Unite Community members from across the North East joined together with disability gropups and a range of other campaigning groups to protest on the 11th of July outside Durham Jobcentre against the draconian cuts to the welfare state seen under the coalition government. A combination of the cuts and a sanctions regime designed to unfairly force people off benefits have led to a million people being forced to use foodbanks in the last 12 months, a disgraceful figure in one of the richest nations in the world.
Before the demonstration, a letter was given to jobcentre staff explaining that the demonstration was not aimed at them, but rather at the cruel policies the government is forcing them to implement. PCS – the union which represents jobcentre staff – is fully supportive of the campaigning work Unite Community are doing in this area, and have jointly produced guidance for claimants to ensure they know their rights when threatened with a sanction. The guidance can be downloaded by clicking here.
As well as Unite Community members from the Durham, Teesside and Tyne and Wear areas, the demonstration was joined by Unite members attending a political school before the Durham Miners’ Gala, emphasising the importance of making sure that welfare cuts are seen as a purely political decision rather than believing the lie that they are in any way necessary.
In total, well over a hundred protestors attended the domonstration at its peak, completely blocking the road outside the jobcentre. Prominent at the protest was the new Durham Unite Community Banner which was just finished in time for the demonstration, which was it’s first – but certainly not it’s last – outing for a large demonstration.
Below are a short video clip of the demonstration and images from the demonstration.