From Tragedy To Farce, How Universal Credit’s Work Related Activity Is Beyond A Joke

the void

zac-videogames Someone buy Zac a pint.

The rules on what constitutes work related activity for those claiming Universal Credit would be laughable if they were not backed by sanctions that can plunge people into destitution for up to three years.

As part of Iain Duncan Smith’s obsession with forcing unemployed, sick and disabled people into ever more irksome and pointless activity, unemployed claimants are now expected to spend 35 hours a week looking for a job.  The guidance for Jobcentre decision makers gives an example of a typical day:

“Dave is in receipt of UC. His expected number of hours of work are 35 a week. “On a typical day, Dave spends
1. two hours on-line looking through recruitment sites
2. one hour reading the “situations vacant” pages in the press (local papers,
national papers and trade journals)
3. one hour and a half completing a job application and covering letter

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Crops rot as farmworker strike in Mexico continues

Re-blogged from: Waging nonviolence

Farmworkers block the Transpeninsular Highway in Mexico on March 18. (La Jornada/Edgar Lima Garrido)

Farmworkers block the Transpeninsular Highway in Mexico on March 18. (La Jornada/Edgar Lima Garrido)

As many as 50,000 mostly indigenous farmworkers have gone on strike in the Mexican border state of Baja California in order to demand better pay and working conditions — bringing agricultural production to a standstill. After clashes between protesting workers and police broke out last week, labor leaders and agribusinesses decided to begin negotiations. So far, agribusinesses have refused to meet the demands of the workers as protests continue and crops — including berries, tomatoes and cucumbers — spoil in the fields.

The strike began on March 17 in the San Quintin valley, located about 200 miles from the border with California, with the release of a list of demands in a communique by the Alliance of National, State and Municipal Organizations for Social Justice, a coalition of indigenous groups. The workers claimed that earlier appeals to government officials concerning the treatment of farmworkers had failed. Along with complaints about discrimination, child labor, violence against workers, harassment of female workers, lack of overtime pay, and a lack of parental leave, the central demand of the strikers was a minimum wage of 300 pesos ($20) per day.

Shortly after the demands were made, workers staged a protest by blocking one of Baja California’s main highways. Heavily-armed police cracked down on this blockade leading to clashes between protesters and cops along with about 200 arrests. Despite that initial outburst of violence, things calmed down once negotiations began on March 19.

The talks between the striking workers and their employers have not gone well though.

“We all want to solve this problem,” Marco Antonio Estudillo, a representative of the main growers’ organization in the region, told the Guardian before a meeting on March 25. “But what the strikers are asking for is impossible due to market conditions.”

During the same meeting, Alberto Munoz, a lawyer for an association of agribusinesses known as the Agricultural Council of Baja California, refused to answer questions from labor leaders about exactly which growers he represented.

The farmworkers, who currently make on average about 150 pesos per day, have since lowered their demand from 300 pesos per day to 280 pesos per day, but agribusiness representatives still refused to meet all of the strikers’ demands, instead offering workers a mere 10 percent raise. Workers responded by turning down the offer and staging a march, attended by thousands of people, from the town of Vicente Guerrero to a government building in San Quintin.

As these talks continue, many of the unpicked crops in Baja California’s fields have begun to rot. The governor of Baja California, Francisco “Kiko” Vega, already warned that “if the fields continue without a workforce, the harvest will be lost and that will effect everyone who depends on this part of the economy.” According to the mayor of Ensenada, Gilberto Hirata, Baja California, the state that brings in the most revenue for strawberry cultivation in Mexico, has already taken an economic hit.

“Millions of dollars have been lost,” Hirata said. “The fruit is splintered and has fallen down. It must be pulled off the plants so new fruits can sprout.”

One small grower, DeWayne Carlos Hafen, co-owner of Los Molinos Produce, denounced the larger growers’ refusal to increase wages and offered to raise his workers’ salaries to 250 pesos per day. After making the offer, Hafen claims that state inspectors visited him demanding to see his employment records. He suspects that larger growers are using their government connections to silence those willing to meet the workers’ demands.

“A happy worker is a productive worker,” he told the TV network Televisa. “If I can pay this, the big farms can pay it too, and more.”

Ethically and justice-driven Quaker employer in dispute with 3 sacked zero-hour workers

This Thursday afternoon 26th February, 3 sacked zero-hour workers together with their trade union – the Industrial Workers of the World – will hold their sixth peaceful demonstration outside Friends House, opposite Euston train station, the London headquarters of the Religious Society of Friends famously known as the Quaker Church. They will be demanding their immediate reinstatement, but most of all to have their concerns about the misuse of zero-hour contracts by the management team heard by the wider Quaker community.

Hundreds of messages supporting them have already been sent to Paul Parker, British Yearly Meeting Recording Clerk; many have been from Quakers in Britain and around the world, including this one from Brad Laird, South Bend (Indiana) Monthly Meeting:

“I am upset that you have done this and ask you to consider that of God in those whom you have terminated… These workers seem to be standing in higher moral ground than you, the employer.”

The workers will also be officially handing in grievances they hope will be taken seriously by the management team at Friends House. Their union, the Industrial Workers of the World, has approached ACAS in the hope of getting the Friends House management team to begin serious negotiations to resolve the matter.


Picket outside London Friends House

In the absence of any attempt so far from the management team to resolve the issues raised by the 3 sacked workers, their trade union – the Industrial Workers of the World – will continue to support them in their struggle for truth and justice.

Background information

In November 2014 the management team at Friends House, the London headquarters of the Religious Society of Friends famously known as the Quaker Church, sacked 3 of their zero-hour workers. Two of the workers were also trade union representatives for their local Unite Union job branch and also dual card members of another union-the Industrial Workers of the World. All 3 were outspoken members fighting for stopping the use of zero-hour contracts in their “ethical” workplace, and struggled to be transferred onto more stable contracts.

The result of their fight and “speaking truth to the power” was the termination of their contracts without any notice or consultation. This came as quite a shock considering that the Quaker Church is known for relentlessly striving for social justice and peace. The 3 workers were then offered “an opportunity” to apply for part-time fixed-term roles covering the work they did and in such a way that they competed with each other. They refused to take up the false “opportunity” and instead chose to stand in solidarity with each other. In the spirit of Quaker values, which encourage mediation, the sacked workers invited Friends House management team to reinstate the workers and negotiate new contracts of employment, but were turned down.

You can read more messages of support from the workers website. The workers have also organised a petition in order to further publicise their efforts in seeking truth and justice. A crowd fund donation has been organised by the workers union to support their cause: For more information please email: London organiser or London iww

Telephone: 07519671958

IWW Greece: International Call for Revolutionary Solidarity with the Political Prisoners on Hunger Strike

a4KNSx0uAt the present moment, the imprisoned anarchists, members of DAK (Network of imprisoned social fighters), A. Stampoulos, A. Theofilou, G. Karagianidis, D. Politis, F. Charisis, A. Dalios, D. Mpourzoukos, G. Sarafoudis, G. Michailidis, the members of the “Revolutionary Struggle” N. Maziotis and K. Gournas, the member of “17th of November” D. Koufontinas, a number of Turkish political prisoners and the prisoners G. Sofianidis and M. S. Eltsibach, are on a hunger strike, fighting against the repressive legal state of exception which has been established by the Greek state since the beginning of 2000.

Starting on March 2nd, along with the comrades outside the prison walls, we commenced a struggle for the abolition of type C high security prisons, the abolition of “antiterrorist” law, the abolition of the “hoodlaw”, the radical change in the process of taking and identification of DNA samples, the release of the seriously sick member of 17N S. Ksiros.

The struggle for the fulfillment of these demands is a struggle against the core of the state of emergency. It is a struggle against the core of the new totalitarianism which has been enforced by the state of Greece, as well as by the rest of the states globally. Recognizing the fact that the nexus of dominance’s designs transcends the narrow geographic borders of national states, we call all Fellow Workers to support this fight and to act in solidarity on the 1st of April, sending a message of revolutionary unity.


The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in Greece support the demands of political detainees that went on hunger strike since 2nd of March. We call FW’s throught the world to express their solidarity to the hunger strikers on WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1st, 2015.

Solidarity forever!

Athens 27th of March Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) – Greece IU 610 & 613 e-mail

Green Unionism workshop at Bristol Anarchist Bookfair 25th April 2015.

Dorset IWW will be conducting a workshop on the IWW Environmental Unionist Caucus at Bristol Anarchist Bookfair, 16:00 to 17:00 25th April 2015. at Trinity Centre, Trinity Rd, Bristol BS2 0NW. Facebook event the full programme will be on line shortly.

Bristol Anarchist Bookfair

Victory for Bridgwater Unite Refresco-Gerber Strikers!

Dorset IWW congratulates Bridgwater Strikers!

Wessex Solidarity

The following message appears on Bridgwater Unite Community Facebook page:

Congratulations and solidarity to Bridgwater’s Gerber workers!

Please find below a message from the Unite Full-time Officer for Refresco-Gerber that celebrates a successful negotiated outcome to this long dispute. The March and Rally on Saturday 28th are now cancelled

“Hi Dave & Bridgwater Trades Union Council
The Strike at Refresco.Gerber has been called off. This is due to the Company agreeing in full to reinstate the Sick pay, remove the contentious shift pattern and reinstate the six months shift pay protection.
I thank you for all the time you have devoted to supporting the Industrial Action.
Thanks to all who gave their support!”

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IWW Greece Supports Hunger Strike

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in Greece support and countersigned the demands of political detainees on hunger strike:


1. Abolition of the Anti terrorist Law Α’,article 187, Law 2001 (criminal organization).
2. Abolition of the Anti terrorist Law B’, article 187A, Law 2004 (terrorist organizations).
3. Abolition of the “hoodie law” (acts committed with concealed physical characteristics).
4. Abolition of the legal framework for type C prisons
5. The immediate release from prison of Savvas Xiros (convicted for his participation in the R.O. 17 November) on health grounds.
6. Against the criminalization of political and social relations
Solidarity is our strength

Athens 5th of March
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) – Greece IU 610 & 613 e-mail

Behind The Benefit Bashing Headlines Lies A Nasty Ideology That Is Not Confined To The Daily Mail

the void

mustard-tree-protest A protest was held outside Manchester homelessness charity Mustard Tree yesterday over their involvement with workfare. (h/t @gajagwyn)

There was a time when policies to send sick or disabled claimants on workfare, or sanction the benefits of lone parents, would have been met with horror by the electorate.  There have always been grumblings about the social security system, as with any other institution, but unemployment was once seen as a personal tragedy caused by wider economic failings, not a personal failing caused by laziness or the wrong attitude.

This change in public opinion did not happen by accident.  Just like immigration can be used to whip up and divide sections of the population, so can the social security system.  The implanting of the idea that somebody is getting something you aren’t, even if this isn’t really true, is an age old technique.  The grass on the other side of the…

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