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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

KUWG join PCS picket North KenSanctions Slave Centre on Wednesday 15 Oct, 3pm to 4pm

By Swheatie of the KUWG

Civil Service should really mean just that.
This Wednesday the KUWG were to join any picket line that may exist at Kilburn Jobcentre on the national strike day of the Public & Commercial Service Union (PCS). PCS includes salaried jobcentre staff.

But in the meantime we received a request from someone associated or formerly associated with North KenSanctions Slave Centre [officially known as North Kensington JobCentre Plus]. And on our tour of duty there on Wednesday 8 October we had an overwhelming realisation that our presence is urgently required at that place to help bolster the quality of customer service delivery — we have decided to do our 'secondary picketing' there this week. So to we return to that place whatever we call it, near Ladbrok Grove Stn, in Kensal Road, W10 5BL.

Secondary picketing is a form of bridge building
(Bringing together social work practitioners, service users, academics and students toward rescuing social work from the clutches of managerialism and privatisation is the mission of Social Work Action Network. Similarly, KUWG wants to cooperate with jobcentre workers in rescuing jobcentres from the clutches of market driven 'welfare reform' — and to remind the civil servants involved what the customers really want and that they are there to serve the public rather than millionaires.)

'Secondary picketing' — i.e., picketing by people not of the trade union immediately involved in a strike — was perceived correctly by the Thatcher Government as being against the perceived mission of that Government and so of course they sought to abolish it. (Not that that mission was transparently stated with all the media manipulation involved and talk of 'the enemy within' after the defeat of an Argentinian military junta that had been financed and armed by successive UK and US Governments before going a little too far in its own military ambitions after it had 'disappeared thousands upon thousands of Argentinian citizens.)

Claimant status doesn't invalidate human rights
 Enough of the Modern History lesson. In much more recent history, jobcentre staff have been threatened and bribed to clamp down on the right of claimants. The contract between Monster Jobs and the Department for Work & Pensions under which the 'Universal Jobmatch' program was created states that the claimant has an inviolable right to their password privacy — echoing what is already in the Data Protection Act.

Password privacy yours by right
But under sanctions performance targets and a chain of bullying that DWP Secretary Iain Duncan Smith denies exist, jobcentre staff frequently demand that claimants tell jobcentre staff their password. ("Never believe anything till it has been officially and vehemently denied"?) Once the staff have access to the claimant/customer's password, electronic surveillance of the jobseeker is made much easier.

Yet at North KenSanctions Slave Centre, staff all too routinely tell claimants/customers that they will be sanctioned if they do not give over their 'Universal Jobmatch' password.

Is sanctioning 'customer service'?

The KUWG wants to remind all jobcentre staff that if they don't join with claimants in claimants' struggles, it will be all too easy for the privatisation of jobcentres into the clutches of companies like G4S and Serco to continue. Employment Minister Esther McVay has already shown a keenness for contracted staff on the Supervised Jobsearch Pilot scheme to be given license to sanction claimants. That was previously only something that staff directly employed by the DWP could do. But as she gives privately contracted staff 'employment officer' status, what next for the jobcentre staff in their struggle against privatisation?

 So where is the job security for jobcentre staff in 'only following orders' as Nazis did?

Whose side are North Kensington Jobcentre staff on — in an economic climate in which even the most diligent of JSA claimants, stripped of a real work environment's networking opportunities toward professional advancement, are more likely to be sanctioned than find another job within six months?

Sanctions mercenaries? No thanks!

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