Sunday, 21 December 2014

Protestors lay wreath at Ashton Jobcentre: staff called upon to show humanity and compassion!

Around 20 protestors including members from TAMESIDE AGAINST THE CUTS, Tameside Stop The Bedroom Tax & the Cuts, Tameside Unemployed Workers Alliance, Tameside Trades Union Council, & Tameside Green Party, gathered outside Ashton-under-Lyne Jobcentre on Thursday. These regular Thursday afternoon demonstrations, have been taking place since August, after a 19-year-old girl from Ashton had her benefit stopped after she informed an employer B&Q (where she'd been sent by the Jobcentre to work unpaid) that she was 23-weeks pregnant. More recently, a 32-year-old jobseeker was told by staff at Ashton Jobcentre that his benefit would be stopped if he continued to participate in the protest outside Ashton Jobcentre against unfair and illegal sanctions.

On Thursday, a wreath was laid outside the Jobcentre to highlight how benefit sanctions and cuts have led to suicides. A list of people whose deaths have been linked to benefits cuts, which was taken from the 'Black Triangle Campaign', was read out to the public. A representative from the trade union UNISON, also read out a letter that he was delivering to Ashton Jobcentre objecting to unfair sanctions and the beastly inhuman treatment that is being meted out jobseeker's. Rev. David Grey, a former friar of Gorton Monastery, dressed in a monks habit, made a speech outside the Jobcentre calling upon Jobcentre staff to show humanity and compassion towards the unmployed.

Although the government deny that there is a policy of targeting people for sanctioning, it is known that staff face disciplinary action if they don't sanction enough people. At one Jobcentre, Easter egg prizes were offered to staff who had sanctioned the most people.

While the UK is ranked as the sixth richest country on earth, a recent all-party report on foodbanks, has warned that Britain is 'stalked by hunger' caused by low pay, growing inequality and a harsh benefit sanctions as well as social break-down. The report says that benefit sanctions are the single biggest reason why the poor are resorting to foodbanks.

Ian Duncan Smith, Secretary for Work and Pensions, denies that welfare cuts are connected to financial hardship and suicides. He has accused Britain's largest food bank network, the Trussell Trust, of scaremongering. Other well-fed Tories have also scoffed at reports of hungry Britain, claiming that the poor don't know how to cook or that greater awareness of food banks, has led to increased demand. Yet the report says that severe hunger is leading to malnutrition and that there has been an increase in people scavenging for leftovers in restaurant and supermarket skips. Despite this indictment against Duncan Smith's vendetta against the poor and vulnerable, he was voted the most influential lay Roman Catholic by readers of the Tablet in 2010.

On Wednesday, a Labour motion to scrap the bedroom tax, was defeated in the Commons by 298 votes to 266, after 35 slimey LibDems, voted with the Tories to retain the tax despite promising earlier this year, to ditch the policy.

The weekly protests outside Ashton Jobcentre, have attracted a great deal of attention from citizen journalists working within social media. Yet the local Tameside newspapers the Tameside (PRAVDATISER)  Advertiser  and the New Charter owned, Tameside Reporter and Chronicle, have shown scant interest in the campaign despite receiving regular briefings. A visit to Ashton Jobcentre made by Rachell Reeves, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and council leader, Kieran Quinn, in October, did however, receive press coverage.

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