resistance begins at home

Izzy Parrott reports on Hackney Housing Group’s fight against housing cuts

Unless we stop the changes, in April and October of this year we will see cuts to housing benefit make thousands of families homeless and effectively cleanse inner London boroughs of poorer households. We will also see the nature of social housing change, with government plans to allow social landlords to charge 80% of market rent and permit social tenancies in place of life-long security of tenure. Sadly these cuts will also be coming to a sector, which has already suffered from under-investment, poor quality and over-crowded housing and harsh ‘gate keeping’ practices at Homeless Person’s Units.

Hackney Housing Group plans to keep fighting for affordable housing, winning housing for its members and to fight the cuts at a local level. The group has been meeting regularly for the last two years and members have supported each other to win housing from the council through a range of tactics such as marching down to the housing office and refusing to leave until demands are met. Continue reading “resistance begins at home”

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immigration controls: a weapon to defend exploitation

The last week has seen hunger strikes at Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire in protest at inadequate medical care: after all, this ‘detention centre’, run by private contractor Serco, is in all but name a prison. In this piece, a Chilean woman detained in Yarl’s Wood speaks of how her employer had her sent there after she protested about unpaid wages.

yarlswood

I’ve lived in London for two years, working as a cleaner and factory worker – usually several shifts a day. At first when I was working at Fitness First there was no problem and I got all my wages, but then they changed their cleaning contractor. The new bosses deliberately took on staff without papers. I was told to keep working for three months without pay, and then I was sacked. They threatened to take my case to the Home Office because I had no right to be here. But I said to them that I wasn’t going to walk away and would get my money back. They were surprised because they thought they were big and they thought I was nothing.

Then began the story of working with the union, the Latin American Workers Association and London Coalition Against Poverty. So thanks to my friends and the union, we won this fight and I was paid over £1000 that I was owed. Then I found out that hundreds of people were experiencing exactly the same problem as me. Continue reading “immigration controls: a weapon to defend exploitation”

photo-report of protest against welfare reform bill

Today a group of protesters staged a demonstration inside a Government building as part of a Week of Action in opposition to controversial welfare reforms.

Dozens of activists stormed into a Department for Work and Pensions building in Westminster, shouting slogans and saying they were going to occupy the offices.

The protesters, from groups including Feminist Fightback and anti-poverty organisations, were dressed as bankers. They described the Government’s planned legislation as the “welfare abolition Bill” and claimed the measures would virtually abolish welfare for single parents and disabled people.

One of the protesters, Anne-Marie O’Reilly, from Feminist Fightback and London Coalition Against Poverty, said: “Everyone knows that the Government’s welfare Bill was designed by ex-banker David Freud.

“Even if it weren’t for the banks’ track records, the fact that he has recently defected to the Tories should make it clear this Bill needs to be thrown out.  They will throw us out of the building today, but we think it’s time they really throw the bankers and their interests out of Whitehall and stop penalising poor people, disabled people and single mothers.”

Another activist, Alice Robson, said: “The Government is bailing out the banks and giving them bonuses whilst cutting welfare benefits for the poor.  This Bill does not make sense – the Government should be targeting the rich not the poor to pay for their crisis.”

On this website recently we have published three articles looking at changes in the welfare system: Joe Thorne’s overview of the Welfare Reform Bill and this week’s Week of Action, Christine Hulme on Jobcentre privatisation and Chris Grover on unemployment under Brown and the recession.

See below for photos of today’s action. Continue reading “photo-report of protest against welfare reform bill”

week of action to stop the ‘welfare abolition bill’: 7-15 march

by Joe Thorne

A coalition of grassroots organisations, including Feminist Fightback, the Disabled People’s Direct Action Network and London Coalition Against Poverty have called a week of action against the government’s plans for welfare ‘reform’.  You can find out more about the government’s plans, and about the perspective of the workers charged with administering them, here and here.

Continue reading “week of action to stop the ‘welfare abolition bill’: 7-15 march”

protest for decent housing in hackney

On Saturday 7th around sixty people marched down London’s Stoke Newington Road to Hackney Town Hall in protest at the council’s neglect of Hackney residents in temporary accommodation, who are subject to very low levels of maintenance and poor hygiene as well as expensive rent. After speeches by residents outside the Alexandra Court Hostel describing the bad conditions (as detailed below), we marched through the streets. The protest was organised by the London Coalition Against Poverty, whose appeal for the protest is reproduced at the bottom of this piece.

p07-02-09_160701 Continue reading “protest for decent housing in hackney”