Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Unemployed Workers’ Centres.

with one comment

Rising unemployment, Welfare Reform, The Flexible New Deal, Workfare. Against these we need strong campaigns to defend the rights of those of us who are out of work.  We need places which can offer independent advice and help, somewhere to talk, organise, maybe have a cup of tea and food. Independent and responsible to the workless.

There were, once upon a time, plenty of these. They were called Unemployed Workers’ Centres. Inspired by the unemployed, unions, and backed by the TUC, there was a network across the country. Set up with funds from the movement, and sympathetic local councils. A few still remain. Some have been changed into Community Resource Centres. Many have closed.  Faced with the cuts every political party is threatening the future for independent support for those on the dole or receiving any form of welfare payment, looks grim.


The recent TUC Annual Conference passed a resolution (text available soon – we hope), calling a renewal of these Centres. Now setting up a building with staff is a big task. But we should at least ask: if the TUC back the unemployed then we should ask for support for other initiatives. Like Unemployed Unions.

These need to be independent.

Not separate (from unions, other campaigns). But free from ties with the state and the Voluntary and Charity sector.


It seems more and more obvious that with Workfare on the horizon parts of the ‘voluntary sector’ are gearing up to be the drill sergeants for the State. They will be the organisations running at least part of the schemes (in ‘partnership’ with the likes of A4e, TNG,  and the YMCA). Already trial-runs are being played out. This involves co-operation by some of  the unemployed. It involves putting pressure on the out-of-work to collaborate. Paving the way for the compulsory scheme. 

One can see the opportunities this offers for some people to excercise power over others. For some to play the Charity Prince and Princesses helping the unfortunate. And for dodgy people to become important.

Instead of being under the thumb of the private companies running the lives of the unemployed, relying on the DWP,  or trusting to the good will of the Charitable, we need independent organisations. In fact ones that can fight against this raft of would-be runners of our lives.

Unemployed Workers’ Centres would help us do this.


Written by Andrew Coates

September 24, 2009 at 9:21 am

One Response

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  1. There is a very useful community resource centre, here in Leeds alled OBLONG. They allow anyone to drop in and use the facilities. Hoever, as a volunteer, one can learn new skills and teach what you know to others such as graphic design, web design, IT, video production / editing, arts and craft and so on.

    OBLONG produces work such as graphic design and web design to non-profit, non-political and non-religous groups and genuine charities.

    What’s more, OBLONG from Oct 2009 will be offering free job search and CV services in cooperation with Leeds council. The council will pay OBLONG to allow this.

    This proves there IS an alternative to A4e and similarly poorly performing, fraudulant and corrupt companies. This along with local colleges CAN provide training and job search facilities at a fraction of the cost that A4e charges. I’d much rather tax money was spent in this fashon than the crrent New / Flex New Deal.


    September 26, 2009 at 8:51 pm

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