In Edinburgh claimants and lowpaid workers are organising through Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty to support each other and take action to resist workfare, benefit cuts and austerity attacks.
Occupations and blockades have hit companies and charities exploiting claimants through the governments compulsory “work-for-your-dole” schemes. Recent actions targetting Learndirect, provider for the new workfare scheme, Community Work Placements, included a disruptive hour-long occupation of their offices at shiny Conference House, on 12th June. Demonstrators have invaded Leith Job Centre protesting against benefits sanctions.
Protestors have besieged ATOS, responsible for the notorious Work Capability Assessments which deny many ill people their rightful sickness benefits. Now ECAP members have initiated the Disability Solidarity Network, to take forward the fight .
Weekly drop-in solidarity sessions at the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh are the basis for every day mutual aid to support individuals facing a punitive benefits system, debt, housing issues and other poverty-related problems. “Never face them alone” say ECAP, as activists accompany claimants to the dole, ATOS, fraud interviews, council housing appointments and the like – and, vitally, encourage people to attend such appointments with their own friends.
If “official channels” don’t get the desired result the ECAP Solidarity Network phone tree can launch action. Late last year a claimant was sent on Mandatory Work Activity at the Salvation Army charity shop on Leith Walk. By “co-incidence” his reporting for (unpaid) duty co-incided with the shop’s invasion by a dozen anti workfare demonstrators, parading placards and banners down the aisles of second-hand clothes!
ECAP is keen to make links, recent solidarity visits ranging from Dundee to Milan! ECAP activity is not a single issue, but part of the wider fight to assert human need over profit, and to challenge and ultimately overthrow capitalism. As our banner cries: “It’s our world – let’s claim it back!”.