A sign of the times in the North East – and confirming the views of Louise Baldock, Labour MP for Stockton South, posted yesterday https://unemployedtynewear.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/when-is-a-job-not-a-job/
I was in my local Jobcentre this morning, and while waiting for my appointment whiled away a few minutes searching the jobpoint.
For anyone who doesn’t know, the good old days of vacancy boards on the walls are gone, replaced by these horrible job points – computer terminals that never quite work properly, and wont let you check for jobs in nearby towns (presumably you have to go to those towns in person and check in their jobcentre – another victory for DWP technology).
Anyway, I search ‘All Jobs’ and the screen gives me the top 100 local jobs, 8 to a page.
Almost all of the first 2 pages (14 out of 16 ‘jobs’) were filled by that most ubiquitous of non-jobs, the self-employed leaflet distributor.
Worse, half of them were actually the same advert, posted under different headings – so for example click on ‘Retail Operative’ and you get leaflet distributor again – same ad, same company.
I didn’t count them, but there was a fair smattering of other leaflet distributors amongst the remaining 84 of the top 100 jobs, along with other non-job favorites like catalogue distributors (apparently a seperate discipline) and commission-based jobs (mainly selling door-to-door).
If things continue at this rate, before long I’ll be able to go into the jobcentre and every job will be a non-job. The whole city will be busily non-employed delivering leaflets to each other.
Ok… round 2. I’ve now discarded the submissive attitude adopted for the initial interview and now its time to enter angry, cynical bastard mode (admittedly this seems to be pretty much my default state nowadays).
The adviser was allowed to play his hand in the first interview, and he proved himself to be one of those who would, if given the opportunity, steamroller the claiment into signing a Jobseeker’s Agreement (JSAg) designed to set them up for sanctions, presumably with no qualms about the ensuing hardship their actions would cause.
Remember this, and remember it well – it’s YOUR life they will be disrupting, possibly destroying. They will continue on their merry way, drawing their rather good wage and probably basking in the praise they get for hitting their sanction targets at your expense.
So what are YOU going to do about it ? Because its only YOU who can do anything about it.
Luckily its not so hard as you might think – or might be encouraged to think. Of course it helps if you’re a naturally stroppy person. Actually, I’m not, and once upon a time I’d have probably have allowed them to steamroller me too, but the passage of the long, hard years, etc – basically I’ve learnt how to play the part, studied how they play their parts, learnt the facts that they should know but so often seem ignorant of – pretty inexcusable when that knowledge should be central to the proper execution of their jobs, but there you go. It’s something you can use.
Knowledge is power, and can give you a little leverage – it’s up to YOU how you use it to best effect.
Archimedes said “Give me a firm place to stand, and I will move the Earth.” That’s a little ambitious perhaps – I’d settle for helping a few more cracks appear in the edifice – it may not be as dramatic as burning down the Jobcentre, but chipping away here and there has its effect.
Not much of one if it’s just me, but what if YOU join in, and YOU and YOU ? And all the other YOUs who accept having deadly JSAgs foisted on them without argument, then whinge about it afterwards ?
If everyone refused to sign sub-standard JSAgs at the initial appointment and took the adviser to a second session, that would instantly impose extra strain on the system – and probably on the advisers too. More cracks for you to insert your metaphorical crowbar into.
But its down to YOU to act in your own best interests. All I can do is record how I’ve gone about things – hopefully it may inspire YOU and give YOU a few ideas.
Anyhow, enough about YOU, how was I getting on back at the Jobcentre ?
Mr Submissive safely back in his box, Mr Bastard takes to the stage. As the adviser’s only previous experience of me is as the former, this apparant change of personality may throw him a bit.
Incidentally, I find it useful to take a few props along. Print out anything you think you might be able to quote at them, put them in a file, then add enough extra sheets (blank if you like) to give it a bit of weight so that it gives a satisfying thump when you dump it on their desk. If they query it, say “Just a few notes…I’ve been looking into the legal implications” or something on those lines. Leave it vague – let their imaginations fill in the blanks, however erroneously.
A reporter’s notepad is also useful. Put it on their desk to make sure they see it, but transfer it to your lap, out of their sight, to make notes. Actually, you dont even have to make notes – just appear to be doing so. doodle, scribble, whatever, it’s the fact that you appear to be making notes that is important. Once again, encourage their imagination to jump to conclusions. Oh, and dont forget a pen – you kind of lose points if you have to ask to borrow one of theirs.
The notepad can also be used to disrupt their flow, should you wish to. Just say “Sorry… could you repeat that ? I ought to make a note of that,” and then scribble something on your pad for a while.
Mr Bastard also attempts to take control. Mr Bastard is right in from the word go. He points out that the JSAg is a contract and that under English common law there are certain niceties that must be observed if it is to be considered valid, does Mr Adviser not agree ? Mr Adviser has obviously never given a moments thought to the subject, is caught on the back foot, and resorts to umming and ahhing.
“Well it is, and it does,” Mr Bastard informs him, and moves on to the next issue.
You might recall from Part 2 that this adviser changed one of my specified employment fields on the JSAg to “assembly”, despite me pointing out that not only did I have no experience in that field, I wasn’t even clear what “assembly” actually entails.
Mr Bastard points out again that he knows nothing of this field, and demands it is changed…but not back to the original job, instead he is willing to allow “Retail” to be inserted instead.
In actual fact, Mr. Bastard’s experience of retail is pretty much limited to working stalls at markets and festivals – still, that’s 100% more experience than he has of assembly. Mr. Bastard also knows that far too many retail jobs are part-time and zero hours, but he wont have to apply for those, as he specifies needing full-time work.
However, the important thing is that Mr. Bastard is seen as willing to compromise and allow the Mr. Adviser to change one of his designated jobs (albeit one that he did not himself designate to start with). Mr. Bastard makes sure Mr Adviser knows that he’s making compromises, that he’s willing to do business. All bullshit really, but this perceived willingness to negotiate will look good should you need to take your case to independent appeal.
Still pushing the illusion of being Mr Compromise, Mr Bastard also states that he’s going to allow the total of 6 compulsory job applications per week to stand – a 100% increase on the existing JSAg. Mr. Adviser upped it from 3 to 6 at the initial appointment.
Six applications a week may not seem much, but taken in the context of the North East’s job opportunities… some weeks it’ll probably mean applying for 5 jobs I know I’m not going to get. The one bright spot is that email means I dont have to waste money on stamps and stationary anymore.
Mr Adviser did attempt to rally behind his assembly fixation – what the hell is is with him and assembly work ? If its so great, why isn’t he doing it ? And, being Mr Bastard, I asked him that very question. He didn’t answer, but stated that assembly was where all the work is locally.
Aha ! said Mr Bastard, who had spent a profitable and instructive 15 minutes prior to the interview printing off jobs from the Jobcentre’s jobpoints.
“Funny you should say that,” says Mr Bastard, “I’ve just been working my way through the top 100 local jobs, and guess how many assembly jobs I found ?”
Mr Adviser is not up to guessing games, but Mr Bastard tells him anyway – “Two !” He dumps the job slips in front of Mr Adviser and goes on to point out that both require previous experience and arcane qualifications, neither of which Mr Bastard – as he has repeatedly pointed out – possesses.
Mr Adviser shrugs. But there’s more – Mr Bastard dips into his other pocket and extracts a far larger wad of job slips. “By way of comparison, in the top 100 jobs on your job points I found no less than nineteen vacancies for self-employed leaflet distributors.”
And that’s the way of it folks – 2% assembly jobs, 19% leaflet distributors. In fact its probably worse than that – had I counted several other door-to-door, catalogue selling, commision based non-jobs in with the leaflet non-jobs, they’d have accounted for at least 25% of work available on the Jobcentre’s (and thus the government’s) own job points.
Its the unpalatable fact that they wont acknowledge – last August the Financial Times highlighted a survey of vacancies by Adzuna.co.uk, described as “a search engine that collects every online job vacancy.”
According to this survey, London and the southeast accounted for 46 per cent of UK vacancies… compared with just 3.3 per cent in the North East.
Anyone having to live on benefits in the North East knows this. Anyone looking for full-time work knows it’s even worse than that – once you’ve weeded out the part-time jobs, the zero hour contracts, and the 25% of “self-employed” scam non-jobs – what’s left ?
We know it , they must know it too, but refuse to acknowledge it, and insist we continue to chase vacancies in which we have neither the specified experience or qualifications, which we know before we even send the application that we wont be considered for.
If you wanted to design a system that seems guaranteed to destroy self-confidence and morale, look no further.
Mr Bastard makes these points, but Mr Adviser is obviously not interested. After all, he has his job, his little bit of power over the plebs, and is fulfilling the the trust invested in him by Iain Duncan Smith admirably.
The session petered out around now, with Mr Adviser saying that he will have to book a double-session for next time, as Mr Bastard has to agree to the revised JSAg or it will be refered to a decision maker.
“WE have to mutually agree on a contract, subject to English common law” Mr Bastard reminds him, and exits, feeling he’s probably come out on top – and still hasn’t signed the JSAg.
To be continued …
We get all sorts of rubbish coming through the letter-box nowadays (obviously a growth area, considering the Job Centre vaccancies are dominated by positions for “self-employed” leaflet distributors !). But what we got to day was not just rubbish, it was nasty rubbish…
“Introducing The Northern Patriotic Front” trumpeted the flyer, going on to inform us that the NPF is “a campaigning organization based in the North of England and in Scotland. We firmly believe that the actions of politicians representing the so-called main-stream political parties are destroying our British way of life with the ultimate intent of collaborating in the destruction of our British race.”
You get the idea. It probably wont suprise you to hear that this sad bunch, operating out of a Sunderland PO Box, have been described as having “been set up by a number of disillusionedNational Front members” – disillusioned presumably because the NF aren’t right wing enough.
Its all the usual old rubbish –
“Britain continues to be swamped by immigrants”,
“The white British population will rapidly become a minority and be displaced.”
“White children are being taught to hate their own culture”
You know, as a white British male myself, I haven’t got a clue what this white British culture I’m apparently in danger of losing actually is, and the NPF dont define it, so I guess they dont really know either.
Since the NPF are operating out of a Sunderland adress, it may be instructive to look at some of the statistics for the city from the 2011 census…
The first thing worth noting is that over the period 2001 to 2011 overall, the North East population increased by only 2.2%: the slowest rate in the UK. Not exactly a region being swamped by anyone, let alone immigrants.
Moreover, Sunderland’s population actually declined by 3.2% (neighbouring South Tyneside also fell, by 3.1%). So wherever this alledged swamping is happening, its not in the NPF’s backyard.
But the biggest debunker of this nonsense is the figures of the city’s population broken down by ethnic groups –
Asian / British Asian 2.7%
Black / Black British 0.5%
Evidently those dastardly immigrants are going to have to put in a lot of work before they get to swamp Sunderland !
Of course anyone with half a brain can see through the NPF and their fellow travellers and their agenda of stirring up hate and divide and rule. Still, if you dont have the necessry brain cells and do want to join their crusade, the annual subscription is a tenner. But be warned – not just anyone can join their gang – you have to state that :
*I am 14 years or older
*I am of white parentage
* I am not an illegal drug user
*My spouse/partner is of white parentage
*I am not homosexual
*I am not a member of any other political party
Not just racist but homophobic too. They like to cover all the bases, don’t they ?
You can tell them what you think of them at: NPF, PO Box 1352, Sunderland, SR5 9NE
Or you might want to phone them: 0773 3511 761
And you know the biggest irony ? Their leaflet came through the door along with the usual flyers for pizza places, Indian takeaways, etc . Yes, they were swamped by flyers for “foreign” food, the most obvious and easily embraceable example of multicultural Britain.
Stuff your undefined “British culture”…I’m off for a Chinese.