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Dangerous Times

This is a great article, as is Izzy Koksal's blog, which I read yesterday. I think the key point made is quite simply the choice between paying for some slef help guru nonsense or paying for actual traiining:

"A4e and others seem to think it's worth spending money on this damaging nonsense but not on genuine skills training."

I've read a lot of the websites that are fighting this unholy mess and my concern all along has been that even if the claimant stands up for his rights and is correct, what's to stop the provider just making trouble for him? Quite simply nothing. I don't really have an answer for this: what else are people meant to do? But it seems that providers can just mark your card and you can get sanctioned simply for being a trouble maker by virtue of being seen not to play ball. What then? I hate to scaremonger.

What's needed is nationwide solidarity. We need the unions on side. We need as much of the media as we can muster on side. The actions against workfare are great and I fully support everything, but I fear it's not enough. This government seems to have the weight of popular (or populist) opinion on its side. So we need to mobilise en masse and fight hard; the sort of action that occurred with the pensions on 30th Nov last year. If we can't get this happening then the cause will be marginalised and people increasingly viewed as militant layabouts - just like the riots last year. This awful government is happy to sweep issues under the carpet and threaten people, including children, destroying their futures.

I would love to see a nationwide unemployment movement politically and socially progressive and motivated by equality and compassion. I wish I knew how to make that happen.


  1. If a4e knew of my alterego.. this name. But i have separated this name from my real one, I am scared of sanctions, its the black box approach..

    I think the unions should have policies for the unemployed,but sometimes it feels hard to even get the unions to listen since we are not union members. I do my bit to pass the word i have friends who have friends, who have friends so i talk to them to pass the word.. It does feel like an uphill struggle sometimes what with the threats of sanctions.

    1. Well i think, for now, that the unions are the key. They have to see we are fighting the same battle. If you marginalise the unemployed from the employed then the government has won.

  2. Hi Ghost Whistler.

    Just read that blog you linked to. Wow, that 'motivational course' and the associated 'deliverer' of the psychobabble was something else. Absolutely not a surprise to me, but it's still rather staggering to read. Almost like you're reading some surreal farcical fiction!
    I will be doing my best to avoid any such sessions, but if I am forced into such they will be getting short shrift from me. Silence or intelligent derision at best.

    My provider has finally contacted me for our second meeting, nearly 5 months later! And already that pressure and stress is building.
    I am trying my best to stay calm and I am almost resigned to having sanction doubts. Because I simply cannot put up with the coercion and bullying. And will not be!
    And thankfully I have friends and family for support and food etc should such punitive measures (for speaking up, asserting the few rights we supposedly have?) be used against me.

    Of course not all these advisors are horrible, just most of them! Maybe I will be lucky and the reality will not be as harsh as the anticipation. It often isn't. But one has to be prepared to take the sanctions, especially if one is the type to stand up to bullies.
    Though sometimes we have to (reluctantly) concede a few small defeats and fall prey to the coercion simply because no income is no fun.

    Just thought I'd pop in and say hello. And to wish you well.

    1. Thanks. I think it's a case of expect the worse and everything else is a bonus.
      I'm expecting the WP to contact me this week, as was arranged. But i've been reading the forms they asked me to fill in. One of the very first questions asks me if i'm interested in training - something they claim not to offer!
      Something weird going on here. But that's the point: the 'customer' is always kept on the backfoot. He isn't made aware of how things really work. I've pritned out all the documents to back up my position regarding action plans and signing forms. If and when they contact me, we shall see what happens.
      I don't really feel positive about it though, being sent to a bloody church hall is just ridiculous. At the very least you'd expect a suitably clean, smart environment with all the right resources. Not the place where the local salvation army corps (that's what they call themselves - god's own footsoldiers! Imagine a muslim group calling itself an army!) holds jumble sales and choir meetings!

  3. Mr No, good luck on the provider meeting.. I am in a4e and been there 6 months so far.. on my 3rd adviser now.. Not that I am a trouble maker..;)

    1. Thanks Anonymouse.

      Trouble maker? That depends on your advisers definition. I think they have some strange ideas about what constitutes such.
      Being dismayed at the fact that you are being used as a commodity? Asking questions? Ooh, cannot do that. That's troublesome.
      Ever been accused of being uncooperative? Not engaging? Ha!
      If I do not require help with a CV etc and can do my own jobsearch then in many providers view that seems to qualify as being a trouble maker.

      Wouldn't it seem at least a little bit strange to the people who keep tabs on the providers if every single person on the work programme needed help with a CV, just for one example?
      If I was one of the few decent politicians out there would be asking whether or not every claimant needed help or if it was simply a tickbox exercise.
      If I do not require a particular facility then tough, the box will have to remain unticked.
      Then if the adviser goes from bluff to actually putting a doubt in then one will just have to see what happens. Blackmail doesn't sit right with me.
      I am expecting some bullcrap when they ask me about vacancies applied for. How many this week Mr No? Hmmm? One! Oh no Mr No, that's not good enough. Really? Enhanced jobsearch for you then. Really? I don't think so. Sanction? Ok, if you really must.

      Reasonable justification and a decent DM? I'll take my chances with the sanction doubt.
      Might not come to that for a while, but whatever. Play it by ear.

  4. In the last a4e scheme i was in And i actually saw this it was So freaking funny it makes me smile today..A tutor went up to this 58 year old man, he hadnt got a CV, so she did one for him, thats fine.. 2 weeks later this same tutor comes upto the same man, and said that CV was Crap.. who did it .. He replied you did.. her face just dropped and he wandered off.

    Good luck to you.. I am an easy going person for the most part, but if there is something wrong I will state it is wrong.. I always make sure they have nothing on me.. and that annoys them most of all LOL.. I document everything, I take a copy of all the emails i send, hard copy and hand them to my adviser.

    1. Absolutely, always have a paper trail.

  5. Hi guys.

    Meeting went about as bad as it can get. Considering it was only my second appointment.

    I won't rant at length here out of respect for your fine blog GW, but I'm sure you may see the shitstorm that's about to unfold documented elsewhere.
    I feel sick at what humanity has become. I am in shock at the moment. Almost speechless. Well, after heated discussion and being intimidated by up to 5 people many probably would be. It didn't go well. Got mandated (punished) for standing up for my rights basically.
    Comply or take my chances? Hmmm? i would be a hypocrite if I didn't test the water, wouldn't I? You could see the enjoyment in their eyes and how pleased they at intimidating me. Horrid.


    1. Grrr, above reverted to Anonymous.

      Mr No

    2. Bring you up to speed later. A synopsis exists elsewhere. Been a bit of tumbleweed blowing through that old haunt recently. What's happened to Jack C I wonder?
      But you'll find the gist there. Sorry about the vagueness at the moment. But frazzled to say the least.
      Mr No.

    3. Ok, understood. :) I'll read the comments there. I know full well just how stressful dealing with these people is.

  6. "Community membership pledge to organise the marginalised - and revolutionise British trade unionism"


    "Unite’s new community membership will offer the unemployed, students and all those not in employment the opportunity to become part of one of the most powerful forces for equality in the country. For just 50p per week, community members will have access to financial and legal expertise, as well as the support of up to one and a half million fellow members when standing up for their local services.

    Community members will be developed as community activists, bringing together people across their locality who have felt left down or excluded by politics to ensure that they too have a voice at a time of economic turmoil and social change for the nation."

    I'm unemployed and recently signed up for this. It's £3 a month membership for unemployed people.

    1. I only signed up last month, and have yet to be put on the work programme, but Unite seem the best people to contact in the event of work programme exploitation. I wouldn't want to do it on my own, as I'm easily bullied by authority figures.

    2. Good luck with it. I would be very interested to know what support they actually offer, though let's hope you don't need it of course.

    3. Thanks.

      You might also be interested in this blog:

      It has up to date news on workfare and public and media reaction to it.


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