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It’s not futile, it only seems that way.

It’s been a long, long while since I’ve published anything on here. Like many, it’s been hard to deal with the enormity of the changes that are being imposed on us, and most of the abundant verbiage that has been written seems to be like the ‘gnashing and wailing’ mentioned in Revelations in the Bible. Though such behaviour is perhaps aposite given that the times through which we are currently living could be seen as analagous to the nightmare described in that book. We’d have little difficulty ascribing IDS as the beast with 666 inscribed on his forehead, or maybe he’s just one of the legions of demons?

Much comment is understandably reactive, but I read a recent post by Kate Belgrave, where she describes herself as not replying to people, seemingly unable to suggest a way forward to people who are in desperate need of help. I can understand that, being apparently immobilised due to not knowing what to suggest and thus feeling utterly powerless in the face of a juggernaught that is swallowing people up as we watch. Even though I am not in yet anywhere near Kate’s situation, I know what it’s like to feel powerless to do anything: you still feel that you should be able to so something, even though you know that you can’t.

How do we help, how do we start to fight back in the face of such seemingly impossible odds? Getting sad and a little down is an understandable reaction in the face of such an enormous challenge, but that plays into the hands of our oppressors, as we are infinitely easier to control if we are down. If we are angry, on the other hand, we become much harder to control. I don’t mean hot blooded rage that engenders acts of pure rashness, but the cold, hard anger that stays deep in our being, that strengthens our resolve to fight back using our shared intellect, our shared resources and solidarity, to join together in spite of the differences that that certainly exist. Broad lines need to be drawn, focussing on the fundamentals that even Daily Mail reading morons can understand, maybe with the help of a little, (metaphorical) bashing over the head. We need to develop simple arguments to counter the moronic arguments presented by the Sun reading idiots who hace swallowed wholesale the bilge printed in it’s pages. A non-response, or silence is not sufficient, as that will be taken as confirmation that the rubbish they believe is the whole truth. Our reponses need to be as well rehearsed as the bilge pumped forth by the yellow press hacks that write it – formulaic, like a Mills & Boon novel, and keep punching out our message, time and time again, meet cliched taunts and assertions with cliched responses of our own. Maybe the message will sink in.

Sometimes it’s worth causing doubt in people’s minds, it unsettles them a bit. And that should be our aim, to unsettle just a little bit, to cause some doubts to be raised as to the verity of the numbskull rhetoric, the drip, drip, drip of what the government wants us to believe and what too many do believe, and not just the idiots that believe everything they read in the gutter press. Too many people who should know better spout the party line when they talk about the need for Austerity, and the constantly regurgitated lies about Labour’s profligacy that ‘got us into this mess in the first place’ when it should be clear to a blind person that these things just aren’t true. We should challenge every Labour supporter, member, politician to justify their claim for the need for Austerity. On Tories we should just (metaphorically) spit. Nye Bevan was correct, they are lower than vermin.

At the same time we have to come together and try to find ways of helping the completly lost find themselves again. The scale of the problem is immense. Again, we will never achieve this as fragmented individuals adrift and alone. We need to come together and support each other, work out strategies, build bridges between groups of people. Finance is a big issue, but imagination is the key here, there are sources of finance, there simply has to be in a society literally afloat on money. There has never been a time in history when there has been such an abundance of cash. The trouble, as always, is getting hold of some of it. Perhaps we should start by approaching those Labour politicians who voted against the party whip on the recent Welfare Bill. They may well know of ways of helping, especially if we show that we aren’t afraid of helping ourselves.

Ulitmately we will have to help ourselves, as it should be abundantly clear that we have to recreate those very institutions that provided social security before the state monoplised it. Many have seen the state monopolising of the social security system as a benign, even humane act, but though it has undoubtedly brought huge improvements in all spheres of where it was needed, there is another, very plausible reason, in my opinion. When the state started thinking about social security it had already been pipped to the post by popular institutions that were owned by the people. Think of the myriad friendly societies, co-operative societies, burial clubs, building societies, both permamant and terminating, societies like the working mens’ clubs, the miners’ institutes, medical aid societies like the one that existed in Tredegar in South Wales that influenced Aneurin Bevan when he came up with the idea for the National Health Service, the cottage hospitals often largely funded by ordinary people themselves. And there, in my opnion, lies the reason the state monopolised the commanding heights of the embryonic and rapidly developing system of social security that the people themselves were creating. A people who can build something like that can also run society, without the need for parasitic politicians, monarchs, clergy or even bosses.

But this time lets not allow the state hijack the institutions we create for ourselves. Maybe the founders of the Welfare State acted with good intentions, but eventually as we now see, what the state giveth, the state can take away. Let’s not allow ourselves to be tempted by offers of financial support from those outside of the instutions we create; he who pays the fiddler calls the tune.

But, I am getting ahead of things here. Right now we need to think of how we deal with the present crises we face, at one and the same time our own, and those of those around us who are less able to navigate their way around the system, ending up sanctioned, without money and homeless simply because they were ignorant of their rights. This is where the anger I mentioned earlier comes in. I will energise us, constantly remind us of why we are doing what we are doing, and most importantly sustain us. It is a positive anger that nourishes. More than anything we need to try and help people to help themselves – there is an abundance of information available to those who know how to search for it, and understand it, as much of it is presented in ways that are sometimes even quite obscure to many of us, and must often appear completely bewildering to many who have never had to deal with these kinds of things before.

Where do we start? With ourselves acknowledging that the enormity of the task ahead of us is too much for us as individuals, and that we need to start to build bridges to each other as a start. Then we can start to discuss what needs to be done.



Sorry I haven’t posted for a while. Things have changed a little since my last post – I’m still claiming JSA and still officially on Workfare, but it seems I have been ‘parked’. I now only have to attend the Interserve office once a month for a five to ten minute meeting to see my advisor.

I’m guessing that they are taking all the preparatory ‘paperwork’ I did has persuaded them that I would make things difficult for them if they were so bold as to ignore my directions that they can’t share my information with a Third Party, i.e. a prospective employer without infringing my rights under the Data Protection Act 1998. I’m also doing a lot of Jobsearch, far more than is required as it happens, and applying for quite a few jobs: my Workfare Provider advisor is impressed anyway, so I must be doing something right.

He is actually wondering why I’m not in employment, but I’m 56 and long-term unemployed, so perhaps he’s ignoring the blindingly obvious. I know that ageism is supposed to be illegal, but I do know that many employers consciously or unconsciously buy into the cult of youth. But there is a much more rational reason. Those of us who have reached the kind of age I have are old enough to remember a time when workers had rights, and were prepared to assert them. Workers still have a lot of rights, but seemingly these days the younger workers seem reluctant to assert their rights. I guess that a young worker who can be easily exploited is going to be a preferred choice over a cantankerous git like me who will insist on Health & Safety issues being addressed, that I’m actually paid for all the time I work, and that I’m treated with respect and that I won’t tolerate attempts at bullying.

All thsi said, however, there does seem to be some small change in the air, and most of of seems to be coming from some apparently unlikely areas. Cleaners have been notoriously difficult to organise in terms of unionisation, and also notoriously badly paid, with poor working conditons to boot. However, the John Lewis cleaners in London, and also the cleaners at the BMA head office have become increasingly millitant of late, with good reason. Most were earning the National Minumum Wage, which as everyone knows, is impossible ot live on. The John Lewis cleaners were successful in their bid for increased pay, but as yet I don’t knwo about the outcome of the BMA cleaners, but given that their plight was highlighted at the BMA annual conference it would seem that at least their issues are being taken seriously. Both groups of cleaners have unionised under the banner of the IWW. There has also been action taken by workers at the Pret a Manger chain in London, who have also formed their own union, but under the banner of the IWA, and avowedly Syndicalist union committed to worker control of all industry. .Perhaps this signals that there is the beginnings of change in the air? Certainly the choice of union made by these workers is interesting. Maybe those groups represented too much work for too little (financial) gain for the mainstream unions, or ,maybe those workers realsied that the union leaderships of the mainstream trade unions is generally just too lame. An increasing nunber of active rank and file members of the mainstream trade unions are becoming fed up with the lack of backbone shown by their union leaderships, and whilst they may be remaining in their union, as that is the one that is oficially recognised by their enloyers, and increasing number are also joining unions like the IWW and the IWA, (who also welcome unemployed workers as full members, Unite Community please take note) as these unions are very much run by the workers for the workers and have no paid officials. Both are also international in that they operate in many countries around the world. Makes sense really, as a worker I have far more in common with another worker in the USA or China than I do with someone from the boss class here. ..

What has this to do with Workfare? Well, far from increasing the munber of jobs available, Workfare actually reduces the number of paid jobs available, and puts downward pressure on wages for those who do actually have a job that an employer pays them a wage for. Already we have seen that workers in Asda were denied extra hours over the last Christmas period, which is a serious consideration when it’s considered that the retail industry is notroriously badly paid, with much work being done by workers on part-time contract hours who rely on extra hours to make their wages up. The retail giant Tesco have also tried to pull a few stunts, but so far with seemingly little success. Strangely, many Tesco workers are union members, though USDAW isn’t going to win any accolades for radicalism, (but then to some the acronym represents Useless Seven Days A Week… Says it all really!). And Tescos have it pretty good, or so I’m told, however, even a cursory glance at the unofficial Tesco workers website will quickly show that there are lots of gripes by Tesco staff that indicate they are generally far from happy. I’d be far from happy too it I was expected to accept a crappy part-time contract with the insistence, (by Tesco) that I make myself available for additonal hours at their beck and call, all for an insultingly low wage not much above the National Minumum Wage. Things are no better for workers in the supermarkets that ostensibly pay their workers a decent-ish rate of pay, such as Aldi and Lidl. A quick search on the web will soon show that there is widespread unhappiness amongst the workers in these stores, and in the case of Aldi comparisons can be made worldwide, but the stories told by the workers everywhere have a remarkably similar ring – the pay is good, but you have to work like a dog. Lidl has become notorious for the way in which it treated some of it’s female staff in the Czech Republic where women who had their monthly menstrual cycle were forced to wear headbands to distinguish them so that they were allowed toilet breaks when they needed them. Both these companies have a reputation of not paying their staff for extra hours worked to get the store in shape for the following day. It’s difficult to know whether the stories are true, but on balance it seems to me that there is no smoke without fire, and the fact that, in the case of Aldi the stories are remarkably similar wherever their stores are in the world, and in the case of Lidl, wherever in Europe the stores are, that the stories are probably true.

All these retail companies can afford to pay their staff decently and to provide decent working conditions, as well as adequate levels of staffing. They make enough in terms of profit.

There has been quite a bit of discussion recently about a ‘Living Wage’ whatever that is, but surely it’s the wages system itself that is part of the problem. The wages system is predicated upon the notion of excess value, that is the difference between what the worker is paid and the amount the worker generates through their work. This difference is called profit and is pocketed by parasytic company executives and shareholders who have done nothing to create that wealth. In a fairer system where industries were owned by the workers things would be much better, though realisitcally workers would still not get the full value of their work as some of that value would have to be reinvested in the indistry to replace worn out equipment, make improvements etc. But the worker would still be a whole lot better off without the bosses around.

In some places where the local economies have collapsed the workers have had to take over and run the industries they were once employed in. There are numerous examples in Argentina, such as the Hotel Bauen, ( and in Greece, (

Both these enterprises were worker responses to econonic collapse.

If our governement has it’s way, workers in the UK will face increasing employment security whilst in work, and for those workers out of work life will become increasingly precarious as benefit condionality imposes ever more ridiculous and unattainable espectations on the unemployed, disabled and sick.

Many people hope that the next Labour led government will save the day, but increasingly not only are Labour endorsing Tory policies for the benefits system, but are determined to impose an even harsher regime on claimants. For some this indicates a need for yet another political party in tune with the needs of the have nots, but even if such a party gained power, it would still be a government, and therefore automatically opposed to the will of the people. Change is most certainly needed, but I don’t think more of the same is the answer. A new approach is needed, something that comes from ordinary people themselves that completely sidelines government, and especially the state. This isn’t going to happen overnight, and there would be a need to utilise the state in the interim, but not be swayed by reformism, or hopes that the state can be made to serve the people – it can’t, and only institutions truly owned and run by the people will serve the true interests of the people.0.

This is a long way from Workfare, but through being unemployed and having to deal with the realities of Workfare and it’s potential to really mess up my life, as well as my chances of getting a job, I have had to find out about ways of lessening the impact of govenrment policies deliberately designed to make my life difficult. Thorough this I have found that there are people who are fighting this with the short term aim of preventing the government having it all it’s own way, but with a long term aim of gettigng rid of this whole damn rotten system that makes most of our lives difficult at best, and kills and maims us at worst.


Playing the game…

My most recent visit to my Workfare provider passed off without incident and was actually quite pleasant.  I’d been asked to prepare a CV, and the excercise was to rewrite it in the light of changed thinking on format, making it more job specific.  This I did, and my advisor went through it and could find nothing wrong with it, other than it was a bit vague, which he accepted was due to the fact that the CV was written in a bit of a vacuum as far as a specific job was concerned. My ‘homework’ this time was to rewrite the CV, this time with a specific job in mind.

All this is fine and dandy, but even my advisor accepts that the kind of jobs I’m suitable for aren’t those that are going to recruit on the basis of a CV alone, and more often than not with the kind of job I apply for CVs are specifically excluded – it’s application form only. Never mind, I’m doing what’s asked, and that seems to keep my advisor happy… For the moment at least. 

There was however one change this week, when he asked me if I’d like the appointment letter for my next appointment printed, or e-mailed… Silly question, printed of course!  If he wants to get hold of my e-mail address he’s going to need a much more sophisticated approach than that!

At least he has made no attempt to keep copies of my CV, but then the copies I show him have a copyright notice at the bottom together with an overprinted copyright notice diagonally across the whole of the A4 page in light red.


I must chase them up on my withdrawal of consent letter, as the time limit for their response is well and truly up, and if these things are to stand any hope of being respected there is a need to follow them up to show that we’re serious.

Like many things in life, the Work Programme is yet another of those games where you have to jump through often apparently silly hoops.  That it’s a silly game does nothing to diminish the genuinely serious consequences that failure to adhere to the rules involves, but it’s a game none the less.  Knowing, and having regard of the rules is one way of staying ahead of the game and avoiding a sanction, but letting them know that you know your rights makes it difficult for them to sanction you unjustly, which is what is apparently happening to some people, who even then aren’t challenging the decision with an appeal.  The very fact that you have let them know that you’ve spent a little time finding out what your rights are means that they will be that little more wary about trying to sanction you – and if they do try, to make sure that they get it right.  If you then as an individual then comply insofar as you complete their absurd tasks every time, they are unlikely to even try.

I had a bit of a giggle on Friday though when I went to sign on. My usual Welsh speaking advisor was away this week, and they’d got another Welsh speaking member of staff down from the upstairs office to take my fortnightly signature.  I arrived at the reception desk and one of the G4S security guards had obviously been briefed to expect me, recognised me bgy name and ushered me straight to the desk where the stand-in advisor was waiting to deal with my claim. The advisor shook my hand in greeting and whilst the admin of my claim was being dealt with we had a short conversation on the merits of smart phones versus the ancient kind – he’d suggested I note my next appointment to sign on on my brand spanking new smartphone that I had placed on the desk whilst I signed.  It took me a minute or two to enter the details, (I’m still getting used to the gadget) but got there in the end.  Job done, I got up to leave, shaking hands once more with the advisor.  All in all quite a surreal experience.

Anti Welsh sentiment is alive and well amongst a few on the British Left… (well there’s a surprise!)

I regularly read Johhny Void’s ‘The Void’ blog, and do comment quite frequently, though much of the comment is the usual blog stuff where there are a lot of people justifiably concerned about what is happening in the reforms to the welfare and benefits system of the UK under this present (and probably the next, whatever it’s colour) Tory government.  Some people seem genuinely confused and disorientated by it all, as do most of us, even those of us who are articulate and educated are sometimes somewhat nonplussed about the changes, so I have huge amounts of empathy for those who struggle with this kind of thing – I would suspect that a fair number of people who comment on the blog are those who would normally turn to professional help at a Citizens Advice Centre, or seek help from another source, a support worker or advice centre, except we all now know what is happening to this sector…  Most commenters are more than happy to point people in the right direction, as am I, and I hope that at least that is some help.  Usually it is just a matter of directing people to a relevant website, such as or Boycott Workfare.

There is one commenter on The Void who posts regularly, who seems to do little other than moan and complain how bad things are, but seemingly can only suggest that we do more of the same to remedy this dire situation, i.e. vote Labour, (to be fair, he doesn’t exactly say Labour, and would prefer some madcap scenario where all candidates were ‘independent’).  Einstein said something very aposite about people like this. I personally am pretty laid-back on the whole voting issue, but as I get older I am more and more convinced that I have a better chance of winning the lottery than I do in seeing the kind of humane society I want to see attained through the ballot box. (and I don’t do the lottery). This individual wrote something pretty inane, (he seems to be a past master at this) and I have challenged him in the past, but I am an unwise fellow sometimes, as everybody else on the blog refrains from challenging his comments, as he invariably tries to stir up and argument.

However, he said something particularly asinine in a blog yesterday and was promptly shot challenged by another regular commenter who often has intelligent and insightful comments to make. He of course couldn’t resist commenting back, and was told in no uncertain worlds to ‘fuck off’, which coming from an otherwise extremely articulate individual was an indication that they might consider this guy a moron, and apparently  decided to be sufficiently lyrical to ensure full comprehension!

I made a brief comment of ‘nice one G….’  and that started Mr Apparently None Too Bright off on a bit of a wobbler, who thanked me for my ‘treachery’. This was strange given that I had never given my allegiance to anyone, or anything.  Perhaps rather stupidly, forgetting that rule about never arguing with idiots, I responded, only to receive a counter comment containing something of an ethnic slur in the form of an apparently casual throwaway comment that ‘you welsh know how to stick together’ which is a comment that is so loaded with all kinds of anti-Welsh sentiment that it needs little explanation.  For starters, I have never even mentioned my nationality, merely that I am a fluent Welsh speaker.  I’m not even sure that the other commenter involved in this is Welsh, it’s just an assumption being made by this apparently slow individual. I should be charitable I guess, as he obviously has trouble in discerning the difference between ethnocentricity and racism, as he accused me of accusing him of racism.  Not to worry, I am used to this. However a few sentences later he confounds himself by not only calling us ‘Welshies’ but also calls the other commenter critical of him my ‘Welsh rearebit’, which in this context is not only ethnically abusive, but misogynist as well.


Predictably enough the owner of the blog stepped in and called time on what was developing into a personal spat, but I’d guessed that time would be called, but I ommitted to put on my final comment about it that I’d decided to call a halt anyway – I’d succeeded in drawing him out as the ethnocentric idiot I’d long suspected he was, and the final misogynistic comment by him was a bonus that showed him up as the SuperPrat he obviously is.


However, that has made me consider what kind of comments I will bar from this site, that’s assuming I get many readers who wish to comment!  I won’t tolerate anything racist, ethnocentric, homophobic, sexist or in any other way that derogates a human quality in any way.  You are, however, allowed to suggest that someone may be a prat, even me, because at times I am the biggest prat going.

If this makes me the ‘pontificating, politically correct bore’ that someone already thinks I am. then so be it.  I feel extremely strongly about any kind of ethnic/racial abuse, no matter how socially acceptable it may be in some communities/political groups*


* I don’t particularly refer to the usual suspects here, but supposed fellow travellers on the British Left who have for long not just tolerated anti-Welsh sentiment, but failed to challenge it to the point of actively encouraging it


Once again into the breach…

Please forgive the overly dramatic title, it actually wasn’t that bad this week, which I have to say is just a little creepy.  I was tasked with providing my job coach with a copy of my CV and covering letters for a job application and for a speculative job enquiry, which I was supposed to e-mail to him.  Needless to say I didn’t e-mail him copies but I did take copies of  my CV and the letters with me to the fortnightly review meeting.

Proceedings were, as usual, polite, but also as usual I wasn’t willing to cooperate more than I am required to.  I gave the job coach my job search document to which he commented that I’d done a lot, which is usual for me, I actually do want to be in work and I’m sure that eventually I will get work as sadly the area I have expertise in will be in more and more demand, and at some point the government will release funding to pay for the needed staff.  It’s already happening to an extent, but the jobs being created are zero hour contracts, but I’m used to this, and though at times it can be a bit of a struggle to make ends meet, sometimes I have had so much work that all I do is work and sleep, literally. Great for the bank balance, but not so good for work-life balance! Anyway, I digress.  My job coach then asked to see my CV, so I got it out and held it in front of him, like I was told to on the Boycott Workfare website… He complained that he couldn’t see it, and wouldn’t I even place it flat on the desk.  I said that I wasn’t going to, and then he said that this was getting stupid, (in my mind I agreed, it was getting stupid, me being required to attend every fortnight and prove I can jump through hoops). Anyway, I compromised by laying the CV flat on the desk and telling him he couldn’t have a copy – not that it would have been much use, what with the copyright notice at the bottom and a pale red copyright ‘watermark’ printed diagonally across it.  He, somewhat surprisingly to me, agreed that I could have it back.  He then suggested that I could improve it, and me being the thoroughly reasonable person that I am, was prepared to listen.  In fact I’m glad that I did, as his suggestions were very useful, and I shall be using them to prepare an improved CV, (in fact that’s my assignment for next time)

Even more surprisingly, after he had gone through the suggestions for improving my CV he said I could go… I’d been in the office for just under twenty minutes!

I still have a bit of a creepy feeling though, that there is something about to happen that I don’t yet know about…. Watch this space.


I signed on yesterday at the JCP, and got chatting to my advisor, and he asked me how I was getting on with the WP, my comment was that I didn’t think that it was going to be a lot of use to me, and I was quite surprised by his response – he said that as far as he could see was that it only really ‘worked’ for those claimants who were doing virtually nothing to find work, but that it was not going to make a lot of difference to those already making an effort.

The way things are going, with the number of potential ployers’ pulling out of Workfare, and the subsequent loss of income to the poverty pimp companies, who, let’s not forget, work on the Payment By Results principle is going to put increasing pressure on their profit margins… All good news, from our point of view.

I’ve been looking at blogs about the whole issue of Workfare/unemployment from around the world, especially from the USA where all this rubbish started, and though there is no shortage of redneck comment, there is also quite a bit of support for the idea of actually investing in the unemployed, in the idea of job creation, which, categorically rejects the idea of growing the economy, as this doesn’t address the fundamental issue of income inequality.

There is plenty of wealth in our country, it’s just in the wrong places, and whilst the ConDems are fond of moaning about the costs of welfare to the poor, the unemployed and the sick and disabled, they seem to want to funnel increasing amounts of money to the private sector as corporate welfare.



Erm… on the Work Programme now…

Well finally everything’s caught up with me and now I’m on the Work Programme – I was supposed to start on it last July, but I kind of threw a spanner in the works by taking along a copy of the standard latter witholding consent for my information being shared… in Welsh.  It might perhaps have been a little inappropriate, given that the letter is aimed at the Workfare exploiters, but hey ho, it staved off going on Workfare for a few months. The interview just kind of stopped whilst the letter went ‘upstairs’.

The letter seemed have become lost in the system, but it did galvanise the JCP into action in one way, and for the first time ever, when claiming JSA I have consistently had a Welsh speaking advisor every week, and when he isn’t available they make sure there is someone who speaks Welsh to see me.  My usual Welsh speaking advisor is very professional, polite and helpful, and had obviously heard about the letter incident, he asked me about it, not in a critical or nasty way, but just as to whether I’d had any feedback about it – he later explained that the letter had gone to the main office, somewhere in the West of England, and it being in Welsh would probably have flummoxed them entirely. His suggestion was to just leave things to sort themselves out, rather than to start getting fractious because they hadn’t responded within the statutory 28 days – kind of let sleeping dogs lie.  I was happy enough to do that.

However, come March and there was an e-mail, from my JCP advisors immediate supervisor stating that I needed to be signed up for the Work Programme – however, he wasn’t going to do it there and then, but the next time I signed on, a month hence, (I sign on fortnightly, but there was a strike scheduled for the next time I signed).

As part of my being signed up to the WP involved a review of my Job Seeker’s Agreement that went ahead the next signing-on day, but nothing draconian happened, it was more formalising what I was already doing anyway.

The day of my initial Work Programme interview/induction arrived, a week later than originally planned as the WP outfit, Interserve, (working in partnership with Rehab JobFit) had difficulty finding a Welsh speaking advisor…

Well, my Interserve job coach seems to be a nice enough chap, just doing his job, of course, and he claims that he doesn’t want to sanction anyone and that the only reason he’s in the business he’s in is because he wants to help people get jobs… (And seemingly not the fact that he’s probably paid £20k + p.a. for doing his job).  He started on the induction process, and started the from filling process – basically he called up my information on the computer, (an unnecessarily costly Windows system) and asked me to go through it with him. It was all the standard stuff from the JCP, and so I didn’t add anything to it, and about the only information they didn’t have was my e-mail address, which of course I declined to provide.  All the paper forms filled in and it came to the time that my signature was needed… Of course, I declined to sign the forms, as in no way was I going to give my consent. Well, I thought the poor guy was going to have a seizure!  His heart rate certainly went up, and he started to mention the big S word, ‘sanction’, claiming that he had seen people being sanctioned for refusing to sign the action plan. Having read The Void and been a regular visitor to Boycott Workfare and for the past few months I am pretty well aware of what I can, and can’t do under the regulations, and I know that we don’t have to sign those documents, or indeed any documents they try to persuade us to sign.

The next day I receive a letter informing me of my next appointment – no mention of any intention of trying to get me sanctioned, and indeed, no sanction has been imposed.

I also sent a copy of the standard letter from witholding my consent to my WP provider from sharing my personal data with Third Parties. I sent a copy to both Interserve, which is the sub-contractor, and also to Rehab Jobfit – by Recorded Delivery.  It cost a bit, £3.40 in all, but at least I have evidence that they have been delivered.

Two weeks on…

I’ve just returned from the second meeting with my Interserve job coach.  It was another quite strenuous meeting for him, as I again was sticking to what the rules allow them to do, therefore I was witholding my consent on everything I could.  The subject under discussion today was my CV… and my job coach wants a copy.  Me, knowing that in this business a person’s CV is like gold dust, decided not to actually refuse to give him a copy of mine, merely to not consent to him having a copy. This did not go down well.  The S word was mentioned in passing, he implored me to give him a copy, saying that his immediate superior would demand that he demanded a copy of my CV, (may well be true, these scum are like that) and I said that if it comes to that, then that is what they’ll have to do – and issue a MAN outlining the specific legislation and the sanctions.  Which brings me to an interesting and important point.  How do we know when something is an actual MAN? Does the document have to bear the wording Mandatory Activity Notification?  I would think that it does, to avoid any possible confusion.

Anyway after he’d gotten through today’s meeting, he gave me a letter requiring me to e-mail a copy of my CV to him, along with an e-mailed copy of my standard covering letter and speculative letter.  I guess he can justifiably require me to send him copies of the letters, but not the CV, and why e-mail?  Of course he wants to get hold of my e-mail address, and if I give him a copy of my CV I will have consented to give it.  However,  having an interest in IT, (I’m a bit of a Linux nut) and a keen interest in how it can be used to counter authoritarianism I know of an anonymous e-mail app called AnonMail, (which, however, isn’t as anonymous as all that, as it doesn’t hide your IP address, the developer’s advice is to use the app in a free wifi zone such as those in cafes and bars) which allows you to send e-mails anonymously. Of course there is an ethical minefield around apps like this, it would be so easy to use something like this for quite nefarious purposes, but I think I’m quite within my rights to use this app in order to protect my privacy. If you are a Ubuntu Linux user you can find the AnonMail app in the Ubuntu Software Centre, it’s a paid for app, but at $2.99, (or £2.05) it’s a justifiable cost. In my (anonymous) e-mail I explain that I am declining to supply him with an electronic copy of my CV, but that I shall take a paper copy along to my next appointment in order to show that I am capable of writing a CV and maintaining it.  However, I shall have to find out whether the appointment letter I have been given constitutes either a MAN or a Jobseeker’s Direction.  It would be so much easier if there was a requirement for these to be clearly marked as such.  But then, in this case the very vagueness could work in my favour should a doubt be raised against me. I shall have to find out what exactly the situation is, and maybe this could be the start of a campaign to make it mandatory that such documents are clearly marked as such, so that there is no possibility of doubt.

I must also find out if Interserve has the authority to issue sanction as they are a sub-contractor of Rehab JobFit and so don’t necessarily have the authority to issue them.

However, I think I’m fairly safe, as though the letter I have does contain the DWP required garbage about noncompliance possibly affecting my benefits and all the spiel about what the sanctions are, it doesn’t conform to another requirement of the DWP, and that is a clear notification that the activities are mandatory, i.e. that I am mandated to do them.  But so far, the ploy is to get hold of my personal information – which they won’t.

I had some fun…

Please use this in any way you like… grinsDelwedd

Caethwasiaeth Modern Cymru

Caethwasiaeth Modern yng Nghymru.


Fel eraill, roeddwn o dan yr argraff bod caethwasiaeth yn perthyn i’r hen oes, ac wedi mynd, neu o leiaf wedi cael ei cyfyngu i mannau y tu hwnt i reolaeth [civilisation]


Ond, na, mae caethwasiaeth yn byw ac yn iach yng Nghymru heddiw. Ond efallai ei bod hi’n deg i ddweud nid yw’r caethwasiaeth hon yn amlwg. Mae gan y Llywodraeth Prydeinig ConDem cynllun o’r enw ‘Y Raglen Waith’ h.y. Cynluun ar gyfer y rhai sy wedi bod yn ddiwaith ers 12 mis, cynllun sy’n elwa’r cwmniau mawrion megis Tesco trwy ddarparu gweithwyr am ddim. Mae disgwyl ar bobl ar y raglen weithio am 30 awr y wythnos er mwyn cadw eu budd-daliadau. Os nad yw unigolion yn cydymffurfio a gorchymynion y ddaraprwyr, y caethwasfeistri, byddant yn colli eu budd-daliadau. Dim jobsys go iawn am arian go iawn, mo’r jobsys hyn, ond cyfle i cwmniau neu fudiadau peidio a chreu gwaith sy’n talu cyflog teg, ac i elwa o waith caled pobl sy’n gorfodi gwneud y waith yn ddi-dal = caethweision. Mae’n tanseilio’r swyddi o’r rhai mewn gwaith ‘go iawn’ (h.y. Gwaith sy’n talu cyflog), ac yn helpu gwmniau fel Tesco gwneud hyd yn oed mwy o elw.


Ond nid diwedd y stori chwaith ydy hon, na, dim o bell.


Mae yna llawer o gwmniau bach hyd a lled Cymru’n elwa o’r caethwasiaeth modern hon. Isod mae rhestr o’r mudiadau Cymreig sy’n manteisio ar gaethwasiaeth modern:



Alun Thomas

Antur Teifi TRAC

Cymdeithas Tai Eryri

Drug & Alcohol Charities Wales Ltd

Enfys Foundation

Gofal Cymru

Gwalia Care & Support

Hafan Cymru

Merthyr Institute for the Blind

RCT Homes

Rathbone Cymru

Shaw Trust

Shelter Cymru

Tir Coed

Tydfil Training


Mae heyfyd mudiadau ‘cenedlaethol’ y DU sydd a fodolaeth yng Nghymru sy’n cymryd rhan yn y caethwasiaeth modern, fel y rhai isod:


Age UK


Citizens Advice Bureau

Disability Works UK




Life Change UK



Princes Trust



Royal British Legion Industries RBLI

Salvation Army

Scout Enterprises Ltd

St John Ambulance

The Refugee Council

Victim Support

Workers Education Association



(Gwydodaeth am y mudiadau wedi’i casglu o wefan


Am fwy o wybodaeth a ffyrdd i ymladd yn erbyn y caethwasiaeth modern, ewch i


Os hoffech chi, cysylltwch yn uniongyrchol a’r mudiadau uchod er mwyn datgan eich siom am eu cydweithrediad parod a’r Llywodraeth Prydeinig ConDem trwy cefnogi caethwasiaeth.



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