Knowsley For Corbyn
Wednesday, 30 January 2019
St Aidans Social Centre
By John Owen
Knowsley for Corbyn held a well attended public meeting in Huyton Parish Social Club, St Aidens, to discuss alternatives to Universal Credit. With PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka speaking and Unite speaker for communities Sheila Coleman. Two Unison PCS reps and DWP staff members also spoke about its ill effects.
The weather outside was a snowstorm but it didn’t prevent 40 to 50 people turning up to listen, hear and challenge leaders of the Labour movement and the policy towards defeating the Universal Credit.
Key questions for the Labour movement around the strategy to defeat the plans of the Tory government were outlined by Mark, who insisted that the welfare system was there to help from cradle to grave. 40 years of attacks on welfare, so called reforms or cuts including Labour’s new deals et al should be resisted and a new welfare policy devised under an incoming Labour government. He outlined the new pamphlet entitled social security the case for radical change as a campaigning weapon for activists.
Some tactical and strategic agitation against dole staff, which felt as they were delivering it they’d become collaborators, ergo legitimate targets by some activist groups should note that 40% of the staff and PCS members wee in receipt of benefits, due to low wage economy. Some using food banks they advised others to access.
Sheila Coleman, the community branch organiser for Unite, brought a less flashy pamphlet called How to survive Universal credit. with the rider : you may get frustrated and become extremely skint. But you will survive UC with the help of this guide and unite community support.
I’m no expert with statistics just real peoples experiences to relate. We battle to change the Unite policy and Labour’s from reform or stop it !to scrap it !completely it doesn’t work.
Unite have recently upgraded entire skill sets of activists and lay union members, running a three day accredited course.
So from stop and fix official Labour policy to scrap it to make sure an incoming Labour government has a welfare system that works., which provides security and social support.
A welfare rights speaker from Vauxhall community Centre and West Derby clp member Chris Williamson said “We ran out of leaflets and petitions at the last shopping market stall we held. There is deep opposition to UC and resentment overall to the treatment being meted out to people on benefits.”
An example he put forward. One retired ex Raf 60-year-old pensioner was recently told to chase jobs, as an auditor up and down the country for superstores like BNM and Argos and Home Bargain.He had to get a taxi to the city centre in the early hours of the morning and then get into a van as far as Carlisle or Newcastle for a few hours work. He as worse off than ever and lost rent payments and had to borrow money to live despite being diagnosed as arthritic in both hands. I took his case to local MP Dan Carden who eventually sorted it.
Some lively exchanges from the floor to the council leader for Knowsley, who outlined the £100 million cuts 57% budgets, from the Tory government to social services in the area ,as well as attendant job losses and the huge amount of people, 4000, who are expected to be shifted onto universal credit. We’ve set aside £1 million to help alleviate the poverty with rent subsidies, etc. bedroom tax debts, but as one speaker suggested you’d caused the problem in the first place.
Other speakers outlined the cases they’d fought for and battled with officialdom. Some called for action centres and less bureaucracy more access to the information needed to fight it all, and spaces for the unemployed to meet and organise.
The meeting ended cordially and all two boxes of both pcs and Manchester Unite pamphlets, several hundreds in number, were eagerly snatched up.
This was encouraging to see and the lackadaisical approach to most union meetings towards literature and ideas about strategy is normally apathetic and lethargically dull.
This time round mood and impulse to fight and do something to change the situation, connected of course with Corbyn winning the votes and achieving a Labour government, has steeled people to trudge out in snow and icy plummeting weather to fight the good fight with the prospect of a new society in the making.