By Nick Phillips
London Unemployed Strategies Report to Southern and Eastern Region of the Trade Union Congress [SERTUC, that includes London in its catchment area]
1) CLAIMANTS SURVEY, JULY 10th THE LOW/NO PAY CONNECTIONI have been going through the 400 LUS surveys which claimants have filled in across London over the past few months.
The detailed findings will soon be publicly available. As they emerge, many things are perhaps sadly predictable. Key issues include:
- The large number of claimants (around 40%) who feel they are treated with contempt by Jobcentre Plus and the Work Porgramme.
- The even larger number (around 55%) who feel the Information, Advice and Guidance they get on careers, jobs and training is minimal.
- The large number of older claimants (over 50s) who feel they are perceived as being 'on the scrapheap' by both JCP [JobCentre Plus] and employers.
- The increased pressure, even on people who are older, highly experienced and qualified in specific fields, to take any job under any terms and conditions under threat of sanctions.
This information correlates strongly with the findings of the recent PCS [Public and Commercial Services Union] survey. This reported increasing verbal and physical attacks on PCS staff, coupled with a belief that the increasingly harsh sanctions regime instigated by the DWP [Department for Work and Pension]/JCP was a strong contributory factor.
Through exerting this pressure on claimants to take anything on offer, the DWP and Jobcentre Plus perpetuate the legitimacy and increase the number of zero hours contracts and minimum wage jobs.
This clearly embeds the issue of unemployment firmly within the TUC 'Britain Needs a Payrise' agenda and underlines the common cause of workers on low and no pay. This is why we involved unemployed workers in the July 10th strike day and were happy to march alongside the PCS banner to demonstrate our common cause.
LUS will continue to address the problems faced by claimants, JCP/housing benefits staff and others who are all suffering from the effects of the crackdown on access to decent benefits and other forms of support. To this end I shall be making further efforts to link up with the key unions, voluntary organisations and claimants representatives to see how we can take these initiatives further forward.