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By John Pring on 17th March 2022 Category: Benefits and Poverty
New disturbing evidence has emerged that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has introduced harsher rules designed to force more disabled people with significant mental distress to attend frequent face-to-face jobcentre meetings.
Last week, a work coach told Disability News Service (DNS) that she and her colleagues were being “bullied and harassed” into forcing claimants with significant mental distress into attending work-related meetings.
Many have been waiting months for a work capability assessment (WCA) but in the meantime are being forced to make regular trips to the jobcentre so work coaches can meet their targets for face-to-face appointments.
After the story was published last Thursday, DNS received an anonymous phone message – apparently from another work coach – who said the harsher new approach “was definitely happening”, although DNS has been unable to confirm that they work for DWP.
The Benefits and Work website has also reported hearing from someone who claimed to be a former DWP employee and who said that work coaches were being “named and shamed” by their bosses for not pushing enough claimants out of the support group* of employment and support allowance (ESA) and onto universal credit.
They also claimed
Striking Heathrow firefighters are being undercut by a privatised strike-breaking outfit from Surrey County Council, the FBU has learned.
The union has slammed the “backhanded” method of strike-breaking, warning that replacement crews will not be sufficiently trained for airport or airplane fires. Unite members have currently suspended strike action after bosses made an improved pay offer.
The strike-breaking unit, South East Business Services, was set up by Surrey County Council over four years ago as a separate local authority trading company. Some firefighters initially signed up to the unit, which came with a £3,000 pay package, but pulled out upon learning that the unit was set up to provide strike cover.
Firefighters in Surrey are not generally trained to provide airport or airplane fire cover, which requires specialist skills. The FBU believes the strike breaking plan is badly thought out and could risk public safety at Heathrow Airport.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “This is a backhanded act of strike-breaking from Surrey County Council. Airport fire crews are specialists and, quite frankly, this Micky Mouse outfit will not be trained to deal with airplane fires to anywhere near the standard of airport firefighters. They’re playing fast and loose with public safety at an airport, one of the most high-risk locations imaginable.
“Striking Heathrow workers have the full support of the FBU. It is grossly unfair that they be treated so poorly, while executives and shareholders line their own pockets. No one, and certainly no firefighters, should be helping bosses undermine this strike under any circumstance.”
Unite suspended the strikes planned for earlier this week to allow members to vote on a new pay offer, but strike dates are still on the table for later this month.
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Twenty-seven riders struck in Bournemouth. Nineteen picketed the largest and busiest KFC in Bournemouth, others went sick, or celebrated valentines with a loved one. Four scabs crossed the picket line, looking “furtive and guilty” – you know who you are! However four new riders were recruited to the strike group.
One striker assessed the viability of ordering food on the customer app:
“The only places I can order from are ones that provide their own delivery … It worked. I can’t get any (deliveroo rider) delivered food at the moment. … all the town centre and landsdowne restaurants show up … From 9:15 I couldn’t order food if I wanted to.”
Future actions will enforce deliveroo rates equivalent to the new minimum wage of £8.21 per hour. Another striker commented:
“The overall feelings of anger, aggression and disgust towards Deliveroo, rose again last night, to a new level. We refuse to let Deliveroo reduce us to poverty stricken workers, who are grateful for crumbs that fall from the company’s table.
We received a rather strange reply from Z Legge, Acting Business Manager to the Executive Director of the Long Term and High security Prisons Group, in response to our e-mail protesting the ill-treatment of our Fellow Worker Kevan Thakrar. We’d like to share it with you. Our original message is reproduced below.
Dear Richard Vince,
We object in the strongest possible terms to the systematic and persistent ill-treatment of our I.W.W. member Fellow Worker Kevan Thakrar. Whilst we appreciate you are not personally responsible for the miscarriage of justice that led to Kev’s incarceration, you have a duty to assure his physical and mental safety whilst in your care.It has been demonstrated empirically that the C.S.C. regime leads to severe psychological and physical damage. In addition Kev has been beaten, starved, sexually and racially abused, and had false allegations made against him by staff. Such treatment is classed as torture and forbidden by international law. You are deliberately exacerbating his Post traumatic stress disorder, contracted as a result of his abuse at HMP Frankland, which is a protected characteristic under the Equalities Act 2010. A psychiatric report states that he should have been returned to normal location after five years.
It is to F.W. Kev’s great credit that he has maintained his dignity and personal integrity under these circumstances. In contrast, your continued failure to address them amounts to dereliction of duty.
We demand that you stop moving F.W. Kev unnecessarily that you fit staff with body cameras so their conduct can be independently monitored that you grant his requests to see the governor and the diversity officer you take steps to return him to normal prison conditions that our Fellow Worker be free to make such external communications as will expedite his case and finally establish his innocence.
For the One Big Union