BuLLETIN No. 2 2014 70p

children’s centres

Save Kent’s Children’s Centres - 12 noon Saturday 15 February
March and Rally • Assemble Clocktower (by Wilkinsons) Canterbury

GET YOUR Save Kent’s
THIEVING Children’s
children’s centres

Printed and published by Kent International Socialists

When Nigel Farage visited Margate last month he was met with a
small but angry protest. The lobby of his meeting with local
supporters at the Walpole Bay hotel was initiated by supporters of
this publication, but was supported, at very short notice by other
local groups determined to overturn the Ukip bandwagon in Kent.
We now need to see a much bigger, broader campaign to point out
to voters that a vote for Ukip is not a ‘protest vote’ against
politicians who ignore the voters – it is a vote for the worst kind of
establishment politician. They are the party of the stockbrokers and
bankers. The small minded racists and homophobes. They are the
‘throwback Tories’ – the ones that rejoiced in the days of Thatcher.
We say: No return to the 1980s.

For hundreds of years, Kent has seen immigrants arrive in the
county - often enroute to London and further afield. They have
come for a whole variety of reasons. Many have been escaping
persecution in other countries, some have simply been seeking to
make a better or different life.
Politicians of the main establishment parties, and the far-right
racist fringe seek to blame immigrants for many of the failings of
the exploitative economic system they all support. When there are
no jobs, they say, ‘foreigners’ must be taking them. Similarly with
homes, hospital places and benefits.
The truth is that migrants quickly become part of and enrich our
communities. They are work colleagues, school and college friends.
We say: they’re welcome here.
Kent International Socialists are part of the fight for a
fair, peaceful, socialist world.
The present capitalist system is run for the enrichment of the
small minority by the exploitation of the vast majority. The
capitalist class, who own and control society, are engaged in a
constant global pursuit of profit. The economic system is prone to
regular crises, creates poverty amidst plenty, wars, racism and
worldwide environmental destruction.
Socialism is the achievable alternative to that system. It cannot be
handed down from above by politicians who make promises and
do much the same as the last lot, nor is it about an authoritarian
state controlling our lives.
Socialism can only be built by the vast majority who have to sell
their labour to make a living (the working class) recognising their
power and coming together to fight for a world based on human
need, not profit. Where people can develop freely and
cooperatively and where the earth is not regarded as merely
something to exploit.
Join us in that struggle.
WEB: PHONE/TEXT: 07947 424505

PARENT POWER: Protesting against KCC childrens’ service cuts

in Kent are facing
swinging cuts as part of
the £273 million budget
‘savings’ by Tory-led
Kent County Council.
Hannah Arnold, a parent in Whitstable
who helped set up a successful
campaign against the closures ‘Save
Kent’s Children’s Centre’s’ spoke to
Solidarity this week about the

“I set the campaign up as many
parents felt an overwhelming anger and
disbelief at KCCs proposals to close
twenty three children’s centres.
“Once the campaign had been set up,
Mary Sullivan from the Canterbury and
Whitstable Stop the Cuts group
contacted me to offer their support.
“Demonstrations were organised, the
local trade union movement and anticuts activists mobilised in support, and a
petition was signed on stalls and online
across Kent.”

Under pressure from parents and
activists, KCC conceded some of our

demands. Eleven centres will be
staying open, but twelve are still
earmarked for closure.
“We have no details yet as to what will
be happening with the centres that will
be closing. It’s possible they will be run
from other places instead.”

“Furthermore, the centres that have
won a reprieve will face reduced hours,
job cuts and a loss of expertise and
“This is because KCC are determined
to cut a further £2.5 million from the
children’s centres over the next two
financial years. The closures and
reduced services will affect all families in
Kent who have children under the age of

“Nevertheless, we are continuing the
campaign. KCC have already caved in
under pressure from us, so we have
every reason to think we can fight and
win to save the twelve centres now
designated for closure.
“All of us need to invest in our
children’s future. We urge you to get
involved with the campaign. Our first
action this year is a march in
Canterbury on 15 February.
Join us.”

Save Kent’s Children’s Centres
12 noon Saturday 15 February
- March and Rally • Assemble Clocktower
(by Wilkinsons) Canterbury


Food banks:

not fit for

The Kettle and Cold
Box: The New Symbol of
IT Is possIble you have not
heard of ‘kettle or cold boxes’
yet? They sound fairly
Whole meals can be concocted by a
handy electric kettle. Dried soup,
porridge, Pot Noodles, tinned soup or
instant mash might be the items cooked
by this new wonder cooker. Certainly
better than ‘cold boxes’, both now being
supplied to people who need to use food
This idea was developed by the leading

food bank charity, the Tressell Trust,
who quickly realised the extent of the
cost of living crisis facing the poorest in
our communities.
The boxes, which the trust admits do
not meet the nutritional standards of its
normal food parcels, responded to
clients who were refusing to take items
such as pasta, rice, tinned beans and
tomatoes. This was because they could
not afford to turn on their cookers, or the
gas or electricity companies had cut their
supply because of debt.
Annette Smith, volunteer project co-


Part of the union:

ordinator of Morecambe Bay food bank
in Lancashire told the Guardian: “We
were absolutely astonished when this
started to happen, and we were also
really upset.” Why is it happening? It’s
the old cliche: do I heat or eat?”
Chris Mould, the trust’s executive
chairperson, said the boxes were
“another example of how bad things
have got for low-income families.”
Accepting that nutrition is an issue, he
added “If you can’t afford to turn the
electricity on, then some food is better
than no food.”

Whitstable Job
Centre under
threat of closure
A PuBLIC and Commercial
Services (PCS) union rep
has revealed that
Whitstable job centre is
under threat of closure
later this year.
Services have been purposely
run down, no signing on takes
place in the afternoons and staff
are forced to go to Herne Bay
or Canterbury to continue their
East Kent PCS members are
determined to fight for extra
staff to be employed at
Whitstable’s job centre. They
will be fighting to save much
needed services from cuts and
exert pressure on the
Department of Work and
Pensions into recognising more
staff need to be hired, not fired.
A campaign will be launched
very soon, which will include
anti cuts and community
activists working alongside and
supporting PCS members in
their fight. Watch this space.

MORE than hALF of people
stripped of disability benefits
after being ruled “fit for work”
by Atos were left unemployed
and without income, according
to a Government study.
The Department for Work and
Pensions (DWP), who hired the
French IT firm to help them slash the
benefits bill, have admitted that 55 per
cent of people who lost benefits in the
crackdown had failed to find work.
Only 15 per cent were in jobs, with
30 per cent on other benefits.
The DWP claimed people left high
and dry were given “tailored support”
to find jobs. But the extent of the
hardship suffered by the Atos victims
in the study will only add to the
growing public fury about the firm and
their methods.
Atos have assessed patients with
terminal illnesses as “fit for work”. And
thousands of victims of genuine,
chronic conditions have complained of
being humiliated by the company’s
Investigators from the department
spoke to 1100 claimants deemed fit
for work and found that 55 per cent
had no jobs or benefits.
Thirty per cent were getting
jobseekers’ allowance or other
benefits and just 15 per cent were in

COMMuNITY uNITEd: union leads protest against ‘Benefit Street’

EVEN NOW, in the 21st
century, too many people in
our country are being pushed
to the margins of society.
They deserve to be heard; they
too deserve the support to organise
It is with this in mind that Unite
has founded its community
membership scheme.
Unite’s mission is to organise
people to strive for a society that
places equality, dignity and respect
above all else.
But Unite recognises that we can
only achieve this if we bring people
together from all walks of life.
Unite’s community membership
scheme brings together people

from across our society.
Those not in employment are
welcomed into the union family,
adding another dimension to our
strength in thousands of workplaces
across the UK.
Unite will be holding a training day
for all Unite Community members
and for those who wish to join.
unite Community activist training
Saturday 8 March, 10am
Whitstable Labour Club
12 Belmont Road, Whitstable
CT5 1QP To join visit
or call 07947 424505

Disability Campaigners: Kent AToS Protest
National Day of Action Against AToS
19 February, from 12 noon • Canterbury Assessment Centre,
Nutwood House, Chaucer Rd, Canterbury, CT1 1ZZ

When ATOS deny you your
benefits by writing a report for
the department of Work and
Pensions (dWP) you should
always challenge their
Write to Atos Healthcare
complaining about the quality of your
assessment or the Doctors attitude or
anything else you may be unhappy
with. Back this up with a Freedom of
Information request asking for any
information Atos and the DWP hold on
you from your first ever contact, up to
the present.
A Thanet based disabled person
who recently won her appeal against
the DWPs decision says: “My Work
Capability Assessment was carried
out in November 2012. In February
2013, the DWP decided I had scored
no points at all despite my long-term
illness. I was told that I was ‘fit for
“I appealed the decision
immediately, but had to wait until last
week for my tribunal. For over a year I
have suffered serious stress, which
has led to a worsening of my health
and chronic depression.
“I was lucky that I knew a law
student who was able to take on my
case. He was brilliant. I won my
The panel at the hearing awarded
me twenty one points. This is because
they actually looked at the medical
evidence but was ignored by the Atos
assessors. I would urge anyone who
has failed the medical test to appeal.”

NEws aT TEN: “ will you consider standing
here in the general election?”
FaragE: “what, with a welcome like that!?”

reasons to be cheerful
Exposing the
doings of
hypocrites, the
scoundrels, the
rotten and the just
plain nasty ...

Deep thinking
Down Under!
TONY ABBOTT, Australian Prime
Minister is not known as a modern
day Confucius.
H claimed “Climate change is
absolute crap” when pressed on
global warming as leader of the
opposition. Red Sauce is pleased to
see he’s not let power change him!
On Syria - “The difficulty in Syria
is that - as I famously, perhaps
infamously said during the election
campaign - it often seems like a
case that involves baddies versus
Wait, a conservative populist who
lacks nuance when dealing with
foreign policy and prefers simple
stories? Well, that’s just unheard of.

Ruling Class
Rebel News!
STANLEY JOhNSON, father of
pretend reasonable adult Boris
has caused somewhat as a stir
demanding a “popular uprising”.
What got him so riled up? Was it
savage cuts that cost lives? The
ongoing violent and racist tactics of
the Met? The housing crisis?
Of course not!
He’s worried about disruption to
his cosy life in his £4m Camden
Apparently it’s an affront to his
human rights, that it could adversely
affect his properties value.
But it’s not just human rights! He’s
also concerned about security.
“What about terrorism? With HS2
these young girls are going to get
down from Birmingham 20 minutes
We are in favour of anyone using
public transport to get away from this
rambling bigot 20 minutes quicker!
Strangely Bumbling Boris said he


opposes the planned HS2-HS1 link
through Camden, despite backing
the development generally.

Water cannon
plan wins Met
police backing
BORIS JOhNSON supports the
Met’s idea to use the water
cannon in London.
The police have suggested
“ongoing and potential future
austerity measures” are likely to
cause disturbances on Britain’s

Atos Boss in
Bogus Claim
AN Atos boss claims the hated
benefits assessor is ‘popular’ with
the public.
However disability charities
described Atos as ‘farcical’ after it
told nearly half of all people suffering
from crippling life-long diseases like
Parkinson’s that they would get

Iceland Three
ChARGES hAVE been dropped
against the ‘Iceland Three’.
The Crown Prosecution Service
has decided to drop its case against
three men caught taking food from
bins outside an Iceland store.
The CPS had previously stated
there was “significant public interest”
in prosecuting the three men.
They were caught last year taking
tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese and
Mr Kipling cakes from the dustbins
behind a branch of Iceland.
The CPS reversed their decision in
the wake of huge public outcry about
the case.

Workfare will
set you free!
Ian duncan Smith has been a
leading light in the battle against
He has championed making
vulnerable people homeless through
the hated bedroom tax, subsisding
private business by making
unemployed people use ‘Workfare’
just to get their JSA, and sanctioning
cancer suffers who don’t find work.
In a stunning display of humility, he
claimed the devastating changes to
welfare policy he’s responsible for
are a “journey from dependence to
independence”. And that he was part
of the Conservatives’ “historic
mission – just look at Wilberforce
and Shaftesbury.”
It’s a great achievement in twisted
logic, that the man in charge of
wrecking so many lives has
convinced himself that he’s actually
more like an abolitionist.
We wish someone would set him
free from office!


Who do they
think they’re
has been in a defiant mood
recently, claiming he will not
support George Osborne’s latest
round of £30 billion cuts.
He has found his ‘moral centre’
and realised that Tories might have
an ideological goal of a smaller
“The Liberal Democrats will reduce
the debt burden but ensure this isn’t
done at the expense of public
services and the most vulnerable in
Red Sauce hates to be awkward,
but someone should remind the
Business Secretary he’s been part of
this ideological axe-swinging
government since the formation of
the Con-Dems in 2010!
Do we really need to go over the
damage he’s done to working class
people, unemployed, students, the
disabled, pensioners etc? Or maybe
he doesn’t consider these groups as
vulnerable enough.

Thirty years since the start of the Great Miners Strike 1984-1985

The Miners
Were Right
to Strike
bRITAIN’s gRowTH as the
greatest industrial nation was
powered by coal. Despite this
miners have never been held in
regard by those for whom they
worked, at times being referred to
as ‘the scum of the earth’ or ‘the
enemy within’.

pickets took place; it was also at Ollerton in
Nottinghamshire that David Jones died.
Kent miners were part of the strike from the
beginning and were the last group of miners to
accept that the fight was over. In order to defeat
the miners, the whole weight of the state was
thrown behind the National Coal Board. Police
were camped out in the coalfields to defeat the
picketing miners. The picketing was violent as a
result of the police truncheons.
The miners were also mobilised. They received a
great deal of support from people up and down
the country as people recognised that the fight was
not just for the miners but for the whole working
Raising money was essential as the miners and
their families had to be fed. Christmas was an
important time because it was important that the
children received presents. The class did not fail.
As an example, in Medway a Miners’ Support

By the very nature of their work miners have a
strong sense of solidarity. Down the pit they are
all dependent upon each other for their safety in
what is a dark, dirty and dangerous environment.
This sense of solidarity extends to their lives
above ground where they often lived in village
communities in which the ‘Miners Welfare’ was
the centre of the social and cultural life. The strike
which took place between 1984 and 1985 was the
culmination of a long battle between
miners and the Tories.
All that they had achieved, in terms
of safety, standard of living and
communal life had come about
through their struggles.
The strike came about because of
the government plan to close around
70 pits. The miners saw this as a
serious threat to everything they held
The government denials that they
had such a plan are now known to
have been lies. Recent documents
confirm all that the NUM said about
government plans.
In the year before the strike, 20,000
jobs had been lost in the pits. The government
group was set up. every Saturday street meetings
claim that pits were uneconomic was based upon
were held with people standing up to speak so
short term considerations of profit and loss and
that money could be collected. Passers-by
bore no relation to the realities of the economics
responded to the appeals. Fund raising events
of mining.
were held. They also provided board and lodgings
Productivity within the industry was
when miners were away from home picketing.
increasing. Britain had the most efficient deep
This was repeated in other areas with plays
coal mining industry in Western europe – and the
produced to both inform and support. The miners
lowest subsidies.
themselves travelled far and wide to picket and
The government prepared well for the strike.
gain support. At one stage Kent miners were
They had chosen their battleground. The first
prevented by the police from travelling through
step was the closure of Cortonwood Colliery in
the Dartford Tunnel.
Yorkshire in direct contravention of the
One major factor of the strike was the
agreement in ‘The Plan for Coal’ signed in 1974.
involvement of miners’ wives in support of their
Flying pickets brought the Yorkshire coalfield
communities and striking partners. Kent women
to a standstill, followed by Kent and then by
went up to Leicestershire and Yorkshire women
South Wales and Scotland. The coal fields of the
came to London. They held women’s pit camps to
Midlands were divided. In these areas, mining is
picket. The support from other countries was also
much easier, with thicker seams and more
mechanisation so that prospects seemed more
The strike was a clear example of class war. It
assured. It was here that the major battles with
was fought on all fronts. The main emphasis was

on economics. The aim was to picket out the
whole of the coalfields. Key targets for pickets
were power stations to stop fuel getting into the
One of the major actions was at Orgreave
Colliery but steelworks such as Ravenscraig were
also picketed. It was at these major picketing sites
that the full force of state power was faced in the
battles with the police. There was also a political
battle. We have seen earlier how the government
denied that they had plans to close collieries, but
they also waged a propaganda war. One issue
hyped up by many was the question of a ballot.
This was the excuse for many in the Midlands
not coming out on strike. In fact the 165,000
miners out on strike dwarves the 30,000 in work.
The main aim of the government was to break the
power of the Miners’ Union as a prelude to
breaking the power of the British working class.
That they failed to do this was shown when the
introduction of the poll tax was met by overwhelming opposition.
The strike was also a social battle. The miners
were fighting not only for their jobs but also for
their communities. The mining communities
showed what working class life could be like.
They stressed communal, integrated living and
were an important element in our society.
But what lessons can we take from the strike?
The Labour Party is now asking the government
to apologise for the state’s actions during the
strike – which of course David Cameron has
We should also question the role that leading
Labour Party members, like Neil Kinnock and
Kim howells, played in failing to give full support
to the miners.
Could other trade unions and the TUC have
backed the NUM with action as well as words?
The miners strike demonstrates that class
plays a major part in our economic, social and
political life. It also demonstrates that when
called upon the class will work together for the
common good.
The main lesson to learn is that the old
maxim ‘United we stand, divided we fall’ is as
true now as it has always been.

Ralph A Tebbutt and Hilary J Baker
Future editions of Solidarity will look at the
miners’ fight, and ask whether defeat was

A new film about the great strike: ‘Stll the
Enemy Within’ will be shown in Kent later
this year. Full details will follow in a future
Solidarity Bulletin, or visit:

immigration my
DaviD CaMErON wants to
renegotiate the UK’s relationship
with the European Union to
enforce a cap on migration. He
claims to be troubled about the
effect of migration on the
conditions of British workers.
Ed Milliband, Labour leader
echoed the anti migrant rhetoric.
Bunny La Roche seeks out the



THeRe is little evidence that mass migration has
significantly driven down wages.
Three studies undertaken between 2009-2011 show that
Cameron is using migration to support his own political agenda. he
aims to divide us by blaming migrants, rather than the bosses, for
falling living standards.
Another extensive survey carried out by the Trades Union
Congress on the the link between migration and wages found “no
strong evidence to link falling wages with migration.” Instead, it
suggests that migration “enhances wage growth.”
The Department for Work and Pensions’ own figures also found
there is no evidence of wages slowing in most industries. however,
there has been a negligible fall in agricultural wages.
The blame does not lie with migrants, but with the Tory led
coalition and the rich landowning farmers. Tory and Lib Dem Peers,
many of them rich landowners themselves, voted in the house of
Lords last year to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB).
Farm workers union, Unite said “scrapping the board could affect
the livelihoods and drive down the wages of 150,000 agricultural
workers in england and Wales. The abolition of the AWB would
decimate agricultural workers’ livelihoods and take £247m out of
their pockets in the next 10 years, according to Department of
environment, Food and Rural Affair’s own figures.”



we HeAR stories all the time about record numbers of
eastern european migrants attending A&e departments.
But, research carried out by Adam Steventon from the Nuffield
Trust found that migrants use the NhS less frequently than British
born people. Steventon concluded: “In fact, admission rates were
around half that of english-born people of the same age and sex.” In
reality, overcrowded A&es have been caused by hospital cuts,
slashing services in residential and community care and the serious
disintegration of mental health services.
Additionally, statistics from the think tank health and Social Care
Information Centre (hSCIC), published in the Guardian recently,
show that the NhS will be under severe strain as many services it
offers rely on migrant labour. The report prompted the British
Medical Association to observe that without the contribution of nonBritish staff, “many NhS services would struggle to provide
effective care to their patients”.



CAmeRoN, Ukip and others suggest that migrants come
here to claim benefits as britain is considered a ‘soft
touch’. evidence points otherwise:
Migrants represent 13% of the workforce in england and Wales.
Only 7% claim out-of-work benefits.
Migrants from outside the eeA (the eU plus Norway,
Lichtenstien and Iceland) represent only 9-10% or workers; only 5%
claim benefits.
All migrants from the eU who arrived after 2004, with one year’s
residence, are legally entitled to claim benefits. however, they are
60% less likely to claim them than British born people.
Migrants from the eU actually contribute to public services. They
pay around 30% more in taxes towards services than they take from







CApITAlIsm, with its booms and slumps causes
unemployment, not migrants.

eveRy DAy rents are spiralling, often leaving those on
low incomes in a precarious position.

The loss of one million public sector jobs, the closure of Pfizer’s in
Sandwich, Kent and the national closure hMV and Comet stores
was not the fault of migrants. Neither are they responsible for
slashing tens of thousands of jobs in the manufacturing industry.
Again, blame lies with the Tories, the bosses and the system which
seeks profits above all else, mindless to the needs of the many.
In 1992, when unemployment was at its highest, more people left
Britain than entered it. When unemployment started to fall, more
people came here. When the jobs market suffered another slump,
again, migration fell. At the end of June 2012, net migration fell by a
third in comparison to the previous twelve months, but joblessness
The recent rise in immigration is due to the entry into the eU of
some eastern european countries. The workers from those
countries came to take advantage of job opportunities. however, as
soon as the jobs dried up, the majority went back home.
A government study from 2006 has shown that migration from eU
member states has been unexceptional. But, as the economic slump
really begins to bite, studies have found that migrants are likely to be
the first to lose their jobs.
The top five countries for arrivals to the UK are: China, India,
Poland, US and Australia.

Some buy-to-let landlords (see Solidarity issue no. 1 for more
information) are now refusing to let their properties to those on
benefits, despite making huge profits from them before the housing
crisis became so acute. Therefore, it is understandable that people
think that renting would be easier and cheaper if there were less
competition from migrants.
But, it is scarcity that is driving the cost of rent to stretching point
for tenants. Landlords leave properties empty to drive up rents, and
property owners to increase house prices. A survey in 2012 by
empty homes Charity reports that 710,000 homes are unoccupied.
Thanet District Council’s own research shows that there are 3029
empty dwellings in Cliftonville alone.
Studies have shown that even if there was zero migration,
270,000 homes would need to be built every year to stem soaring
house price rises from outstripping wage increases.
The housing bubble we are now facing is predominately driven by
financial speculation. Migrants are not the speculators. Foreign
born people are three times more likely to be in private rented
accommodation. Alan Travers reported in The Guardian that the
equality and human Rights Commission found that “queue
jumping for social housing by migrants is a myth. Most newly
arrived migrants are actually banned from access to social housing.”

oUR RUleRs use the fear of migrant
workers undercutting british born
workers in the same way it uses the threat
of the dole queues to keep workers in line.
Their message is stark: put up with pension cuts,
wage freezes and job losses or ‘we can find others
that will’.
The bosses, however, have conflicting attitudes
towards immigration. They desire that workers be
afraid of losing their jobs, so that they can inflict
poorer conditions upon them. This is what some
bosses hope they’ll be able to achieve with migrant
Some industries need a highly skilled and stable
workforce, which tends to cost more. Therefore,
the bosses endeavour to cut their labour costs by
pitching workers against each other in the hope of
seeing each other as enemies and competitors
instead. But all workers share something in

common: they are all exploited by the bosses who
wish to make more profits. They are prepared to
take any necessary measures to keep their profit
margins as high as possible.
The bosses also rebuke the government for
establishing limits on the numbers of workers
arriving to this country, as they are deemed to be
cheap and malleable labour. But, at the same time,
they use the anti-migrant rhetoric to fuel divisions.
This is the contradiction that exists between them,
and extends even to the cabinet.
These contradictions also exist amongst
workers. Many appear to take the peddled myths of
immigration for granted. This is because lies are
churned out by Ukip, the three main political
parties, newspapers, television and the internet on
a daily, if not hourly basis. It serves the interests of
profit to tout these lies. The majority of workers,
when questioned, say they are not racist and

appreciate the benefits of a multi-cultural society.
Very often the people who vocalise the desire for
a restriction on immigration are friendly with
Asians, Africans and eastern europeans in their
work places, their neighbourhoods and at college.
Many can be won to a united fight against the
bosses, landlords and the government for better
jobs, housing and services for all. Therefore it’s
crucial that socialists are involved in all campaigns
that fight for decent reforms for all. It is the task of
socialists to make the case in every campaign that
even the lowest paid migrant workers can fight
back too.
When black and Asian workers came to Britain
in the 1960s, they were perceived as being a ‘soft
touch’ for the bosses. however, the struggles that
took place in the 1970s transformed those ideas.
The struggles now being waged will again change
our outlook towards the next generation.

DWP Sanctions – REAL LIVES
a punishment for Teaching
being jobless?
ThE TORY-LEd change to
welfare benefits since April
2013 is really beginning to
bite. Not content with
reducing the poorest people
in our communities to abject
poverty, the ‘Nasty Party’ has
unleashed another repulsive
punishment upon the poor:
UNEMPLOyED people who claim Job
Seekers Allowance (JSA) must fulfill certain
conditions to collect their JSA. Those aged
over 25 receive £71.70 per week JSA.
From this sum, council tax top-up, bills,
food and in some cases rent, must be paid.
If a client does not satisfy the conditions
for their JSA, they will face harsh disciplinary
measures. Sanctions mean your benefits are
stopped for a certain period of time.
This can also include housing benefit,
putting people at risk of losing their homes or
running up rent arrears. This harsh measure
seeks to pressurise claimants into quiet
compliance or force them off benefits
Sanctions range from four weeks to six
months depending on how many times
particular conditions have not been met. The
penalty for failing to apply for enough jobs is
usually met with a four week sanction.
If repeated, it will be three months, and
then a year for the third offence. Sanctions
will also be imposed if a claimant misses an
interview with an adviser. Again, this usually
results in the loss of four weeks’ money.
Sanctions also apply to those who leave their
jobs, and in many cases those who get
Some people are unable to understand
how sanctions work. Moreover, in deprived
areas such as Thanet and Medway, there is
little chance of finding work due to the
recession. The few that are on offer rarely
pay above subsistence levels.
Many claimants have mental health
issues, children or disabilities, which
makes it more difficult for them to apply
for jobs or attend work-focussed
A Thanet job seeker spoke to Solidarity
about why he was sanctioned. “I went to sign
on as usual, but later the same day I was
rung up by the job centre and told that I had
not applied for enough jobs, so I was facing
a six week sanction.
“I did not know how many jobs I was
supposed to apply for. I have a child to look
after, so my benefit was cut by forty percent.
My housing benefit was also cut for two
weeks. I was forced to go to a food bank as
crisis loans are no longer available.”
Another job seeker from Canterbury gave
an account of her experience after facing
sanctions. “The job centre sanctioned me as
I had only applied for 15 jobs. I put in an
appeal immediately.
“I applied to get food and fuel payment,
but was told it would take a week to process.
I then applied for a hardship payment which
took two days to sort out. I had to borrow

money from friends so that I had food, gas
and electricity over the weekend.
“I was lucky I had friends to turn to, not
everyone has. I won my appeal to weeks
later, as the DWP had made a mistake.”

Job centre workers face disciplinary action
if they don’t sanction enough benefits
The Department for Work and Pensions
(DWP) deny there is an ‘official’ target for
sanctions. But managers get around it by
targeting workers who refuse to meet quotas
on referrals (sanctions).
Since October 2012, formal performance
procedures have become worse for job
centre workers. Now it’s quicker to dismiss a
worker on ‘performance’. According to the
government there are no sanctions targets.
However countless staff members are being
told they don’t meet ‘minimum expected
A DWP PCS trade union rep explains the
pressure a job centre worker is under: “I was
told to refer a whole group onto a Work
Programme ‘to improve my referral rate
easily.’ There is a lot of pressure.”
“Aside from being dismissed,
‘performance’ can mean a financial penalty.
Union reps often win cases for their
members, but not all members have one.
“I recently won a case for a single mum
who was refusing to ‘refer’ unnecessarily and
was being judged against how many her
colleagues did.
“They picked at every aspect of her
performance – we sorted them all out – but
she still refuses to stop a person’s money
unnecessarily. That’s a really stressful and
dangerous position to be in.”
The DWP has redesigned food bank
vouchers for clients, making it hard to trace
the link between welfare reform and
emergency food aid.
The vouchers for food banks no longer
state the reason why people need to use the
service. It means that charities will find it
harder to gather information on how the
welfare reforms are affecting people. Lord
Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform has
denied there is a direct link between
sanctions and the rise of food banks.
Despite the difficulties in gathering
information, the largest provider of food bank
services, the Trussell Trust, has published
interesting figures.
They prove that more than half the people
receiving emergency food aid were doing so
because of delays to benefit payments,
sanctions, and financial difficulties relating to
the bedroom tax and abolition of council tax
Often when facing sactions, benefit
claimants will get angry with the DWP staff
member sitting opposite them. This is
understandable, but clients and staff have
good reason to see they have a common
enemy in the DWP managers and the
The government and their system
seeks to divide and rule: set one group of
working class people against another. But
it is only in finding ways to unite
employed and unemployed workers that
we stand any chance of making life better
for clients and for dWP staff.


Jean, a teacher in a
Kent secondary
school, talks about
life in a multi-cultural

THe CATCHmeNT area for
the school where I work
includes some of the most deprived
areas in the country.

I feel very fortunate to work with young people who, despite
the blocks to learning that lack of opportunity places in their
way on a daily basis, have the drive and desire to succeed and
overcome difficulties that children from more privileged
backgrounds will never face. Students from eastern
european countries are currently bearing the brunt of
negative propaganda, whipped up by this unelected
government in addition to increasing economic hardship.
Immigrant groups who have joined the school population in
recent years have included Indians, Afghanis, Iraqis, Sri
Lankans, Latvians, Bulgarians, Polish, Russians and
students from Sub-Saharan African countries.
The overwhelming majority of these students make the
most of the educational opportunities available to them and
are an asset to the school . Their positive work ethic sets a high
standard for all students within the classroom. The steepest
learning curve within the school is among students learning
english as a second language.

In response to the most recent wave of anti-migrant
propaganda against eastern europeans, from the politicians
and the British media, I would like to focus in particular
students from Slovak, Czech and Bulgarian Gipsy
communities since they, historically, have been the most
universally marginalized. The views expressed here are based
on my personal experience.
When the first Gipsy students arrived they had to endure
hostility both from other students and, I am ashamed to say,
some staff. There were unfounded rumours circulating that
the Roma were work shy, criminal and even forced their
daughters into prostitution.

uNITEd TEAM: kids from around the world

There are too many individual success
stories to detail here but I am proud to
mention Patryk, a Czech Gipsy who is head
of college and an articulate and
compassionate spokesperson for his
community who plans to go to university
next year. And Maria, a Slovak Gipsy, whose
shyness when she joined the school rendered
her unable to communicate, but who is now
a confident and highly motivated member of
the sixth form. Urariwan, a Thai student
who entered the school in year 7 without any
english and was scoring within the top 5 in
her group within six months. Stiv, a
Bulgarian who spoke no english when he
joined us but has achieved a meteoric rise to
the top in all subjects. Chimamandanta,
from a minority group in Nigeria also sets a
high standard in terms of motivation and
behaviour in the top group having entered
the school with no english.

There are, of course many english born
students who have managed to overcome
formidable barriers to learning. Chelsea, for
example, had to contend with the stigma and
economic pressure placed on her

unemployed parents by this government to
achieve 5 A levels and go on to study for a
degree in Biology. This is despite the extra
barriers to success caused by slashing of
grants and massive increases in tuition fees.
While wanting to put forward the positive
aspects of having immigrant children in the
school, I do not want to gloss over the racism
that they have had to endure and continue to
face on a daily basis.
Recently I had to sanction a 6 foot tall 16
year old who was proudly proclaiming to his
friends that he had told ‘those little pakis’ ( a
group of small 11 year old girls) to get out of
his way. Sadly he was unrepentant, and
quoted some hate fuelled Ukip propaganda
to justify his bullying racism. Fights between
the diverse groups tend to increase when the
BNP, eDL and Ukip are pushing their filthy
racist hyperbole in the local area.
My experience of working with such a
diverse population of students has
highlighted for me the necessity of providing
free and unlimited educational opportunities
to all children, without exception and on a
international basis. While the current state
system is far from perfect in terms of equality
for female, ethnic minority and
underprivileged students, it is all we have. It
is under attack by a government seeking to
dismantle any form of state provision.
I have no doubt that in an education
system run by the private sector, the
inequalities that have not been eradicated in
the state system will become entrenched
because there will no longer be the safeguards
against inequality that are only possible in a
state run system.

An uneducated population will be easier to
exploit and control. A divided population will
be unable to organise against the vicious
cuts being inflicted on the welfare state by an
ideologically driven Tory-led government.
It is in this parliament of millionaire’s
interests to keep us ignorant and at each
others throats. Our defence against
their attacks must include equal
educational opportunities for all,
without exception.

I have observed the once subservient
female students gain enough confidence to
openly display their inner strength, make the
most of the educational opportunities that
have been afforded to them by joining the
sixth form or going off to college,
encouraged and supported by their proud
parents. This made me realise that
accusations of child abuse can be
symptomatic of institutional racism. The
same accusations are leveled at other
excluded groups, such as Australian
Over time the tensions between the
different groups eased. Most reasonable
people will find a way to co-exist eventually,
given the right circumstances. The fights
between Slovak and english students
became occasional rather than daily, mainly
because they realised they had a common
interest in getting one over on the staff.

Stop the KCC cap on
youth ‘Freedom Pass’
KCC is facing another battle over cuts. They are
proposing to ‘save’ £7 million by slashing the cap
to £350 on the Freedom Pass.
Many parents are angry, saying that the cap will run out
within one term. This means parents will be forced into
paying hundreds of pounds to make up the shortfall.
Kent Online reports: “KCC said the charge for the pass for
11-16-year-olds will be pegged at £100, but there will be a
£350 limit stored on the card. Once that has been spent,
pupils will have to pay for further journeys themselves by
topping up a smart card.”
“There will also be a cap for those who use the post-16
pass, but the costs of buying it will be cut significantly from
£520 to £100.”
However, 7000 people have signed the petition against the
cap and are demanding KCC rethinks its plans.

KCC budget news:
ThIS MONTh KCC Councillors will be debating
the budget, set to be cut by £273 million.
Solidarity will publish a breakdown of the
services earmarked for cuts, with a full analysis
of how we can fight them.

Kent Uni staff join action


IS the uCu trade
union mobilising the
strongest possible
fightback against
pay cuts and the
Tory attack on
higher Education?
Are a series of twohour strikes enough
to win?
here is one point of view
from a lecturer and uCu
member at uKC in
since the end of last year, have
continued their industrial action this
month with the start of a series of
two-hour strikes.
Following two one-day strikes in October and
December, members of the University and College
Union (UCU) have been called out for two two-hour
strikes in January, with more to follow in a dispute over
fair pay. Both pickets at the University of Kent,
Canterbury, have seen strong turnouts for pickets of
around 50 — on the 29 January a march through
campus was supported by a number of students.
The union has been in dispute with university
employers over continued minuscule pay rises for the
last five years, effectively amounting to a 15% pay cut,
taking inflation into account. The current deal - 1% on
the table - would continue this trend, against a
background of increasing revenues and rises in the tens
of thousands for some university managers instrumental

in the increasing privatisation of education in the
The union has received staunch support from
students so far nationwide, who are rightly connecting
the action to the wider struggle for fair education,
accountable management and civil liberties on campus.
The crackdown on protests in places like Birmingham,
Sussex and Senate House, meanwhile, has been widely
condemned by lecturers.
The focus on pay, however, is not merely a response
to repressive trade union laws which permit little other
ground for grievance. Lecturers have seen pay fall over
a period in which workloads have increased
exponentially. The rise of zero-hour or sessional
teachers has meant the establishment of an exploitative
system of casualised workers with no job security, no
employment rights and poor pay. Some sessional
teachers earn little more than £3000 a year for
effectively full-time teaching loads — less than university
chancellor Julia Goodfellow’s pay rise this year.
The de-escalation of the action in the shape of two
hour strikes has seen the campaign lose serious
momentum, however. The tokenistic ticking over of the
strike in a manner designed to minimise disruption is
hugely damaging to both the effectiveness and
perception of the action. Many lecturers feel the twohour strategy amounts to little more than the loss of pay
and barely an inconvenience for university
At Kent, the turnout for such action is also
questionable and immeasurable. If lecturers are not
actively teaching the action is meaningless, with
teachers understandably unwilling to leave their office
for two hours simply to perform admin tasks later that
night, without pay.
The union leadership and its head, Sally Hunt, is
strongly suspected of bad faith at this time. Even oneday walkouts, as planned for the 6th of February, have
been poorly communicated, with many members, at
Kent at least, still unaware of the plans, announced on a
week before by Hunt.
One-day strikes in this dispute so far have seen high
turnouts in the action, impressive pickets and many
events arranged around the strikes themselves,
including teach-ins, lectures and discussion groups by
supportive students.
The local branch is doing its best and showing
considerable solidarity for a strategy it considers at best
a lull in proceedings, but meaningful escalation and
unambiguous strike action is required if the union is to
be taken seriously. The threatened marking boycott,
what university management truly fear, should be called
immediately along with further one-day walkouts. The
appetite among members is there.
UCU member, University of Kent
n Industrial action also took place on other campuses
across Kent.
n For coverage of the latest news from the dispute, see


The ‘Priva

we mUsT all be aware by
now that southern water
has been been found guilty of
causing 25 miles of Thanet’s
coastline to close due to
continued instances of
untreated sewage pouring
onto our beaches.
Cris Johnson looks at the
company responsible for this
They were forced to apologise “unreservedly” in
August of last year for instances that occured between
January and June 2011. Repeated failures of their
equipment meant they were unable to pump the
sewage to Weatherlees Works for treatment, and
instead discharged it into the sea off Margate. They
were fined £200,000. Further investigations are still
going on for pollution events in 2012.
Thanet District Council’s Scrutiny Committee
described the Southern Water facilities as being
‘underinvested and inadequately maintained’, yet in
2012 the water company had made a £331,000,000
As Cllr Ian Driver, then on the Scrutiny Committee
said, “that is almost a million pounds per day” and he
stated on his blog that, “the fine of a mere £200,000
is hardly a deterrent.” he also said, “When I was part
of the Council scrutiny investigation into Southern
Water, I was contacted by several company
employees. They told me all about new staff rostering
and call out arrangements and large cuts in wages
and pensions which had wreaked havoc with routine
maintenance and emergency cover. This destroyed
the morale of staff working in a dirty and often
dangerous job, 24/7.
“They also told me about how some spillage and
pollution incidents were covered up and not reported
by bosses. In fact one of the reasons for imposing the
£200,000 fine on Southern Water appears to have
been its reluctance to fess-up when it dumped raw
sewage into the sea.”
So how can a water company making so much
money find themselves performing so badly?
It is the policy of privatisation that has brought a


ateers’ in charge of our water
polluted by

good public service into the realms of disrepair and
When privatisation was proposed, it was argued
that only the private sector could make sufficient
investment in an ancient infrastructure for water and
sewage treatment.
Others argued that such essential services must stay
in public, democratic control. The Tories in their
eagerness to deliver public services to the private sector ignored warnings, and went ahead. Now twenty
five years later we are still with an underfunded
investment plan for our water and sewage services.
The question remains, how can this be?
Between 1989 and the year 2000 water bills fell, but
not since then. And for many consumers, economic
realities have changed drastically. The National Debt
Line advisory service now receive more calls for water
debts than for rent or mortgage arears.
Water provision is a monopoly market and an
incredibly complex one for many of the water
companies – especially for Southern Water.
The problems arise through the dubious ways that
most private water companies raise their funds. Water
companies borrow money on the international markets
to supposedly invest in their working infrastructure.
They sell ‘bonds’ or ‘security’ to investors – IOUs
with a promise to pay back, with interest, at a later
date. This is known as ‘securitisation’.
Sounds harmless enough, however, this does not
mean investors are securing their returns on renewed
infrastructural assets, such as pipes, pumping stations
and sewage works. Securitisation is the transformation
of customer bill paying ability into an investable
outcome. Nothing more.
Our continued and regular payments are seen as a
revenue stream that can be projected into the future,
securitised as bonds and borrowed against.
This can include bill payment returns projected as
far ahead as 2062. A consortium of investors from all
around the world have to be paid even before the
shareholders. Commercial and finance related
business are set in place within this consortium –
making profits throughout the process.
These are businesses such as fund managers, legal
specialists, credit facility advisers, financiers hedge
counterparties each skimming off a profit – all of
whom are paid out of our household bills. Most often
these are run by investment banks which part own the
water companies, and are simply focussed on getting
high financial returns – rather than providing clean
Southern Water is owned by a consortium of
pension funds and investors led by the US bank, JP

Morgan – the same bank that was recently fined 13
billion US dollars, for illegal activities.
Water companies are now compared to private
equity groups as opposed to being water companies.
Often the payments to investors and shareholders
exceed profits, which then requires water companies to
borrow even more money. These debts are increasing

in all water companies, and are set to continue.
It’s not all doom and gloom for water companies as
they go about making money for their investors and
shareholders, capital allowances are made against
corporation tax!
Interest payments on debts can also qualify water
companies to defer payments of corporation tax to a
later date.
The bigger the debt, the more that is saved in
deferred payments. Southern Water paid hardly any
corporation tax in the past year and it is likely that this
is a part of a pattern going back some time. however,
as financing consortia and shareholders do very well,
bill paying consumers do not.
Credit rating agencies, such as Moody’s, rate a

Southern Water is one
of the most debt
ridden utility companies.
They are unable to cope
with the basic demands
placed on them.
company’s investment return potentials. When the
‘water boards’ were privatised, the companies that
were created had no debts and were rated ‘AAA’. Today
water company debt levels are as high as 60 percent or
70 percent.
Their credit ratings are around BAA1, causing their
debt repayments to be very much higher than they have
ever been before. The lowest possible rating is BAA3.
Such a poor rating would put any company in a very
precarious position. The government watchdog and
regulator, OFWAT could potentially put them under
such close scrutiny that they might lose their franchise
for water and waste treatment provision.
In other words, they could go bust.
Moody’s, the credit rating body, see Southern
Water’s indebtedness currently at 81 percent. This
gives Southern Water a credit rating of BAA2 leaving
them only one grade left before they fall out of credit
rateability altogether.
how would water companies be able to cope with a
catastropic event affecting our water? For example, if
‘fracking’ for gas were to pollute a local water supply,
as has been warned about in Kent. They would have no
financial reserves and not credit with the money
markets to call upon.
Southern Water is one of the most debt-ridden
utility companies. They are unable to cope with the
basic demands placed on them. They are also the worst
performing – with a recent increase in complaints of 77
percent. The Consumer Council for Water rates them
the worst by this measure. OFWAT says that Southern
Water has the worst record for serious sewage
pollution incidents.
whether southern water can keep its head
above water remains to be seen. one thing is for
sure though, this is one more example of
privatisation doing nothing for us, the consumers,
except for allowing our bank accounts to be stripped
by another profiteering corporation that cares
nothing for us or the environment we live in.


sTAND Up to racism and
fascism rally and demo 22
march 2014 marking UN
Anti-Racism Day.
■ • No to scapegoating of immigrants

■ • No to Islamophobia
■ • Yes to diversity

A DAy of action against racism has been
called for across europe to coincide with
the marking of UN Anti-Racism Day in
2014, with eyes on the european elections
in may.

Stand up to
Rally and Demonstration
Rally and Demo marking UN Anti-Racism Day –
Assemble 11am Central London (venue tba)
Central London • Backed by TUC, Unite Against Fascism
CoACHES FRoM KENT: call 07947 424505 or
emai: for details

Already in most european countries parties of the right,
centre and even the traditional left are allowing the terrain
of these elections to be dominated by racism, xenophobia,
anti-Semitism and the scapegoating of minorities –
Muslims, immigrants, Roma, Black and Asian
Across europe the fascist and populist racist right are on
the rise. From the violent Golden Dawn in Greece, the antiRoma Jobbik in hungary, the Islamophobic Freedom Party
of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands to the success of the
Front National in France, these currents are encouraging
hatred, fear and prejudice in a frightening wave across the
In Britain the far right is hoping for gains in the euro
elections. The British National Party (BNP) is seeking the
re-election of Nick Griffin in the North West and Andrew
Brons is seeking re-election in Yorkshire and the humber.
The mainstream political parties look set to capitulate to
UKIP in their calls for draconian ‘anti-immigration’
policies and promoting a ‘Little englander’ anti-foreign,
anti-europe mentality.
The ‘go-home’ vans sent out by the home Office over the
summer are a sign of things to come. hostility is already
being stirred up towards Bulgarian and Romanian migrant
workers who will be able to work here from January.
Such campaigns simply whip up racism in general and
induce a ‘blame game’ for falling living standards and
squeezed incomes that falls on visible minorities in stepped
up discrimination, institutional racism, abuse and violence.
This all encourages currents like the english Defence
League, which turn their Islamophobic prejudices into real
attempts to terrorise the Muslim population – attacking
Mosques, assaulting veiled women, insulting religious
sensitivities with vile slogans and throwing pigs’ heads,
and organising intimidating marches into Muslim
Following the rising violence of Golden Dawn and the
murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas, (also known as
Killah P), the Greek anti-fascist and anti-racist movement
has proposed that next year’s UN Day Against Race
Discrimination on March 21/22 should be the focus for
actions against racism and fascism across europe.
While there is a real threat that openly racist parties may
win the 2014 euro-elections in some countries, this can be
prevented by the widest possible unity against them and the
mobilisation of the broadest progressive forces.
Unite Against Fascism has therefore initiated this call for
a demonstration and rally to Stand Up to Racism in
London on Saturday 22nd March. We endorse this
proposal and call on all those of goodwill to join us in a
riposte to the rise of racism, to show that migrants are
welcome and demonstrate our confidence in a future free of
scapegoating and hatred.

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