We are DwangArbeid Nee Groningen (DANG: Forced Labor No Groningen), an action group for and by the jobless (on the ‘dole’) and sympathizers. We fight against workfare, and any disciplination, stigmatization and criminalization of jobless people. We want higher unemployment benefits, an end to the obligation to share private information with government institutions, an end to the obligation to apply for jobs, and an end to privacy violations. We organize meetings and actions, sometimes with others. We organize weekly visiting and consultation hours in De Rosa. There you can, among other things, tell your story and ask questions. We can also help you find legal support.
Stop forced labor
As people on the dole, we are pushed hard and non-stop to “integrate” into the society we live in. For example, we are forced to attend language classes, job application trainings and subject ourselves to psychological tests. Or do six months of workfare to gain “work experience” and develop or maintain a “work rhythm”. All these “reintegration tools” provide a good income for officials, consultants, psychologists, scientists, reintegration companies and employers. We are an inexhaustible source of unpaid work(ers) for these exploiters. Therefore, they will be the last to abolish this unemployment industry.
It has become increasingly difficult to claim a social security benefit. Before it is granted, you must give up all your privacy. You will be reviewed from top to bottom. Many of us must do forced labor for a period of time to qualify. We are forced to comply with everything. If we don´t, our scandalously low benefits will be cut or altogether discontinued. On top of those sanctions, heavy fines are imposed. And we have to prove over and over that we are still entitled to a social security benefit.
Living on benefits means living in poverty under a heavily repressive regime. But not everybody gets the same treatment. We are selected based on color, gender and labor and wage ability. That determines the amount of compulsion and the direction in which they try to push us. Our self-determination is deliberately taken away. All that matters is our economic value.
Volunteering: only when voluntary!
We all work. For ourselves and others, to live and to enrich our lives. We bestow households, feed our children, take care of our parents, stand by friends and family. All of these tasks are still predominantly done by women. In addition, work is also: refereeing in sports matches, (collective) gardening, teaching language classes to refugees, being politically and socially active, organizing actions, writing. Our resistance is also work.
Paid work, on the other hand, means that you do something for someone else, and in return receive a salary or wage. This applies to ‘employees’, but actually also to ‘ZZP-ers’ (self-employed without employees). When doing workfare, however, you need to do something for someone else, without being paid for that labor. Because a benefit is, of course, neither a salary nor wage. And you do not have any workers’ rights. Forced labor is also displacing paid employment.
Nowadays jobless people more and more often need to do ‘voluntary work’. People usually do volunteering work because they feel it is necessary or important. And you decide for yourself how long and where you do it. Commitment to forced ‘voluntary work’ makes voluntary organizations complicit in repression and undermines the whole underlying principle of co-determined life and work.
Resist: abolish the Participation Act!
For over five years, more and more jobless people have been daring to share their nasty experiences openly. Everywhere in the Netherlands, people begin to oppose forced labor, punishment and poverty. Individually by opposing or rejecting it. But also organized. We have organized ourselves in several cities. And achieved successes in Leiden and Amsterdam. And we also built resistance in Groningen. Together we decide how to fight and what we want to fight for. So it immediately becomes clear who can be our allies and who can not.
Do you want to oppose the Participation Act? Do you want to join us? Or be an ally? Please do! Because well organized collective resistance is much needed! So feel free to contact us. Or walk in during the visiting hours at the Vredes Informatie Centrum (VIC) in Groningen: Folkingedwarsstraat 16a, through the hallway, turn left, upstairs. Every wednesday from 10:00 to 12:00.
Until then, until DAN(G)!
About the Partipation Act (in short)
The ‘Participation Act’ (Participatiewet) started on January 1, 2015 and aims to support all people that “can work but need some kind of support in order to work”. The act replaces the Work and Social Assistance Act (WWB), Sheltered Employment Act (WSW) and Young Disabled Persons Act (Wajong).
The aim of the ‘Participation Act’ is to get all jobless people and social benefit claimants “back to work”. The act shifted the responsibility for labor “integration” from the national to the local government, though the parliament remains the main orchestrator. Municipalities are responsible for providing and organizing support, counseling, training, supported employment, employment subsidies and the infamous “reintegration” schemes.
The Participation Act is one big cutback on social security (and more). As a result, many more people do unpaid work, in a variety of ways, in places where the state has pulled off its hands.