A blog about welfare reform from a social care worker's perspective, and the creation of the "welfare addict" as a recession-era scapegoat. Inspired largely by today's Novara show, and the people I work with.
I've got a personal grudge against a colleague of mine. I know this is bad for workplace solidarity. A month ago I sat in the office filling out a service user's DLA1
- 1. Disability Living Allowance – a non-means-tested benefit intended to cover the additional costs of having long term care or mobility needs.
Stories about the government threatening a “crack down” on trade union power emerge almost on a loop. Particularly in times of heightened class antagonism. But far from showing the unions as threats to society, such threats are a demand that the unions tighten up their role in policing class conflict.
The latest such story comes from the Independent, the main headline of which is a policy to “make strikes illegal unless at least 50 per cent of union members voted in a ballot.” This ties in with government rhetoric about ballot turnout whenever they attempt to
With attacks on claimants and the unemployed escalating, campaigners and trade unions have made numerous calls for “unity” between workers and the unemployed. But too often, this “unity” is a purely theoretical one. How can we go beyond words to build a practical basis for solidarity across our entire class?
One of the most high profile examples of this unity of words is the joint statement signed by the PCS Union, Disabled People Against Cuts and Black Triangle.
On Saturday 2 February, the Civil Service Rank & File (CSRF) Network held its inaugural national conference in Coventry. This is a brief report of the event and analysis of where the group is and should be heading.
The fact that the CSRF was having a conference at all was in itself an exciting development.
A look at my recent experiences organising at work, and in particular how they've been undermined by certain branch officials. How can militant workers respond when rank-and-file action is sabotaged by factionalism and personalities?
When talking about the next steps in the development of the Civil Service Rank & File Network, I mentioned particular issues organising locally. In the main, they are due to the utterly horrendous internal politics of PCS Bootle Taxes Branch.
An exploration of the reasons for austerity in Queensland, Australia and a critique of those arguments that would reduce the cause to one of 'ideology'.
( For non-Australian readers the title refers to jokes about the nature of Queensland, based on its history of agricultural production and its experience under the Joh Bjelke-Petersen National Party Government that ruled from 1968 till 1987)
Members of the anarcho-syndicalist CNT union and CGT union have gone on indefinite strike and occupied their workplace at the IMESAPI lighting plant in Granollers, Catalunya, Spain, demanding an end to the redundancy plans which would see four of the 21 workers let go.
The workers – now 23 days into their strike – are responsible for maintaining the street lights throughout the small Catalan town, and therefore are of critical importance to the town council. IMESAPI itself is a part of the huge ACS conglomerate owned by Florentino Pérez, the multibillionaire engineering tycoon known internationally as the owner of Real Madrid FC.
A look at recent developments within the civil service. The government's latest attacks, the response from both the union and ordinary members, and the prospects of workers taking control of their own struggles.
On Thursday 18th October, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude visited a HMRC office in Coventry.
On September 28, the Cabinet Office wrote to all HR directors across the Civil Service, instructing them to review terms and conditions with a clear view to rolling them back. The letter was this month leaked to the Guardian, who exposed plans to extend working hours, cut annual leave and attack other benefits like flexi time. The detailed policy document that accompanied this letter has now also been leaked.
The Guardian's leak has already provoked widespread anger amongst civil servants. Whilst the response of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has been muted, condemning the report but promising nothing more radical than lobbying MPs and incorporating the issue into their existing national campaign, workers themselves have indicated they are up for a fight.
Yesterday, the Public and Commercial Services union announced that strike action due to be taken by HM Revenue & Customs workers on Monday had been suspended. This supposedly followed "significant progress" in negotiations with the employer. The reality is quite different, in a campaign that has been mismanaged (at best) for coming on two years.
Firstly, some background. The current dispute in HMRC actually began life as three separate disputes - over job cuts and office closures, the imposition of strict sickness absence measures, and the "trial" use of private sector companies to take calls on two sites.