Presented to PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka by Wales disability activists on 19th November 2012 in Cardiff.
Note: we called ourselves DPAC Cymru – Disabled People Against Cuts Wales – but a few days after we published this statement, DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) expelled us from the organisation.
Disabled People Against Cuts Cymru response to DPAC-PCS-Black Triangle Joint Statement
on Campaigning Against Welfare Cuts
Presented to PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka by DPAC Cymru on 19th November 2012
Disabled People Against Cuts Cymru welcomes this Joint Statement as a crucial first step towards a united opposition to the Government’s social security cuts. However, we feel that there are still some issues which need to be resolved.
We greatly regret that disabled people in Wales and their anti-cuts groups (e.g. DPAC Caerdydd, DPAC Cymru) were not consulted and thus had no opportunity to contribute to the Joint Statement.
According to the DWP’s own figures, 73 disabled people a week die after having their benefits stopped by the DWP. The Joint Statement contains no action plans or strategies for preventing this inhumanity.
Many of the people affected by the welfare “reforms” are ex-service personnel who became disabled as a result of their military service. We are concerned by how many Appeal Tribunal Panels are finding that DWP and Atos staff are breaching the DWP’s own policies and rules by not taking into account letters from the Serving Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA) when making decisions on awarding benefits. DPAC Cymru believes this is a fundamental breach of the government’s much vaunted Military Covenant.
DPAC Cymru believes that PCS as a union and disabled people’s anti-cuts organisations should work together to boycott implementation of the Welfare reforms.
- We are not advocating that individual members of DWP staff refuse to stop disabled people’s benefits without the backing of their Union; we believe that PCS as a union should boycott the implementation of the Welfare reforms, in the same way that the teaching unions in Scotland organised a successful boycott of SATS. Government policy cannot be implemented without workers to implement it.
We acknowledge that that the DWP is a brutal employer whose staff are poorly-paid and badly treated, and we recognise how distressing it must be to have to make decisions which may contribute directly to a person’s death. DPAC Cymru believes that, as the effect of making such decisions cannot be ‘left at the office door,’ a mass refusal to implement these cuts would result in a significant improvement in DWP staff’s morale and well-being both in their work and in their personal and family lives.
We therefore do not accept that a Union-led campaign to boycott the stopping of disabled people’s benefits would inevitably result in them losing their jobs.
That being said, we do not believe it is reasonable to minimise the all too real effects that these cuts have on the lives of hundreds of thousands of disabled people, which include destitution, homelessness and the deaths of 73 disabled people each and every week.
DPAC Cymru has serious concerns that while the Joint Statement supports peaceful direct action against politicians who have supported these policies and against those companies that stand to profit from them, there is no clarification as to whether PCS respects the right of disabled people to take peaceful direct action against the DWP. This is particularly concerning given that several vulnerable disabled activists were harassed by police, including in the middle of the night, over Facebook posts critical of PCS and DWP.
DPAC Cymru would like to see a revised Joint Statement that includes the voices of disabled people in Wales since responsibility for health and social care is devolved to the National Assembly, and that commits PCS to an action-plan to campaign for a boycott.
Disabled People Against Cuts Cymru (DPAC Cymru) is an autonomous sister organization to DPAC and Black Triangle, committed to working together with them and with PCS in unity against the Cuts.
The original DPAC – PCS – Black Triangle Joint Statement can be found here: http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/news_and_events/pcs_comment/index.cfm/id/9D5169BA-F1FA-40AF-B03E6904B252800B