Solidarity demonstrators from round Scotland won an important victory at Edinburgh’s High Riggs jobcentre on 14th March. The welfare rights worker from ECAP affiliated Edinburgh Claimants successfully accompanied the jobseeker to his appointment, as the DWP and G4S security backed down from their previous attempt to deny this right.
Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty called the demo after G4S security guards attacked the same welfare rights rep as he accompanied the same JSA claimant at High Riggs on 29th February. Totally flouting the DWP’s own rules, the G4S guards denied the claimant his basic human right to be accompanied by whoever he wishes.
Around 50 demonstrators answered the call and crowded round the jobcentre entrance on the 14th. Alerted through the Action Against Austerity and other networks, groups and individuals from Dundee, Forfar, Glasgow, Greenock and Stirling joined ECAP and other locals from Edinburgh and Lothians. Castlemilk Against Austerity, Dundee Against Austerity, Glasgow Anarchist Collective, Scottish Unemployed Workers Network, and Stirling Anarchists were among those present. The Rhythms of Resistance samba band gave a musical accompaniment to the angry chants…. ADVOCACY IS NOT A CRIME…. G4S NAZI SWINE…. IDS – ROT IN HELL…..
Emerging from the jobcentre, welfare rights worker Bob spoke to the crowd. He revealed that unlike the 29th February there had been no attempt by the security guards to stop him – though the DWP still made spurious demands he show ID, which he successfully declined to do. Significantly, the DWP interviewer’s attitude was positively transformed from the usual bullying and harassment to which the claimant has been regularly subjected. “This is totally down to the solidarity shown by all of you,” Bob declared.
THE POWER OF SOLIDARITY
“Today’s action shows the power of solidarity. If we are isolated and alone, the DWP can bully and sanction us. If we take action together, then we can fight them back,” says Esther MacDonald of ECAP. “We cannot rely on politicians or any leaders, we need grass-roots direct action to resist the austerity attack from the rich and their political lackeys. We need to build on successes like this to move towards creating a counter-power which can challenge the whole capitalist profit system.”
Tony Cox of the Scottish Unemployed Workers Network was among those addressing the demo. Tony faces trial in Dundee on – provisionally – 9th June on a trumped-up charge, following his disgraceful arrest while representing a claimant at a Maximus disability benefits assessment. Demonstrators at Hìgh Riggs pledged to be at the court in Dundee to show solidarity with Tony – advocacy is not a crime! Together we can win!
The facts on the Right to be accompanied can be found on our page ‘Benefits Interviews: Be Accompanied’.
The upcoming Action Against Austerity conference on Sunday 3rd April at Fred Paton Centre, Glasgow will be an excellent opportunity to develop the links between grass-roots direct action groups round Scotland which were important in winning this victory, and which will be vital in the struggles to come – e mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more details of the conference
The public meeting with Lynne Friedli of Boycott Workfare on Monday 21st March at 7pm in the Quaker Meeting House in Edinburgh will provide another good oppportunity to discuss the way forward – the theme is “Fighting to live and winning – the common struggle against workfare and wage slavery.”
A good report on the day, with photos, by Scottish Unemployed Workers Network.