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UWU Picket of A4E, Friday 22/01/2010

Cameraboy | 23.01.2010 02:36 | Workers' Movements | Cambridge

On a grim, rainy afternoon at midday on Thursday (22/01/2010), a new activist group picketed their first target.

The group was UWU (Unemployed Workers Union) and the target was A4E.

A4E (Action For Employment) are an international private company that specialise in "Help with finding a job", and if someone has been signing on for 12 months, they can expect to be paying them a visit, whether they like it or not, on threat of losing their benefits.

That's democracy in action for you right there.

They are subcontractors to various governments, including the UK, France, Germany, Poland, Australia, South Africa and India - in effect, they are a multinational whom derive their income from government funding, their 'clients' being coerced into attending workshops.

This "Help with finding a job" seems in part to entail doing cheap labour for local employers, therefore completely anulling the idea of being a Jobseeker in the first place, because of course while you are labouring for your benefits, you have no time to look for other better paid work.

This also has the knock-on effect of depressing average wages for those who are lucky enough

to have employment without this company's assistance.

It is a classic example of post Thatcherism in action - get a private company to run what should be dealt with the public sector.

However, it transpires that this company has previously been investigated (to quote from Wikipedia), "after the Department for Work and Pensions uncovered discrepancies in its "confirmation of employment" forms - discrepancies which centred upon the falsification of employer's signatures by a number of recruiters", so clearly they do not always have their clients' best interests at heart.

During the UWU picket a couple of A4e employers came out of the office block to investigate what was going on, including the mangeress of the Cambridge branch, who was not amused by their presence.

We were treated to the spectacle of not one, but four Community Support Officers loitering around the picket, and at one pointone of them rather kindly made it clear where the boundary was between the office's own private land and the pavement, so the stall had to be moved forward by a foot. It should be pointed out that no one was harassed or alarmed by the presence of the UWU, although some A4e employees did seem to be slightly distressed that their company's location had been outed!

The UWU is a newly formed group whose mission is to represent and defend the rights of those who are currently out of work, as well as fighting the Welfare Reform Act.

More details about the UWU can be found here:



Correction and addition.

23.01.2010 14:09

This demo actually happened on Friday 22/01/2010.
My bad!!

See also additional resources attached for download.


Nice one - this is more like it

23.01.2010 15:41

Nice one. See SERCO got their fingers in the pie too along with other fake training providers trying to get the underclasses into poorly paid jobs whilst providing employment for suited scumbag collabortors. Strapped for cash FE colleges seem to be in on the act. They like us to volunteer whilst they get paid. Off with thier heads. m being shunted off next week for fake training myaself despite being skilled ( the talents/skills shortage was always a myth aiomed at undermining class resistance - proof is in the botched PFI jobs and the social engineering involved in the corporate caste system ( for want of a better descirption ) ).

The other big issue is that we are dispossessed on this island and in a service based 'society' servicing the corporate-fascist money/commodites/war markets. This is the centre of capitalism hence the inabiluity to feed us and the fact that we are kept out of the countryside.


They are also bidding for a govt contract to give welfare rights advice

23.01.2010 22:19

The Legal Services Commission, which awards legal aid contracts for various areas of law, including welfare rights, has all of its contracts up for new bidders next year. Organisations who already have legal aid contracts to give welfare rights advice - like law centres, citizens advice bureaux and independent advice centres - will all have to reapply for their contracts. Some of them won't get them back because the Legal Services Commission, acting on current government policy, only wants to award contracts to big organisations or consortiums.

Guess who is planning on putting in an aggressive bid to get LSC contracts across the country? Why, E4U of course. And since they are a big multi national firm they have a good chance of squeezing out every other bidder and getting to be the monopoly provider of welfare rights advice in the UK.

They may have their welfare rights arm formally separated from their 'work for your dole' arm so it looks like it's independent, but an organisation that has an ethos of only being interested in meeting government targets so it keeps its funding will never promote welfare RIGHTS and will never challenge government policy, or mismanagement by the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions). It is also unlikely to thoroughly train its workers so they give high quality advice to claimants, and they will probably never represent anybody at appeals because legal aid funding doesn't cover tribunal representation. It is very easy to give mediocre welfare rights advice under a legal aid contract, because when you get audited the LSC is primarily interested in making sure you get the paperwork straight, only claim for things you're allowed to, and properly check your client's incomes to make sure they actually qualify for legal aid. They don't look at what percentage of appeals you win, or how much extra money you get for claimants by winning appeals and reviews and doing thorough benefit checks. And they certainly don't want to know how often you challenge government policy by complaining oficially, or threatening government departments with judicial review proceedings!

I know all this because I work under a legal aid contract for one of the small organisations that could be threatened by E4U. And I already despise them for coercing claimants into what amounts to bonded labour.

I wish there was a claimants union or campaign group where I live. All the organised opposition to the Welfare Reform Bill seems to be based in London. (Yes, I know I could set up my own group! But it's easier said than done when you're in full time work and living in a backwater town which has had no radical political movements since the Chartists.)

Annie Citizen
- Homepage: http://www.rightsandwrongs


Display the following 4 comments

  1. I have a suggestion — True Leveller
  2. Sorry that should read 'A4E' not 'E4U' — Annie Citizen
  3. Welfare Rights from A4e? You jest!! — Cameraboy
  4. good un — CB4 Class War