Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2341

Workfare courts victory shows we can fight back

The victory of Cait Reilly and Jamie Wilson at the court of appeal last week dealt a huge blow to the government’s flagship workfare policy.

The judgement hasn’t gone as far as to outlaw Tory schemes that force people on the dole to work unpaid.

Indeed ministers have rushed through new regulations in order to comply with the law.

But nevertheless it has plunged Iain Duncan Smith’s pet back-to-work policy into yet another crisis.

The court victory comes off the back of a year of militant protests and occupations. These forced many companies such as Tesco and Holland and Barratt to back out of the scheme.

These campaigns have also exposed the corrupt practices of work programme contractors such as A4e.

Around 130,000 people had their meagre benefits stripped when they refused or were not well enough to suffer the indignity of grafting for free for the likes of Poundland, McDonalds or Argos. They are now due a refund.

But employment minister Mark Hoban is refusing to cough up.

He says that workfare is helping people back into work, yet his own department’s figures show workfare to be a failure.

Unemployed people have a better chance of getting work without that “assistance”.

The constant attacks on benefits and demonising of those of us that receive them can seem overwhelming at times.

But the workfare ruling shows that the con dems, as nasty as they are, are not having it all their own way.

The summit called by Campaign For Benefit Justice on 9 March is a great opportunity to organise the most effective resistance to the massive attack on welfare.

Preparation for the summit has united a whole number of campaigns and trade unions such as PCS and Unite.

You can get in touch with the summit at

Pat Carmody, East London

Blacklist is a disgrace

I have to take issue with Robert Brown’s letter (Socialist Worker, 2 Feb) where he seems to be in favour of blacklisting workers.

Blacklisting to any degree is totally unacceptable. It hinders any chance of future employment and it prevents ordinary workers who are unemployed to obtain work.

Brown runs a small construction company which suggests he has little or nothing in common with workers.

It is very much unfair to share any blacklist with another corporation.

Charlie Dowthwaite, Barrow-in-Furness

Mid-York’s Tory MP

Socialist Worker’s coverage of the Mid Yorkshire hospitals strike has been excellent.

I thought readers would be interested to hear of the earnings of Tory MP for Dewsbury who didn’t support the strike.

Simon Reevell, as a backbencher earns £65,000 a year. On top of this he earned £87,439.42 in 2012 for up to 282 hours work as a barrister.

This works out at roughly £310 per hour. That is more than some people earn in a week. It is also more than those facing benefits cuts, reduction in wages and increasing levels of poverty are getting from this reactionary government.

John Appleyard, West Yorkshire

Why are Blair and other criminals free?

Did anyone watch the TV documentary recently called Out of Jail and on the Streets on BBC One?

It got me thinking once again—why the hell is Tony Blair still out of jail and on the streets?

My half-brother Jason Creswell was kidnapped in Iraq and held hostage for two years and was murdered.

That was because of what Blair and his partner in crime George Bush did to Iraq.

Why are there no documentaries on TV asking why war criminals are out of jail and on the streets?

Their crimes are enormous and they cause a vast amount of genocide, poverty and suffering. So much so that they make the still shocking crimes of those on the lower end of the class scale seem petty.

Alan Laing, by email

What Labour reforms?

What difference would a Labour government make? None, judging by the remarks of its Policy Coordinator Jon Cruddas on BBC’s Newsnight recently.

Cruddas argued that Labour in power would have limited room for reforms because “the money is not there and everyone knows that”.

Actually there’s plenty of money around.

This government is about to spend £32.7 billion on the HS2 rail link and commit the country to spending £130 billion on Trident nuclear weapons.

In addition it’s estimated that between £25 and £35 billion is lost from tax avoidance in the UK each year. And last year’s Sunday Times Rich List found the combined income of the 1,000 richest residents of the UK is now £414 billion.

The vast majority of us are suffering under this government which administers austerity for the poor and vast wealth for the rich.

We must rely on our own strength and fight every cut in public services, defend every job and resist every act of privatisation now.

Labour offers no alternative.

Sasha Simic, East London

Unite election fight is on

It’s great that Jerry Hicks is on the ballot paper for the Unite general secretary election.

We members were not supposed to have a vote or at least that was the leadership’s intention. Now the members can tell Len McCluskey what they think of his underhand attempt to deny them their vote.

Now it is up to every member to use their vote and make this the biggest victory in recent times.

John Stone, Plymouth

Working our proper hours

The TUC is organising a “work your proper hours” day next month. I work in a supermarket and people’s confidence is quite low. But I’ve decided to use this to take a bit of initiative.

I’ve spoken to people and we’re going to take our full breaks and leave on time.

If we do any overtime we’re going to go to management together and make sure we get paid for it. Even if its just 10 minutes, it’s the principle that counts.

Sammy Weating, Northamption

We marched with millions

Your feature on the 15 February 2003 anti-war march really brought memories of the day flooding back. I took my two daughters on that march. They’ve gone on to march against tuition fees and to save our local hospital. It really shaped our lives. What a day.

Gill Farrowsmith, South London

Plaque for police lord

the Met police have spent £600 putting up a plaque marking the knighthood of commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe.

This is the man that has introduced “total policing” and was in South Yorkshire police when the Orgreave and Hillsborough disasters happened. What a nice man.

Geoff Racken, Middlesex

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Article information

Tue 19 Feb 2013, 16:26 GMT
Issue No. 2341
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