June 30th – generalising the resistance

Unemployed and Job Centre workers came together on 30th June in Edinburgh
as part of the Britain-wide strike against pension cutbacks. Members of
Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty joined the picket line at High Riggs
Job Centre by Tollcross with placards reading UNEMPLOYED SUPPORT JOB
CENTRE WORKERS. The workers were very pleased with the support, and
discussions ensued about building longer term links.

ECAP members went on to leaflet claimants going in to sign on,
explaining “ We are claimants involved in Edinburgh Coalition Against
Poverty and we are taking action today too, because we think that to
beat the attacks the government are making on all of us, we all need to
start joining up our struggles. Today we are joining the Jobcentre
workers picket at High Riggs. The employed and unemployed have a common
enemy – the government and the rich. “

We aimed to both give solidarity to the struggle against cuts in
workers' pensions, and to generalise the resistance. So next stop was
Slave Labour Central – A4e's offices on nearby Earl Grey Street, where
unemployed people are sent by the Multinational Poverty Pimp to work for
their benefits at charity shops and supermarkets. ECAP members
leafleting the claimants and workers there were joined by students and
an NHS worker.
 

Many unemployed people enthusiastically received the leaflets, which
included info on how to scupper the Work Programme by refusing to sign
the Information Disclosure form whereby providers gain permission to
share personal data : “You've made my day by the way!“ exclaimed one
claimant, “I don't want to be here, I'd rather be out looking for a job!”
Our leaflets urged unemployed people to get involved: “If you are fed up
with the unemployed getting treated with total disrespect, join us. We
have already won several victories, like winning back benefits that
unemployed people lost when they were sanctioned after A4e reported them
to the DWP.... The more of us that stick together, the stronger we will be.”
A4e continue to refuse to recognise the right of claimants to be
accompanied by their own representative when attending interviews at
their premises – we are demanding they recognise this human right.
 

POLICE AND THIEVES

Some A4e workers also accepted leaflets, though unfortunately none
stopped to discuss the fact that their own work situation is doubtless
precarious and far from well-paid. As usual, A4e management called out
the police, who however took no action. In view of their constant call
outs to the forces of the state to repress dangerous leafleters and
extremist welfare rights accompaniers we wonder.... could A4e be charged
with wasting police time?
Hundreds of leaflets were also distributed to passers-by, highlighting
the fact that resistance to attacks on workers is part of the same
struggle as that against compulsory work-for-benefits. After all
workfare is an attack on all workers’ wages and conditions. And
privatisation is attacking working class people on all fronts, from
poverty pimps like A4e and ATOS to the assault on care standards in the
NHS. The NHS worker who joined the A4e picket explained the corrosive
invasion of private companies into the NHS and how cuts were literally
endangering patients lives.

A COMMON ENEMY

While leafleting continued at A4e and High Riggs, some ECAP supporters
attended the PCS strike rally, distributing leaflets that stressed that
“Employed or unemployed, we have a common enemy” and encouraged DWP
workers to get in touch, anonymously if need be, to spill the beans on
the pressures their bosses are putting them under and the strategies
that are being enforced to drive claimants off benefits and into
non-existent jobs. The leaflet also emphasised that the cutbacks are
happening across the world due to capitalism's global crisis - and that
we in Britain could learn from the positive resistance in Greece and
other countries where people were rejecting union controls and
demarcations and organising mass open assemblies in the streets.

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EDINBURGH COALITION AGAINST POVERTY is based at the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh (ACE), an open campaign space & infoshop providing resources and solidarity. Resources available include free computer/internet access, cheap copying, free leaflets, books, pamphlets and mags for sale, and a library. Every Tuesday from 12 to 3pm support and solidarity is available for benefits, debt hassles, housing and other problems. Please contact us at Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty c/o ACE, 17 West Montgomery Place, Edinburgh EH7 5HA, 0131 557 6242 or ecap@lists.riseup.net. We invite you to join our solidarity phone tree and get involved. ACE is also open at other times for particular events (but the support and solidarity sessions are only on Tuesday).