“Appropriate action will be taken”: LSE bosses try to menace striking cleaners

Cautiously pessimistic

Management at the London School of Economics have written to striking cleaners, claiming that some of them had breached the government’s code of practice on picketing, asking them not to strike in future, and warning that “we are in the process of gathering evidence to identify those involved and thereafter appropriate action will be taken”. You can tell they really like saying “appropriate action will be taken”, since they use the phrase twice in one short letter. This is a clear attempt to intimidate workers.

If you’re in the London area, you can help back these workers in defying their employers’ attempted intimidation by going along to the next picket on Wednesday morning, the film showing about their campaign on Friday, and/or their party on Saturday night. No matter where you live, you can also help out by emailing LSE bosses at j.black@lse.ac.uk, a.blair1@lse.ac.uk,

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But then they cut my hours

scottish unemployed workers' network

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In a world of precarious employment, many people who are getting by on minimum-wage agency work supplemented by Working Tax Credits can be thrown into a major crisis at the whim of their employer. When we met Phil outside the buroo he had been given only a few hours’ work in the last three weeks and was struggling to make ends meet. Another week with reduced hours and he faced losing his Tax Credits as well. Clearly this wasn’t sustainable. He had spoken to the DWP and been told that if he left the agency work and applied for Jobseekers Allowance he would be sanctioned for giving up his job! So his only option was to go on Universal Credit. The one advantage of Universal Credit is that you ‘only’ lose 63p of benefit for every pound you earn, instead of losing all bar £5 when you are on JSA. Otherwise…

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Cleaners and security guards strike together, Wednesday 17th May

So why is it called a jobcentre?

scottish unemployed workers' network

The pretence that jobcentres are organised to find people work – and not just to discipline them – seemed to be wearing particularly thin last week as we listened to accounts of the hurdles the DWP puts in the way of any serious job search.

Jim has been doing voluntary work for a housing association for a couple of years; just the sort of thing the DWP usually pushes people to do to improve their job prospects. But recently he got a new ‘job coach’ and she was not happy. She claimed that the housing association was not a charity (she managed to overlook the statement at the bottom of its website) and Jim should have been paid for the work he had done. These non-existent payments would therefore be deducted from his benefit. Jim had to prove that he was indeed an unpaid volunteer. If he had not managed…

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In Defence of Our Land: Historical Similarities Between the Enclosure of Common Land from the Thirteenth to Nineteenth Centuries and the Privatisation of Public Land in the Twenty-First; or, Why the Class War Never Changes, Only its Historical Form

architectsforsocialhousing

These extracts are from John Wright’s recently published book, A Natural History of the Hedgerow (2016). I began reading it partly out of my love and hatred of hedgerows, about which I have written before on this blog in an article on Land Values, but also as an escape from the violence, injustice, political corruption and urban squalor of estate demolition. Little did I expect that, far more than a natural history of the hedgerow, Wright’s book also contains a social history of the struggles arising from the enclosure of common land in England and Wales between the Thirteenth and Nineteenth Centuries; and reading it I was struck by how similar the motivations and injustices of enclosure were to the conflicts arising today from the privatisation of land through the programme of estate demolition, not only in London but across the UK. Above all, I was struck by the…

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No wonder she was angry

scottish unemployed workers' network

Swear-Words

Jen emerged from the jobcentre shouting and accompanied by a security guard. At first she was too angry to engage with us at all, convinced that, as with everyone else she had encountered, our offers of help were hollow. But something persuaded her to turn around and come back. Over a cup of tea in the café opposite, she explained that she had been on JSA but had taken a job for two weeks in a Glasgow club.  When she signed on again she was put onto Universal Credit. She had asked for a Rapid Reclaim, but the DWP treated her like a new claimant and she was undergoing the long wait for her first payment. To make it worse, they initially failed to put through the claim at all and she had had to start again. It was now nine weeks since she had applied, and she was yet…

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