The Social Work Action Network (SWAN) send its support and solidarity to those who have taken to the streets of London, Glasgow and elsewhere over recent weeks as part of the Occupy movement.
This movement has now spread from New York around the world with demonstrations of over a million people globally on 15th October representing the biggest co-ordinated global protests since the movement against the Iraq war in 2003. These actions have drawn crucial attention to the economic and social injustice and massive levels of inequality that characterise the current economic system.
In social work we are seeing massive cuts to services and their negative impact on people's lives and livelihoods. Social workers face cuts to their pension provision, a pay freeze and attempts to privatise services or replace paid workers with volunteers. Attacks on the welfare state and benefits are disproportionately impacting on those in greatest need with social work service users facing ever greater poverty, distress, and a return to charity not rights. However, while ordinary working people face redundancy and pay, pension and benefit cuts, the directors of companies on Britain's FTSE 100 index of top companies saw their salaries increase by 49 percent last year, and tax avoidance and evasion by large corporations and wealthy individuals cost the UK government £95 billion last year in lost revenue.
SWAN welcomes the attention that the Occupy movement has drawn to the injustices perpetrated in the interests of this tiny minority of the rich at the expense of ordinary working people. We also welcome the support of Occupy London for the November 30th public sector strikes against austerity cuts to pensions that will involve tens of thousands of social workers around the UK. SWAN condemns any attempt to forcibly remove the Occupy protesters from outside St Paul's in London or any of the other camps, and urges SWAN members to support Occupy actions and events and build the wider movement for equality, democracy and social justice.
While SWAN welcomes today's news that the City of London Corporation and St Paul's have suspended their legal action against Occupy LSX in London, SWAN expresses its outrage that such action has been considered against peaceful protesters and also condemns Glasgow Council for proceeding with legal action against Occupy Glasgow.
SWAN National Steering Committee (1st November 2011)
See also a statement from social workers involved in Occupy Ljubljana in Slovenia here.
We will shortly be posting reports from SWAN activists who have joined Occupy protests around the UK - watch this space.