Civil servants union PCS has organised a lobby of Parliament today, 3rd March, where it will be joined by other trade unions and campaigning organisations to call on the government to drop its regressive ‘welfare reform’ plans.
The PCS says: ‘We have joined forces with other unions, anti-poverty campaigners and political organisations to call on the government to urgently rethink its welfare reform plans.
‘Please attend our lobby of Parliament on Tuesday 3rd March 2009 and lend your support’.
The PCS has also organised a letter of protest which they are asking everyone to sign. Their statement continues:
‘The welfare state is one of the UK’s greatest achievements and supports us all, especially vulnerable and unemployed people and their families.
‘In July the government published the green paper “No one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility” announcing plans to change the current provision of support.
‘Many of the plans were unacceptable when they were first published and the worsening economic situation should lead to a fundamental rethink.
‘However, the government is pressing ahead despite the current global economic downturn which is leading to increasing levels of unemployment.
‘As a result we have come together.
‘The government’s proposals remove entitlements and fail to value the important work of parents and carers.
‘Parents with young children, carers, sick, disabled, people with mental health problems and other vulnerable groups face tougher tests to qualify for benefits.
‘If they fail they could be cut off with no support.
‘We are opposed to the abolition of Income Support which ends the principle that those in need deserve help.
‘We are opposed to compulsory work for benefits.
‘People should be paid the rate for the job or at the very least be paid the national minimum wage.
‘Jobseekers Allowance is shockingly low at less than £10 a day, if it had increased in line with earnings over the past 30 years the rate for a single person over the age of 25 would be more than £100 a week.
‘The government wants more of the welfare state to be handed over to the private sector.
‘It is wrong to profit from the sick and unemployed.
‘There is also the intention to share information with the police which raises real concerns about civil liberties.
‘We want voluntary skills training and life long learning opportunities for unemployed people.
‘The government should focus on ensuring that there is more support to access jobs that have fair pay and decent conditions with a guarantee that when people cannot seek work they will not face poverty.
‘The government should introduce positive measures to challenge discriminatory attitudes held by employers, encourage flexible working practices and expand the provision of affordable childcare.
‘We want the government to rethink its plans.
‘Support our campaign to help create a better welfare state and society.’
Last month, the PCS again urged the government to re-think its proposals on welfare reform following the defection of the government’s welfare advisor, former investment banker David Freud, to the Tories.
The union has strongly criticised the government’s controversial plans which where largely drawn up by Freud.
These plans are currently going through Parliament as part of the Welfare Bill and will lead to the privatisation of a large part of JobCentre work.
The controversial proposals will also see the introduction of punitive sanctions, which the union fears will drive people into poverty and stigmatise those in need.
The PCS is part of a growing chorus of opposition to the plans.
Commenting, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: ‘David Freud’s defection to the Conservatives confirms the view that the government are implementing Tory party policy.
‘The government’s welfare reform plans are the Conservative manifesto in sheep’s clothing, penalising some of the most vulnerable in society and will lead to the privatisation of a world class public service where profits will be put ahead of people.
‘The government should seize the opportunity of Freud’s move by recognising the chorus of opposition that is gearing up to lobby Parliament and drop its regressive plans.’