- Created: Saturday, 19 October 2013 16:38
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 235 October/November 2013
Zero-hour slave labour
I am writing to share my personal experience of the effects of the dismantling of the welfare state and the rotten benefits system in this country. This summer after graduating, I attempted to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance as I was only working three hours a week because of my zero-hour contract. However, due to the fact I live with my partner I am not entitled to any unemployment or housing benefit, even though my partner is also on a zero-hour contract working part-time for minimum wage. How can the state expect his salary to sustain both of us to live, eat and pay rent? This is the harsh reality of the punitive benefits system – it is designed to pay out virtually nothing, whilst maintaining the illusion of a class of ‘benefit scroungers’ and ‘skivers’.
I have now gained employment in the form of another zero-hour contract job, but am still struggling with financial insecurity as I am not guaranteed any hours in either. It seems that I may need to work three separate jobs just to gain full-time hours. Forcing the unemployed and the poor into accepting zero-hour and casual contracts is highly exploitative, as usually people are not entitled to be paid sickness benefit and may substantially lose out on any bonuses or financial incentives. This is very profitable for employers, who have less responsibility to pay for staff they may not need, creating a disposable work force willing to work in poor conditions for low pay.
However this causes constant anxiety for such workers, as my partner and I do not know from one week to the next whether we will earn enough money to pay our rent. As the banks continue to get bailed out and imperialist countries prepare for yet another war in the Middle East, it is the poor and the unemployed who bear the brunt of the crisis, stripped of basic welfare provision and left helpless.
LOUISE GARTREL, Glasgow
Release in sight?
How’s this for an oddity? I’ve just received a letter from my solicitor telling me that the parole board have recommended my release. No lifer testing – no town visits – no home leave – horrendous risk factors given to me by this prison – and yet I’m recommended for release?
I’ve still not had a reply from the Director of Public Prosecutions regarding the private prosecution of the forensic scientist involved in my case so I’ve been busy over the last few months sending out lots of data to the Ministry of Justice, Home Affairs Select Committee, Parole Board, Home Office – anyone I could think of!
Cardiff University has asked for permission to give the details of my case to a bunch of reporters who are doing a write-up on people fighting their cases, so naturally I agreed. Whether my case is actually used, who knows? But it should be made public knowledge – the more the public know, the less chance of a cover-up. Together we will win.
TERENCE ALLEN, A6119AD HMP Leyhill
Victory against censorship
I am writing to let you know that the governor has now allowed me to have your newspaper. Thank you for sending me FRFI and for complaining to the governor for not giving it to me. If it wasn’t for your letters of support and the intervention of the Prisoners Advice Service I doubt I would have been allowed it. So thank you and keep up the good work of fighting oppression.
ROSS MACPHERSON, A6791AD HMP Dovegate
(Since writing this letter, Ross has been released)
Sterling DPRK internationalism
I would like to add a couple of things to ‘Hypocritical outcry over Cuban arms to North Korea’ (FRFI 234). Apparently the sailors of the captured ship were held in Panama without Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) diplomats having access to them. Thus they were denied consular and legal advice, a violation of human rights and international law, by the US imperialists and their reactionary Panamanian puppets.
This contrasts with the treatment of Kenneth Bae in the DPRK. Bae, a US spy, was arrested for the worst acts of counter-revolutionary activity in the DPRK since 1956, which could lead to the death penalty or life imprisonment. He was afforded the assistance of the Swedish embassy (on behalf of the US which has no embassy in the DPRK) and offered the services of a lawyer which he declined.
All the DPRK was doing was helping Cuba out by repairing old weapons. It has given much international assistance to Cuba in the past, such as supplying free automatic rifles in the 1980s. It also sent KPA pilots to Vietnam during the war, and supported Egypt against Israel in the 1973 war. A sterling internationalist record indeed.
DERMOT HUDSON Via email