Collective Action Gets Results

Our friends up in Glasgow have had a recent success in their fight against a letting agency. Vivien and Hartwig received the £187 that the agency took off them as “administration fees” – illegal under Scottish Housing Law – in a cheque on Friday after a demand letter delivery in December and a brief internet campaign in January. A great outcome – all thanks to great support from a great many people.

Similarly a victory for those fighting against workfare. This time in Scarborough where two weeks into the new year the Council, one of the worst workfare-using councils in the UK, has cancelled its involvement. Volunteer centre Knowsley CVS has taken the principled stand to have nothing to do with workfare schemes. On Friday, the DWP’s social media strategists were forced to abandon use of their hashtag #takeoverday to promote ‘work experience’ when people literally took it over to campaign against sanctions and workfare!

Over Christmas, The Mirror and The Guardian published research into UK councils using workfare. Scandalously, councils have benefited from at least half a million hours of workfare labour since 2011. We highlighted some particularly shocking examples, including

Scarborough Borough Council, which had taken 120 Mandatory Work Activity placements in its Parks Department.

Apparently the Council didn’t appreciate the national publicity, and following its first meeting in the new year, the scheme appears to have been cancelled practically overnight. Cuts to the Parks Department were proposed in 2012. This success should mean jobs are now a little more secure.
A couple of fine examples where collective action is already paying off in 2014.
Workfare is a range of schemes run by the Jobcentre, which force people who receive welfare to work without proper pay. Workfare profits the rich by providing free labour, whilst threatening the poor by taking away welfare rights if people refuse to work without a living wage. Anyone who refuses to comply will find they get their benefits sanctioned (cut) for weeks, months and in some cases years.
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