Boycott Workfare is a UK-wide campaign to end forced unpaid work for people who receive welfare. Workfare profits the rich by providing free labour, whilst threatening the poor by taking away welfare rights if people refuse to work without a living wage. We are a grassroots campaign, formed in 2010 by people with experience of workfare and those concerned about its impact. We expose and take action against companies and organisations profiting from workfare; encourage organisations to pledge to boycott it; and actively inform people of their rights.
With your help, Boycott Workfare would like to highlight the devastating impact that benefit sanctions are having on people’s lives. Collecting together your experiences of benefit sanctions we will be putting together a sanctions zine. Email us your words, however many or few you want to use. Things you may want to include may be:
- the length of the sanction
- the ‘reason’ the Job Centre gave for imposing the sanction and how they told you this ‘reason’
- how it affected your life, including its impact on your physical and mental health, your family and friendships
- how you coped during this time
- and how you are doing now e.g. still claiming JSA, stopped signing on, signing on to a different benefit, stress/worry about further sanctions etc.
- perhaps you have not been sanctioned, but have been bullied and threatened with sanctions
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Feel free also to submit drawings and get in touch if you have any other ideas or suggestions. We also welcome submissions from those who are indirectly affected by benefit sanctions, such as welfare activists, welfare advisors and those involved in the Civil Service Rank and File Network.
G4S are holding their Annual General Meeting next week where they will boast about the profit they’ve made from exploiting unemployed people. A Prime Provider of the government’s failing Work Programme, G4S force people onto workfare and sanction benefits for millions of pounds of government money.
G4S are in the business of force. As well as making claimants lives miserable through coercion and bullying, G4S also profit from detention, imprisonment, and the exercise of force on behalf of oppressive regimes. Join the Stop G4S demo next Thursday in London and link up with others to stop them ‘securing your world’.
We do not have Work for Your Benefit or Workfare schemes in this country. Workfare is an American term used to describe employment programmes which force all jobseekers to work at a certain point of their claim in order to continue to receive benefit
This week, Boycott Workfare has been contacted by a concerned member of staff working at high street retailer Shoe Zone. Their first hand experience, which they bravely wanted to share with us all, provides yet more evidence that workfare is replacing paid jobs. As with Argos and Superdrug, Shoezone are using ‘work experience’ from the job centre to cover the busy Christmas period instead of employing temporary staff or giving current staff the option of over-time. Here is their story:
“I work in Shoe Zone in the south east. This week our manager has held three ‘interviews’ with people sent from the job centre. They are to help us for up to 30 hours a week for 8 weeks over the Christmas period. One of them stated he would only be getting his bus fare paid by the job centre. This is to be called ‘work experience’. If there is work to do over Christmas surely we could hire staff for 8 weeks in a proper fashion? I am sickened that my manager imagines they are doing these people a favour of some sort to ‘let them experience work’. I get the feeling that head office will be very pleased with themselves too to keep a store running smoothly over Christmas without actually using any extra resources, when these work experience placements can pick up the slack.
The three people start today on this ‘work experience’ and I am terrified by the idea that head office think they don’t need to pay their staff and can run a store with people from the job centre. i myself am on part-time minimum wage and if they can have workers for free now what is to stop them making my position redundant and using job centre people to run the store at no cost to themselves? If my hours are cut next year, i shall know why.
I do not feel its right these people will be expected to do the same work as our usual staff. Even worse, i will be expected to keep an eye on them to make sure no mistakes are made when pulling stock and writing labels etc- extra work we could do without at Christmas time. They will not be authorised to use the tills or ordering system but everything else including dealing with customers, they will be expected to do. Its a disgrace. I fear for the safety of my job at the moment and in the future if this ‘work experience’ continues.”
If you would like to contact Shoe Zone about this:
Facebook: click here
Also Birmingham are taking action against the use of workfare in high street stores over Christmas on the 8th of December during the week of action.
Hundreds of people paid a visit to workfare providers on and around Oxford Street on 20 Oct! Thanks to all the different groups that took part and the great samba band! Watch this space for a day of action on 8 December…
M&S: Specialising in forcing single parents to work without pay
Several stores shut down as the demo approached. This one seems to confirm the word on the streets: Arcadia hasn’t in fact ended its involvement?
It’s a simple message and we’re going to keep pushing it until workfare is no more.
Today was a sad day for anyone hoping that a change of government might revive a commitment to social justice, and do away with workfare. Instead Liam Byrne announced that Labour would continue to cut welfare on top of the further £10 billion cuts the coalition government plans to make by 2016.
All three main political parties have sent out a clear message: if you are claiming any kind of welfare, whether you are in work, or out of work, not to mention if you are carrying out forced unpaid work for Poundland (whose profits are up following their use of workfare) then too bad. Read the rest of this entry »
Boycott Workfare is calling on anti-workfare groups up and down the country to take action against charities who are profiting from workfare on Saturday 8th September. Thousands of us have taken action against the corporate workfare exploiters, so it’s important that we don’t let charities off the hook.
Workfare is clearly happening in the charity sector big time.
Workfare pushes people into destitution
How can charities claim to make the world a better place when they are directly responsible for driving people into poverty and destitution through sanctions? The disturbing reality is that unemployed disabled people could be forced to work in the Scope, Cancer Research UK or British Heart Foundation charity shops that claim to support them. Salvation Army and Barnardos claim to fight poverty but claimants face the loss of subsistence benefits if they do not take part in workfare in their stores. Meanwhile, the heads of BHF and Barnardos receive £153,000 a year and £166,000 a year respectively.
The government wants to massively expand charity involvement
Take action to end charity involvement in workfare
On 8th September, take to the streets or join the online wave of action to end charity involvement in workfare.
Get involved with an action near you or organise one yourself! Workfare walks of shame, pickets, and occupations are some fun actions you can do on your local high street. Or go online to let these charities know what you think of workfare using twitter and facebook.
Post your actions on the facebook event or in the comments and we’ll add them to the list!
Plans for a national day of action against charity involvement in workfare are brewing. Already Liverpool has announced an action with others in the pipeline in Edinburgh and Brighton. London also has plans for the day…
Camden High Street, 11.30am, Saturday 8th September.
Meet outside the Nat West opposite Camden Town station.
Workfare – forced unpaid work for people who need social security – can now be found on every high street. Charities – which really should know the difference between forced labour and volunteering – are helping the government roll out workfare on a massive scale: British Heart Foundation’s policy director has stated for the record that every one of their 700 stores has Work Programme placements. To their shame, many other charities are also involved.
In August, a new workfare scheme was announced which will compel people to work without pay for so-called “community benefit”. In other words, community service-style sentences are being meted out for the crime of being unemployed. This comes on top of the plan to put 1.06 million people onto six months’ workfare, mainly in charity and public sector organisations.
Our actions have pushed back the spread of workfare on the high street, now it’s time that charities respond to the call. Come along to this walk of shame to learn who’s in and who’s out and to step up the pressure on the charities which claim to help people but are pushing the unemployed into further poverty and exploitation.
There is no sign that sanctions have been lifted in the DWP’s press release which states: “The sanction regime remains in place.” Chris Grayling seems to be painting a murkier picture in TV interviews. Speaking to Sky, he first claimed “If somebody sits down with [the employer] after a couple of weeks and says ‘This really isn’t working out, I don’t want to carry on’, they wouldn’t be sanctioned. I was happy to agree to that.” But by the end of the interview, he offers an example which suggests that it will be in exceptional cases only that sanctions won’t be applied.
The Work Programme models the “black box” approach: claimants are sent to private companies who are given free reign to impose whatever conditions they want. The DWP hasn’t even stipulated a maximum amount of time that Work Programme providers can force people to do workfare.
There are ways that you can protect yourself on the Work Programme and at the job centre. This is the focus of new website consent.me.uk