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Apply political and social pressure so that the Parliament can look at the issue

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Latest Blog

Justice and defiance take to the streets

Thousands took the streets of North London today in a defiant demonstration of unity and hope carrying a message of understanding and justice. The march and Peoples Assembly was called by the North London Assembly in response to the riots of the last week in Tottenham and Hackney. It carried a simple message " Give our kids a future." However the march went beyond this theme and had a depth of feeling and representation from groups who have campaigned over the last year against the governments vicious policies towards some of the most vulnerable and poorest in our society. To make them pay for a crisis not of their making. In a week in which the country has been told parts of the nation"s capital are "sick" or full of "feral rats" and "scum" the march had another set of more humane messages on display. There were no whistles or vuvuzelas on this march, instead the message from placards and chants was loud and clear …."fight the cuts"…"reopen the youth centes"…"the bankers are the real looters" …"blame the tories not our kids". "No justice, no peace" all filled the air. It all reflected a counter argument to how to deal with riots. One that does not include water cannons or plastic bullets or the withdrawal of benefits or the loss of housing as the answer but one that seeks to address causes and the inequality at the heart of communities.

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Jobcentre Plus Scandal

"Reporter Morland Sanders investigates Jobcentre Plus, the organisation tasked with getting Britain back to work and cracking down on dole cheats. With the help of jobseekers, undercover filming and a former insider, the programme reveals the shirkers’ tricks that make it easy to cheat the system." The programme displayed precisely two “shirkers’ tricks”, and undercover filming did not prove that there is any ease in getting one over on the benefits system. The reality is very different. There is very little “cheating” taking place. David Cameron was shown in the programme promising to clamp down on “dole cheats” that have claimed around £1.5bn in benefits. But £1.5bn amounts to 0.8% of total benefit expenditure, a figure almost matched by the 0.6% lost due to Government error ( a figure set to rise since a High Court judge ruled that sanctioning claimants for refusing to take part in workfare schemes was unlawful). We were also shown how easy it is for “dole cheats” to create fictional job applications on their job diary (used to prove that claimants are sticking to their job agreement and are actively seeking work) and still have their payments processed. Although in the example shown where Dispatches volunteer jobseeker hands over his diary with his shopping list rather than a list of applications, the adviser did inform him that his payment had already been processed. Trick number two was to expose how easy it is for jobseekers to claim and work at the same time. You can even park your painting and decorating van outside the jobcentre and sign on wearing overalls covered in fresh paint and you’ll still get your £56.25 or £71 per week to top up your wages.

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Teachers express outrage at ConDems

Guest Blogger Ken Muller from Islington NUT and Islington Hands Off Our Public Services (IHOOPS) gives us an update on the mood among teachers as they vote in a strike ballot over pensions. NUT officers have been busy telephoning and visiting schools to ensure we get a good turnout in the ballot for action on 30 June. Every school NUT group meeting we have attended or heard about has expressed outrage over what the Con-Dem government is threatening to do to our pensions and support for a campaign of strike action beginning on the 30th. Teachers are especially pleased to be taking action alongside civil servants and lecturers and look forward to taking more action after the summer holiday, hopefully alongside colleagues in the other teaching and public sector unions like the NAS-UWT, UNISON and the GMB whose leaders did not think it appropriate to join us at the end of June. We do not just see the 30th as day of action in defence of our pensions but a step up from the magnificent TUC march on 26 March when working people start to use their industrial power to force the government to back off from seeking to make us pay for a crisis caused by their fat cat banker and tax-evader friends. We also hope that we will be joined on the march from Lincoln’s Inn Fields to Westminster on day by the whole Islington community who are victims of the Con-Dem cuts, whether as the providers or users of our public services and benefits.

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The Future of Work?

Mark Barrett, Democracy Campaigner, and co-convenor of the People’s Assembly Network offers a personal view on the future of work in a really democratic society. In the spirit of a Popular Assembly, the Right to Work Campaign have kindly offered me the opportunity to blog about the Spanish Real Democracy Movement. As part of this, I would like to put forward a personal view on the future of work in a really democratic society. Hopefully this will stimulate some debate! In an advanced society liberating, enjoyable and well-rewarded work should be available to everyone. Under neo-liberalism however, workers get caught between an unstable, precarious (and often unfulfilling) job market on the one hand, and the dole queue on the other. With a third ‘option’ the capitalist sop, a coercive form of employment known in the UK as workfare. I argued in 2009, as I do now that after the real democracy revolution there will be an enormous liberation in the world of work from the present model. The big clue as to how it will look can be found in the 15M movement’s organisational model, Popular Assemblies. In Spain these are now taking root at the neighbourhood level and I think this illustrates how, in its decision-making the 15M movement embraces the ideal of a decentralised democratic constitution. This is important because ‘real democracy’ – the inclusion of everyone in political-economic decision-making as equals, the politics of the common – can surely only come about when we recalibrate social organisation to the local, human-scale, community base. It follows from this that work life in a really democratic society will follow a similar pattern.

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