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Home | 3rd March 1995 | Issue 12Issue Twelve

Justice? Brighton's Campaign in Defiance of the Criminal Injustice Act


Hunt Sabs 107
Road Protestors 16
Travellers 11
No live exports* 3
Tree Defenders 2

* at least 300 people nicked under 1986 Public Order Act so far this year!

Live Export Megaport - Shock!

This week animal rights activists were shocked, but not surprised, to hear that far from the end of live exports being nigh Shoreham is in fact set to become the 'livestock megaport'. The new ship, the Cap-Bon, which is due to be introduced this week is large enough to carry all available sheep and calves to Europe. Not content with exporting up to ten lorry loads of animals per day, the International Traders Ferry wishes to corner the entire live export market and transport two million sheep and one and a half million calves per year.

Protestors are angry that Shoreham Port Authority can claim to be against the trade, yet can still provide not only a new berth for the Northern Cruiser, but a new roll-on roll-off system in the port for the new ferry. It seems that hypocrisy is running rife.

Meanwhile, an autopsy was carried out on the pregnant ewe that was washed up at Shoreham last week. The verdict is that the ewe died from either being crushed or heart failure - a conclusion that would lead us to believe it came from the Northern Cruiser (unless of course, the ewe was water-skiing off shore and died of over excitement). I.T.F. to date have refused to return SchNEWS faxes regarding this matter.

Brighton Council have had 751 responses to their press release, concerning payment for police operations at Shoreham. Out of these, 11 daft people replied that the council should pay which would inevitably come out of their own pockets via council tax. Not too smart!

The other 740 said that either the government, or the profit-making companies or a combination of the two should foot the bill. Brighton council agrees that the government should cough up, but there's little chance of that - tell us something we don't know.

And the protests go on. A shipment was due to leave Shoreham at mid-day today (Friday) and a large turnout is expected. If ITF does win the contract to ship all livestock to Europe, the Battle of Shoreham could be a long one. Contact 0273 720 401.

NY Times thinks CJA is crap

Its not just us who think the CJA is crap - even the New York Times, in their editorial of Feb 27th slated the Act. Saying "Britain's new crime law is a dangerous retreat for a nation that pioneered the concept of individual legal rights, but has in recent years steadily eroded those rights... Like America, Britain is undermining the right to bail. Instead of regarding pre-trial release as the natural consequence of presuming a defendant's innocence [six out of ten who are denied bail never go to trial] the British law lets police set bail instead of a more impartial magistrate." they went on to say:

"The already parlous state of civil liberties in Britain is going to get worse. There is a cautionary lesson in that for the United Stares, which winnowed many flaws from British Law and should be careful not to re-adopt them...". Nice one!

You have the right to remain silent for another 37 days. This section of the CJA becomes law on April 10th - start SHOUTING!

...and so do Prison Officers!

Prison officers are thinking about working to rule in protest over provisions in the CJA that do not allow them to take strike action. And that's not the only thing about the Act that's making them angry. The prison service is already under funded, with the government refusing to give out cash for extra health, safety and security measures. The CJA instead continues to farm the prison service out to the private sector, now extending this to include Scotland and the prison escort service, (remember Group 4!!!). It also places the pay bargaining structure in the hands of the Secretary of State - in other words, what he says goes. No wonder prison officers are a bit hacked off.

All this comes after the Woolfe report several years ago agreed to deal with overcrowding and working conditions by keeping the system as it was. Interestingly, these provisions in the CJA say that prison officers have never had the right to strike, even though in the past they have taken industrial action, (yer wot??!! Classic case of doublethink). An employee of the POA told SchNEWS that if prison officers work to rule then "the prison service would rapidly grind to a halt". Shame.

Inside SchNEWS

Sean Cregan, who spent three months at HMP Belmarsh for climbing the gates of Downing St during the CJA demo wrote "I'd like to urge everyone to write to Direct Action prisoners even if you feel you have nothing to say! A quick 'good luck' card makes all the difference to someone!"

John Livingstone, arrested at M77 Pollok Free State last week for shouting "Shame!" at tree-Cutters, has been remanded in custody until March 29th! Livvy refused to wear prison trousers and walked around naked from the waste down until they returned his kilt. He is now on hunger strike. Write to him:

John Livingstone, HMP Greenock Greenock, Glasgow.

Jim Chambers is still inside Wormwood Scrubs, awaiting trial for alleged criminal damage on a road construction site (sentence first, trial later?) Write: Jim Chambers, PV25&4, HMP Wormwood Scrubs, PO Box 757, Du Cane Rd., London, W12 0AE.

Fastest with the fact, accurate with the truth!@ The New Kensington. Kensington Gardens, Brighton. Every Friday 5:45pm

Fighting the Job Seekers Allowance

The CJA and the JSA

Although the Criminal Justice Act potentially affects the 'civil liberties' of everyone, as we all know the more pernicious aspects of this act have been directed at a distinct number of 'dissident and marginal' groups. When the act was drawn up in 1993 the government had hoped that by scapegoating squatters, travellers, ravers, hunt sabs and road protesters etc. it could rally the Tory party faithful after the bitter divisions that had emerged over Europe and the Maastricht Treaty. Instead it succeeded in uniting all these groups into a campaign of mass defiance to this law.

But in scapegoating such groups the government was not simply playing on the prejudices of the bigots at the Tory party conference. As the government and their bigoted followers recognise, at least instinctively, what all these groups have in common is that they foster alternative and oppositional lifestyles which reject both the work ethic and the profit motive. They all contribute to the growing DIY culture which refuses simply to sell our creative capacities to employers, to delegate our social responsibilities to politicians, and insist instead that we use our creative energies directly for both ourselves and each other to create a better world. As such squatters, travellers, ravers, hunt sabs and road protesters etc. are all seen as undermining the 'economy' - they all threaten the profit and money making system on which capitalist society is based.

It is perhaps not surprising then that most people who are actively opposed to the Criminal Justice Act are on the dole. Now the Government has brought a new bill before parliament which aims to tighten up the regulations which oblige those of us on the dole to 'actively seek work'. This nasty piece of legislation is perhaps a far more insidious attack on alternative and oppositional lifestyles than the Criminal Justice Act and one that we should all oppose.

What is the JSA

This legislation proposes to replace Income Support and Unemployment Benefit by a new unified benefit for all those unemployed - The Job Seekers Allowance. For the most part this new benefit will, in effect, extend the more restrictive availability of work regulations which now apply to Income Support claimants to all unemployed claimants, but it also introduces extra discretionary powers and makes sanctions against those refusing to fulfil such conditions more severe. All claimants will have to sign a job seekers contract in which they agree to undertake specific activities to find work. In addition claimants can be issued with a 'Jobseekers Direction' which orders the claimant to do certain things that will increase their chances of finding a job. Such directions could go as far as ordering the claimant to make themselves more 'presentable' to prospective employers by having a hair cut etc. Whereas now failure to comply to such regulations usually results in a 40% cut in benefits, with the Job Seekers Allowance benefits may be withdrawn completely.

By tightening up on the actively seeking work regulations and increasing the sanctions for non-compliance, the JSA will mean more hassles for people signing on in another treasury inspired penny-pinching exercise. By having a single benefit for all the unemployed the Government hopes it can cut down on staff in the DSS. For those who have paid sufficient national insurance contributions the JSA will not be means tested for the first six months, rather than twelve months as it is now with unemployment benefit. This means thousands of people with savings or redundancy money will be disqualified from receiving benefits after six months saving the government millions of pounds.

Although the JSA does not mean that we are all going to be forced off the dole, it does include various nasty and vindictive measures and more importantly is part of gradual erosion of the welfare state. The government hasn't dared to withdraw welfare provisions all in one go, anymore than it has dared to privatise the NHS. (Indeed, the government's plans for a national emergency recognise that if, for any reasons, giros were suddenly not paid out there would be full scale rioting and looting in all the major towns and cities within three weeks!). Instead the government has sought over the last decade to erode welfare provisions. The most important changes came after the Fowler review in 1988 which withdrew income support for 16-18 year olds and cut income support by a third for all single claimants under 25. If we don't fight the JSA the government will feel confident to impose further attacks.

The fight against the JSA

Whereas the Criminal Justice Act attacks us collectively by criminalising raves, demonstrations and parties, the Job Seekers Allowance attacks us as isolated claimants. As a result it is easy to look for individual solutions. Even people in Justice? say they don't really need the dole because they can, at a pinch, earn money gardening, selling home made things, or working in and around the rave scene. But while such opportunities might now exist for the individual, if everyone was forced into them the pinch would become a squeeze. After all we can't all be gardeners or DJ's! We have to fight the JSA collectively through positive direct action, just as we have fought the Criminal Justice Act.

Fortunately it will not be Portillo or his fellow ministers who will apply the act. The new discretionary powers will be in the hands of dole workers who are mostly underpaid and overworked. The degree to which they will be obliged to use these powers depends critically on what is seen to be politically acceptable, which in turn will depend on the success of our campaign against the JSA.

If the campaign against the JSA is to be successful we not only have to link up with the dole workers, who are already organising against the redundancies and greater work load that the new benefit system will impose, but also all working people. If people on the dole are forced into accepting any work for shit wages then the competition on the labour market for work will become fierce. With people desperate for work, employers will be able impose lower wages and worse working conditions. Our benefits are the floor to their wages and lifesyles!

The campaign against the Criminal Justice Act has shown how it is possible to build a movement that has made the government not only reluctant to introduce further measures but also to fully implement the powers of the act itself. If our movement now turns to oppose the Job Seekers Allowance legislation we can not only make the more nasty aspect of this legislation too politically unacceptable to implement, but reverse the erosion of welfare provisions. We shall be able to raise the demand for a basic living income with no availability of work conditions as the first step towards the abolition of wage labour!


PUBLIC MEETING Thursday 16th March 7.30pm at Brighton Unemployed Centre, Prior House, Tilbury Place 01273 671213

Sue the Police

Small World are making a DiY video-guide on suing the police. If you have any knowledge or video footage of this ring Paul at Small World 0171 272 5255.

Diary Dates

SAT 4th -MARCH AGAINST THE NEW STOP AND SEARCH LAWS - Stoke Newington Police St 2pm to Tottenham cop shop OR Brockwell Park, Brixton 12 noon to Brixton police station

MON 6th - Workshop on CJA and squatting by The Homeless Information Project, 612 Old Kent Rd, 4-7PM 0171 277 7639

TUE 7th - Campaign Against Arms Trade action outside Alvis AGM (who sell tanks to Indonesia) Savoy Hotel 11 am 071 281 0297

TUE 7th - Agenda 2l Meeting @ Café Royale, London. 071 287 0828 Prince of Wales and John Gummer will be there....

THUR 9th McLIBEL CASE 100th day in court 0171 713 1269 (2 unemployed London Greenpeace supporters have been taken to court by McDonalds for alleged libel in a leaflet)

TUE 14th On the anniversary of the destruction at Solsbury Hill, Bath, the action camp will be re-established and everyone is asked to come on the hilltop from Saturday March 12th. 01374 953160.

For further copies of the SchNEWS send stamps/donations (payable to Justice?) SchNEWS c/o on-the-fiddle PO Box 2 600 Brighton East Sussex . Tel: (01273) 685 913. Or pick one up @ Peace Centre, Gardener St, Brighton and around town e-mail: Justice?

Justice? meet every wednesday 7pm @ prince albert

help! - we're skint!


SchNEWS, PO Box 2600, Brighton, BN2 0EF, England
Phone: +44 (0)1273 685913

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