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THE POPULAR FRONT FOR THE LIBERATION OF CPSA
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STRIKE!
by Barrabas

nother safety strike. The Government, bless its heart, has decreed PATHFINDER offices. These are all singing/all dancing one-stop shops for yer working age benefits. With no screens. And no Security Guards. These are very important considerations for those who will work there.

This is a new wheeze dreamt up by Millbank - give the punters nice open plan areas and they won't cause any fuss. Employment Services (as was) couldn't see a problem because the jobcentres haven't had screens in them for years, so they happily signed up for the idea. They conveniently forgot that when it came to adverse decisions regarding benefit, the punters were referred to the Benefits Agency where unpalatable decisions (no payment) could be given from behind toughened glass screens.

Blair's government has successfully removed huge numbers (it's actually true) from the dole queue leaving behind the unemployable, whether because of physical or mental disability, drug or alcohol dependance or other more violent behaviour (the syringe full of HIV blood is a current favourite threat, let alone the fisticuffs, knives and in a recent case, firearms) and sometimes with communicable infestations or diseases (TB, weeping open sores, lice, fleas, scabies ad inf.).

These then form our core of visitors to the office. They are referred to as "customers" (as if they had a choice). They want money, that's all, not bloody do-gooders trying to help them, they're beyond that type of help. Just money. They are the dregs of humanity, but we treat them on the whole with dignity. They treat us as objects of abuse.

Example: last Thursday at Croydon Jobcentre (no screens) a punter was refused benefit and started waving a knife around. The police were called and arrived in seconds, all vested up. They arrested the man but not before he had taken a large slice out of one of the copper's face. Stress and copious claret on the carpet do not constitute a safe working environment. (This is a simplified version of the story, reduced to bald facts).

So, our masters decided it would be a good idea to try out their new scheme in 2 pilot areas: Streatham and Brent. I happen to be one of the District Safety Reps who covers Streatham (so does Sir Woy D'Lewis). The Risk Assessments used by Management for staff safety are based on dated and outmoded methodology. Current methods being that if you can remove a risk entirely (or properly maximise the reduction in risk) you should do so. Unfortunately, this would mean a screened environment which is just what the suits don't want. But the workers do.

Hence selected workers in Brent (area) and Streatham, Balham and Wandsworth have been balloted on indefinite strike action. The figures were announced last Thursday 334 YES, 74 NO (these were probably Employment Service workers who still can't see what the fuss is about). It's a pity the votes weren't counted separately, then we could have targetted the weaker areas to raise awareness.

The Employer has apparently made a submission which will be looked at by the BA & ES GECs on Thursday 23rd, but we suspect that that will only be to remove the 2 offices from Pathfinder in the hope of finding somewhere quieter to pilot it, but that would leave them with another little problem - they've already gutted the ground floor of Streatham office (chucked all the screens into skips) in preparation for the big refurb. It'd cost a fortune to put it all back the way it was, plus of course being a huge retrograde step and being seen Politically as kowtowing to the Unions. Not sure what stage Brent is at with their refurb - CHRIS FRAUD (Trot) is blowing the hot air over in Brent, so it's difficult to sort out any real news from the rhetoric at that end.

The GECs must also make themselves aware, if they aren't already, that the workers will not be fobbed off on this one: they can't get us a decent wage and now the Employer wants us to work in a demonstrably dangerous environment. It's bollocks, isn't it? The Employer needs to be smacked with the 7 day statutory notice before someone gets killed.

And that is why The Odorous One and myself might be going on indefinite strike, thus using up some of Serwotkas salary, which he generously pays to the fighting fund.