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Edinburgh JobCentre Shut Down As Claimants Protest That Advocacy Is Not A Crime

September 11, 2015

The entire ground floor of Edinburgh’s High Riggs Jobcentre was closed down for almost three hours on 10th September as Jobcentre managers called in police and refused to permit a jobseeker to exercise his right to be accompanied to an appointment. Members of Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty defied threats of arrest and stayed in the jobcentre to support the claimant and the ECAP advocate.

Now ECAP are calling a solidarity demo for this Monday 14th at 9am at High Riggs Jobcentre, when the jobseeker, Adam, will attend his rearranged appointment, once more accompanied by an ECAP advocate.  ECAP say: “We will not be intimidated by the DWP bullies, G4S security or the police.  We will assert claimants’ right to be accompanied.  The DWP themselves state: “Claimants accessing Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefits and services can have someone to accompany them to act on their behalf..””

JOBCENTRE DENY RIGHTS

Jobseeker Adam had been called to the Jobcentre for an appointment to review his Jobseekers Agreement.  Having suffered months of harrassment from the Jobcentre, who have been trying to force him onto workfare schemes, Adam asked ECAP rep Mike to come with him.  Having that very morning received the distressing news that his brother was having to undergo a serious emergency operation, Adam asked Gerry, the Jobcentre adviser, if his review could be postponed and if he could just quickly sign on and go to the hospital to be with his brother.  

The adviser completely ignored this request and instead aggressively demanded that ECAP rep Mike produce photographic ID to prove who he was.  This despite the fact that Mike has not only attended dozens of interviews in High Riggs, including with senior managers, but had even accompanied Adam to an appointment with the same adviser, Gerry, very recently.   When Mike replied that there was nothing requiring the provision of ID in the DWP documents which confirm the right to representation, Gerry stormed off.  G4S security demanded the ECAP rep leave – he refused.  Management called the police.

SOLIDARITY

At this point ECAP members, who had been leafleting outside, entered the jobcentre to give solidarity to Adam and Mike, and demanded to speak with the manager.  Soon police descended on the Jobcentre and the management closed off the entire ground floor.  For some time the whole Jobcentre was shut, with steel door roller shutters barring claimants from entry.   Despite frequent requests for a meeting, manager Linda Gibb refused any dialogue.  Meanwhile members of ECAP’s solidarity network, alerted by an emergency call-out, gathered at the Jobcentre in growing numbers.

This incident follows the arrest of advocate Tony Cox at Arbroath Jobcentre where he was accompanying a vulnerable jobseeker.  Supporters are due to besiege Forfar Sheriff Court when Scottish Unemployed Workers Network activist Tony faces trial on 13th October.  

THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES

ECAP say: “As part of the government’s war on the poor, Jobcentre staff are told to harrass claimants and impose benefit cuts.  Staff can even be disciplined for not imposing “enough sanctions” – as a whistleblower recently revealed.  So it’s vital that claimants organise to support each other.  Being accompanied to all important benefits appointments is essential solidarity.  

ECAP will continue to resist and take direct action.  The assault on claimants is part of the wider attack on all workers’ rights and conditions and on all public services – we seek to link up with all struggles to assert people’s needs against austerity and cutbacks.”

Show your solidarity with Adam and Mike this Monday 14th at 9 am at High Riggs Jobcentre, and with Tony on 13th October at Forfar Sheriff Court #AdvocacyIsNotACrime!

Information on the Right to be accompanied at http://www.edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/node/32

Information on Tony Cox arrest and trial http://www.edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/node/179

11 Comments leave one →
  1. stilloaks permalink
    September 11, 2015 8:59 am

    Reblogged this on DWPExamination..

  2. September 11, 2015 9:14 am

    And where’s the help from the Scottish nationalist MPs in all this ?.

    Why aren’t they down at that job centre (At least the localMP) explaining to the police that a person has the right to representation or at least (they or a spokesperson on their behalf, if they really have to be in London) be there in some way and making their political presence felt.

    Roll on Corbyn and his true MPs and we can get rid of these toothless (all talk and no action) tigers.

  3. brightonredhot permalink
    September 11, 2015 9:21 am

    Reblogged this on Brightonredhot’s Weblog and commented:
    This filthy disgusting Tory government need tearing down, all job centres should be forced to close until this disgusting Tory government stop all the harassment of the vulnerable British people, these sick practices by this disgusting government need to be stopped immediately as they are clearly breaking the law by demanding job centre staff bully and harass the most vulnerable people and try to force them on to the highly illegal slave labor program run by this filthy Tory government of hate against the disabled, sick and poor, these vile inhumane job centre staff should not be allowed to target the most vulnerable and hit them with benefit sanctions, what gives these sick twisted vile people the right to just give anyone they want a benefit sanction, these benefit sanctions can kill people and because of this they should be banned.

  4. Bookworm permalink
    September 11, 2015 9:37 am

    R/T and stuck call out on.

  5. September 11, 2015 10:28 am

    The advocate did the right thing in not providing ID the response he was there as the advocate for the other person should have been enough. How long before they make it a condition of entering the building that you must show ID they are terrorists

  6. Helen Brown permalink
    September 11, 2015 11:17 am

    Zoro at dwpexamination – there’s always one labourite who looks at everything bad that happens under this government and blames the SNP. Sure Jeremy Corbyn, unlike his Scottish predecessors, might very well help in the likes of this, as he at least voted against these measures!! However he wasn’t there yesterday either, for the simple reason that this clearly blew up in a day and neither he nor any MSP was aware it was happening. Now get over there and help with the protest or shut up and let decent people get on with it!!

    • Chunky permalink
      September 11, 2015 2:22 pm

      He’s a numpty Helen, he was screaming vote SNP vote SNP before the election, Zoro doesn’t know who he supports I’m afraid.

  7. September 11, 2015 2:21 pm

    Reblogged this on perfectlyfadeddelusions.

  8. September 12, 2015 10:16 am

    Reblogged this on Sasson Hann and commented:
    “For some time the whole Jobcentre was shut, with steel door roller shutters barring claimants from entry.”

    What’s the chances of those coming to sign on being sanctioned because they couldn’t access the building?

    I honestly don’t know what’s wrong with some of these JCP staff; surely they know the law? If there’s never been a problem with an advocate attending, why now? I’ve had this with social services as well. They know the rights, that a disabled person is allowed and advocate and the relevant paperwork in advance of a reassessment, yet they choose to ignore it or make it difficult. It only costs more in the long-run and wastes everyone’s time.

  9. December 18, 2015 7:28 pm

    Petition: To examine the DWP, ATOS & Maximus’s culpability for deaths of benefit claimants https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/114744
    Please sign and share

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