"I would have quit this job months ago, but I'd be sanctioned by the Jobcentre". That's what one friend told me after working unpaid overtime every evening that week, on low pay that barely covered bills and rent. It's a dilemma faced by everyone working in unsafe or illegal conditions. If you are fired then you have to get by for 5 weeks with no income while you wait for Universal Credit. If you quit, you risk being sanctioned and left for months with no money coming in at all. This is a system designed to punish workers for leaving, designed to keep us quiet and accept unfair or even illegal demands at work, while the rich rake in the profits. If we want to make better lives for ourselves then we should all make a stand against the benefits system, or it will undermine every attempt to organise our workmates.
Statutory Sick Pay
If you’re unable to work due to illness or are self-isolating due to Corona virus, and your employer doesn’t offer contractual sick pay, you can claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you usually earn at least £118 per week before tax. For the next 3 months at least, you can claim SSP from the first day of not working. Your employer pays SSP and you should tell them immediately, and at least within 7 days, that you need to claim it. You normally have to provide a GP fit note after 7 consecutive days of illness but at present you only need to provide a note from NHS 111 online:
During a September Saturday Brighton SolFed held a network and skills day covering; the immigration act and healthcare, the attack on benefits, fighting wage theft and anarchists on austerity. This full day, including a mighty lunch prepared by members, maintained a constant level of debate and information, concluding in practical action points to continue agitating around Brighton and beyond.
The governement has today significantly increased the sanctions for non-compliance with the benefits regime, including the controversial unpaid, forced work 'workfare' schemes. Under a 'three strikes' policy, benefits will be stopped for three months, six months, and then three years for failing to meet a series of conditions, many of which relate to workfare. According to a notiification letter given to all JSA claimants, this includes:
On Saturday, the Lib Dems' party conference was in Brighton. Following a protest march, there were simultaneous mass pickets of firms using workfare across Brighton. Rather than simply 'having our say' and being ignored by politicians, the idea was to disrupt a high profile coalition policy - the forced, unpaid work schemes known as workfare.
On Tuesday the 28th of august members of Hull Solfed were joined by disabled activists in staging a protest outside the local office of official Paralympics sponsor Atos. Like similar demonstrations happening simultaneously around the country we wanted to shine a spotlight on Atos and its practices. Employed by the DWP to carry out work capability assessments declaring sick and disabled people 'fit for work', Atos uses an inhuman computer programme to do the testing, and trains its staff to push people off benefits. They profit from destroying the rights and lives of disabled people.
On the 19th of May Thames Valley SolFed coordinated a day of action against Holland & Barrett as part of the national SF anti-workfare campaign. Pickets were held in both Reading & Oxford.
Picket outside Holland and Barrett, Saturday 31st March. We managed to
turn away a good proportion of customers, handing out leaflets at the
door and to passers by. Despite being a Saturday in the Bigg Market -
a popular drinking haunt for stag and hen parties - the picket went
WYSF and SRSM were joined by members of AFed in the picket at Poundland. Although it started slow we distributed 250 leaflet well within the hour. Reception seemed pretty good and we retired to the pub to discuss future actions. Between the 3 groups it was decided to continue to picket such p[laces as Poundlandand to include A4e and BEST in future pickets. Thanks to everyone who turned out, keep tuned for future actions!
As part of the Governments Welfare Reform Bill (now an Act), Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will be limited to 12 months. This comes into affect from the 30th April 2012 and for the first time is to be aplplied retrospectively. This means that anyone who has been on Contribution based ESA for a year or more by April 30th will lose this benefit on April 30th. For many this means relying on a partners income for others it means taking a cut in income while having to go on income based ESA. The biggest losers are couples.