Benefits Street producers have a bad day at the office

Benefits Street protest

Protestors (and press) gather outside the London offices of Benefits Street producers Love Productions. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

Ahead of the second episode of Channel 4‘s controversial documentary series Benefits Street, the production company responsible had their offices picketed on Monday afternoon by protestors angered by last week’s first episode. Around 30 people gathered outside the London offices of Love Productions with placards – “Bankers are the real scroungers” – and chants – “Love Productions, Channel 4, spreading lies about the poor” and “Love Productions stop your hate, trying to smash the welfare state”. It was never like this with The Great British Bake Off (which Love Productions also makes). Pilgrim Tucker of the Unite union, who co-ordinated the protest, said they were moved to protest because Benefits Street “felt like just the latest and one of the most extreme in a long stream of programmes which seek to demonise people who are reliant on state benefits.” She added: “To focus on people who are essentially drug addicts and criminals, and to then call the programme Benefits Street, has the suggestion that most people who are relying on benefits are in some way like the people they are showing. That type of public opinion then justifies the action the government is taking which is to really heavily cut those welfare benefits.” Production staff kept their counsel and stayed out of the way – and the range – of the protestors, who at one point risked being outnumbered by the media. If the programme makers knew the Facebook organised protest was coming, then the Folio Society – based next door – looked more taken aback, with windows promptly shut to block out the noise.

Originally published in the Guardian.

Welfare Advice Training

Venue: Unite the Union, London Regional Office

Dates: 6/1/2014 to 7/1/2014

The welfare advice training was held at Unite the Union’s regional office in London.  Volunteers from Unite community centre Barnsley, (Richard Vivian and M. Tariq), designed the training which lasted for two days.  In the training we made sure that all the aspects of welfare rights and benefits were covered also with the emphases on what benefit advice is about, being a competent advisor and how the advice should be given.  The core values, campaigning around benefits and protecting client’s rights and advisor client privilege (Data Protection) was also explained.  16 people attended the training and the venue and the arrangements for the training were fantastic and state of the art equipment was offered for the IT support.  Pilgrim, the organiser of the course did a marvellous job over all.

The first day of training involved the introductions, aims of the course and overview of the welfare Reform Act, legal framework, contributory/non-contributory and means tested benefits, Income Support, Job seeker Allowance, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.  Second day of training commenced with emphases on how to give advice and what factors a good advisor should consider when giving advice, ESA, Pension Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Tax Credits and Universal Credit.  Different tactics were discussed on how to retrieve the information from the client and act appropriately.  Different examples were in place to calculate different benefits and debates among the students were encouraged to elaborate on benefits, effects on society, sharing of personal experience and knowledge.

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Barnsley Unite Community branch take campaign to the streets

On Monday and Tuesday (13/14 January 2014) Barnsley Unite Community branch will be taking the campaign to support people who have been victimised by Tory and Lib Dem welfare, benefits and job cuts into the communities.

From 11am on Monday (13 January) Unite Community will have a stall in Peel Square, Barnsley Town Centre, and will be touring local town centres and estates on Tuesday (14 January).

Unite Community will set up a stall in the town and will have campaign materials, and representatives from other organisations, including the Anti-Bedroom Tax Campaign, to help spread a positive New Year message.

Unite community coordinator for Yorkshire Joe Rollin said: “It is a disgrace that in one of the richest countries in the world increasing numbers of people are facing hardship brought about by tougher regimes in jobcentres, leading to benefit sanctions for vulnerable people, including people in work. Many are turning to food banks to feed their families.

“Cuts have also decimated support and advice organisations so Unite Community is attempting to get people working together and supporting the building of collective community based solutions to these bread and butter issues.

“Unite community has linked up with the Gateway food bank in Barnsley and we have donated food paid for by Unite’s industrial members. We also refer many completely destitute people to the food bank who regularly come into our community centre. We are focusing on debt issues too, which are particularly relevant after the expensive Christmas period.”


For more information please contact Joe Rollin Unite Community coordinator on
07711 375 536 or

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1

Notes to editors
The Unite Community Centre is open every Wednesday and Thursday from (time???). Unite Community Support Centre, NUM Headquarters, 2 Huddersfield Road, Barnsley, S70 2LS.

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

Our Community Centre is Open every Wednesday and Thursday
Unite Community Support Centre,
NUM Headquarters,
2 Huddersfield Road,
S70 2LS
Tel: 01226 215557

Holocaust Memorial Day

We are going to be displaying posters and handing out booklets to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day in our Barnsley Community Centre on the 29th and 30th of January.

Please take a little time to read the stories linked below:

Esther Brunstein the daughter of a Trade Union activist and survivor of the Lodz Ghetto and Auschwitz.

2nd May 1933 about the dissolution of German Trade Unions.

Holocaust Memorial Day booklets:

HMD Posters

HMD Website:

HMD Vimeo Channel:

HMD Media:


Campaigners take cuts protest to Durham streets (From The Northern Echo)

The Northern Echo: Campaigners take cuts protest to Durham streets
Campaigners take cuts protest to Durham streets

VOLUNTEERS from a new campaigning community centre took to the streets to highlight problems caused by welfare cuts.

Unite community volunteers based at the new part-time community and advice centre at Red Hills, in Durham City, staged an information event in Durham Market Place on Monday (January 6).

They handed out leaflets and offered advice on avoiding debt.

They say the Government’s welfare reforms are putting people in need.

Robbie Faulds, one of the volunteers, said: “Everyone we spoke to was in agreement that people are hurting, especially after Christmas.

“Even if they weren’t experiencing difficulties themselves, they invariably knew a friend or family member who would benefit from the advice we will be offering at the centre and understood the need to campaign against the cuts which are so damaging to the most vulnerable in our society.”

The Community Support Centre is open from 10am to 3pm every Wednesday and Thursday. For more information, visit

Original article here:

Grandad shoots himself after finding out his benefits were being stopped

Shaun Pilkington, 58, was sent a letter saying he was to lose his ­Employment and Support ­Allowance, which he got after a long-term illness

Tributes: Flowers at Shaun's home
Tributes: Flowers at Shaun’s home

A grandad who had just found out his benefits were being stopped shot himself dead – after telling friends he was “unable to cope”.

Shaun Pilkington, 58, was sent a letter saying he was to lose his ­Employment and Support ­Allowance, which he got after a long-term illness.

He was told he would have to be reassessed and needed to prove he was eligible. But as the hearing approached, friends said Shaun, a licensed gamekeeper, became discouraged.

Days later he called police and said he was about to kill himself. They found him dead at his flat.

A neighbour said: “There were armed police everywhere. Sadly he’d gone through with his threat.

“It is a tragedy. He was upset because he got a letter saying his ESA was being stopped.

“He was pretty down about it and said he was finding it hard to cope with the decision. He was a lovely man. It is not fair what the Government is doing.”

Well-wishers left floral tributes and cans of Stella outside Shaun’s home in Beighton, Sheffield.

The neighbour added: “It all got on top of him – having no money for Christmas and being warned he’d lose his benefits.

“It’s wrong what they’re doing, targeting people on benefits. We haven’t got a lot of money but the Government seems intent on cutting it.”

Registered gun-keeper Shaun was divorced and had two grown-up children and a two-month-old grandson.

Another neighbour, Shani Hird, said yesterday: “We have lost a dear neighbour who shot himself due to his money being stopped. His appeal was due next week but he felt he could not carry on.

“This is so sad. This isn’t the first time this has happened and it won’t be the last. I think it is terrible the Government’s benefit cuts are causing vulnerable people so much pain and misery.”

Police yesterday confirmed there were no suspicious circumstances.

Shaun’s estranged family was too upset to talk. He joins a growing list of people who have taken their lives since the Tory-led Coalition employed private firm Atos to reassess thousands of people on long-term benefits.

Blind Tim Salter, 53, of Kinver, Staffordshire, died after being deemed fit to work. A coroner ruled the move to axe his benefit had contributed to his suicide.

Edward Jacques, 47, of Sneinton, Nottingham, took a fatal overdose after his benefit payments were stopped.

Jobless Richard ­Sanderson, 44, of ­Southfields, south-west London, stabbed himself in the heart. Unemployed electrician Lee Robinson, 39, of Crawley, Sussex, also took his own life.

For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritans branch or click here for details.

Originally published in The Mirror or 5 Jan 2014- Link

Unite Community wants to help you

We are offering free advice and translations for Polish and Russian speakers living in Doncaster.

We can help you with, filling out forms, work place disputes, claiming benefits and much more.

Please come along to our free advice session in the Doncaster central lending library from 13-14pm on Saturday the 25th of January to see how we can help you.

For more information please call Tom on 07849039427 or write to him at

Download the leaflet here: Unite community wants to help you

Campaign Bootcamp

We discussed this briefly at the last team meeting, it now looks as though Pauline Doyle has struck a deal where we can sponsor four places to Bootcamp.

The organisers are ideally looking for people who are young (I think that is a requirement) from outside the M25, when I spoke to the organisers about 95% of applicants were from London. They are also hoping to increase the number of people from BAME backgrounds and those without a university degree. Though our work we must have some excellent people out there.

The website is –

If you know anyone who is keen to apply or anyone you think should apply please put in touch with me and I can have a chat with them

Coca Cola in Wakefield urged to rethink compulsory job losses

Coca Cola Enterprises (CCE) in Wakefield has been urged to rethink its compulsory redundancy drive, as more than enough staff have come forward to go voluntarily.
Unite, the country’s largest union, called on the company to rethink its ‘rigid’ stance on seeking 42 job losses at its new automated warehouse in Kenmore Road.
The job losses are made up of 30 volunteers and 12 compulsory – but Unite says that ten more workers have come forward for voluntary redundancy with similar skills, so there is no need for all the compulsory redundancies.
To reinforce the message, Unite will be arranging a demonstration at the Cola Cola site on the industrial park, Wakefield WF2 0XR between 17.00 -20.00 on Thursday 19 December.
Unite regional officer Sarah Mitchell said: “Throughout the consultation process, Unite has urged CCE to ‘do the right thing’ and allow those who volunteer for redundancy to go, thus ensuring there is no need for compulsory redundancies.
“Coca Cola has received sufficient volunteers to allow them to retain the right number of staff with the right skills, but it is still using this restructuring process  as an opportunity to make compulsory redundancies, and we believe this is just plain wrong.
“Unite recognises the important role that CCE plays in the local Wakefield economy – but what  it is proposing is too rigid and needs an urgent rethink. 
According to the company’s website, the Wakefield plant was established in 1989 and employs 466 employees. It is the largest soft drinks plant by volume in Europe.

Great work this morning from our Leeds Unite Community Members

Fantastic Solidarity action this morning from our Leeds Unite Community Members. Unite Community members teamed up with one of our Geographical Branch’s to help Organise and Recruit at Emis in Leeds a company which plans to make their workers suffer next year when the governments compulsory pension scheme comes into being. Community braved the freezing temperatures to distribute the leaflet below to workers at EMIS on both sites great work which we plan to repeat again next year. Leaflet below, and pictures attached.

The EMIS Pension Scheme:
For a company pension and a living wage!
For the first time EMIS has announced a pension scheme, which is a great step forward.  We will pay 2% of our pay and EMIS (as our employer) must legally make a further 2% contribution. However, the company has announced that they intend to pay their “contribution” at our expense…

“…this year there will be a proportionally reduced amount available for pay rises for 2014.” – Neil Laycock, Managing Director

EMIS employees need a decent pay rise in 2014 after having years of below inflation pay rises, which have seen wages actually fall relative to prices. Inflation is currently 2.7% but food prices are rising at a rate that is closer to 5% a year whilst we have seen energy prices rise by as much as 10%!

But whilst we have suffered a deterioration of living standards EMIS has experienced a tremendous growth in profitability and revenues thanks to our efforts in making EMIS Web and other projects a success. In fact we have been so successful that the company has increased its dividend to shareholders by 13% this year! Why not pay a smaller dividend and fund a decent pay rise for EMIS workers? Why should our living standards stagnate, leaving many employees in debt or barely able to afford more than the essentials whilst shareholders rake in vast profits?

We don’t think this is fair. As such we believe we are being modest when we ask for:

1) A well funded pension scheme.

2) An above inflation pay rise to make up for years of stagnant and declining pay that reflects rising living costs and growing profitability.

3) The right to a Recognised Union to bargain every year for greater benefits from a position of collective strength rather than individual weakness.

We, as EMIS workers, are the ones who make this company successful but we need a recognised union to be able to claim our fair share. Join our union, UNITE, and talk to your friends/colleagues in your team/department about also joining so we can really win higher pay and greater benefits through collective bargaining.

Joining is an EASY 5 minute task, is 100% CONFIDENTIAL and is your LEGAL RIGHT.
Simply go online to join at

Download the flyer: emis

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