Today’s demo. Food parcels taken immediately, anger, frustration and a visit from a French film maker. 

To say that today’s demo was busy is an understatement. It was both hectic and stressful. We also got a fair bit of verbal abuse from passers by.  Today was one of those days. 
As soon as I arrived I met the lovely man who is making a film about the awful DWP system in the UK. We had a quick discussion about what he was wanting to do. He also explained to me that the French government might be thinking of implementing a similar system. Awful. He’s against this. 
Gordon was taking the food parcels out of his car boot. As soon as he took them out they were all taken. We had none left at 10.05…. This says a lot to me. A stark reminder that far too many people are suffering. 

As soon as they had been taken a man arrived asking for a food parcel. They had all gone so I gave Gordon some money and he took him to the shop next door. Thank you Gordon. 

Then two more people arrived asking for food parcels. We had none and I was panicking slightly when I saw a member of the team, Pat arrive. She buys food from the cheap shop next door when she is able to come. Thank goodness for her because these people were able to have food. 

The need was greater than ever today.  The government and this cruel system have taken the very soul out of the people from my local town. No wonder it’s run down. Lack of funding from the government and lack of money for the basics ensures that the community suffers greatly and it breaks my heart. 
As we were talking to each other, a man stood across the way started shouting abuse at us for no reason at all. I understand his anger, he might have thought that we worked for the DWP or something. However he didn’t give us a chance to explain. I hope that he’s OK and that he’s getting the support that he needs. No one should be driven to feel that amount of anger. 
We spoke to a lovely man who has £4.50 to last him for two weeks. He took a food parcel from us last week and he was given another this week. 

He’s a lovely, polite man who had worked all his life. Seeing him in this state is awful though. His confidence has gone, he can’t wash his clothes and is struggling to keep going. He told us that we are his lifeline at the moment. We regard him as a friend. 
We spoke to a lady who had attempted to go in the Jobcentre and support her friend for her first interview with her advisor. She was wrongfully told that she wasnt allowed to do this, so we informed her friend of her right to do so. 

It might appear petty, but the breaking of these rules by the DWP sets the standard of how the claimant will be treated by that advisor. If they are aware that a person is not aware of their legal rights regarding Job searches etc then they will run roughshod over them. My advice to anyone having to make a claim is to research your legal rights and stand firm. 
Too many WASPI ladies were having to use the Jobcentre today. This always upsets me. The government has basically conned them out of their right to a decent retirement and pension. 
We had a person in a car drive past shouting “Get a job”…. As if we haven’t heard that before. Funny how they don’t get out of their cars and say it, they shout it and dive away at speed. 
I spoke to a lovely chap that I had helped in the past. He was looking much better and he wanted to say thank you. It was lovely seeing him. 
A lovely man started talking to us about the awful treatment that he had received from Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre and the DWP.  He was very vocal about it, good on him. He is in between jobs and only wanted to ask one question. He was refused that. This is how petty the Jobcentre is. 

He also went on to tell the film maker how awful it is inside the building and how the security guards are, as he described ‘like the Gestapo’. He’s not wrong there. 

He told us that his partner lives in London and her payment had been stopped for no apparent reason. She hasn’t received a letter which is usual. She’s got children, so the children might not be able to eat this week. It’s beyond disgusting. 

We gave him a leaflet which has a number for the Greater Manchester Law Centre. He is phoning them to get the details of local organisations in London that can help her. They are very pro-active there, and so is this man. 
We spoke to a man who sadly is in the belief that he will get his Esa for life. I hope that he does, but the chances of that aren’t high. 
Almost everyone that had to use the Jobcentre were rushing, looking at the ground on misery. This is what the system does to you. It stresses you out and wears you down. It literally never ends. 
Today was stressful, lots of different issues were brought to light. It’s hard work, and anyone that has attended our demos will attest to that. 
Before the demo started I bought a tent for a homeless chap that I buy a coffee for every day. His tent had been destroyed by someone and the local organisations had none. I hope that he is safe tonight. 
As for myself, I haven’t stopped and I apologise for the extra blogs. 

Please spare a thought for each and every person forced to endure this cruel system. And while Ian Duncan Smith still states that the film I, Daniel Blake is a work of fiction, I can say that it is not. The reality is even worse than the film. One day I will tell him so. 

Please share my blog, talk about it, tell your friends. Thank you
There’s also a donate button below. This has become a full time job for myself and every penny counts. Thank you so much.

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Also a MASSIVE thank you to all the team for being amazing and really going out of your way to help people. You are all fantastic. 

Thank you oncw again. 

It’s not fair. Daniel Blake died I have to live this hell. 

I promised a long time ago that I wouldnt post more than two blogs per week, it’s too much and people will get fed up. I changed my mind today though after a conversation with a man that I know. 
Recently an acquaintance of mine got sanctioned. He’s not well and had missed an appointment. Some would say that this is his own fault, but when someone isn’t well enough to work and are deemed fit then this will happen a lot. It’s inevitable and allowances should be made but they aren’t are they. 

Anyway last week both his friend who lives nearby and myself were trying to keep him going. He was very depressed and angry, not a good combination. It’s a sad fact that because of circumstances like these the suicide rates for men are continuing to rise every year. 

His friend spent a lot of time with him, I met him for a coffee and had a good chat. It seemed to help and he is now in a much better place. Thank goodness for that because I and his friend were worried. 

Today on the walk to school to pick my daughter up I saw his friend. It was pouring down with rain and he stopped to say hello. He went on to tell me his story. 

He’s an older man, and in constant pain. So much pain that he has to take large amounts of painkillers to just get by. And he’s angry, very angry. 

He had failed his medical, appealed and failed that also. He said “How the hell can I work? I’m in constant pain, I have to take painkillers that make me sleepy.” Now he has to go through the whole rigmarole of signing on and doing endless job searches. 

He told me that every day is hell. He wakes up not wanting to be here. The sooner he dies the better he says. 

He stated and quite rightly so, that how can it be fair that big corporations don’t pay their taxes, the prime minister says that we have to ensure austerity but at the same time she gives the DUP £1 billion. To day he’s angry is an understatement. And I totally agree with him. 

I asked him if he had seen the film I Daniel Blake. He said yes, he had and that it was rubbish. To be honest I was puzzled by his reply but he expanded on it. 

He told me that it’s rubbish because Daniel died, it’s not fair he said. Why couldn’t that have happened to him he wanted to know. It’s the best way out of the system and most likely the only way out for many. 

He didn’t think that the film was rubbish, far from it. But he was envious that Daniel had died. 

What kind of a society do we live in that makes a person feel envious of another person’s death, even if it was fictional? 

Every day people wake up in the sad realisation that they are still alive and they have to cope for another day. 

As the gentleman said to me, one day there will be a massive enquiry into the deaths and suffering inflicted on thousands upon thousands each day. 

One day we will hold them accountable for their actions. Some of us, including myself are brave enough to do so. Because we are angry and have nothing so have nothing anyway so have nothing to loose. 

We can do this. 

And please spare a thought for each and every person feeling disappointed that they are still alive every day when they open their eyes. Their suffering is real, but it shouldn’t be like this. 

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Exclusion and life below the poverty line. 

Hi folks, I’m writing an extra blog in response to feedback given to me on my Facebook page and Twitter account. I put out the question ‘Would anyone like an extra blog per week, something a bit different to the posts about the demos’. The response was unanimous. A big yes, if I have the time so here it is. 
One subject that I am constantly reminded about is exclusion.

 I know that this will also be familiar to my readers also, but at times it can be blatantly obvious, and at other times not so obvious. 

Before I start writing further, I should explain my position to anyone that isn’t aware. I have no magic money tree, I’m just like you, like millions of people living in the uk. 

I’m a single parent, I live way below the poverty line and have had first hand experience of the DWP system and illness. LIfe isn’t easy for most of us, but I’m not complaining even though I should complain more. I have a wonderful daughter and amazing friends. At times I must try their patience. 
Exclusion comes in many forms, and anyone living in poverty wether it be relative poverty or absolute poverty will experience this, although the severity of it does differ. To put it bluntly the less money that you have, the less you can do. 

I hear friends talk about trips out, I’m sure that you do too, it’s lovely to hear about their adventures, but a the same time it serves as a reminder that apart from local free days out in reality its not an option. 
The  other week I had to pay for a school trip for my daughter. Parents will be familiar with this scenario. The children are excited about the prospect of a day out with their friends, whilst we go into a state of dread and panic worrying about how we are going to pay for this. Many children don’t go, their parents keep them at home. And the school system punishes the child for having time off school. They won’t get their 100% attendance award, a punishment on top of their missed day out. 
As an adult being poor also excludes you from trips to the nearest biggest town, clothes shopping, doing what I call ‘big shops’ yes, Peter Kay is correct in stating that we say these things. I also say ‘big light’. I’m a northern lass and proud of it. Bus fare in my area is very expensive, so the only option is to walk unless you are lucky enough to have a bike. 
Trips to the Cinema, or ‘Pictures’ as I still call it are totally out of the question, going out for a drink is also and having a meal in a restaurant is the stuff of dreams. And yes we do dream about being able to do these things. 
A trip to the Supermarket, if it’s in walking distance becomes an obstacle course in itself. For many people, especially those living in rural areas, there isn’t any choice in where they shop. So they time it for when the yellow stickers go on the food. Believe me it can be a challenge trying to get the bargains that have been reduced, but when you do you hold onto them like they are gold, afterall they can keep a family from hunger for the week. 

It’s not just about material things though, although they do matter. Alongside this comes the loneliness, the isolation and the knowledge that you are ‘different’ than others around you. Taking part in something positive to do can stop a person from spiriling down into the depths of depression. But we just have to accept that we can’t do these things even though we would like to. And small things do matter. 
Friends become fewer, opportunities become fewer and health often becomes worse. 

With a poor diet, illness often accompanies it. It’s no surprise that there has been a return of victorian illnesses such as Rickets in children because children just don’t get access to a varied diet, and the sunlight that’s needed to prevent this. 

Adults and children have to deal with illnesses such as depression, anemia, insomnia, hypothermia, malnutrition, anxiety and many more besides. Whilst the government is busy selling off the NHS to the likes of Richard Branson, the demand is getting higher. We won’t be able to afford medical insurance it’s not an option. 


Why am I writing this you may ask? Everyone must know all this? The reality is, no not everyone does know this. The Tory Party is aware of this but choose for their selfish reasons to ignore it and make it purposely worse. There’s no use in asking for them to be sympathetic. They re created this cruelty in a very conscious way. 

I’m writing this to raise awareness, for people to be a little more understanding of each other. 

The next time a child’s parent’s can’t pay a school trip, don’t criticise and moan about it, instead understand the reasons why they can’t pay. No parent actually wants to exclude them from a school trip, and if a child gets a subsidised place, good on them, don’t hold it against that child or parent. It takes a lot to admit to a school that they can’t afford to pay for a school trip. 

If a child arrives at school in a less than pristine uniform show compassion instead of criticism. Ask the school if they can start a school uniform clothes bank. Some schools already have these. 

If a friend can’t join you for a night out, or a trip to the cinema, don’t show off about it in front of them, nor should you talk about them behind their backs. Instead ask them how they are feeling and be a good friend. 

If a person is hungry show them where the nearest food bank is, or offer compassion. Compassion costs nothing. If you can buy them a sandwich then that might just make them feel human again. Giving someone hope will also do this. 

People shouldn’t be tossed aside because they supposedly dont ‘fit in’. Everyone is important, and so are their right to a decent standard of living. 

More and more people are excluded from housing, vulnerable people left on the streets to beg whilst low funded organisations try and help them, try to keep them safe and feed them. The government has completely absolved themselves from any responsibility, nor do they care about how many people die as a result. 
People are made to feel worthless, subhuman and unimportant by the DWP system of sanctioning and failed medicals which are still being conducted by the likes of Atos. People are dying everyday as a result, but the government just shrug their shoulders and look the other way. 

A WASPI lady committed suicide after the general election because she felt stressed, unworthy and unwanted. Isolated at a time when she should have been enjoying her retirement. Once again the government don’t care. 
On Friday I had to travel to Manchester, something that I don’t do as regularly as I used to. I had to use the public loos and I started a conversation with two young homeless women. They were lovely women, bright, bubbly and friendly. They told me about their life on the streets, and the difficulties they face every day. Both told me that they had been begging all morning and hadn’t got any money, they needed a pound so I gave it to them. They also needed a hairbrush so I gave them mine. I got hugs from them, and smiles that I haven’t seen for a long time. I couldn’t change their situation, but a little bit of kindness gave them hope that people do care. And thats all it takes sometimes. 
In an ideal world we would have a society that wouldn’t exclude anyone, where everyone would have a home, money in their pocket, food and have the support that they need. It’s called socialism and this country is crying out for it. 

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What is poverty? And does it define us?

This is a question that I get asked often. People ask me if I can define it. In reality  its very difficult to define. There are three definitions of poverty in common usage, those being absolute poverty, relative poverty and social exclusion.

Absolute poverty defined as having the lack of sufficient resources with which to meet basic needs. Relative poverty defines income or resources in relation to the average income. But how does poverty define us?

According to the Joseph Rowntree foundation there are more than a million people living in poverty in the UK. I’m sure that figure is lower than the actual figure due to the level of people finding themselves without work etc rising everyday. They say that 184,5000 households have experienced a level of poverty that has left them with no choice but to resort to charities for essential things and shelter. The Joseph Rowntree foundation also say that three quarters of people living in poverty go without meals and half cant afford to heat their homes. These are some very basic statistics, but how what does living in poverty mean to those living in poverty?

I live in poverty, I’m not ashamed to say it. I don’t think that it has ever left my side except for a very brief moment a long time ago. So I can say this out of experience. I live in an area that is one of the poorest in the country, and a lot of my neighbours live in some kind of poverty.

Poverty can be very restricting and isolating. It defines how you can travel and relate to others.   Socialisation is limited to mainly your local surroundings or your own home. Public transport is expensive and is often off limits. Walking distance is often as far as you can go. So you often only see your local area and your own home, and slowly you begin to isolate yourself. You might  stop talking to people because you feel ashamed that you are poor and you certainly don’t want to be reminded that you are. You avoid people and places, its easier that way because it numbs the pain. This very often starts a cycle of depression and illness, often from a very young age.

The media bombards the public with advertisements and television programmes promoting a richer, happier lifestyle. They also promote the scrounger rhetoric with programmes such as Benefit Street. Discrimination against the poorest in society has never been this bad. Names such as scrounger, fraudster, single parent, immigrant are thrown everywhere with such hatred and disgust. I see this a lot whist helping claimants, no one bothers to ask what their story is, they are given a label.

When you live in poverty debt becomes your worst enemy. High rents, the bedroom tax, council tax, sanctions, benefit delays, low wages all ensure this. Charity shops become your best friend that’s if you can afford them. Food and heating becomes a priority, often its a choice either heating or eating. Its a tough choice because both are equally important.

Poverty defines your every move, children grow up knowing no different but the gap becomes clearer the older they get. They will soon be growing up to accept name calling and discrimination, after all the media have done an extremely good job of turning neighbour against neighbour. People cant just snap out of it and find a job that doesn’t exist.

Everyday I’m reminded of the film Cathy come home. I have a daughter who lives with her partner and children in a privately rented house. The house is very damp, it floods all the time, but the landlord refuses to help. She cant move because she cant afford to pay the £1000 deposit upfront, she doesn’t have a guarantor and she owes rent from her previous sub standard flat which was a housing association flat. She manages, keeps the damp to a liveable level. She lives in relative poverty.  She says that she is lucky to have a home, and she is right, but no one should have to live like this. Sadly its not unusual, its commonplace but it shouldn’t be.

People are trying to get by, its not easy and the unemployed and the working are stuck in the same situation. I say that we will soon be back to the 1930s poverty levels, but I fear that it will be more like 19th century poverty levels. Poverty does indeed define us, we might try to deny this, but it has defined my life and it will continue to do so.

I urge the public to use compassion and kindness instead of hatred and discrimination. After all this can happen to anyone and everyone is three pay slips away from being in the same position.


 

 

 

In work conditonality, the very worrying select committee report.

On Wednesday of this week, the government select committee reported its latest findings in a report which can be read here http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmselect/cmworpen/549/54902.htm This report mainly concerned itself with Universal Credit and in work conditionallity.

Most people, when they find work think that they are safe, that they dont have to worry about the Jobcentre anymore. They, quite rightly, feel that they have achieved a great goal and have found a job. Wether that job is a part time job or full time job it is what both themselves and the DWP want. They think that they wont be monitored anymore, that they will be free to enjoy their life. All that will be changing once everyone is switched over to Universal Credit.

Universal Credit will be taking over the Working Tax Credit, and Child Tax Credit element and therefore if you either work part time hours, or earn a low wage and have to top up with Working Tax Credit, Child Tax credit and Housing Benefit you will be forced to comply with in work conditionality.This is already being trialed at my local Jobcentre which is Ashton under lyne and I have already written about this before. It is already being trialed at various other Jobcentres in the north of the country.
I am aware that other people have blogged about this but there are several areas in this report which are very worrying indeed.

According to the select committee report your employer will become a co-signer to your claimant commitment that you will be forced to sign, and adhere to once you are shifted over to Universal Credit. They will also be able to actually draw up your claimant commitment with the DWP advisor, therefore they will have equal access to as they will be deemed data sharers in delivering the work programme.
What happened to the data protection act I hear you ask? Last year there was a cross party campaign, including Labour politicions to allow third parties access to your claimant information. They thought that this would be a good thing, and they thought this because it would allow agencies such as housing associations access to to your claimant information so they could ‘help’ you.

Ian Duncan Smith was very co operative, and of course he would be. Enabling this would also enable the DWP to give any organisaton data sharing status to any organisation that it deems delivering the Universal Credit programme. This could very easily become an employer or Work Programme provider.
Politicians from other parties might have seen this as a good thing, but it has opened up a whole new tin of worms, and a nasty one at that. My advice to them would be to never trust a Tory Trojan gift horse in the mouth.

This will ensure that there will be no privacy for Universal Credit claimants.

Would you really want your employer to be involved in drawing up your Universal Credit claimant commitment? If your employer isnt the plesant or helpful type this could become a total nightmare. They would report back to the DWP on your in work development and your in work progression.
The DWP will also have the powers to harrass your employer into demanding that they give you more hours. (I have already written about this in a previous blog).
If your employer isnt the caring type, they could report anything that they want, even if it is lies. They could also dismiss you because of the DWP harrasment that they have been getting. Afterall, they are trying to run a buisness, and dont want to be answerable to the DWP. And for those saying that this won’t happen, it will happen, we have already seen the start of it here. (I have already written about this in a previous blog).

To make this very clear. Universal Credit claimants that are working have to be answerable to their ‘job coach’. They have to be seen to do adequate jobsearches and they have to prove that they are doing this, the same as unemployed Universal Credit claimants. The job searches on top of their working hours can range from 16-30 hours, depending on the hours that you have worked. The new powers will enable employers to become involved with this.

They already have plans to move this scheme to higher earning claimants and will implement in work progression to those earning up to 20k to level it off to the benefit cap. In their words “If in work progression is such a good thing for the 1 million poorer workers, why not benefit the better off workers to the same conditionality”

“We will treat working claimants with light touch conditionality” Tell that to the workers that have already been sanctioned and are suffering, many with children.

I have doubts that this will be stopped, or indeed halted because very sadly, Universal Credit has the wind in its sails because it has widespread political consencious. I can only think that Labour politicians agreeing to this were duped in some way, by the smooth talking spin doctors. They could not have spoken to the workers on this trial, because they would have told a very different story. I do feel that they just agreed with the DWP and it’s “findings” based upon a small trial. I know that we can never trust their “findings” because they are assessed by themselves for themselves and will always be in their favour.
Its a terrible state of affairs where decisions like this can be made without on foot research. And anything that Ian Duncan Smith had been enthusiastic about should have shone like a warning beacon to politicians from opposing parties.

 

 

http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/comment-long-awaited-peer-reviews-suggest-ministers-failed-to-act-after-deaths-of-vulnerable-claimants/

http://nr.news-republic.com/Web/ArticleWeb.aspx?regionid=4&articleid=64344845

Why do sick notes go missing?Aggressive G4S security amongst other issues.

Whilst I was handing leaflets out i was asked to go and speak to a man who was stood round the corner. This happens quite a lot because they feel that they can’t be seen talking to us.Why? The fear of sanction and discrimination by DWP staff members. The threat of a sanction is enough for anyone to comply with their wishes. So i went over and spoke to this man.
He was in a very agitated state, he was very articulate but also very angry. He told me that he had worked all of hi life and had had an accident requiring several painful operations on his knee.He had received a letter from the eSa department to remind him to send his sick note in, but they didn’t include an envelope. So thats what he was there for. He asked to speak to an advisor but was stopped by a G4S security guard. given an envelope and was told to leave the building. he was shocked, all he wanted to do was to speak to a front desk advisor.
He came outside with the envelope and realised that it was the wrong envelope. The G4S security guard had given him the wrong envelope.. so he questioned this and was welcomed with a tough thats all your getting response. We helped him but this left me with these questions;
G4S security guards are not trained benefit advisors and should not be handling any personal information or handing out advice. The are not fully trained security guards therefore have no right to do so. Why are they being allowed to do this?
How many sick notes go missing in this way? These payments are a lifeline for ESA claimants and it shouldn’t be happening.
Is this a tactic deployed by the DWP deliberately or is it simply the DWP allowing unqualified G4S guards dish out advice ensuring that mistakes are made and wrong advice given?
Answers on a postcard please, although I will be enquiring bout this and monitoring this situation.

A young girl with her mother stopped us. She was shaking with fear and close to having a panic attack. She is on ESA for severe anxiety and the Jobcentre have felt that it is right to force her into the Jobcentre for an interview. I looked at the letter and she did need to attend, however she was far too ill to go in on her own so we advised her mum to go in with her. She is clearly not ready for work. No one should have to feel this scared of a building and the people inside. Its disgusting and we need to stop this. The government have created two monsters. The DWP and Jobcentre plus. Both equally evil.
I hope that she managed to recover from this ordeal.

This week G4S decided to be rather aggressive and have it seems taken ten paces back in their attitude. A young woman rushed out of the building wanting to speak to us. She said that she was sat waiting for her appointment and a G4S security guard was shouting “Im going to snap the strings on that guitar if they don’t shut up” she said that he was very menacing in manner and she was scared of him. She said that she would make a complaint lets hope that she does. Threats of violence should always be taken seriously. Our crime was to be playing songs of peace on a guitar played by a woman who is no threat at all. Shocking.

Events this week.

Wednesday 5pm Market street manchester a demonstration in light of the budget. I will be speaking t this event and will be announcing my own budget.

Tomorrow (Sunday) Greek solidarity demonstration 1pm Piccadilly gardens Manchester.

11th July Manchester’s March for the homeless 12.00 Piccadilly gardens manchester.

If you would like to donate to this blog to keep it going my Paypal add is seercharlotte@gmail.com this is not just a few hours writing its become more and more full time as time has gone on and any donations are more than welcome to keep it going. Rather than have to put ads on here which Im against doing. Many thanks

Another pregnant lady sanctioned and an altercation with a PCS union rep.

Im late in writing my blog this week due to unforeseen illness, but here it is.
Thursday was certainly an eventful day. The weather was lovely for a change and we were all in good spirits. That was blighted though for reasons that I will explain.
The first incident occurred when a lady who was heavily pregnant informed me that both herself and her boyfriend had been sanctioned on their joint claim. The reason why? Because Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre had refused to transfer their claim to a Jobcentre nearer their home in Bury.They couldn’t afford the Tram fare to Ashton so got sanctioned. They had lived in Ashton but had since moved. Thankfully the had applied for hardship payments but these go nowhere when you have a child to support as well. I advised her on what to do and to say and she went into the Jobcentre. A little while later she returned after speaking to an advisor who had agreed to transfer the claim and lift the sanction. They will receive a proper payment the week coming. She said I don’t know if its because you lot are stood outside but they seemed nicer today than they have ever been. She also said that she had seen a different advisor this time. I hope that all goes well for them, she’s had very tough time and this certainly shouldn’t be happening.

Our next incident occurred a little while later. We were all in good spirits. A friend had travelled to meet us and he was playing a little music. We are not a violent group of people and we are peace loving. We are at the Jobcentre to help people and have done so since August. We know that the Jobcentre staff are under enormous pressure and some are unhappy in their work. Whilst I don’t condone their actions at all I understand the culture of fear that runs through their offices. If indeed they wanted to join us on our protests we would welcome them. They know this and were told this at a previous meeting that was held in the Jobcentre last year between ourselves and them.
We were stood outside peacefully holding our placards and listening to the music when a lady burst through the Jobcentre doors with a G4S security guard. She made a beeline for me and she was very aggressive verbally and with her body language. She informed me that she was a PCS union rep and did not like a placard that we were using. The placard concerned has been used nearly every week since August and no one has ever taken offence to it. By then a crowd of 5 people had gathered round peacefully to hear what she was saying. She went on to say that she did not like the fact that a member of our group had recycled a PCS placard picked up on the anti austerity march in manchester in 2014. What is ridiculous is the fact the most of the PCS logo was covered by a stick and there was already notes on it stating that it was not being used as a PCS placard. The G4S security guard was stood behind her about 2 feet away smiling. He certainly didn’t feel threatened by the situation. She went on to say that we cannot use this placard. We pointed out to her that it had indeed been used since August at this Jobcentre and Stockport Jobcentre and no one had taken offence to it. The member concerned said that he would tackle this officially, but she then became abusive towards him.
I myself am a union member and I have never seen behaviour like this before. After many many months of peaceful protests she had taken it upon herself to try and disrupt the peaceful relationship that we now have with the Jobcentre, the police and the PCS union.
She then went on to phone the police which was uncalled for. A PCOS attended as we were packing up. He informed us that she had thought our behaviour was threatening and intimidating!! We informed him that it was actually not the case and it was the union rep who was threatening and intimidating. We advised the police officer to go inside and advise her about her behaviour because it was her uncalled for actions that started this whole chain of events.
What is quite ironic is that 40% of Jobcentre workers wages are so low that they themselves will qualify to claim universal credit. They might need our help one day. I think that the union rep should remember this. She should also remember the resolution that was made at their recent conference. A motion was passed to;
Raise the profile of the Governments war upon the poor,
Encourage campaign activity with local groups on this issue,
Support initiatives that seek to undermine and expose the draconian sanctions regime that exists in Jobcentres,
Actively support staff who are targeted with discipliners and reduced box markings for using their discretion when considering decision maker and sanction referrals.
Surely they should be supporting us and showing us some kind of comradeship rather than being abusive? Maybe she thought better or maybe she wasn’t aware of her unions own actions. We certainly are.
We all left shocked that this had indeed happened, but determined and resolved to attend again next week as usual. We are there to help and support people and come in peace. Is that so hard for people to understand?

Events coming up next week.
Tameside against the cuts strategy meeting, Tuesday 12 noon. Meet in Ikea Ashton Under lyne to discuss our strategies and actions for the coming year. Please attend.

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Can I state that this persons attitude is not representative of the whole of the PCS union. Many of which I know and who also think that her actions were uncalled for. In times of austerity we need to support each other and not become divided.