Self-Education In Action

During a September Saturday Brighton SolFed held a network and skills day covering; the immigration act and healthcare, the attack on benefits, fighting wage theft and anarchists on austerity. This full day, including a mighty lunch prepared by members, maintained a constant level of debate and information, concluding in practical action points to continue agitating around Brighton and beyond.

Workfare sanctions extended from today

The governement has today significantly increased the sanctions for non-compliance with the benefits regime, including the controversial unpaid, forced work 'workfare' schemes. Under a 'three strikes' policy, benefits will be stopped for three months, six months, and then three years for failing to meet a series of conditions, many of which relate to workfare. According to a notiification letter given to all JSA claimants, this includes:

ATOS picket - 28th of august.

On Tuesday the 28th of august members of Hull Solfed were joined by disabled activists in staging a protest outside the local office of official Paralympics sponsor Atos. Like similar demonstrations happening simultaneously around the country we wanted to shine a spotlight on Atos and its practices. Employed by the DWP to carry out work capability assessments declaring sick and disabled people 'fit for work', Atos uses an inhuman computer programme to do the testing, and trains its staff to push people off benefits. They profit from destroying the rights and lives of disabled people.

Anti Workfare Poundland Picket (Wakefield)

WYSF and SRSM were joined by members of AFed in the picket at Poundland. Although it started slow we distributed 250 leaflet well within the hour. Reception seemed pretty good and we retired to the pub to discuss future actions. Between the 3 groups it was decided to continue to picket such p[laces as Poundlandand to include A4e and BEST in future pickets. Thanks to everyone who turned out, keep tuned for future actions!

Thousands of disabled people and people on "sick" to lose benefits on the 30th April

As part of the Governments Welfare Reform Bill (now an Act), Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will be limited to 12 months.  This comes into affect from the 30th April 2012 and for the first time is to be aplplied retrospectively.  This means that anyone who has been on Contribution based ESA for a year or more by April 30th will lose this benefit on April 30th.  For many this means relying on a partners income for others it means taking a cut in income while having to go on income based ESA.  The biggest losers are couples.

The logic of workfare

Workfare means unemployed people being forced to do unpaid work for their benefits. Tens of thousands of people are being forced into unpaid work, household name firms are profiting from free labour and disabled people face unlimited unpaid work or cuts in benefit. Workfare began under Labour with the New Deal in 1998, which became the Flexible New Deal in 2009. It is now being expanded by the Conservative-Liberal government under a number of different schemes including: ‘Work Experience’, ‘Mandatory Work Activity’, ‘the Community Action Programme’, ‘Sector Based Work Academies’, and ‘the Work Programme’.

Organising against workfare

Workfare is a growing problem, as demonstrated by recent stories of a number of supermarkets had volunteered to be providers for the scheme and that young people were providing 30 hours a week of unpaid labour. This presents a problem both for the claimants trapped by this scheme, essentially as slave labour, and for the providers' workforce who are being undercut by those doing their job at practically no cost. Equally worrying is that, despite the growing anger over government attacks and emergence of anti-cuts groups across the country, nothing is being done to challenge this.