Posted: December 6th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Call to action | 1 Comment »
The Cardiff action paid M&S a visit!
The week of action has seen a very loud noise demo at the workfare industry’s annual conference, hijacking its hashtag and actions in Cardiff, Wrexham, and even one in Germany! There’s loads more planned this weekend – with a new action just announced in Sheffield this Saturday too (and one coming up next week in Oxford!).
Thanks to everyone who’s been putting the pressure on online too. We’ve kept a lot of workfare exploiters’ Facebook Page moderators very busy this week and we’ve seen time and again how pressure from action on the streets plus online embarrassment can be enough to make a company or charity think twice!
Today, please help show all the companies and charities we’ve contacted this week that we won’t stop until they do. Scroll down our website front page for ways to contacts some of the worst offending charities, biggest workfare-using companies, those that make the workfare industry conference happen and those cutting wage bills using young people on traineeships.
The petition to end all welfare sanctions without exception is only 300 away from 10,000 – please take a few minutes to spread the word and help make it 10,000 by the end of the week of action!
And if you’ve still got a bit of time to spare, please feel free to contact any of the workfare exploiters listed here.
Thanks for being part of the week of action!
Posted: December 3rd, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Call to action | Tags: Asda, B&M Stores, Marks & Spencer | 2 Comments »
Workfare hands companies free labour which means fewer jobs and paid hours for everyone. But direct action and online pressure mean tens of brands now steer clear of it. Let’s step up the pressure on companies who still think they can profit from unpaid work!
Take action today to shame these companies and make them realise that exploiting unemployed people might just mean fewer customers this Christmas. There’s new online action every day this week so please keep checking back!
Marks & Spencer
M&S: rolling out workfare in their stores. Unless we stop them!
Marks & Spencer’s use of workfare hit public awareness when they announced 1400 new placements in their stores and a benchmark of 2% of the workforce to be unpaid. But this isn’t the brand’s first encounter with workfare. Despite their CEO earning over £2 million a year, they are also profiting from unpaid work through another workfare scheme in Scotland, which targets single parents. It’s likely their involvement is much more widespread – we also heard from someone sent on a 4 week placement at one of their outlet stores.
Last time we took action, M&S was forced to disable comments on their Facebook Page. Several pickets and walks of shame will pay a visit to their stores this week. Please feel free to contact them with your thoughts as well:
By email: Using their online form
By phone: See this useful list of numbers
Facebook: Marks and Spencer
In May, B&M won an award from the workfare industry for its involvement. But the reality of this involvement is harsh. One person has reported: “B&M stores have started using workfare Jan 2013. Receiving free labour and stopping overtime for employees with contracts. The people forced to do this free labour are not happy and neither are the employees!” Boycott Workfare has had reports of workfare at B&M stores in Bangor, Glasgow, Manchester, Southend and Northern Ireland. Show them they can’t keep cutting their wages bill with unpaid work!
By email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
By phone: 0151 728 5400 or more numbers here.
Facebook: B&M Stores
Leeds Unemployed Action Group exposed the workfare providers in their area
Asda has been at the heart of workfare in the UK, helping the government relaunch its “Work Experience” scheme last year. We have had reports that one of their stores in Manchester uses disabled people on workfare on the night shift. They are frank about their involvement here.
Asda contact form: Click here
Don’t forget to sign the petition calling for an end to all benefit sanctions without exceptions.
Posted: December 3rd, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Call to action | 1 Comment »
Day One of the week of action against workfare and sanctions was great – with a LOUD noise demo at the workfare industry’s annual conference, hijacking its hashtag and actions in Cardiff and Germany! On Day Two, target the companies profiting from making young people work without pay on Traineeships.
Traineeships are about providing cheap labour, driving down wages, massaging unemployment figures and conditioning our young people for a life of poverty and jumping through endless hoops in search of a job.
They’re a fairly new scheme that targets 16-24 year olds with more unpaid work. Traineeships involve a work placement of up to six months for which the employer is not even required to pay travel expenses. The promise at the end of six months’ unpaid work? You may then be eligible to work for £2.67 an hour as an apprentice.
Used together, traineeships and apprenticeships have the potential to massively undercut the minimum wage on the high street and elsewhere. The government is of course rolling out compulsory education for 17-18 year-olds and unpaid work looks set to make up an increasingly large component of that education. Benefits cuts for 18-25 year-olds are also threatened.
There are many companies happy to take advantage of young people and profit from their lack of opportunity and today let’s take action against them. Contact them by phone, email or on social media.
Kwikfit’s hit the headlines for expecting 39 hours of unpaid work a week from its traineeships and advertising them across the UK. It’s already faced huge public criticism on social media. Let’s make sure it knows the pressure hasn’t gone away and it needs to pay the people who work for it.
You could comment by phone or email, on its Facebook page or Youtube channel.
This multi-national brand with $18.1 billion in sales in a year, is recruiting multiple traineeships in Blackpool to “prepare food and serve customers” for 21 hours’ work a week each. currently advertising for at least three placements, this shop is saving itself £3180 on the wages bill in the next two months. Let’s hope the young people weren’t planning on buying any Christmas presents.
Share your thoughts on Subway’s Facebook page or take a look at their contact details.
Here is a luxury watch shop offering unpaid work for six months in its store in Westfield to young people when clearly it should and could offer them paid work and on the job training. You can contact Toywatch and let them know what you think on email@example.com, comment on their Facebook page, give them a call on 020 3301 8744 or pay them a visit.
Novotel’s 4* hotel in Southampton is also profiting from 42 hours of unpaid work in its kitchens each week. Its contact details can be found here.
Got a few more minutes?
Have a dig here and pick the companies you’d like to contact about their exploitation of young people to replace paid work.
Want more info on traineeships? Hear it from the horse’s mouth here and here.
Posted: December 1st, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: CESI, ERSA, Workfare | 4 Comments »
On Monday 2nd December the welfare-to-work industry will be splashing out yet more tax payers’ money on their annual workfare conference in a plush Central London venue.
Workfare exploiters like the Shaw Trust and the Salvation Army will be gathering to discuss how to further profit from the huge increase in unpaid work. From April next year hundreds of thousands of unemployed people will be forced to work for free for six months or face losing benefits completely. The cost of this scheme is estimated to be £300 million. Most of this cash will end up lining the pockets of the welfare-to-work sector – companies like A4E, G4S, Ingeus and Serco who specialise in forcing people to work without pay.
Many of these companies will be present at Monday’s conference where tickets cost up to a whopping £534 in some cases. Claimants are clearly not welcome at the conference unlike Employment Minister Esther McVey and Matthew Sinclair from hard right think tank the Tax Payer’s Alliance who will both be giving speeches at the event. The Tax Payer’s Alliance recently released a report calling for permanent workfare for those out of work even if this is due to sickness or disability.
The conference is being organised by ERSA, the trade body established to represent the welfare-to-work racket along with the Centre for Social Inclusion (CESI).
Boycott Workfare will be holding a noise demo outside the conference from 12.30pm as part of the Week of Action Against Workfare and Sanctions . A day of online protest has been called targeting the sponsors of the event who hope to gain some positive publicity from being associated with this workfare love-in. Contact them on social media and let’s make sure that doesn’t work out quite in the way they hoped as they are named and shamed for their support of forced work.
Delegates at Monday’s conference will be tweeting using the hashtag #ERSA2013 so add this to all tweets. Don’t forget to tweet conference organisers ERSA and CESI themselves.
Sponsors of the conference include:
Learn Direct, who are on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/learndirect
Work Programme providers the Shaw Trust are at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shaw-Trust/221553131217597
Training charity Catch 22 who recently advised the Department for Education that the new unpaid Traineeships Work placements should be shown “to provide a commercial advantage to employers” can be found at: https://en-gb.facebook.com/Catch22charity
Spirit Resourcing are sponsoring the delegate packs: https://www.facebook.com/spiritresourcing
Welfare-to-work recruitment agency R3 Welfare & Skills will be sponsoring the pens at the conference.
Don’t forget to sign the petition calling for an end to all benefit sanctions without exceptions.
Posted: November 30th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Call to action | 4 Comments »
Things are very wrong: each month 70,000 people face hunger and hardship due to benefit stoppages – ‘sanctions’. Millions of hours of work which should be paid are being replaced by workfare. But we’re taking action and having an impact.
This week, from 2-8 December, join thousands of others across the UK to push back against sanctions and workfare – with action online and on your high street. Here’s the latest list of actions planned across the UK. Let us know if you’re planning something too and check back here Monday-Friday to take online action every day.
Edinburgh: flyering all week and a demo on Saturday 7th
Cardiff: Wednesday 4 December at 6:30pm, Marks and Spencer – 72/76 Queen Street, Cardiff
Glasgow: Saturday 7th, 12.30-2.30, Sauchiehall St
- Noise Demo at workfare industry conference at the University of London, 12.30pm 2nd Decemeber
- Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group demo at Hammersmith Job Centre against the introduction of Universal Credit. Meet 11am on Wednesday 4th December at Hammersmith Job Centre, Glenn House, 22 Glenthorne Road, W6 0PP
- M&S picket, Islington – Sunday 8th December 1pm outside Holloway Road M&S
- M&S picket, Wood Green – Sunday 8th December 2pm outside Wood Green High Road M&S (Nearest tube: Turnpike Lane)
Reading: Saturday 7th 4pm at Reading town centre. Planning meeting for the action on Tuesday at 7pm.
Wrexham: Tuesday 3rd December Noisey Demo (bring pots and pans) at the Grosevenor Road Job Centre 12pm
Sheffield: Saturday 7th December 1pm – M&S picket outside of 19/31 Fargate, S1 1LF organised by South Yorkshire UNITE Community Union. More detail here.
Posted: November 24th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Call to action, Uncategorized | 5 Comments »
12.30-1.30pm, Monday 2nd December, outside the ERSA workfare industry conference, Senate House, Malet Street, London (nearest tubes: Russell Square, Warren Street, Euston), facebook event here
(Can’t make it to London? Take part in the week of action where you are.)
On 2nd December, those driving forced labour for unemployed people on the government’s workfares schemes are getting together in one place for their annual conference. Be there too to show them that their days of vast profits for abusing the poorest people in the UK are numbered.
The workfare industry is already on the backfoot. The government’s flagship ‘Work Programme’ which promised to hand £5 billion to this sector – whose profits are wholly subsidised by public funds – has failed. The industry failed to meet even the minimum targets and tens of thousands have returned to the Jobcentre as the two year stint comes to an end.
Add to this arrests for fraud, consistent reports from jobseekers of the punitive and pointless measures these companies demand, and the immense public backlash against workfare – leading many of the big brands to withdraw from forced unpaid work.
ERSA, the trade body for the ‘welfare to work’ industry, have called their conference “Challenge and change in an evolving landscape”. Let’s make the scale of the challenge clear with fun and noise on the conference’s doorstep.
And in case you need more convincing, here’s a few good reasons you should come (in the form of a list of people who’ll be at [the conference] pushing their workfare agendas): Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 13th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Call to action, Charities, Info on schemes | 3 Comments »
Community Work Placements
Salvation Army is one of the charities propping up workfare and sanctions – let charities know it will damage their reputation if they get involved [Photo: Sinister Pics]
are the workfare part of the ‘Help to Work’ scheme. This was announced by George Osborne in September, and will begin in April next year. The other parts are daily attendance at job centres (for 35 hours per week) and compulsory training.
This means that once again we’re seeing ads for workfare subcontractors that target the Community & Voluntary Sector. While some charities (e.g. YMCA, Salvation Army, The Conservation Volunteers & Groundwork) are dedicated workfare exploiters, many others say they do not support workfare, but still end up helping to deliver it. The supply chain is so (deliberately) complex, it can disguise what’s going on.
Currently EOS, Maximus, Learn Direct, Reed in Partnership, ESG, G4S (tax dodging supremos) and Interserve (they rely on prayer & financial support from Christians) are all inviting bids from voluntary sector ‘partners’ to provide Community Work Placements in a ‘real working environment’ for up to 30 weeks, for up to 30 hours per week. In other words, forced unpaid labour for people who have not found ‘sustained employment’ while on the Work Programme.
The criteria for being sent on a Community Work Placement are ‘lack of motivation‘ (for example a reluctance to be exploited in no pay, low pay jobs) and/or ‘lack of work experience‘. Claimants will have to do these placements alongside ‘supported job search’: the exhausting and pointless process of endlessly looking for non-existent employment opportunities. As blogger Johnny Void says: “This new scheme represents 780 hours unpaid work, over two and a half times higher than the maximum community service penalty that can be handed out by the courts. And this is just for the crime of being unable to find a job.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 30th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Info on schemes | 12 Comments »
Community Service punishments are less harsh than the forced work handed out to unemployed people
Campaigners have condemned George Osborne’s announcement that more unemployed people will be forced to work without a wage or face losing their only source of income as a further criminalisation of the unemployed.
The maximum community sentence that a judge can hand out is for 300 hours, but claimants on six-month workfare schemes are already being forced to work without pay for 780 hours. The four-week Mandatory Work Activity scheme is already the equivalent of a medium level community service order that a person might receive if they were found guilty of drink driving or assault.
When a similar scheme was introduced in the US, thousands of jobs in the Parks Department were lost in New York alone – to be replaced with forced unpaid workers. Similar case studies have emerged in the UK, where workfare placements are already taking place in hospitals, council offices, charities and businesses.
Campaigners accuse Osborne of rehashing existing schemes, which DWP research has repeatedly found to fail in helping people find work. The pilot of the scheme announced today was found to have no effect on helping people find employment. 71% of people sanctioned on the scheme reported going without food; half went into debt. The requirement for daily visits to the Job Centre for people leaving the Work Programme is already in place for many people – though Osborne’s announcement is rebranding the current ‘Hit Squad’ and ‘Mandatory Intervention Regime’ as ‘Help to Work’.
This latest workfare scheme may become unworkable as charities and voluntary organisations refuse to take part. Tens of large charities have already quit workfare schemes: Oxfam stated that the schemes were incompatible with its goal of reducing poverty in the UK. The government is currently appealing the Information Commissioner’s decision that it must reveal the names of the organisations involved. If it loses, charities involved in sanctioning unemployed people will face further public pressure to withdraw.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Joanna Long, member of Boycott Workfare said:
“Community workfare schemes literally treat the unemployed as criminals – with far harsher sentences than if they had committed a crime. Osborne’s announcement is a PR rehash of schemes that are already failing to help people find work on a massive scale. It’s bad news for people who will be forced to work at far below the minimum wage – and it’s terrible news for the people whose jobs they will be replacing. This is about cutting the safety net for unemployed people, and handing something for nothing to charities, companies and councils which should be paying wages and taxes.”
Posted: September 24th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Call to action | No Comments »
Action for ESOL is concerned about the impact of benefit sanctions and workfare on students in FE colleges. They’ve got together with Boycott Workfare for a day of workshops this Saturday to see how students and teachers can take action and defend our rights.
A free afternoon of workshops and discussion exploring the impact on ESOL students of welfare cuts, the expansion of benefit sanctions and workfare. Come along to share information and think about what we as teachers can do to support our students and show solidarity with them.
28th September, 1pm – 5pm, University of London Union, Malet Street, WC1E 7HY.
Nearest tubes: Russell Square, Goodge Street, Euston
Please emailactionforesol[at]gmail.com to let us know you’re coming.
Outline of the Day Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 4th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Welfare to work industry | 10 Comments »
Today the Taxpayers’ Alliance has released a bizarre report entitled ‘Work for the Dole’, in which they argue for more austerity and further massive cuts in public spending, calling for people to effectively be made destitute. Overlooking the strange fact that they appear to be arguing the UK at present does not have workfare – when it clearly does- it is a timely reminder of what we are all up against. The Taxpayers’ Alliance call for all sanctions to be even tougher, and as to be expected they blame the unemployed for being unemployed rather than a lack of jobs. Furthermore the report does not advocate job creation, just more workfare and sanctions to be used to deter people from claiming social security.
Unsurprisingly this report ignores the economic reality of the UK employment market, bizarrely claiming that the Government should use workfare to change people’s ‘behaviour’. The report is a classic example of a ‘blind faith based policy’, as opposed to a policy proposal reflecting the UK’s economic, social or political realities. But then it is based on data from American schemes implemented during 1997. That was 16 years ago.The world economy was booming and very different back then. The evidence (ignored by Taxpayers’ Alliance) from existing schemes in the UK is that they simply do not work. The evidence (again ignored by the Taxpayers’ Alliance) from international schemes is that they can in fact harm people’s chances of finding work.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance seem unconcerned about the massive subsidy to the private sector these failing schemes represent. The ‘Welfare to Work’ companies which set up the placements currently pocket over £400 for every month of forced labour – far more than those forced to work receive in social security. The failing Work Programme is costed at £5 billion. That’s before we even consider the subsidy to business that forced labour schemes represent, or the lost taxes from wages that would otherwise have been paid.
Unlike the Taxpayers’ Alliance, who have strong links to the Conservative Party, Boycott Workfare is a real grassroots organisation that is totally independent. Whilst our campaign, your campaign, has won many important victories, there are many more still to be had. Some leaders in the Trade Union movement act as if their families or membership are immune from workfare and welfare reform. They are not. It has been left to all those who support our campaign – you- to provide the ethical, moral and political opposition to workfare. We’re all doing a great job, and should be proud.
This delusional report demonstrates that the workfare lobby is getting desperate. Workfare is a threat to the disabled (ESA), those employed part-time or full-time, the unemployed, organised labour, and to wages in general. Given the nature of what we all face, Boycott Workfare doesn’t pull any punches. Over the coming weeks and months Boycott Workfare will state the facts exactly as they are in relation to workfare and who is pulling their weight against workfare, and who is not. Do the right thing. Do the moral thing. Support us, and support yourselves. Boycott Workfare. Boycott Exploitation.