Union campaigners say no to benefit sanctions

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Scottish campaigners from Unite the union will be protesting outside job centres today (Thursday, March 30) as part of a UK-wide day of action against benefit sanctions.

Unite Community – the section of the union for people not in work – has taken up the issue after hearing first-hand stories of how people are being left destitute as a result of having their social security taken away for ‘ridiculous reasons’.

Campaigners will be holding #No2Sanctions protests outside job centres in Irvine, Dundee, Edinburgh and Dunfermline, highlighting what they say is the horrific consequences of sanctions, as portrayed in Ken Loach’s award-winning film ‘I, Daniel Blake’.

Unite Scotland Community co-ordinator Jamie Caldwell said: “More and more people are facing benefit sanctions. Last year an estimated total of 25,000 benefit claimants were sanctioned across Scotland - many of whom were left with nothing.

“What kind of a country are we living in, where a government can deliberately set out to leave children without enough to eat? It’s heartbreaking for that to happen in developing countries, but it’s a source of national scandal and shame in a rich country like the UK.

“Rather than punishing the unemployed for not having a job the government should be helping people get jobs. People need a hand up – not a slap down.”

Unite Community are inviting people who have been affected by sanctions to share their stories, by going to their campaign website at www.unitetheunion.org/no2sanctions.

Jamie Caldwell said: “Sanctions are cruel and are being handed out for ridiculous reasons, like arriving minutes late to a meeting, not applying for jobs when waiting to start a new job, or missing an appointment on the day of the funeral of a close family member.

“We want to be able to capture those stories and use them in our campaign to end sanctions once and for all.”

Unite Community members will demonstrate in Edinburgh, outside High Riggs job centre in Edinburgh at 10.30am, and Lady Lawson job centre at 12noon, along with the campaign group ‘We Are All Daniel Blake’. They will be outside Irvine job centre at 11am, along with members of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity. Demonstrations will also take place at Dunfermline job centre at 11am, and Dundee job centre at 12 noon.