A demonstration of Southwark claimants took place on Thursday 19th March outside Peckham Jobcentre Plus.
It was organised by London Unemployed Strategies (LUS) as part of the Unite Community National Day of Action Against Sanctions. The Southern and Eastern region of the TUC (SERTUC) were also out in force to support.
Many claimants and passers-by signed the national petition against sanctions and signed up for the ‘Stand Up For Your Rights’ sessions being organised by LUS.
Nick Phillips, LUS organiser, said: ‘We are delivering training sessions called ‘Stand Up For Your Rights’ for local claimants. Many of them feel they are being punished and having their benefits stopped, or ‘sanctioned’ as the Jobcentre calls it, for not being able to find the work they genuinely crave. Peckham Jobcentre Plus according to official DWP statistics is one of the worst in the whole country for sanctioning people and there is no good reason for this. We at LUS are trying to work cooperatively with the JCP and DWP staff unions, management and claimants in the borough to resolve this issue. So if there has not been a dramatic fall in the sanctions rate by the time the next stats come out, we will want to know why.’
One claimant said: ‘I have been screwed by this Jobcentre. In one week I was rejected for three different jobs I applied for. That very same week I was sanctioned for nine months for not looking hard enough for work. I have only just been allowed to sign on again and may never recover from the debt this has put me in.’
Later on, LUS took part in the London demonstration outside the DWP HQ in Westminster where the national petition was handed in.
Claimants wishing to sign up for the ‘Stand Up For Your Rights’ sessions organised by London Unemployed Strategies can contact Nick Phillips at the TUC on 020 7467 1283 or on firstname.lastname@example.org