- Created: Thursday, 17 March 2016 11:13
- Written by Michael MacGregor
G4S - Hands Off Claimants and Advocates!
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! Supporters from Edinburgh and Dundee responded to the call out from the Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty to defend welfare advocacy rights. 50 folks from diverse organisations: Dundee Against Austerity, Castlemilk Against Austerity, Class War, Scottish Unemployed Workers Network, Stand Up to Racism and Fascism, Drums of Resistance and anarchists stood together outside High Riggs Job Centre in Edinburgh to proclaim loudly that ‘An Injury to One is an Injury to All’ and ‘Advocacy is not a Crime!’
We were responding in numbers and noise to the physical exclusion of supporters of welfare claimants from the Job Centre. The security guards from G4S had prevented a claimant from bringing in their volunteer advocate to an interview a fortnight previously. This time around, with the protest going on as they went in, the claimant entered with the advocate without problem and received an apology from DWP staff for the illegal treatment. Victory!
The protest was solidly confident that the claimant had the absolute, legal right to be accompanied: because the head of the Department of Work and Pensions had said so 6 years ago and this had been re- affirmed by a Freedom of Information request in February 2014. So what were G4S up to in denying that right? Why were G4S staff, themselves on low wages and zero hours, picking on and bullying the unemployed and disabled?
As was pointed out by the FRFI speaker, the G4S staff have a choice: stand by their racist workmates who murdered asylum seeker Jimmy Mubenga while he was being deported in 2010 or stand by the unemployed and disabled who are under renewed attack by this Tory government and the millionaires. Protestors cheered when reminded that G4S has been forced to withdraw from contracts with the Israeli government due to public exposure and condemnation of the multinational’s brutality towards Palestinian political prisoners.
The importance of local solidarity, as well as international, was raised by ECAP and Tony from the SUWN who have direct experience of harassment and arrest from G4S and Police Scotland. Tony is now facing a second trial following his assertion of advocacy rights at a Work Capability Assessment office in Dundee. His trial is in June. The protest was united in asserting our advocacy and campaigning rights and pledged support for all those facing charges and trumped up laws. We are determined that no one should face intimidation and bullying at Job Centres, WCA Centres and in work.
G4S - Hands Off Protest!
DWP - Advocacy is not a Crime!