We’ve come a long way since the 1960’s when I was first unemployed – between jobs. I went down the dole office and they gave me the same amount as my old wage in cash, over the counter. It took about half an hour.
Working people had died in their millions in two World Wars and they demanded respect and recognised their power. But that was then and now we’ve been divided; in work and in our communities that used to be so strong.
There’s a lot of people out there who ask why we’re not on the streets like the French. I saw a meme that showed a British demonstration with people carrying humorous placards and a French one which was a pitched battle.
We have done, and can do that stuff when we want to. All over people are coming together to fight for their rights, or for reason, or for respect and a living income; against government policies, or business exploitation, for social freedoms and mutual respect.
It’s developing very quickly after the election, it feels just like when Thatcher got in, and it’s presumably headed the same way, except maybe more so. The stakes are at their highest; we can all feel it.
Society is stretched like a rubber band between social inequality and Universal Credit, climate change, working conditions and job insecurity, cultural conflicts and a bullying state – when and where is it going to snap?
As for the Universal Credit Claimants Union – it can take its place in all this. 2.7million on UC now, more every day and the system teetering on the edge of collapse. A million members would make the DWP change its ways and the government take notice. We need members and activists and non-claimant supporters – join your voice please.
We’ve been putting in a lot of work behind the scenes and hopefully you’ve noticed changes in our presence across social media as we continue building the UCCU.
Membership is steadily increasing and when there are five hundred of us we can organise our first area assembly. In the mean time, there are some ways to help:
- Talk about the UCCU to everyone you think might be interested, and those who aren’t. On-line, in the pub, at bus stops; membership is everything. Our union’s power comes from the strength of our combined voices – we need a million of us to shut down UC. We need to constantly remind people on social media that we’re out here, we need members, activists and non-claimant supporters, and that the best alternative to depression and despair is action in any form; making ourselves visible and not letting go!
- Be active on the UCCU social media sites:
The Universal Credit Claimants Union Facebook page
Has announcements and a current news feed where you can comment on and reply to posts.
The Universal Credit Claimants Union Closed Group
– our forum to discuss issues, exchange experiences and support others.
Universal Credit Hi-Viz
– our Facebook action page where anyone can link up with others in their area to picket job centres, go leafleting or organise local actions.
- Send us your experiences of being on UC so we can publicise the reality we’re all experiencing.
- Get in touch with us if you have any issues, needs or ideas that we can help with, or you can help others with. One of the worst aspects of UC is how we have to deal with the DWP alone, especially when so many of us suffer from isolation and we all know how different it is when you know you have support.
Every member of this union has an equal voice and every new member is another person who needs us to succeed. We might not have the financial backing or political connections of other unions, but we’re the only national union dedicated to scrapping UC and to being run directly by its members; that puts the experiences of claimants at the forefront of our organising and gives our action a special edge.
Over the next month we’ll be contacting all members individually. Things are moving quickly for the UCCU this year and we need to pull our organisation together and shape up the political fighting machine that can put fear into the heart of the DWP (not a real heart – if only) and pressure the Johnson government into humanising its approach to welfare.
Don’t feel obliged or in any way bad if you are not in a position to help. There are plenty of us who can and the union is here to support us and force the scrapping of Universal Credit, not use us up.
We’ve all been waiting for something else but we’ve got this – so we have to deal with it.
Universal Credit will be fully rolled out, sanctions tightened and the abuse will have a new, sharp, cutting edge.
Never was a national organisation with local connections, support services and political teeth more needed.
All the groundwork has been done; we have people in place all over the country. You will be contacted between now and the new year to reestablish our connection and then we will get on with it.
We just heard from a union member that their WCA has concluded successfully after they were joined at their appointment by a UCCU Rep. The claimant, who asked not to be named, said: “it’s a reminder that at a WCA you should always get it recorded and bring someone with you.”
The test is not reliable or fair but we will do our best to help you prepare for it.
A brilliant article that captures the situation so many of us are caught in…
Over the last two weeks we’ve regularly been present outside Exeter jobcentre, handing out flyers, discussing peoples’ struggles and supporting claimants as they deal with the DWP. Dave, one of the picketers said:
“It feels great to be out doing something positive, talking to people face to face instead of getting angry online. There’s a real sense of community and trust that comes when people know you’re there because it matters and not because you’re getting paid.”
Members hope the picket will continue to grow and the idea will spread to other jobcentres around the country.
Although details on the crash are currently scarce, it seems possible this is an act of sickening political violence.
If this is the case the blame must be laid in part at the door of the Tory government and far right politicians that have continuously demonised claimants, the disabled and anyone in need over the past 10 years.
Their denial of millions of poor peoples’ reality, language of ‘strivers and shirkers’ and construction of a system of economic victimisation feeds directly into the hatred and violence evidenced by this act.
It has become a regular occurrence to see normally mainstream actors and organisations calling on the government to change its policy on Universal Credit. The only product of these statements seems to be paranoid attacks on the bias of their speakers by the government‘s spokespeople.
This open letter says “We are witnessing an unstoppable movement to end poverty, fight inequality, preserve public services and champion human rights.”
It is only a movement like this that can produce change. If we want to defeat UC we must fight to realise this vision.