ADVOCACY IS NOT A CRIME!
In solidarity with arrested Dundonian welfare advocate Tony Cox from Scottish Unemployed Workers Network(SUWN), the IWW, Edinburgh Anarchist Federation and Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty (ECAP) will join a host of groups including (SUWN themselves) who will take part in a Britain wide day of action in solidarity with him.
WHAT HAPPENED AT ARBROATH JOB CENTRE
Tony Cox was arrested on 29th January after Arbroath Jobcentre management called police to stop him representing a vulnerable jobseeker. Tony was accompanying a vulnerable woman claimant, who suffers from severe dyslexia and literacy problems. The claimant, D, had been signed up to the Universal Job Match (UJM), the computerised job search system, and was being forced to complete five job searches per day, the pressure of which had led to her having several panic attacks. Tony proposed that D’s UJM account be closed, and that her number of job searches be significantly reduced. The adviser refused to consider this, and so Tony and D met with the Jobcentre manager.
The manager likewise refused to even look at the issue, falsely claiming that all jobseekers had to be registered with UJM. She even suggested to D that she should arrange another meeting without Tony or any other witness or rep present. Despite the pressure D was being put under by the manager, she replied that she would not attend another meeting without Tony. At this point the manager demanded that Tony leave the building or the police would be called. Tony refused to leave, but the meeting ended when it was agreed that a further meeting be arranged to discuss the issue further. Tony was arrested after he left the Jobcentre.
THE RIGHT TO BE ACCOMPANIED
The right of claimants to be accompanied to interviews, and for the accompanier to have the right to speak, has been established by groups like Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, who have forced the DWP locally and Britain-wide to apologise for calling the police on ECAP reps, and to affirm claimants right to representation. The DWP clearly state “Claimants accessing Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefits and services can have someone to accompany them to act on their behalf…”
The attack on benefits and claimants is part of the austerity assault on the entire working class. We call on all unemployed and claimants groups, anti cuts and anti austerity groups, human rights groups, workplace activists, and all working class people, waged and unwaged, to show solidarity with Tony and the right of the unemployed and all claimants to organise collectively to fight back.
The attempt to prevent claimants being represented and accompanied is an assault on welfare advocates but also more importantly claimants and those on benefits- the worst off in society. We will not stand for this.
If this goes unchallenged it will set a worrying precendent.
BRITAIN WIDE DAY OF ACTION
We are calling on activists across Britain to join us in a Britain wide day of action
12th October: we will be outside Jobcentres talking about the right to representation.
13th October : Scottish activists will support Tony outside Forfar Sheriff Court.
Outside of Scotland, we’re suggesting groups can choose either day to be outside job centres talking to claimants about the right to be represented and accompanied.
DEMOS PLANNED SO FAR
Nottingham – https://www.facebook.com/events/436533643222016/
Wales:- there will be an action involving Cymru IWW and Welsh anarchists and and others in Cardiff on the 12th, possibly in Wrexham, Merthyr and other Welsh towns too.
Borrowed from Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty.
Cheers again for support and help so far from : Cymru Wales IWW, Cardiff Anarchist Network, folk in Doncaster, Liverpool IWW, Bristol AF, Norwich Sol Fed, Manchester IWW, Teeside Solidarity Movement, Aberdeen IWW, Inverness AF, Leeds IWW, Brighton Sol Fed, Edinburgh Sol Fed, Edinburgh AF, Clydeside IWW, Sheffield IWW, London Wobblies, Haringey Solidarity Group, Dorset IWW, Nottingham IWW,