UNITE Community membership

Pasted below is the email from the UNITE community membership campaigns officer to unemployed activists who will remain nameless. UNITE are a wealthy union who took money from unemployed people with the promise of representation and went on to support Labour’s election strategy which guaranteed to continue with the reforms destroying their lives. Apparently the money they took from unemployed people wasnt fro membership. That this work should have been confidential, carried out by someone qualified, and not farmed out to unemployed activists wasnot a concern…THat the only representation these people got was exploitation for Unite campaigns and unqualified advice gleaned from er…..twitter….
Anyway I need this email here for a blog post.
OK the reason I’ve been hassling you over the last few days is this:
When I’m not rambling away on Twitter or writing for CiF, I work for Unite the Union as part of their community membership programme. It’s the part of the union open to people who aren’t in work, be they students, the disabled, the retired, carers, or people who simply can’t get a job (because there aren’t any).
As you can imagine, we are getting bombarded with calls from people who have been put in workfare schemes, usually MWA, and are desperate to avoid them. I’ve been giving the best advice I can but most of it is just bits and bobs from your website and quizzing your twitter account.
We’d really like to write some literature to be able to give our members about workfare and possible ways they can get out of it, and how to deal with their job centres (many of which seem to be pretty economical with the truth about it all). You’ve done so much work on this that we’d like to be able to work with you: referring people to you, crediting you with the advice and so on – and, essentially, ensuring that what we’re saying is helpful and accurate.
Is this something you could help with? Do you offer workshops or anything so people can get more clued up about workfare (i.e. me)?
Also I was wondering if you could help me with a couple of people who have asked me for advice recently:
1. I had a girl contact me who has been unemployed for about 18 months. She’s currently volunteering for Sue Ryder and is now receiving management training. She has written to her job centre telling them not to contact her via any medium other than letters (as Consent advise), but she has nonetheless been told she has to go on MWA. I have told her to write to the job centre and ask them to explain exactly why she has been selected for MWA, as I thought the government guidelines stated that people who already volunteer should not be considered for MWA. Was that right?
2. A man who has been unemployed for a significant amount of time (about 2 decades) contacted me stating that he wrote to his job centre withdrawing his consent to share his details with third parties. The manager refused to accept his letter, saying it would make him ineligible for MWA and he would be sanctioned as a result. Is this right? Also, he’s in the process of starting his own business and has a business plan, bank account etc. Obviously the work programme would put a big spanner in the works for him.
Any help you could give would be much appreciated!
Ellie OHagan
Unite campaigns officer
Community Support Unit
Unite the union
128 Theobalds Rd
London WC1X 8TN

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