Category Archives: Road to success

Stories of fightback.

Back to work schemes quashed in court & Mandatory Work Activity under pressure from anti-workfare campaigning


Good news from Boycott Workfare and all over the news.

Today, the Court of Appeal quashed the government’s workfare schemes, which have seen tens of thousands of people put to work without pay and many more put at risk of destitution through sanctions.

Of the numerous workfare schemes introduced by this government, only Mandatory Work Activity remains lawful. With immediate effect, those on the controversial Work Programme, Sector Based Work Academies, Community Action Programme or other workfare schemes may leave without risk of sanction. Sanctions currently in place must immediately be brought to an end.

The government has however threatened to swiftly lay new regulations which may make the schemes mandatory and subject to sanctions. The impact of the ruling remains substantial, since unless the DWP wins the right to appeal in the Supreme Court and succeeds in that appeal, everyone who has been sanctioned on the schemes to date should be entitled to be paid back and all referrals to date will have been unlawful.

The viability of the remaining ‘lawful’ workfare scheme, MWA, is under question due to campaigners’ success in persuading charities and companies to withdraw. A DWP evaluation of Mandatory Work Activity in December 2012 noted that “The high profile withdrawal of placements from a number of larger charities meant a sharp reduction in placements.”

[…]

Boycott Workfare’s UK-wide week of action on 18th-24th March will go ahead with the aim of bringing Mandatory Work Activity to an end and ensuring the government don’t bring workfare back. The campaign will do all it can to ensure all those who have been sanctioned on the schemes are repaid, so watch this space.

Full article: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=2020

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Co-operative stops using ATOS


ATOS kills logo
In the face of protests both on and offline, The Co-operative Group have ditched poverty pimps ATOS as their occupational health provider.

The Co-op posted the following on their facebook page this afternoon:

“Hello everyone, here is an update as promised on our occupational healthcare provider, many thanks for your patience on this matter.

The Co-operative Group can confirm that a robust procurement process considering, amongst other factors, cost, operational efficiency and geographical capability is currently underway for our occupational health services provider. Having been scored against an agreed set of parameters and against other bidders, Atos Healthcare have not progressed to the later rounds of that process and our intention is to have a new provider in place when the current contract terminates.”

Source 14/1/2013: http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/co-op-ditch-atos-keep-up-the-pressure-it-works/

Action against ATOS in Nottingham:

Nottingham Defense Campaign: http://nottingham.indymedia.org/groups/nottingham-defence-campagin

‘Too much of this sort of thing’ Atos Two pamphlet: http://nottingham.indymedia.org/zines/2548

The subject of ATOS is currently receiving House of Commons debate:

Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm130117/debtext/130117-0002.htm#13011761000001

Guardian 17/1/2013 Atos comes under attack in emotional Commons debate: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jan/17/atos-attack-emotional-commons-debate

Holland & Barrett pull out of workfare – Boycott Workfare week of action 7th-14th July 2012


Before it even starts, the Boycott Workfare ‘Week of Action’ has had a major success: Holland & Barrett who have been using workfare on a huge scale (1100 placements a year amongst a workforce of 3500) have said that “the 60 people currently undertaking the work experience scheme will be the last to complete the eight week placement. After this time Holland & Barrett will not participate further in that scheme.”
More info:
H&B pull out – http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1265
Workfare facts – http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?page_id=663
Week of action 7th-14th July 2012: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1258
Companies involved with workfare: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1284. See also: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?page_id=16

Notts Uncut ‘Street Party’ – Nottingham City Centre – Saturday 26th May 2012 [plus UK Uncut video]


Notts Uncut are holding a ‘Street Party’ in Nottingham City Centre on Saturday 26th May 2012. Everyone is invited.

Starts at 12 noon on Listergate outside Topshop. For more info find Notts Uncut on Facebook – Notts-Uncut Part-of UK-Uncut, Twitter @nottsuncut or look for event info on Nottingham Indymedia.

Download colourful flyer: Notts Uncut Street Party 26 May 2012

Visit Facebook event page for the Street Party: http://www.facebook.com/events/340821982647541/

Check out the UK Uncut video here: http://tiny.cc/e0jeew

Text of the Notts Uncut flyer as follows:

Let’s go on a journey back in time to the year 1948 …

Fast forward to 2012 and things feel rather different. The government is not playing fair: its spending cuts are the deepest for decades and it’s cheating ordinary people by forcing them to suffer for an economic crisis they didn’t cause.

The government is also lying: it actively enables big business to dodge tax and slashes tax rates for the wealthy. Right now, for us, for ordinary people in this country, the future’s not what it used to be.

So now is the time to party like it was 1948. Street parties are going to be all the rage for the Queen’s Jubilee. But let’s make ours have a twist.

On Saturday 26th May join UK Uncut’s Great British Street Party to demand that we keep our public services, our rights and our welfare system and to celebrate a new future that isn’t dictated to us by a handful of millionaires but decided by us all – together.

Join Notts Uncut at 12 noon on Listergate outside Topshop. For more info find us on Facebook – Notts-Uncut Part-of UK-Uncut, Twitter @nottsuncut or look for event info on Nottingham Indymedia.

Britain was emerging from a World War and had a huge national debt. Much bigger than the one we face today. Did we see painful cut backs and austerity measures?

No, quite the opposite. We saw the birth of our National Health Service and the Welfare State. The UK was the first country to make health care, social care and financial security accessible to all.

1948 saw the launch of ground-breaking new laws designed to protect and care for everybody in our society, including universal unemployment benefits, universal child benefits, disability benefits, rights to housing and the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

1948: a year when the Olympics were last in town; and the people of Britain were, at last, looking forward to the future.

Britain back then really was “all in it together”. The future looked better than the past. So, we partied in the streets and dreamt of what we could achieve as people and as a country.

Report and photos from 10th May industrial action and rallies in Nottingham


Report from Indymedia. Lots of photos at: http://nottingham.indymedia.org/articles/2584

Public Service workers in health, education and the civil service were striking on Thursday 10 May in their next stage of the pensions dispute. Members of Unite working in health, UCU in education and the PCS in the civil service took part in the action which they thought to be an important step to bigger and more coordinated action in June.

Joining with ASLEF train drivers who were taking their 4th day of action over changes to their own pensions, which will see their pension pot devalued as a result of lower employer contribution. Like workers in the public sector, they are facing pensioner poverty for themselves and young people hoping to move into employment whose future the government seem determined to sell out.

There were two rallies on the day. The first started at the Queens Medical Centre at 11.00 am and linked in with Unite members there. After that, the main rally took place at 12.00 in the Market Square, Nottingham. Guest speakers will included union members in ASLEF, UNITE, UCU and PCS and a representative from Occupy Nottingham, students as well as representatives of other unions in dispute.

See also, ASLEF strike report from Tuesday 15th May: http://nottingham.indymedia.org/articles/2586

Nottingham Mayday (Saturday 5th May 2012) videos


Four videos from Saturday’s May Day (international workers’ day) celebrations in Nottingham city, march into town from the Forest Recreation ground to the city centre and rally in the Congregational Hall, Castle Gate.

Mayday march video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYiSq9WshW4

Video of march and start of rally (MC speech): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNW1-isw2Uw#!

Video of the Meale protest (at the start of the May Day Rally event) and Notts Unison speaker
https://vimeo.com/41626666 (password is indymedia).

Notts Uncut speech at Mayday Rally: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmd-Czq_qb8

‘Too much of this sort of thing’ – Atos Two pamphlet now available in print and online


In September 2011 two Nottingham residents, a retired paediatric nurse and
a wheelchair user, were arrested at the local Atos ‘Healthcare’ assessment
centre.

This pamphlet looks into the wider context of their case. It also offers
practical suggestions for persons who need to claim disability benefits &
support and/or want to engage in direct action.

FREE DOWNLOAD (pdf) http://nottingham.indymedia.org/zines/2548
PRINTED COPIES available (suggested donation £1), please email
nottsdefence [at] riseup.net

FEATURED CONTENTS

Articles:

    Open letter to the BMJ and RCN
    Devastating Welfare?
    Professor Harrington, independently review my crippled arse!

Appendices:

    On claiming disability benefits/support
    From ESA claim to Atos assessment
    No Comment!
    How to support those in trouble
    Further reading

INTRODUCTION

In September 2011, two Nottingham residents, a retired paediatric nurse
and a wheelchair user, were arrested following a peaceful protest at the
local offices of Atos ‘Healthcare’. Dubbed the ‘Atos Two’, they were
subsequently charged with aggravated trespass.

Faced with an impressive solidarity campaign and having a pathetically
weak case, Atos and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) backed down in
January 2012. According to the CPS the case was ‘discontinued’ because the
‘complainant no longer support[ed] the prosecution’. It remains unknown
whether this change of mind was due to Atos’ own concerns of further bad
publicity and/or whether the CPS advised the ‘complainant’ to back off
before both company and prosecutors risked humiliation in court.

In any case it is without question that the remarkable acts of solidarity
with the ‘Atos Two’ by hundreds of supporters did make a significant
impact. The public pressure mounting up even before the trial had started
will have made an impression, demonstrating the importance of such
practical acts of solidarity and the potential of mutual aid and support.

Atos ‘Healthcare’, a division of the international IT giant Atos S.A., has
in recent years been the target of numerous protests. The company plays a
crucial role in the government’s attack on people with disabilities as it
administers a phoney ‘medical’ assessment, which is the core element of
the Work Capability Assessment (WCA).

The WCA was originally brought forward by a Labour government and has
since been endorsed by the ConDems. It was specifically designed by the
Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to force people claiming Incapacity
Benefit (IB) or trying to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
onto Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), regardless of claimants’ physical and/or
psychological issues. Apart from the WCA being structurally biased against
claimants, Atos’ implementation of the ‘face-to-face’ assessments quickly
resulted in the company becoming infamous and feared amongst people in
need of disability benefits.

As Atos is such a particularly disgusting part of the modern British
welfare system, there have been a number of protests against the company’s
offices all over the country. The protest in Nottingham was not unusual in
having been not only entirely peaceful, but also extremely (one might even
say far too) polite.

The rather ham-fisted reaction by the local police, better known for their
frequent blunders and blatant incompetence rather than a particular urge
to repress peaceful protests, and the CPS’s decision to go ahead with the
ridiculous charges, were widely received with astonishment. The
politically motivated prosecution of the ‘Atos Two’ may even indicate a
change in the attitude of the local force and the CPS towards
demonstrations. This perspective was only underlined by one copper’s
comment, stating on the day of the arrests that ‘there’s been too much of
this sort of thing going on and we’ve been told to crack down on it.’

This case of political policing, aimed to intimidate protesters and deter
further acts of direct action, is also not an isolated one. At the close
of a relatively lively year 2011, in which Nottingham saw many protests
and acts of direct action, there were a number of arrests of Uncut
activists, whilst critical journalists faced harassment by the police
(with officers unlawfully confiscating tapes after an arrest had been
filmed).

Whether or not these cases really mark the beginning of a wider crackdown
on local protests, they exemplify that any attempts of reaching out to the
police will always be futile. Even an apparently sympathetic copper
fulfils a distinct role in society; she/he is being paid to enforce the
state’s monopoly of violence and to defend the property and production
relations. In order to do so they are trained and willing to follow orders
(otherwise they would not be coppers). No matter how much some people try
and get them on board because ‘they are facing cuts too’, that will never
ever stop a cop from going after you and/or your friends if they are
ordered to do so.

The relatively high number of protests in Nottingham and the described
acts of repression need to be seen in connection with the wider upsurge in
direct action throughout Britain since mid-2010 and the attempts to quell
it. Although actions deemed violent by the laws of the propertied have
been relatively rare exceptions, any form of protesting is only tolerated
until a certain line of annoyance is crossed. Therefore even those taking
part in rather fluffy actions are increasingly running the risk of being
harassed, assaulted and arrested in an attempt by police and the justice
system to deter any further direct action.

The offence of aggravated trespass is frequently used to criminalise
protesters. One high profile example is the on-going case of those
prosecuted for the occupation of Fortnum & Mason (F&M), Her Royal
Highness’ sandwich and fizzy pop provider, in March 2011. The offence of
aggravated trespass was invented in the 1990s in response to the successes
of hunt saboteurs and road protesters and has since frequently been
modified to allow it to be used ever more widely.

Offences like aggravated trespass or for example obstruction are handy
tools for law enforcers as their relative vagueness allows them in many
cases to find a judge willing to convict people who have (allegedly) been
involved in very peaceful protests (as in the case of the F&M occupiers).
And even if a conviction is unattainable, arresting and repeatedly bailing
people is a simple but effective tool for gathering intelligence and
keeping tabs on people, often hindering them from engaging in further
direct action for months at a time.

Everyone engaging in any form of direct action, however peaceful and
polite, must be aware of, and vigilant against, the possibility of
repression. Those engaging in more edgy actions must be even more prepared
that the police and justice system will do what they can to go after them.
Even quite harmless acts can get you imprisoned, as despite rising prison
populations, people are being sent down for using joke shop smoke bombs on
demonstrations.

With this pamphlet we want to offer practical advice to people who want to
engage in direct action and/or need to claim disability benefits/support
from the welfare system. We also look into the wider political context of
the case of the ‘Atos Two’ by providing articles regarding the demise of
the welfare system in general and the WCA in particular.

There are numerous groups and individuals working hard to resist the
attacks on the welfare system as well as acts of repression. Instead of
trying yet again to reinvent the wheel, we have drawn heavily on some of
their excellent materials written over the years. We would like to thank
everyone for their vital work, which provides such essential support for
so many people.

The first text in this pamphlet is a slightly abbreviated and edited
reprint of an Open Letter initiated by WinVisible with a number of other
campaigning groups, originally published in 2011. It poignantly summarises
the case against Atos, for example by highlighting some of the many cases
in which being dragged through a WCA has directly or indirectly caused the
claimant’s death.

The article Devastating Welfare? discusses the wider context of the
current attacks on the welfare system, providing some historical
perspectives as well as outlining some of the dilemmas facing those
resisting these attacks.

Subsequently the article …review my crippled arse! is looking into the
legitimisation of the WCA. It outlines and criticises some of the
underlying assumptions and the interpretation of evidence in the so-called
independent reviews of the WCA, which (although initially perceived with
some hope) turn out to be nothing but deferential whitewash for the
policy.

A number of appendices offer some practical suggestions for people who
need to claim disability benefits/support and/or want to engage in direct
action. These passages draw on excellent materials originally published by
various groups, for example the Black Triangle Campaign or the Legal
Defence and Monitoring Group (LDMG). General advice on disabled persons’
dealings with the welfare system is followed by suggestions for those
facing an ESA claim and an Atos ‘face-to-face’ assessment. Finally two
appendices provide the reader with information on how to protect
themselves and others from the fallout of resistance, offering advice on
what (not) to do if you end up getting arrested and some ideas how to
support others if they become subject to repression.

Occupy Nottingham Withdrawal Announcement 21.04.12


For an update and more info, see also: http://nottingham.indymedia.org/articles/2549
Occupy Nottingham Withdrawal Announcement 21.04.12

As of 9:00 pm Sunday 21 April Occupy Nottingham will end their occupation of Nottingham’s Market Place after 190 days.

Prior to the last court hearing our legal team at Public Interest Lawyers has given us a 50-55% chance of success. During the hearing Judge Inglis dismissed all of the Council’s allegations against the camp, but said that any proposed deal between the Council and the camp was not the business of the court, he also stated that any issues over human rights, rights of assembly, or to protest were secondary to the issue of lawful possession of the land. He accepted that the Council were the legal owners of the land and therefore showed inclination to grant the order for possession in favour of the the Council as landowners.

In addition we are in no position to contest the land ownership, as this has to be dealt with at a separate land registry hearing. Based on the fact that legal aid was refused both individually and as a group for the current case, we would be even less likely to get it in assistance with the land status and being as we have so far been unable to gain the services of a land lawyer pro rata, we are currently unable to explore this avenue further.

This meant that at the next hearing of the three day trial due to begin on 30th April, that our barristers had a hugely difficult task to win the argument for the camp to be able to remain on the Market Place.

Whereas initially the risk of costs being awarded against camp members was removed from the previous hearing, that was not the case for the trial with a risk of some 20-30K in costs, which didn’t seem such a worthwhile risk with a much lower chance of success and unlikelihood of winning the case. A protective costs order was denied by Inglis on the grounds of a vested interest in the outcome, insurance cover was attempted but that too was unsuccessful.

It was decided that it would be best to remove Carl Freeman from being named defendant and that he should withdraw from the protest to protect him from costs, but that would then put any other camp members whose names were known to the Council of being at risk for the costs themselves.

Feeling that we were no longer in a good position at this point to negotiate a deal with the Council with their certainty of winning, the camp decided it would be best to withdraw from the Market Place and regroup. It was felt that in order to avoid the hearing going ahead and then costs being awarded against camp members that it be best to remove the camp before the barristers and Judge prepared for the case and generated costs.

It was never Occupy Nottingham’s intention to do ‘battle’ with the Council, as we have said all along, they may have made some decisions that we do not agree with, but we understand their hands are tied so to speak to a certain extent and they are are part of the 99% too. We also realise that should the trial go ahead, then the costs generated be awarded to camp members and there is no way anyone on camp could possibly afford to pay them. That would result in 20-30K in lost resources for the City, which as it is already struggling through lower available funds, we would not want to add to such a problem (even though we still maintain that was never any need for a hearing if the Council had only maintained negotiations and as such the costs generated would have been a direct result of the Council’s mismanagement of failing to reach a comparable position with our protest), no matter who was at fault or liable for such costs. On those grounds too we felt it was time to withdraw.

During the stay of over six months on Nottingham’s Market Place, Occupy Nottingham feel that they have been successful with what they initially set out to achieve in raising awareness of the issues we currently face in our society, the reasons behind them and begin discourse to find solutions to the problems. We have helped raise what were almost unheard of subjects for discussion in to regular daily conversation for many people throughout the City and thus begun a chain reaction of increasingly better informed and more aware members of the public, who are thinking for themselves, researching their own answers and making up their own opinions away from those of the media and government. In turn these people will discuss these subjects with others and so it roll’s on.

We would make it quite clear that although we are leaving the Market Place, we are not packing it up or giving in, we realise there is a lot more work to be done and many more people to be reached. We make no attempt to hide the fact that the past six months of the protest have been hard work to maintain and we are not a little bit tired, many have had to take a break and that has reduced numbers and put more pressure on those remaining, along with the pressure of the court case sapping motivation. Therefore a break and some recuperation was not only needed but well deserved.

We have decided to use a short break to regroup, plan our next actions and reorganise before we take the campaign mobile, there are many people who are still not aware fully of the issues we are facing, or even of Occupy Nottingham. There are many more places and towns that we could and will visit now, and aim to take our protest throughout the Shire and even to support groups in other City’s.

The decision to leave was not an easy one, but the camp now feels that the time is right to move on and begin a new chapter for Occupy Nottingham, this will help us to regain the initiative and put a fresh spark of energy and ideas in to action.

On a final note we would like to thank everyone who has shown or given us support in any way, Public Interest Lawyers for their steadfast advice and support throughout the legal proceedings, Nottingham’s Police Force for their understanding and fair treatment of us throughout, Nottingham Council for being open to some form of liaison and Richard Antcliff for being willing to perform that role.

Occupy Nottingham

Coming to a place near you soon…

We are the 99%

We are legion

Expect us.

Attached Files – Letter to NCC: http://nottingham.indymedia.org/system/file_upload/2012/04/21/162/20120420_ltr_to_ncc.pdf

Contact email: occupynottingham [at] hotmail.co.uk

Report on NHS anti-privatisation action in Beeston on 10th March


On Saturday March 10th, constituents of Anna Soubry MP’s Broxtowe constituency displayed postcards signed by over 500 people asking her to reconsider plans to privatise the NHS. As well as being a local Conservative MP, Soubry is parliamentary private secretary (PPS) to Simon Burns (Minister of State for the Department of Health). Campaigners gathered outside Beeston Library where Anna Soubry was meant to be holding a surgery. Unfortunately when Ms Soubry heard of this she changed the location of her surgery. More details: http://nottingham.indymedia.org/articles/2467

Campaigners to protest at city council budget meeting – Notts SOS Press Release – join the demonstrations on Monday 5th March


PRESS RELEASE Notts Save Our Services 1st March 2012

Campaigners to protest at city council budget meeting
On Monday March 5th, Nottinghamshire Save Our Services (Notts SOS)
will protest outside the Council House when Nottingham City Council
meets to vote on its budget for 2012-13.

From 12.30pm-1.30pm, campaigners from the group will join with members
of Nottingham City Unison, demonstrating against the cuts to jobs and
services being voted through.

There will also be a protest for people coming from work at 5pm-7pm.

Protesters hope to present a petition against the council’s cuts
during the lunchtime demonstration.

The budget being discussed at the meeting includes a 3.49% council tax
increase alongside 195 job cuts.

The council are looking at selling-off Portland Leisure Centre;
closing two centres for older people, Marlstones Elderly Person’s Home
in Bulwell and the Willows Centre in Beechdale; closing the Museum of
Nottingham Life at Brewhouse Yard; cutting food waste collections and
closing nine recycling centres; and reducing funding to Connexions, a
support service for young people.

The council had also propsed reducing redundancy payments for laid-off
staff to the legal minimum, but has subsequently withdrawn this
proposal.

In total the council hope to save £20m to cover a shortfall arising
from reduced government funding as a result of the coalition
government’s austerity drive.

The council has also said that this will not be the end to the cuts,
with an additional £24m of cutbacks required by the end of the spring
2015.

Notts SOS believe that the cuts agenda is ideologically driven and are
urging councillors to stand-up to central government.

Claire Taylor from Notts SOS said, “Council Leader Jon Collins and
Deputy Leader Graham Chapman have been vocally critical of central
government and often with good reason. Now it’s time for them to put
their money where their mouth is and refuse to pass the cuts onto the
people of Nottingham. Even a single council refusing to implement a
cuts budget would shake the coalition government.”

Contacts

Email: nottssos@gmail.com
Website: http://nottssos.org.uk
Twitter: https://twitter.com/nottssos
OStatus: https://indy.im/nottssos
Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/nottssosfb
Email list: http://goo.gl/uT89q

Notes for editors

1. Notts SOS was set up in the autumn of 2010 to campaign and oppose
all cuts to services in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. We have been
fighting council cuts on many levels since then, including organising
a 1,200 strong march to the city centre in November 2010.

ENDS