Linking struggles and opposing the SNP in Dundee

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Ninewells Hospital Porters Support Group – Launch Press Statement 15/05/15

At the initiative of local campaigning group Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions, a representative of the striking Ninewells Porters was welcomed to a meeting to set up a Ninewells Porters Support Group.

Full support for the Ninewells Porters struggle was expressed and solidarity actions planned, including a protest at the SNP Office on Glamis Road when SNP Health Minister Shona Robison has her surgery next Friday.

The meeting was updated on developments in the Porters Strike and went on to discuss suggestions for raising the profile of the Porters Strike. The Support Group will seek to build wider understanding of the issues in the community, amongst other workers and amongst the unemployed.

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19/05/15: About this photo… it says it all! Hmmm! that’s an awfy interestin’ bus! ‘ SNP-Pay the Porters, Save Menzieshill High!, Cover Welfare Sanctions!’ Did ye hear anything there…like 300 folk marchin’ past shouting that…or a yer ears made o’ tweed ‘n aw SNP MP Chris Law!

Ninewells Porters Support Group – Press Statement 21/05/15

At a post election discussion last night- Wednesday 20 May- Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions, who initiated the Ninewells Porters Support Group, called for the fullest support for a protest picket to be held at SNP Health Minister’s Friday surgery. 2-3pm 22 May Old Glamis Road.

The call was supported by the Scottish Unemployed Workers Network which included SNP members, supporters and voters. Porters supporters, campaigners against Welfare Sanctions and campaigners against the SNP council’s decision to close Menzieshill High, will all gather at the Old Glamis Road offices of the SNP to call for support for the strikers’ case and their own campaigns.

The Ninewells Porters Support Group recognises the just demands of the strikers against Low Pay and calls on all campaigners to unite to oppose poverty pay, welfare sanctions and council cuts.

We challenge the SNP who were massively elected on an anti- austerity platform to turn their words into deeds. Pay the Porters Now!

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22/05/15: Great day out today wee the porters, Great picket of the SNP offices, very vocal and straight to the point. PAY THE PORTERS, STOP THE SCHOOL CLOSURE, STOP WELFARE SANCTIONS. Shona Robison has agreed to meet with porters representatives on Monday 25th of May. The strikers are under no illusions. We say DIRECT ACTION FROM HERE ON IN!

Excellent, noisy, militant protest for the Ninewells Porters. Meeting suddenly scheduled for Monday morning with Robison! Unity and support from DAWS, SUWN, SSP, SP, Class War, RIC, RCG/FRFI and even the Labour Party! The protest was reminded that while the SNP are trying to close Menzieshill High, it was the Labour council that closed Linlathen High 20 years ago. The open mike meant everyone could have a shout at the SNP, to put the question: ‘Where is your anti- austerity now!’ Porters want to be back next week, let’s hope we don’t have to be back and that victory is achieved very soon. Good point made by Andy D. that the NHS is our NHS and we vote to pay the porters! They are out in the town centre tomorrow, Boots Corner, 12-2pm. All out for the Porters! Low Pay- No Way! SNP! Pay the Porters Now!

Protesters denounce sanctions and workfare at Edinburgh Jobcentre

Demonstrators denouncing sanctions and workfare besieged High Riggs Jobcentre in Edinburgh on Wednesday 29th April.

Braving pouring rain, protesters from Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty and other groups displayed banners and placards and distributed hundreds of leaflets urging claimants to resist benefits sanctions and the government’s compulsory “work for your benefits” schemes.

At one point the demo moved temporarily from the Jobcentre front door to the staff car park.  Here, overlooked by the Jobcentre offices, protesters used a megaphone to direct speeches and chants to those inside.  Demonstrators pledged direct action to resist sanctions and workfare, and called for solidarity from Jobcentre workers, pointing out that workfare and sanctions undermine all workers’ wages and conditions – workfare is even being used in Jobcentres!

A representative from the Food Solidarity project, who work with Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty and supply food parcels for sanctioned claimants, entered the Jobcentre to ask them to take a food collection sack to put in the staff room.  A jobcentre worker initially stated this should be fine, but then a manager ruled that the Jobcentre would not accept the collection sack.

SANCTIONS VICTORY

ECAP say:

“We support claimants to challenge sanctions and workfare.  Together with the claimant concerned, we recently overturned a 4 week sanction imposed on an Edinburgh jobseeker who had informed the boss at his intended workfare placement, Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre, that the community centre should not be participating in such exploiting schemes.

If you are sanctioned – dispute the decision, you have a good chance of overturning the sanction and getting your benefits back.  Contact us for support, and see the practical advice here.  If you are sent on workfare, don’t just accept it, there are ways to fight back – again, contact us and see the info here.

The tide is turning against workfare – 542 charities and voluntary organisations are now signed up to “Keep Volunteering Voluntary” and are pledged to boycott all forced labour schemes.”

Resistance to sanctions and workfare is part of the wider struggle against all austerity.  Standards of living for waged and unwaged are under attack as the crisis exposes the true nature of the exploitative capitalist system.  The election won’t solve our problems – we need to develop a movement of direct action to make the rule of bosses and their political protectors unworkable.”

The demo saw Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty joined by banners from the Solidarity Federation, Anarchist Federation, and the Industrial Workers of the World, plus contingents from Greater Leith Against the Cuts and Edinburgh Anti Cuts Alliance.  Police attended throughout the two-hour long demonstration, but there were no arrests.

The protest, numbering around 25 participants, was part of a week of action against workfare and sanctions, organised to co-incide with the run-up to the general election, via the Boycott Workfare network.  Actions are taking place Britain-wide, in various locations in London and Glasgow, and including Swindon, Leeds, the Wirral, Cambridge and Bristol – plus several actions in the Netherlands, as resistance to workfare goes global.

From Yes to Action | Joint statement on post-referendum organising

The vast majority of people who voted Yes did so for a more equal and just society; to stop the war on the poor being waged by Westminster and the rich; an end to food banks, benefits sanctions, wage cuts, public service cuts, wars, and the destruction of our environment.

There is no mandate in Scotland for the vicious austerity programme of the Tories and Liberal Democrats. Meanwhile Labour compete to prove they will reduce the deficit by hammering the poor.

Despite its claim to seek a better deal for Scottish people, the SNP-controlled Scottish Goverment is implementing austerity. It has already made cuts to further education – Edinburgh College workers struck against worse conditions. It has understaffed the NHS, while cuts to council funding are leading to disabled people paying for their own care. The SNP/Labour council in Edinburgh plans to slash £22 million from local services.

The devolution of new powers will not stop the cuts, and whether they come from local government, Holyrood or Westminster they are an attack on working class people.

So what are we going to do now? We have no faith in politicians. We have no trust in the electoral system.

Let’s take action

There is an alternative – people power. There are hundreds of thousands of people fed up with the unfair austerity programme and if we act together we can make the government’s policies unworkable, by mass collective direct action.

Our immediate aims should include:

  • Reversal of the cuts to benefits, ending workfare and the attacks on disabled claimants made via the Work Capability Assessment etc. Stopping the implementation of Universal Credit
  • Far better wages, conditions and a shorter working week for all workers – an end to poverty pay
  • Standing together with immigrant workers fighting for better conditions – solidarity not scapegoating
  • Stopping vital public services being torn apart in the name of austerity
  • An end to disabled and older people being charged for their care and support services
  • Fighting to maintain and improve NHS staffing levels and to stop budget cuts and privatisation of health services
  • Stopping fracking and open cast coal
  • Getting rid of Trident nuclear weapons, opposing all war
  • Ending the jailing of refugees in Dungavel detention centre
  • Ending fuel poverty, combating climate change
  • Totally opposing racism, patriarchy, discrimination against disabled people and all oppression

Let’s make Scotland ungovernable. Instead of politicians and the rich having the power we can create our own counter-power from below by organising in our communities, where we work and study. Real democracy is not voting for someone else to do our thinking for us, real democracy means direct democracy, first hand involvement.

We need to organise from below

We are not saying this will be easy. But something like it has been done before, here. We made the Bedroom Tax unworkable in Scotland because so many of us refused to pay, and because we organised in our communities to stop any evictions. The poll tax non-payment movement was an inspiring example of community self-organisation, defeating an all-conquering Thatcher.

Some of us who have written this statement are claimants and are involved in struggles against workfare, against sanctions, against the attack on disabled and sick claimants.  We are winning important victories, convincing and pressuring so many employers to pull out of the “work-for-your-benefits” schemes that in Edinburgh workfare providers like LearnDirect are really struggling to find workfare placements.  Our weapons are direct action and collective backing for claimants up against the system.  This is just one example. Together we have the potential power to make all the government’s hateful policies unworkable.

As we struggle for a society which will put human need first, we need to build up links with others doing the same thing internationally.  In a planetary economy, where the greed and recklessness of rich investors in the housing market in the USA can trigger a global crash, all countries are connected. Fundamental problems like war and the destruction of the planet by global warming need to be tackled world-wide.

Fostering distinctive cultures is positive. But beware governments and bosses using nationalism to divide us and promote a false “national interest”. In Scotland, as in all countries, there is no common interest between the ruling class – the likes of Brian Souter and Ian Wood – and the vast majority of working class people.

Our vision is of a world without borders where resources are shared communally. A world where a co-operative effort of a free association of producers aims at meeting human need in the widest sense. A world where relationships are based on equality and mutual respect, overthrowing the oppression of women by men, and all relationships where some dominate others.

The whole world will be one brotherhood…That can only be obtained when the people of the world get the world and retain the world.”
– John MacLean, 1918


#YesToAction is supported by the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh, Dundee Against Welfare SanctionsEdinburgh Coaltion Against Poverty, Edinburgh Anarchist Federation, Industrial Workers of the World Scottish Assembly and Perth Against Welfare Sanctions.

We invite any other groups who support this statement to contact us and join the Action Against Austerity network.


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