- Created: Saturday, 13 December 2014 13:41
- Written by Scotland Branches
Campaigners against welfare sanctions from Perth, Forfar, Montrose and Dundee gathered in front of Dundee's Job Centre Plus on Friday 5 December. An academic, Dr David Webster from Glasgow University who has been studying the use of sanctions and disallowances since 1911, has confirmed that Dundee sits at the top of the league for the number of sanctions handed out in Scotland's cities. It is estimated that 6,400 sanctions have been issued since October 2012 up until to March 31 2014. Doctor David stated: 'I am concerned by the growing evidence of widespread official abuse of sanctions in the UK and of resulting damage to individuals and society.'
The campaigners against sanctions have seen the reality of that damage at the doors of the burroos- Job Centre offices- across the country. Under the demand 'No to a Winter of Heating or Eating' protestors drew attention to the misery they were encountering. People who have just woken in homes cold and hungry stop to speak of their desperate personal situation. Accounts are given and shared outside the Job Centres as groups form, fearfully anticipating being sanctioned when they go to sign on upstairs.
There is fear, there is cold and hunger but there is also anger and defiance. People applaud our noisy condemnation of growing inequality- there are 11,000 millionaires in Glasgow and 50,000 kids in poverty- and understand our rejection of the energy multinationals' profiteering in a country abundant in natural resources. Lord Smith who recently reported on new devolved powers for Scotland – in effect a ruling class stitch up designed to forestall the growing independence movement – is Chair of Scottish Southern Energy. He is head of the company sending out the bills that have been growing by well over the rate of inflation as the multinationals help themselves to cash while folks freeze.
Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions joined a demonstration the following day called under the slogan 'No to Austerity! Yes to Home Rule!'. DAWS objected to the Home Rule slogan and publicly challenged the position as a retreat, promoted by sections of the Scottish National Party, from the movement for full independence. The SNP have recently suspended 3 councillors from Renfrew who openly burned a copy of Lord Smith's commission report. The councillors are said to have widespread support in the massively popular party which has seen membership almost touch 100,000 in the last two months since the referendum. As the report in FRFI 242 points out, how far will this new membership tolerate the parliamentary respectability and timidity of the SNP leadership who 'welcomed' the measures contained in the report. Opposition to the Smith Commission must be popularised and organised to take forward the movement for full independence.
As the march of hundreds moved off from the Hilltown area the cheering cry was : 'Independence Now!' and this call and the call to 'End Welfare Sanctions Now!' were the main and noisiest slogans of the demonstration. At City Square, the crowd heard mum Charmaine describe the humiliating and dispiriting experience of applying for job after job through the Triage service when there are no jobs. She attacked the cruel system of sanctions which leaves people with nothing, leaving people in worry and uncertainty about the future and their children's future. The reality is that when working class women join and lead the fight- as in the rent strikes in Glasgow during the First World War, as with the Focus E15 Campaign today- then the future for the working class in its battle for independence and socialism is secured.
The final speaker from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! raised the battle cry: 'Forward Ever! Backward Never! We have to keep up the fight for independence to win real social justice but also to break up the imperialist British state which bombs innocent children abroad while making our own children hungry. The struggle for full independence for Scotland and the Socialist Republic has begun. Join Us!