The Civil Service Rank & File (CSRF) Network is calling a rally outside of the PCS union’s Annual Delegate Conference at lunchtime on Tuesday 21 May, urging delegates to support a position of non-cooperation with sanctions against welfare claimants.
The fact that Jobcentre Plus are directly responsible for implementing sanctions has long been a cause of tension between workers and claimants. Many staff oppose sanctions and their union, PCS, has been a leading voice in the campaign against welfare reform. Likewise, claimants continue to raise the question of why those they stand with at demonstrations one day should take their benefit from them the next.
In an attempt to address this, a number of motions urging non-cooperation with sanctions were put to PCS’s national and DWP group conference. All of them were omitted from the conference agenda on the grounds that implementing them would risk falling foul of the anti-trade union laws.
News of this decision provoked a feeling of betrayal from claimant organisations, as well as debate amongst civil servants over the tactics necessary to defeat welfare reform. An emergency motion has also been drawn up for PCS branches to submit to conference in an attempt to put the question of non-cooperation back on the agenda.
The CSRF Network feels that it is important that this debate be heard. Solidarity between workers and claimants is vital in order to defeat the government’s austerity agenda and, as we are seeing, that solidarity is put at risk when words are not translated into action. On its own, non-cooperation will not defeat welfare reform – but it is a vital ingredient of a broader campaign based of direct action and generalised struggle. Further, it is worth pursuing for the fact alone that it can help claimants avoid being pushed into further hardship by punitive measures.
It should not be the job of those in work to police the unemployed. By accepting this, we not only allow the government to ruin lives, we facilitate a restructuring of the labour market which aims to regiment unemployment and in doing so undermine the security and rights of those in employment.
We are calling on PCS to ensure this issue is debated and urging delegates to vote in favour of making this important stand. Join us.
Tuesday 21 May, 12.30-14.00
The Brighton Centre, King’s Rd, Brighton, BN1 2GR
Bring flags and banners
RSVP on Facebook here