Dude Swheatie notes:The following has been received by email from Chesterfield Unite Community branch.
Its author Colin Hampton has a well-respected background among activists from the time he has been with Derbyshire Unemployed Workers Centres (DUWCs). I know that Colin Hampton has contributed to Daily Mirror's 'Mirror Investigates' features about Atos and ESA, and Anne Grey informed me in 2008 when we met Colin in the House of Commons that his assistance was invaluable in her writing 'Unsocial Europe: social protection or flexploitation' published by Pluto Press in 2004 which is no longer in print.(1) The evidence he helped provide her focused on the impact of 'Active Labour Market Policies' under which workfarist (work for your benefits) Jobseekers Allowance legislation was brought in in the UK in 1996.
And Chesterfield, as a high unemployment area, has long been targeted by nasty workfarist policies and been associated with numerous suicides.
CHESTERFIELD UNITE COMMUNITY BRANCH
DATE: Thursday 9th June 2016
CONTACT: Colin Hampton
CONTACT TEL: 07870 387 999
CONTACT E-MAIL: email@example.com
Stand and Deliver: Daylight robbery committed by Employment Agencies
Dick Turpin will be riding into Chesterfield on Monday 13 June at noon. Starting under the Crooked Spire in Rykneld Square and mounted on Black Bess, Dick Turpin will loom large over a gathering of Unite Community activists campaigning to highlight the activities of unscrupulous Employment Agencies, one based in Chesterfield. Unite the Union delivered evidence from workers at Sports Direct to a Parliamentary Committee concerning the deductions made from wages. Employees unable to open a bank account are clobbered with a £10 cost of being issued a charge card plus a monthly £10 administrative charge and 75p for every transaction with a 10p cost of a text to confirm.
‘The Agencies, Best Connection and Transline are committing Daylight Robbery here in Chesterfield’ said Luke Primorolo Unite Regional organiser with responsibility for Sports Direct at their Derbyshire HQ, ‘there is no excuse for their profiteering at the expense of vulnerable workers.’
The Union provided evidence of insurances deducted from wages taken without the workers consent. Agency workers are supposed to be temporary workers but the Union have seen many employees that have worked on Agency status for a long time, some as many as six years.
‘The fear of not getting the work at the company leads people to accept the robbery that is taking place.’ Luke went on. ‘It’s like a gun is being held to their head – that is why we have Dick Turpin riding into town today to symbolise the theft taking place.
Colin Hampton Unite Community Activist in North Derbyshire said ‘What’s worse about this robbery is that it is encouraged by the Government. Most people on becoming unemployed are forced by the Department for Work and Pensions to sign up to at least two agencies in order to obtain benefits. The Government acts like a gangmaster, a recruiting sergeant for unscrupulous Agencies profiteering, living off the earnings of sweated labour. Our first demand is that no one should be forced to join up to these firms for risk of not being able to obtain benefits.’ Colin went on to say. ‘They don’t have to worry about the quality of what they do because they have a ready supply of forced labour. There is real potential for corruption here.’
Following a meeting in Rykneld Square, Dick Turpin and Black Bess will ride down in to the market place and up to the Glumangate HQ of Best Connection where he will ‘rob’ the workers outside their door.
Unite the Union will use the opportunity to voice their demands. ‘In the first place the Agencies need to be made to pay back the money that they have robbed from the workers. This is the back pay from the admission that they were paid less than the minimum wage. Next, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority should be extended across all sectors of the economy and a more vigorous licencing, regulatory and enforcement regime put in place,’ Luke Primorolo continued ‘and, most importantly, the use of Agency workers should be more strictly governed to stop this abuse. Agency workers should be only used to cover exceptional peaks of work, or work of an unusual nature, and the length of assignment should be limited before workers are entitled to a permanent contract.’
The Chesterfield Unite Community branch will continue to monitor the situation and will lobby local MPs to push for the necessary changes in legislation.