Universal Credit problem number a million and one – or thereabouts

scottish unemployed workers' network


A few grassroots activists can only directly help a tiny proportion of those who need assistance, but we hope by writing about what we do we can reach a few more people with similar problems, and also make a wider public a bit more aware of the realities of life relying on the DWP. The following two cases came to us by phone and internet. (The number in the heading is just a wild guess, but with 660,000 people now on UC it could be an under-estimate.)

Leanne rang us because she was planning to set up her own small business and she wanted to know whether to follow the jobcentre’s advice and move from Income support onto Universal Credit. Of course individual priorities will vary and ultimately the decision is hers, but we could tell her to start with that the DWP likes to encourage people to sign up…

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The impact of ‘rationalisation’

This is from the Save Southend NHS Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SaveSouthendNHS/

The Mid and South Essex STP continue their agenda to transfer as much as possible away from #SouthendHospital in their stealth attempt to downgrade our GENERAL HOSPITAL. Now the Microbiology department is going to Basildon!! The contract changed from being NHS run and was awarded to the company ‘Pathology First’ in 2014, demonstrating another example of privatisation and now the centralisation of yet another service to cut costs at the expense of patients. The latest cock up is cancer tests for residents in our area!! (see link to Telegraph article at bottom)

There are a number of issues with moving the service to Basildon our trusted sources state:

1) Risks to patients as increased turn-around time for specimens due to transport from Southend to Basildon
2) Staff shortages because they find it hard to recruit, so current depleted staffing coping…

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Open letter : Stand against transphobia

feminists against transphobia

As feminists of Bristol we stand together against transphobia.  The forthcoming ‘Woman’s Place’ event on the 8th February does not recognise all women as women –  specifically, it excludes trans women – and as such it is transphobic.

The event publicity says it will discuss the Gender Recognition Act but the publicity, its implied narratives, and the line up of speakers serve to exclude, harm and deny a voice to the very women that are most directly affected. This Act is important for the safety and well-being of all trans people and replaces a medicalised, difficult, expensive and slow bureaucratic system with one that gives all people the right to self-identify their legal gender.

This excellent article answers many of the issues concerning the actual implication of the proposed Gender Recognition Act. In Ireland, where the legislation changed in 2015, the experience of the feminist community has been very positive…

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My review of “The Caseroom” by Kate Hunter

lipstick socialist

the caseroom

This is a unique novel; how many are written by female  trade union activists about the history of women’s roles in trade unions and the struggle for equality at work?

The Caseroom is set during a dynamic period of women’s organising; 1891-1910. Iza Ross is a thirteen year old girl who, against all odds, is taken on as an apprentice  compositor in the Edinburgh print industry.  The opposition to women working in the print industry is spelled out by her older brother Rab who stops her one morning as she  leaves for work. “Ah’m a man at the frame, doing a man’s work. And you? You mean to be a frock at the frame? Better you’d never been born.”

women compositors

Rab and the other printers oppose the use by their employers of women as cheap labour.  As a female apprentice Iza gets only three  years training, unlike the men who get…

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Global resistance to app capitalism and the gig economy

Cautiously pessimistic

Across the world, workers are finding our jobs and lives reshaped by the new precarious forms of employment associated with app companies like Uber and Deliveroo, and wherever these new conditions arrive, people are fighting back.

Since the start of 2018, Deliveroo workers have taken action in Hong Kong, Belgium, France, Holland and Germany. You can read a fuller report from the Hong Kong strike here, and there’s an 8-minute video with English subtitles showing some of what happened in Berlin:

Meanwhile, over in Indonesia, Uber drivers have formed KUMAN, a union influenced by anarcho-syndicalism, which has grown to around 6000 members and taken repeated strike action, as documented in this interview. The interview also comes with a 30-second video showing some footage of KUMAN’s actions, including a beautiful moment where someone spraypaints “‘DELETE UBER” on a wall while still wearing their Uber uniform:

Last year…

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‘Power hour’ or Workers’ power?! – Reports from two Amazon workers, Hemel Hempstead, Winter 2017/18

Angry Workers of the World

Inside Amazon

With our series of Amazon workers’ reports [1] we hope to not provide yet another sad victim story of how Amazon turns humans into semi-robots. We leave this to the mainstream media. We want to dismantle the myth of Amazon being the all-powerful and well-organised global giant. We want to support the small but important efforts to turn Amazon’s international structure into the basis for a global exchange and coordination of workers:


We want to use the reports to address workers around us. We have to do this face-to-face and for this aim we have written and distributed leaflets at Amazon Hemel Hempstead this winter. We spoke to workers at the company bus stops in west London in the morning and with Amazon workers at the warehouse:


Two of our friends wrote reports after working at the Hemel Hempstead FC. Feel free to circulate them and to get…

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Reflections on the Save Southend NHS march and rally

On Saturday 27th January, over 1000 people marched through the centre of Southend to protest against the ‘Sustainabilty & Transformation Partnership’ (STP a.k.a. Slash, Trash & Privatise) plans for ‘rationalising’ services between Southend, Basildon and Broomfield hospitals. It was also in protest at the merger of the three hospitals which was sprung upon everybody during the STP ‘consultation’ process. The protest was called by Save Southend NHShttps://www.facebook.com/SaveSouthendNHS/ Check out their Facebook page for frequent, accurate and to the point updates and bulletins about the campaign and the implications of the STP.

The aim of the protest was to draw the attention of the wider public in Southend to the threats posed to NHS services by the STP plans. Threats which if not challenged, will lead to a two tier service with those that can pay getting a better standard of treatment followed by eventual privatisation and the loss…

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