Deptford job centre occupation

Tormenting Kid: Hey look, it's Clean Shirt!
Mark Corrigan: Clean Shirt? What does that mean? Isn't that good?
Tormenting Kid: How do you get that shirt so clean, mate?
Mark Corrigan: Look, I know it must be difficult being a kid, not a lot of... schemes, but, y'know, I'm not the borough. I wish I was, but...
Tormenting Kid: Fuck off, Clean Shirt!

- Peep Show

For the last week, Lewisham's Anti-Cuts coalescence has occupied of the job centre in Deptford High Street. The squatters are protesting the erosion of public services in the borough and are preventing an established local entrepreneur (the founder of the Deptford Project) from opening a planned social enterprise at that location, which is fine, because it was probably only going to be for middle class people anyway [comments].

The protestors say [comments]:

It is a shame that people using the space at the moment are mostly white but we hope to attract as many people from the area as possible to get involved or just use the space.

The Social Center Plus is a welcoming space... you won't be kicked out for being middle class or an artist, we have a fair amount of both already.

51 comments:

Lou Baker said...

Perhaps if people like these morons spent less time sitting around whining and more time working and paying taxes then the country wouldn't be broke.

There is a small but vocal group in this country (and basically everyone in Scotland and Wales) who believe everything should be free. What these people do not understand is that someone actually has to pay for the free stuff. Whether it's the NHS, schools, libraries, benefits - these all cost lots of money.

And it's not the bunch of losers who can spare a week occupying a dilapidated building who are
paying for it. It's those of us who get up early, get home late and work hard.

So here's a thought, layabouts. Show your solidarity with the majority - who play their part by doing a job and paying their taxes and not by expecting their miserable failing lives to be fully subsidised by others.

max said...

Perfectly chosen quotation Nick, this time it's not even a caricature.

Joel Knight said...

Lou, who's the moron.

George Hallam said...

I couldn’t agree more.

George Hallam said...

Oh Dear, someone has posted before me.

I mean

@Lou Baker
I couldn’t agree more.

George Hallam said...

Since we agree that we should get people into work let’s think in concrete terms.

There are now number 1,448,600 people in the UK receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance. However, the actual number of people unemployed is 2.529 million (up 38,000 from last month). This is 8 percent of the economically active population.

Of course, in these flexible times not all jobs are full-time, so the unemployed are not the only people looking for work. In 2009 the Labour Force Survey estimated that there were 2.8 million underemployed people in the UK (9.0 per cent of the economically active population) In terms of extra hours wanted this was 31.6 million hours, the equivalent of 790,000 full time jobs.

What work is actually available at the moment? There are currently 496,000 vacancies in the UK.
Let’s ignore all those underemployed people who actually have jobs and are eager to get extra work and concentrate on those 2.5 million who don’t have any kind of job.

There are are 5 (five) unemployed for every job vacancy.

If you look at jobs offering 30+ hours of work per week then the latest figures from Jobcentre Plus shows that there were 233,000 new vacancies a month in December–February.

Now about the practical details of getting people into work so they can start paying income tax instead of just VAT. I think that, for a start, we should rebuild British manufacturing industry…

Alternatively, we could accept mass unemployment as inevitable and stop complaining about people being lazy.

Brockley Nick said...

On a more immediate, practical level, we could create some more job opportunities in Deptford, by freeing up the space that was going to be used for a viable enterprise.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps if people like these morons spent less time sitting around whining and more time working and paying taxes then the country wouldn't be broke"

For a load of half witted bollocks. You haven't got a scooby have you?

George Hallam said...

Brockley Nick said...
On a more immediate, practical level, we could create some more job opportunities in Deptford


I agree. What about opening a Jobcentre Plus?

Anonymous said...

@George @Nick

Or open another bookies. There aren't that many on the north end of the high street.

Brockley Nick said...

@George - There is a viable social enterprise ready to occupy that space, creating jobs in the process. Simple issue - free up the space, let the enterprise open. Create the jobs.

mk said...

From the looks of it though Nick (ie, the comments on Crosswhatfields, so admittedly mostly hearsay and rumour), there seem to be objections over the space being used to house another cafe/gallery, which wouldn't do much to help the community as such.

Brockley Nick said...

Yes, so I see. A ridiculous argument on so many levels...

1. It's not up to the occupiers to decide what the appropriate number of cafes / galleries is right for Deptford.

2. If you care about local jobs (which they say they do) then you should support local job creation - not try to decide what the 'right' kind of jobs are.

3. There is no displacement here. Nothing was forced out to make way for a new cafe. The Council shut the job centre and it isn't coming back.

If you read the comments on that blog and others on this topic, you'll see that the comments are mainly dressed up in class-war rhetoric (ironically, since the occupation appears mainly to be a middle class exercise) and hopeless naivety - some have asked why she can't simply work with them to set the place up.

max said...

Don't get me started on florists, I'd stick them all against the wall.

Greeny Red said...

Working class people don't drink coffee or like art! They only like chips and Marx!

The comments from the occupiers are so patronising it's unbelievable.

What the f@~k do they know about people like me? They're middle class kids and die-hard trots in comfortable jobs having a laugh. I don't mind that. But not if it means shutting out a proper business.

It's not like there aren't plenty of other places they could have gone for.

BrockleyBiker said...

"1. It's not up to the occupiers to decide what the appropriate number of cafes / galleries is right for Deptford."

Actually community self-determination is exactly what it should be about.

Brockley Nick said...

It's not community self-determination though is it?

Community self-determination requires consulting the community, lobbying through local political channels and persuading people of your case. Hearts and minds. That sort of thing.

By their own accounts, the people involved are not representative of the community they say they want to represent.

Anonymous said...

YEAH! Bring back NATIONAL SERVICE!

mk said...

Perhaps not, but you could also argue that it's only those that have the necessary funds and resources that get to decide what becomes of town centre premises. I can understand the desire to use a fairly ample space to create opportunities for what has been, and still is on the whole, a pretty disadvantaged community.

Say it were to run educational programmes for example, that might do even more to enhance the prospects of those struggling to find employment.

Jacko Spinning said...

How do those comments read if the word 'white' is exchanged with 'black'?

Brockley Nick said...

@MK - OK, interesting example. If a group decided that rather than spend their time making banners, they wanted to run maths classes for local kids on a voluntary basis, it would not be difficult to find support from the private, state or voluntary sectors. They could approach a local library, a landlord with an empty building, a school, a church, etc, etc.

They could find a space for free and maybe even source some funding for materials. They might be asked what their qualifications for teaching kids were and they might be asked to do CRB checks, but basically, they'd get a lot of support for an initiative like that.

Sites like this one would help them promote that initiative and spread the word.

Everyone would applaud it and they might even get a visit from the Mayor, the lucky things.

That's what people who care about doing something positive for their community do. There a loads of groups in Lewisham doing just that sort of thing.

little bit confused said...

maybe I missed something but can someone please explain to me what exactly the occupiers are offering to the local community? Something tangible?...

max said...

They raise awareness of class consciousness.

little bit confused said...

@ Max
haha! just what the people of Deptford were crying out for...
(wait, that was a joke right?)

a classless ferret said...

@ little bit confused

From the website....

we want this to be a free space for the community to use and we invite everyone inside with their ideas for the building and the wider world, or even just to chat over a cuppa. We plan caf├ęs, film nights, workshops, and a million other things on which we’d love to hear your ideas!"

How it will remain 'free' isn't really explained but maybe good karma will pay for the rent, tea bags and DVD's..

max said...

Solidarity with the tea-leaf pickers comrades exploited by the multinationals of middle class indulgence!
Revolution never tasted better.

PG Tipster said...

Down with Twinings!!

max said...

And solidarity also with the farmers, I'm having mine with milk.

moob said...

Won't someone think of the poor cows?

max said...

Burgers too?
Brilliant.
Be it a message to McDonald's.

Anonymous said...

Apart from the sanitation.....what have the Romans ever done for us?!

Anonymous said...

Oh, its the same people who are developing Martins Yard.

Vesta Curry said...

Any of youse thinking of marching next Saturday? ... or are you just too happy living in Brockley and doodling on the interweb?

horizontal riot said...

Happy here thanks. Try not to smash the place up this time please.

Vesta Curry said...

... People call me villain oh it’s such a shame,
Maybe it’s my clothes must be to blame,
I don’t even care if I look a mess,
Don’t wanna be a sucker like all the rest ...

Lou Baker said...

@George

As you say there are enough job vacancies to put 20% of the unemployed back in to work immediately. But that doesn't happen because the system is flawed.

Firstly we all have to recognise that there are some unemployed people - a small but significant minority - who don't want to work. There are those who refuse vacancies they feel are beneath them and there are those who aren't prepared to commute or move. The benefits system does not currently adequately tackle these people.

Secondly, the biggest part of the problem, is those who're unemployed but want to work and just need help getting a job. The system fails these people too. JobCentres are horrid places - it's a one size fits all system, whether you're 16 and unqualified or 50 with 30 years experience. The staff are unfriendly, unhelpful and rude. The process grinds you down - it's bleak and depressing. And I say this from experience. I lost my job when my employer shut down in the last recession. My two months dealing with the JobCentre was the most miserable of my life - and I ended up getting back on my feet myself because those useless tosspots weren't going to help me.

Some people on here defend the failing state institutions which let down the unemployed, which lead to our kids failing at schools and which give our pensioners MRSA in hospital. Not me. These services cost us a fortune - and they are substandard. Job Centres - fail. Schools - fail. NHS - fail.

If the government is going to take half of my money - and they all do - then I expect all schools to be good. I expect all patients to be treated quickly and with dignity and respect. I expect all unemployed people to be helped back in to work. I expect all prisoners to be rehabilitated. All roads to be properly maintained. All parks to be dog shit free. I don't get any of this stuff - and it's frankly not good enough.

We should all be angry because the government - all governments - take the lion's share of our incomes and give us substandard services as a result.

Labour must take its share of the blame for chucking money at everything without ascertaining what the problem is. And so must the unions - who are stuck in the 70s and flat refuse any reforms on account of the fact that they're lead by a bunch of Marxist layabout dimwits.

I say enough. I want public services which deliver a decent service AND provide value for money. The two are not mutually exclusive - despite what the beardy wierdy corduroy brigade would have you believe.

Viva la revolution.

Anonymous said...

Blimey Lou, not sure whose side you're on, but in case you didn't know, everything you want is about to be privatised. You'll still be paying 50% tax (lucky you to earn that much) and some fat bastards will be creaming off profits from it more than Barry Quirk ever dreamed of...

Bakerloo said...

"I expect all schools to be good. I expect all patients to be treated quickly and with dignity and respect. I expect all unemployed people to be helped back in to work. I expect all prisoners to be rehabilitated. All roads to be properly maintained. All parks to be dog shit free"

Yes obviously. You sound like a middle of the road politician giving a crowd pleasing speech to a selected audiance of the party faithful. A standing ovation is certain.

But how will you acheive that? Simply handing it over to a private contractor will sort it? Private good, Public bad is not a policy, It's rhetoric. The answer may well be a different mix to what we have now but simply saying that our public institutions are useless is simply not correct. Because they fail sometimes is not evidence that they fail all the time. Because private companies sometimes fleece their customers is not evidence that ALL companies do that...you see?

You sound as dogmatic as George (Osbourne and Hallam)

mk said...

Nick: That's one way of doing it I suppose.

But I think even in its current form, the idea of having a space in the centre of Deptford that is a kind of "open door" for anyone that wants to use the space in various different ways, without having to pay over the odds for the privilege, is a sound one. It depends how the group occupying the job centre intend to run the place, and it's perhaps too early to tell, but if it means that there is a space where people in the community can interact with eachother (exchange ideas, run talks etc), then on the face of it, that seems like a worthy cause.

Anonymous said...

And of cause union leaders don't 'fleece' the public/tax payers at every opportunity for political reasons.

The glory days of regular lengthy transport strikes yes lets bring those glory days back.

I do get peed off with certain people claiming the deprived unionised 'working class' as their own.

Can I remind people it was unions who in the 50's & 60's were at the forefront of getting rid of the 'foreigners' ie blacks.

It was proud working class London dockers who marched on parliament and on seeing a black person sang 'Bye, bye blackbird'.

It was the men of the working class assisted by their unions who kept woman in their place for years with differential pay.

The arguement that people don't have the money to start an enterprise is bollards. A number of our major stores started out as market stalls.

We have been fleeced for years by poor management and bad work practices in the public sector.

What the brain dead can't get in their heads is that the public sector has always been dependent on the private sector to fund its spending.

How is it people who claim to have no money and are hard done by seem to know what others should do with their money?

Anonymous said...

No doubt the community spirit of these free loaders will vanish as soon as the electricity bill arrives?

Anonymous said...

You betcha.

Anonymous said...

The only job creation the occupiers seem to be providing is banner making.

Is that classed as manufacturing or a media service industry?

Mb said...

Yes exactly, it's complicated. What the brain dead don't realise is that the public/private debate is just a dick measuring contest. The private sector are just as interested in spending public money. The idea that they work in hermetically sealed markets is nonsense. Who do you think builds, maintains and renews our railways? Lu? Nr? Yes kind off. Largley through private contractors. Who's to blame if it goes pete tong? Sometimes one or the other, usually a bit of both.

Plenty of private contractors are lining their pockets believe me and with far less scrutiny.

UnemployedforNow. said...

I agree with some of your comments Lou,as ive noticed now they try to find a way to stop your benefits rather than genuinely try to find you a job,its all if you dont go on this course or take this job your benefits will be stopped.

Anonymous said...

Anyone Marching on central london on Saturday, re cuts?

Typical Brockley Resident said...

Central London? Can't they hold the demonstration somewhere more accessible?

Sue said...

@VestaCurry and @anon 18:16 Most definitely!

Anonymous said...

Good to hear Sue.

Pete said...

'Community' is just a term these kindergarten radicals like to use when they think they've got the mob under their control.

They should go back to suckling on their Chomskys and stop pretending to change the world.

Anonymous said...

http://marchforthealternative.org.uk/

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