Victory as People Power Forces Liverpool Council Homeless Fines U-Turn

homelessness

Liverpool Industrial Workers of the World unreservedly welcomes the sensational decision of Liverpool City Council to scrap their consultation on plans to fine the homeless a whole eight days ahead of its planned conclusion. We are delighted that homeless people now no longer face this added threat of being penalised for the social crime of homelessness.

Like Oxford, Hackney and Wycombe authority before them, Mayor Joe Anderson’s council has floated the idea, hoping it will go through, only to be overwhelmed by the public backlash against it. In doing so, the council has shown the potential of mass working class action to make changes in the world. Anderson and Liverpool Labour have given way on this one issue, because it risked jeopardising the rest of their austerity agenda.

Only yesterday morning, Liverpool IWW started a Facebook event page proposing a demonstration against the homeless fines. Within hours, scores had pledged they would attend, hundreds of people had been invited, and many were leaving comments on the page. Some raised their own demands, such as Joe Anderson paying back the £89,000 of public money he received from the council for legal advice on a private matter (he’d been sacked by a school he did no work for).

The homeless fines threatened to be a ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’. When asked by the media for a reaction in response to Liverpool IWW’s press release, the council retreated a step. The council’s deployment of pro-cuts Councillor Rachael O’Byrne to the Facebook event page confirms this.

Liverpool Labour’s explanation for the whole affair beggars belief. According to Liverpool Confidential , “Anderson intervened to have the scheme scrapped after hearing about the proposals yesterday [Wednesday]”. Councillor Steve Munby went on, “The proposal was not a decision by the council cabinet, but was drawn up by officers following complaints from residents and the BID [Business Improvement District].”

If we are charitable to Anderson, it still looks devastatingly bad. He is the mayor of the city, he is paid a large salary, and he dines with the greedy business owners who were pushing this scheme on a very regular basis. If the official story is to be believed, he was somehow unaware of the council consultation nearly a month after it began on 9th October. He is therefore totally out of touch with the affairs of his own council, and totally incompetent.

The far more likely explanation, of course, is that Anderson, O’Byrne, Munby and colleagues are simply lying through their teeth.

Liverpool IWW will continue to fight for the interests of all working class people in the local area, so we can guarantee that this is not the last that Mayor Anderson and all his bloodsoaked poverty pimps will hear of us.

Press Release: Liverpool IWW Calls For Demonstration Against Fines for the Homeless

homelessness

Liverpool IWW condemns the council’s proposed “Public Space Protection Order, under which the homeless could be fined up to £1,000 for the ‘crime’ of begging. We call on the people of Liverpool to show their opposition, by demonstrating at St Luke’s bombed out church a week on Saturday (14th November) from 12 noon, and signing the Change.org petition, which already had nearly 7,000 signatures at the time of going to press.

It is shocking that we find ourselves in a position where we need to argue for the right of homeless people not to be fined for their poverty, but thanks to greedy mayor Joe Anderson this is exactly the situation we are in. No-one begs for the fun of it. People beg out of desperation, because our society has badly let them down. £1,000 would be a huge amount of money for any working class person, but for a homeless person it is almost unimaginable, and could never be paid.

If Liverpool Labour wanted people to stop begging, they would stop implementing policies which massively increase poverty in our city. Instead, they aim to criminalise deprivation, in order to create a corporate paradise in Liverpool One, the Central ‘Business Improvement District’, and beyond. While Joe Anderson claims that his hands are tied by the Tory government when he makes spending cuts, it is his anti-homeless crusade which really shows what kind of man he is. Not content with using the police to starve homeless people out of a former bank a few months back, he now seeks to use crushing fines to force homeless people out of the city where they may well have family and friends.

On a different note, we worry that the proposed ban on “erecting unauthorised structures in public places such as gazebos, tents, tables and chairs, stages, temporary shelters, boxes and crates” will mean an attack on the free expression of those who want to speak or perform publicly, or distribute information.

But it’s not too late for Anderson and co. to save face. We note that councils in Oxford, Hackney and Wycombe have proposed similar measures, only to abandon them when they’ve realised the depth of public opposition.

Our union, the Industrial Workers of the World, has a long history of both organising the homeless and fighting for free speech. We’ll continue to do so as long as there is breath in our bodies.

IWW Turkey and Greece joint statement about the latest Ankara massacre

The bombing on 10th of October 2015 was directly against the Kurdish liberation movement, the working class and all oppositions who resist against the dictatorship.

This massacre is another ring of the chain that extends from Armenian genocide to Dersim massacre, from May Day’77 to Maras Massacre’78, from Sirnak Massacre’92 to Diyarbakir and Suruç bombings that happened within this year. All these massacres have targeted the people who ask for Freedom, Democracy and Justice on Anatolia over the last 100 years. The offender side has always been fascist party militants, religious fundamentalists and occasionally governmental commissioners themselves.

This is not a coincidence, a mistake, a weakness, and not the latest fragment of a distant past. Quakes of the capitalist economy agitate regional and global competitions. The games, the power struggle between the states are becoming more complicated, more frantic, more shocking. All the problems, issues that capitalist system generates or taking over without resolving such as religions, nation-state, regional competitions, environmental issues, racism, sexism etc.., explodes almost like a volcano. The latest massacre in Ankara is a significant quake that intrinsically represents the brutality of the system. Like an epidemic disease, it passes from one country to another, like an earthquake shaking the people.

The one and the only alternative to those enormous quakes, to growing massacres, to increasing oppression is the re-shaping of the world through wiping out the borders, the religious and ethnic prejudices by the hands of the working classes. Our murdered friends set out with these ideas and these ideas will be inherit from them to us.

We will never forget! We will never tyrannize but we’ll never forgive!

An injury to One is an injury to All!

15th October 2015
IWW Istanbul – IWW Greece

Liverpool IWW Spread Message that Claimant Advocacy is Not a Crime!

(c) William Dolce

This afternoon, members and supporters of Liverpool IWW held an information picket outside the town centre job centre, on Williamson Square. We are one of several IWW groups and other activist organisations holding demonstrations at job centres this week. Scottish Unemployed Workers Network called for solidarity with claimant advocate Tony Cox, who faces court in Forfar tomorrow on the ludicrous charges of threatening behaviour, refusing to give his name and address and resisting arrest. He was arrested at an Arbroath job centre last January, whilst representing a highly vulnerable unemployed woman.

(c) William Dolce

Scottish Unemployed Workers Network assert that:

“We believe that this case highlights the climate of fear that is evident within many job centres, but that it is not only benefit claimants that are treated with contempt. Welfare advisors are also being subjected to bullying and intimidation, as in the recent case of Mike Vallance at High Riggs Job Centre, when they attempt to represent, often highly vulnerable, benefit claimants. The SUWN will resist any and all attempts to curb the rights of welfare and citizen advocates to represent the unemployed, and we ask you to join us in our fight to ensure that ADVOCACY IS NOT A CRIME.”

In Liverpool today, we distributed info provided by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, backing up with legal statements the fact that ‘advocacy is not a crime’. Claimants visiting the job centre took our advice enthusiastically, and were generally pleased that someone was taking a stand against the Department for Work and Pensions, and the bullying regime inside job centres. Our social networking presence also got a number of likes and follows during the picket.

In fact, the response was so positive that we will soon begin a regular series of job centre info distribution pickets, offering advice, encouragement and solidarity to claimants – who represent some of the most vulnerable elements of the working class.

Via Dorset IWW: There will be no unpaid workers at the Co-op!

Industrial Workers of the World Dorset

end-unpaid-work_0Dorset IWW General Members’ Branch is pleased to announce that our dispute with a Bournemouth outlet of the Co-operative has been settled amicably. We have a verbal assurance from local management who are USDAW members, that they have no wish to exploit unpaid workers on their premises, and that their connection with ‘Prospects’ has been severed. We congratulate them on their principled decision and affirm our commitment to defeat the government’s work programme and end unpaid labour.

Nationally however, the situation is less clear; we have had sight of a Co-op internal document that sets out the parameters of their unpaid work experience programme. Whilst it insists that placements must be voluntary and offer meaningful experience, we note that vulnerable adults are being conscripted who may not be fully aware of their rights. It’s highly likely some of them will not be able to make an informed decision and/or will…

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Open letter to Families Fighting for Justice

Dear Families Fighting For Justice,

This is an open letter to your organisation, which has been made public on the website of Liverpool Industrial Workers of the World, a trade union.

It has come to our attention that your charity makes heavy use of two of the government’s so-called ‘workfare’ programmes – the Mandatory Work Activity and the Community Work Placement schemes. As you will be aware, these schemes compel people to work for you for free over a period of six months, on pain of likely losing their benefits – and therefore their means of supporting themselves – if they refuse, or often if they are just late etc. This cruel system has contributed to many suicides nationally, as well people simply wasting away from malnutrition.

We understand that your organisation does important work, which would otherwise go undone if you were not in operation. It is crucial that people whose loved ones are the victims of murder and manslaughter receive adequate support from the community, so they can begin to steady their own lives amidst what your website identifies as being an “emotional rollercoaster”.

In fact, we believe that the need for such peer support is so obvious, your organisation should be able to make an appeal to the community for volunteers, rather than compelling people to work for you, and risking their wellbeing, as well as undermining the conditions of people who are paid a wage locally.

We would therefore ask you to stop using workfare as soon as practically possible, and sign the Keep Volunteering Voluntary declaration, as Bulky Bob’s did last autumn. If we do not receive a positive response from you, we will regretfully have no choice other than to spread awareness of your charity’s unprincipled behaviour further and wider.

Yours faithfully,

Liverpool Industrial Workers of the World

Your Class Needs You!

wobbly

About twenty people met in Liverpool Central Library’s meeting room 2 last night, as part of IWW national secretary Dave Pike’s speaking tour of England, Scotland and Wales. Dave’s presentation – called ‘Your Class Needs You’ – attracted a mixture of members, prospective new wobblies (or ‘probblies’ in IWW lingo) and people who were just curious what the IWW they knew from tales of Joe Hill were up to nearly a century after his murder.

It was a lot less eventful than the last time Liverpool IWW met on William Brown Street. In 1921, scouse wobblies led by the writer George Garrett occupied the front of the Walker Art Gallery, and were met with a full scale police riot.

For all us IWW members love the old stories, this was evening very much focused on the IWW of today, and how a new generation of relatively young, casualised workers are leading the way with some inspirational campaigns and struggles. We watched videos of workers from Starbucks, Jimmy Johns and London language schools fighting for improvements to their working lives.

The modern day Liverpool IWW are planning some big things over the next few months, and are thrilled to have settled into our new home of Liverpool Central Library. Watch this space, as well as our Facebook and Twitter. And yes, JOIN US! https://iww.org.uk/join