There will be no unpaid workers at the Co-op!

end-unpaid-work_0Dorset IWW General Members’ Branch is pleased to announce that our dispute with a Bournemouth outlet of the Co-operative has been settled amicably. We have a verbal assurance from local management who are USDAW members, that they have no wish to exploit unpaid workers on their premises, and that their connection with ‘Prospects’ has been severed. We congratulate them on their principled decision and affirm our commitment to defeat the government’s work programme and end unpaid labour.

Nationally however, the situation is less clear; we have had sight of a Co-op internal document that sets out the parameters of their unpaid work experience programme. Whilst it insists that placements must be voluntary and offer meaningful experience, we note that vulnerable adults are being conscripted who may not be fully aware of their rights. It’s highly likely some of them will not be able to make an informed decision and/or will get browbeaten by jobcentre staff with targets to meet. Once they are on the scheme if they leave they may be deemed to have made themselves intentionally unemployed, and be sanctioned. Lastly of course, however you dress it up, it’s unpaid labour. How long does it take to assess a person’s suitability for working in a grocer’s shop? A week, two? Why then should a national chain not speculate a fortnight’s minimum wage to find out?coop

Anti Workfare Pickets. IWW Dorset

boycottworkfareA local Co-operative store in Bournemouth has chosen to sign up to use the exploitative practice of Workfare or government work programme.

IWW Dorset are outraged that a store that promotes itself as an “ethical employer” is prepared to put fellow workers jobs at risk, as well as paying the workfare participant less than minimum wage.

We demand that Co-operative put an immediate end to this exploitative practice and offer the workfare participant a contract of employment and treat them as an equal team member.

As such we are proposing a rolling picket to inform customers of the situation and allow them to make up their own minds what action they are prepared to take if any.

We are therefore looking for volunteers to man the picket, handing out leaflets at convenient times between 7am and 11pm ongoing as and when people are available.

The picket will operate at any times when we can get 3 or more people to man it.

Leaflets and guidance will be provided for all volunteers.

If you want to help with this action please be in touch, in the first instance by emailing afoolofatook@riseup.net with any availability. Someone will then be in contact with you with further details and rota slots will be prepared.

Solidarity – See you on the streets!

Victory at the job centre – an injury to one is an injury to all!

job_centre_plus2There is a way to help unemployed people who have ‘failed’ workplace assessments and a way was found here in Dorset.

A fellow worker with quite severe adult ADHD and anxiety disorder was recently the victim of a ridiculous workplace assessment and found totally fit for work without any consideration for his condition.

The fellow worker is in possession of a letter of diagnosis dated October 2014 that his ADHD and anxiety are so bad that he is unfit for work.

The fellow worker is also a single parent.

After the assessment ‘fail’ his ESA was immediately stopped and he was informed to file a claim for JSA and search for a job. No support, no guidance, nothing.

The fellow worker asked me to accompany him to the job centre and I did so.

The initial appointment was basically a ‘get the claim filed’ exercise designed to last about 10 minutes. This was no problem.

The fellow worker was then told that his next appointment would be a 40 minute appointment that would delve further into an appropriate type of work and any implications regarding his single parenthood. The JC adviser then told the fellow worker his appointment would be at a time that was ridiculous and gave the fellow worker no time to pick his daughter up from school.

The fellow worker asked for another appointment more appropriate and was told ‘no’.

The fellow worker then asked me for assistance. Together we demanded an appropriate appointment and the second time around after some faffing around in a back area we were given the appointment we wanted.

Getting this wish gave us 7 days to formulate a strategy to try to avoid the fellow worker being put into a position where :-

1. His mental health would deteriorate

2. He would be unable to take and collect his daughter to and from school

3. He would be able to construct a meaningful appeal against the work assessment’s ridiculous findings.

The answer was a good old fashioned GP’s sick note that the fellow worker had obtained at a GP’s vist immediately after the 10 minute interview at the jobcentre.

The fellow worker and I attended the job centre for the 40 minute appointment and rather than let the JC adviser control the interview the fellow worker took immediate control and presented his sick note clearly stating that he was signed off from work for 3 months with an anxiety disorder.

This gave us everything we wanted. The job centre adviser was forced to concede that JSA can be paid for up to 13 weeks on production of a sick note without there being any pressure on the claimant to search for work or be on any kind of workfare program.

I am pleased to say that our fellow worker will now be paid for 3 months at the full adult jobseekers rate, is under no pressure to attend the job centre, search for work or be mandated to attend workfare.

The pressure is now off and the task ahead is for our fellow worker to put together an appeal and have his ESA re-instated.

The important point in all this is that there is a role for union reps with job centre claimants.

The fellow worker approached the union for help and together we were able to identify a strategy that would achieve what the fellow worker wanted and we left the job centre fully satisfied with the outcome.

Credit goes to the fellow worker who owned the problem and with union assistance worked out his own solution.

He did tell me that support from the IWW had been crucial in him obtaining the confidence to clearly dominate the proceedings at the job centre and get the result he wanted.

He was quite anxious that because his ESA had been stopped, without an income he and his daughter would have problems being able to feed themselves and pay their rent.

I am please to report that this fellow worker and his daughter are now safe for 3 months pending appeal thanks to his presence of mind and appropriate IWW support.

Supporting Comrade Tony Cox

Activists from Dorset IWW and Dorset Peoples Assembly as well as unaligned comrades outside Bournemouth Job Centre in support of Tony Cox Photograph courtesty of Haydn Wheeler

Activists from Dorset IWW and Dorset Peoples Assembly as well as unaligned comrades outside Bournemouth Job Centre in support of Tony Cox
Photograph courtesty of Haydn Wheeler

Photograph courtesy of Haydn Wheeler

Photograph courtesy of Haydn Wheeler

Members of Dorset General Members Branch of the IWW at Bournemouth Job Centre today

Several Activists from across Bournemouth staged a demonstration of support for Tony Cox of the Scottish Unemployed Workers Network who was arrested on 29th January. Activists from Dorset GMB of the IWW, Dorset Peoples Assembly and unaligned activits were all present in a show of solidarity.

The following quote from SUWN
Scottish Unemployed Workers Network activist Tony Cox was arrested on 29th January after Arbroath Jobcentre management called police to stop him representing a vulnerable jobseeker. We urge you to join a Day of Action on 25th February at Jobcentres round Britain to show your solidarity.

Leaflets were handed out to comrades signing on today informing them of how they can empower themselves to avoid workfare and what their rights are under the workfare scheme. Many people arriving at the job centre thanked us for our show of solidarity and appreciated that there are many comrades that understand their plight

Say No to slave labour and no to workfare

Dorset IWW