Events at the Jobcentre in Ashton-under-Lyne, get murkier by the day. We understand that only last week a meeting took place in Ashton between P.C.S. union representatives and two invited activists who have been campaigning against the governments iniquitous sanctions regime outside Ashton Jobcentre, for the past 12 months. The meeting was initiated by Annette Wright, a union official of the P.C.S union and President of Manchester Trades Council, and Evan Pritchard, a lay branch official from the Greater Manchester Unite Community Union.
Although the P.C.S. union is officially committed to support initiatives that seek to undermine and expose the 'draconian sanctions regime that exists in Jobcentres', it seems that much of the time was taken up in admonishing Charlotte Hughes, a leading figure in the campaign.
Sources have told us that the P.C.S. area representative for Stockport and Tameside, who was present at the meeting, made it abundantly clear that he was vehemently against working with groups opposed to sanctions (contrary to P.C.S. union policy) and expressed the view that he had no sympathy with the plight of the unemployed or those who opposed sanctions.
Ms. Hughes, a 'hardworking' single-mother with four children, who runs a blog - 'The Poor Side of Life', a weekly diary of events outside Ashton Jobcentre - was asked to remove items from her blog concerning Ashton Jobcentre and the P.C.S. union. The irate Stockport P.C.S. official also demanded that she remove all references to Jobcentre Staff "only doing their Job" as he insisted this had Nazi connotations!
Over the last 12 months, Ashton Jobcentre has repeatedly made petty complaints to the police in a vain attempt to get protesters arrested. The police indicated some time ago that they felt that this was a waste of police time as it was not unlawful to engage in peaceful protest. Despite this, the Jobcentre have persisted with their petty complaints and have even threatened protesters with an injunction.