Thursday, 22 March 2012


No Cuts-Full Stop! Interviewed a supporter of the recent Occupy Dundee camp. Discussions there have shown that people are very well aware of the injustice of workfare. The NCFS! Blog thanks the person who gave an interview and respects his wish to be anonymous for fear of trouble from the welfare authorities.

Q- How long have you been unemployed - on the buroo?
A- I've been signing on since the 1980's. For years I was on Incapacity Benefit but two years ago they threatened to cut that benefit. I was switched over to JSA - Job Seekers Allowance.

Q- How did workfare come to be put to you?
A- I went into the Wellgate Buroo about six months ago and told to accept workfare or face a loss of benefits,
     including Housing Benefit.

Q- What does it involve?
A- I'm in Tescos packing shelves and menial work like sweeping for £55 a week, doing 38 hours.

Q- Any other folk on the scheme?
A- No other people. I'm feeling a wee bit isolated!

Q- What is your view of workfare?
A- Workfare is not for the working class people of Dundee.


Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! Supporters joined the Boycott Workfare Day of Action protests against Workfare on Saturday 3 March. Shops and outlets like Primark, Tescos and PoundLand were targeted, picketed and occupied. From Dundee to Liverpool, demonstrators united to expose and oppose the exploitation of those compelled to work for benefits.

Since the well publicised protests of the Right to Work campaign, the issue of Workfare has brought the conditions under which the millions of unemployed are expected to suffer, to a wider audience. Posh media presenters have had to, briefly and uncomfortably, acquaint themselves with the stresses and details of the forgotten and marginalised poor. As the crisis deepens and its effects widen, more and more youth - 1 million unemployed at present - and jobless are experiencing the compulsory demand that work is accepted at benefit rates - Job Seekers Allowance of £67.50 per week for adults, £53.45 for under - 25's. Boycott Workfare estimate that there are over 250,000 people on Workfare programmes who are compelled to take jobs at these rates or face the suspension of benefits.

After the First World War, in 1919, the unemployed facing the same compulsions, marched under the banner of “1914- Fight!, 1919- Starve!”  These minimum benefits are the means today by which millions of people subsist, to remove them means that poverty, hunger and cold become a savage reality for the working class here. While bankers, business and parliamentary politicians rake it in, the working class is forced to sell its labour power at the lowest rates. On this basis a capitalist economy can be rebuilt but the working class will pay - and lose! The fight against Workfare is part of the battle against the cuts. We refuse to pay for the debts of the wealthy and powerful. The people of Greece are further down that road than we are, wage cuts and unemployment as well as assuaging finance capital's 'debts', are designed to drive down the wages of the working class across Europe by at least a third - more if possible. The battle against workfare is part of the battle against capitalist exploitation.

No Cuts. Full Stop! would like to make two very necessary points about the general campaign against Workfare which we believe would bring political and social strength to our battles.

This struggle cannot be reduced to the deliberately false characterisation of Workfare as an exclusively Tory bogeyman. This argument is produced to spook us into accepting Labour party concerns about the shabby scheme as genuine and evidence of the possibility of a Labour led campaign against the Tories. This is a fabrication. Anyone on workfare in the last 2 years will know vividly that the Labour government before the election of May 2010 was the enthusiastic architect of workfare, using its previous 13 years in office to begin and develop the compulsory system. The Right to Work Campaign which made headlines occupying stores on Oxford Street in London, continues this corrupt cover - up for Labour with it's recent arguments to include of Labour councillors who had voted for cuts budgets on 'anti- cuts' platforms. 

While tax dodging multi - nationals like Tescos, MacDonalds and Primark have undoubtedly exploited the labour of the unemployed here, we would argue that these money - making outfits are all well used to making blood soaked profits from slave labour. The goods which these firms peddle have their origins in the poor peoples and countries of this world. Imperialism is the means by which the labour of children, women and men is brutally super - exploited. 14 - hour days in pesticide soaked fields in Africa, in the sweat of the cotton looms of Bangladesh, in the back street smelters of Thailand – there is slave labour of the most brutal kind. Unity with the fight and resistance of the working class here and there - common cause against the common exploiters - is the way forward.

Michael MacGregor