Westminster Parliament, as “an attack on the poor”. Around 15 protesters later invaded the Edinburgh offices of A4E and Work Directions, displaying placards calling on people to resist the Bill.
The protesters targeted the A4E and Work Directions offices by Lothian Road due to the involvement of these companies in the government’s compulsory schemes for claimants. They delivered a letter to the companies, insisting it be faxed to their Head Offices.
The letter warned : “Any involvement by your company in the compulsory and punitive measures of the Welfare Reform Bill outlined above will inevitably meet with strong and determined resistance……While our intention is that this campaign be entirely peaceful we cannot rule out activities such as civil disobedience, pickets, demonstrations and widespread publicity which would adversely impact on your company’s situation.”
WorkDirections at Festival Square complied with the request, but at A4E on Earl Grey Street managers were hostile and summoned the police to remove the protesters from the building. Several claimants forced to attend A4E expressed their support for the protest, which continued at the building entrance.
Changes proposed by the Bill include:
– Phasing out Income Support for single parents and cutting incapacity benefit for disabled people :
– Introducing a compulsory work for benefits system in US-style workfare pilot schemes
– Privatising more of Jobcentre Plus to companies which will be paid more the less benefits they award.
– Increased sanctions – that is benefits cuts – for claimants
– Cuts on carers’ allowance
– Forced 2-parent registration on birth certificates, including for survivors of violence
Jean Brownlie of ECAP stated: “This bill is also an attack on workers in jobs, as it will exert downward pressure on wages and conditions. We seek unity with workers to resist this oppressive measure.”
“Poor people are being forced to pay for the financial crisis caused by the rich. We need to oppose this bill by taking dissent to the streets, to the government offices, to the bankers and the bosses.”
Today’s action took place as part of a Britain-wide Week of Action Against the Welfare Reform Bill, which came out of committee stages on 3rd March and will be voted on soon.
1. The Week of Action Against the Welfare Abolition Bill aims to stop the Welfare Reform Bill passing. This Bill came out of committee stages on 3rd March and its third reading and vote is expected soon. Details of the Government timetable can be found here:
2. The Week of Action Against the Welfare Abolition Bill was called by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, London Coalition Against Poverty, Feminist Fightback, The Disabled People’s Direct Action Network and the London Anarcha-Feminist Kollektiv. More information here: www.lcap.org.uk www.feministfightback.org.uk
3. Unions and community organisations are opposing the Bill. See their statement here: http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/campaigns/welfare-reform/welfare-for-all.cfm