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Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
Issue 113, Thursday 27th March 1997
SLAVE TRADE"Project Work is the thin end of a wedge which threatens to enslave claimants, and to intensify exploitation and job insecurity for those in work."
- A Brighton claimant
Project Work was dealt a serious blow this week when the two organisations the Employment Service had hoped would be involved suddenly withdrew their bids. "Tomorrow's People" (part of Grand Met) and OTL have pulled out - and without them the whole scheme could collapse. Work-fare is aimed at anyone unemployed for two years or more. It means being forced into 8 weeks `intensive job search' on signing day, being offered every job under the sun, with the threat of all benefits being cut off under the Job Seekers Allowance if you refuse any. This is followed by 13 weeks compulsory "work experience", for yer dole plus a tenner. Again, refusal could mean losing all your benefits.
Two pilot schemes have already been up and running in Medway and Hull since April '96. Due to their so called "success" it's now being extended to 25 areas (including Brighton) affecting 100,000 claimants.
"Success"? It has the worst record of any job creation scheme - while 25% of claimants signed off, only 8% got jobs, and only half of those were permanent. In Medway, of 1000 forced onto the scheme, only 9 were actually found 13-week placements!
In Hull, jobs included working in a quarry breaking rocks, and in Kent one man died while working on scaffolding, polishing the front of a castle, due to poor health and safety regulations.
In New York, the authorities found that the only way to make a similar Workfare scheme cost-effective was to place dole slaves in jobs otherwise done by properly paid workers in the public sector. The result: within 2 years 10,000 workers in NYs sanitation depots had lost their jobs.
SchNEWS wouldn't suggest kicking people when they're down but the scheme is looking very wobbly and as one claimant activist told us: "Placement agencies and `voluntary groups' may want free workers - but they don't want pickets of their shops and disruption of their offices."
National Day of Action Against Work FairWEDNESDAY 2nd APRIL
In Brighton: meet 12 noon, Churchill Square
For news of actions in your area contact Groundswell, who are co-ordinating national resistance to the benefits clamp-down. SAE to c/o East Oxford Community Centre, Princes St., Oxford, OX4 1HU. Tel: 01865 723750 - Fax: 01865 724317.
"If we are not careful night-life will turn out to be
no different from the bland consumerist playground of chainstores and fast-food
outlets which punctuate the daytime economy."
Barry Legg's Public Entertainments Licensing (drugs misuse) Bill finally became law last Friday. It gives the police new powers to close a club immediately if they suspect drug use/dealing is going on in the venue or at "any place nearby which is controlled by the holder of the licence".
The consequences of this Act will be to drastically change the character of our clubland over the forthcoming months (that's unless you haven't noticed changes happening already) Or as one disgruntled party-goer commented "under the guise of `evil drug barons' they are using the tactics of searching and watching our every move, to get us used to a police state". The Criminal Justice Act pushed the dance scene back into the clubs where events could be more controlled by big business. This Act is designed to sterilise the creativity of the event and its `consumers' and close smaller clubs in favour of the larger commercially based venues. We can all look forward to increased security on the doors, CCTV cameras inside the venue, and anti-drug patrols in the club (including sniffer dogs at one Scottish club).
Opponents of the Bill have been concerned that it will encourage people to take too many drugs before entering the club, or that club competition may cause "snitching" to local authorities resulting in immediate closure of their rivals.
Reclaim The StreetsTwo Day Festival of Resistance
"Coinciding" with the March for Social Justice: April 12th, meet 12 noon at Kennington Park, London. Justice? bus from Brighton - tickets from Peace Centre, £5/£3.
Housing Benefit Blues
Last Friday Social Security Secretary Peter Lilley sneaked through new housing benefit and funeral grants regulations.
Housing Benefit cuts take place from October 6th and will eventually affect 370,000 people. Any tenant under 60 who lives alone will be allowed benefit equivalent only to the local average rent for a room in a shared house with shared facilities. Lilley reckons it will encourage people on benefits to "shop around" to find suitable accommodation - reality is a little different. These changes have already happened for Under 25s, with the result that in Brighton under 1% of private landlords will now take under 25s on housing benefit; this is partly because "average rent" is set at £41.50! There just isn't enough affordable decent housing available and landlords across the country won't be interested in people on benefits.
Under funeral grant changes, poor families will be denied help with funeral costs from the social fund unless they can prove all immediate relatives are on benefit.
Bougainville UpdateAround 100 Papua New Guinea (PNG) politicians spent Tuesday night trapped in the parliament building by armed soldiers inside and demonstrators outside. The then PM, Sir Julius Chan, enraged both the army and demonstrators by spending £23 million hiring a mercenary group consisting of ex-special forces from Britain and South Africa and other charming thugs to track down and murder the leaders of the Bouganville liberation movement.
Bouganville is a small island about 500 miles north-west of mainland PNG, and is unlucky enough to be the site of open-cast copper mining operations, which account for one third of PNG's exports. There is of course no connection between this fact and the government's willingness to spend millions on hired killers to keep the island under their control. No, really, there isn't, honest. As a result of the army mutiny - "why aren't we getting paid as much as the mercenaries?" and the other demonstrations, the handsomely paid terrorists have made a hasty exit, with the exception of their leader and paymaster who is currently under arrest for illegally importing arms. As SchNEWS goes to press, the latest is that Chan, his deputy and the defence minister have finally caved in to the pressure and resigned. For more info call PaRTiZans on 0171 700 6189.
Carry on rubbing up Rank
People have set up camp in Kent to oppose the Rank Organisation's plans to build an up-market leisure facility in part of the ancient Lyminge forest. This includes 850 buildings, interconnecting roads, artificial waterways and a golf course which will affect 1,000 acres of wood and farmland. Part of the land is currently owned by the Forestry Commission, who have already been threatening to evict the camp, which has considerable local support.
Bodies, food and general support as ever are needed, so if you're looking for a nice new place to live in the forest this summer... get involved by calling 01227 261057. You can also call Rank on 01730 262626. They're very sensitive about their public image so this protest could really bang their gong.
At 11:39am last Friday, the last day of Parliament before the General Election, the Conservatives fulfilled their scorched earth policy with 27 Bills becoming law in just one minute. These include the Police we-have-the-right-to-bug-and-burgle-anyone-we-want-to Act, The Public Entertainment we-have-closed-your-club-because-we-think-someone's-taking-drugs Act, Social Security Administration (Fraud) Act, Confiscation of Alcohol (Young Persons) Act and Road Traffic Reduction Act (see below). They also signed a deal to build the first secure children's prison and kicked in regulations cutting housing benefit and funeral grants for the poorest.
If you ever feel like getting all depressed on the net, you can check out every word they said with the democracy-enhancing Hansard web-site (the journal of parliament):
Crap Arrest of the Week
For blowing a bull horn! A 53 year old Atlanta woman was sentenced to four months imprisonment for giving it a blast at an animal rights protest. She was later released just a few days later, with an apology from the sentencing judge.
SchNEWS in Brief
Keith Wilson, otherwise known as Kit, was last week refused bail and will be inside on remand till his trial for affray in late April. All other charges have been dropped. Please send letters, stamps, books, baccy and other nice things to Keith Wilson, KG3463, HMP Bullingdon, P.O. Box 50, Bicester, Oxon OX6 0PR.
The contract for the first "Secure Training Centre" - i.e. prison for kids - at Cookham Wood in Kent has been given to the Rebound/Tarmac consortium. Rebound is a wholely owned subsidiary of the security firm Group 4. Tarmac is the notorious road building company involved in many environmental trashings. These child loving ogres have grouped together with the best of intentions to pave the road to hell for our children.
The Dongas are at it again, this time at the threatened Wyndham Hill in Yeovil. The council is backing a development to fund yet another much needed road, claiming a mandate from the electorate through a "citizen's jury": a small group of carefully selected local people asked to opt for one of two choices, both of which included a road and a superstore. Freedom Trail 01935 863349.
Robbie Fowler scored a goal for Liverpool in the Cup Winners Cup last week and celebrated by pulling his shirt over his head to reveal a t-shirt with "Support the 500 Sacked Liverpool Dockers". Nice one Robbie. UEFA, however, were not amused, and fined him 2,000 Swiss Francs (about £750). On Monday night against Arsenal the referee awarded a penalty. Fowler pleaded with the ref that it wasn't a foul and flunked the penalty kick. The World football body FIFA are now patting him on the back for such sportsmanlike conduct, while UEFA are slapping his wrists for defying their ruling that "a football ground is not the right stage for political demonstrations." Unless it's the National Anthem, of course.
Labournet - for Dockers info
disclaimerCarry on running marathons, then you will be in the right place at the right time, as it were... Honest.
Conscious Cinema plea for help: the edit suite and now the LCD projector are seriously fucked... any expert help - or cash! - please call on 01273 278018!
SchNEWS, PO Box 2600, Brighton, BN2 2DX, England
Last updated 21 May 1997
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