Protest 1

Campaigners staged an ad-hoc protest at an Edinburgh job centre yesterday, after they complained about the treatment of a jobseeker earlier in the day.

Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty claimed management at the High Riggs Jobcentre closed the building because of the protest. The Department for Work and Pensions claim the building was fully operational.  

Campaigners say the protest started after a Jobcentre staff member questioned Michael Carmichael from the ECAP, who was accompanying a claimant to a Jobseeker’s Agreement review.

Carmichael claims he was asked for ID by staff in the Jobcentre and when he refused security asked him to leave. Staff then phoned the police.

Carmichael, who regularly accompanies claimants to meetings at the Jobcentre, said: “There is no requirement to provide ID. I’d accompanied people at this Jobcentre dozens of times before.

“The DWP have guidelines which say claimants have the right to be accompanied and represented by anyone they wish. So they’re breaking their own rules. Our attitude is that this is just to try and intimidate people into not being accompanied.”

The sit-in lasted for around three hours. A spokesman for the DWP said the protest started after the claimant was put on a community work placement: “There are near-record levels of people in employment in Scotland, with almost 60,000 more people in private-sector jobs over the last year.

“Community Work Placements help long-term unemployed people gain valuable work experience and skills which improves their chances of securing a job. The placements must benefit local communities and importantly, do not replace existing roles.”

Protest 2

THE Glasgow offices of Triage, a company used by the Department for Work and Pensions, were briefly occupied by campaigners protesting at the use of sanctions and workfare, the Government’s unpaid work-for-benefits scheme. 

Four campaigners sneaked their way into the office before launching the protest. 

The Government’s workfare programme sees the long-term unemployed expected to work 30 hours a week for 26 weeks in return for their benefits.

Dr Sarah Glynn from the Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network said Triage was “absolutely complicit in the work programme, making people work for nothing and sanctions which leave people destitute and can cause serious injuries and death”.

After the occupation the organisers then moved on to Glasgow’s Buchanan Street where a crowd formed. Anti-austerity campaigner Sean Clerkin said: “This company makes £11 million a year; 1.75 million people went through the work programme and only three per cent get permanent jobs. It’s a scandal.”

Grace Kennedy, managing director of Triage Central, said: “We’re very proud of our innovative approaches to employment and training that works both for individuals and the companies looking to employ them.”