Posted: May 15th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Call to action, Welfare to work industry | 2 Comments »
Three protesters were evicted from the conference this morning for disrupting Hoban’s speech. Challenged on his profit at expense of taxpayer while robbing the poorest, he had to leave the room. Video to follow! Tweet #employ2013 @GovKnow
Employment, Apprenticeships & Skills Conference 2013 16th May 2013
This conference is about the use of welfare reform to create incentives to work. The conference planning committee has already ruled out the option of well paid work.
Instead, the focus is on stepping up efforts to force people to work longer, harder, with greater insecurity and fewer rights, for very much less money.
The conference is also about ‘creating employees that business needs’ – in other words compliant, frightened, non unionised, isolated, grateful, desperate, aspirational, eager to please and above all, endlessly cheerful, positive and upbeat workers – no matter how exploited.
You can find details of the agenda here. Special highlights include:
- how to pay low wages and still get highly skilled workers
- government incentives for taking on those who are too sick to work
- finding disabled people who are especially willing to work for nothing
- diversity pays! Watch your wage bill plummet as disadvantaged groups clamour for zero hour contracts
- focus on recovery: people who are hungry and homeless are a real bargain
In addition to DWP’s very own Mark Hoban, Minister for Workfare, collaborators at this festival of exploitation include the Work Foundation and NIACE.
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Posted: May 15th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Call to action | 2 Comments »
Free postage donated by Salvation Army, ink donated by Barclays – Priceless. (Photo & caption courtesy of @cliffjamester)
Have you seen the Million Freepost Letter Project yet? If not check it out
Its purpose is clear: “This is a Anti-Workfare page set up to use all legal means to stop organisations using the unemployed for free labour, these unscrupulous organisations understand one thing only, and that is profit, so that is where I aim to encourage people to target.”
Its method is simple: Write your complaint about workfare to an organisation’s freepost address, thus costing the organisation money as well.
Here are some of the addresses compiled so far…
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Posted: May 2nd, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Call to action, Public Sector, Unions | 1 Comment »
Boycott Workfare call on the PCS to take action on conditionality, workfare and sanctions
The PCS conference takes place in Brighton later this month. Join a rally urging delegates to support a position of non-cooperation with sanctions against welfare claimants at 12.30pm on 21st May.
Public sector workers, including at the DWP, will soon face sanctions under Universal Credit unless we take action now.
We are extremely disappointed that PCS leadership have decided not to allow debate at their conference on two motions which called for the union to move from theoretical to practical unity with claimants in challenging sanctions.
Current welfare policies and reforms represent an unprecedented attack on claimants and on the welfare state itself. Conditionality, workfare and the huge rise in sanctions are driving claimants further into poverty and destitution. At the same time a vicious campaign of hatred driven by the media and political classes has stigmatised those on benefits and poisoned public debate.
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Posted: April 30th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Call to action, Charities, Name and shame | 1 Comment »
Workfare: silence is consent
Age UK: still using workfare
Does Age UK support workfare or not? They certainly didn’t want to discuss the issue at their For Later Life Conference although they had plenty to say about poverty, inequality and equal rights in ‘tough times’.
Back in 2012, Age UK head office said there was ‘no involvement’ in workfare schemes and that they were now advising their stores to wind up their association with government employment programmes. But in recent weeks Boycott Workfare has had a spate of tweets from people saying they’re being forced to ‘volunteer’ at Age UK or face sanctions. Age UK in East Sussex appears to be taking part in MWA (Mandatory Work Activity), which requires people to work unpaid for 4 weeks or lose benefits.
Contact Age UK to raise your concerns now!
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Posted: April 24th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Call to action, Name and shame, Public Sector | No Comments »
This report from Haringey Solidarity Group highlights the problem of workfare being used to fill the gaps left by local authority cuts. If you’re in London, join the protest today! If not, please support the local campaign by raising your concerns with the council.
Two years ago a third of Haringey Council parks department gardeners were made redundant. Now people on workfare are being forced to work unpaid on their estates.
Homes for Haringey is the borough’s arms-length management organisation, set up to manage council housing. Tenants on their estates have found out that local unemployed people are being forced to work on their estates for no pay and with no workplace rights.
Groundwork, a national registered charity working in partnership with Haringey Council, has been using the Government’s workfare schemes – in which unemployed people are forced to work with no pay or workplace rights – to maintain some Homes For Haringey estate gardens.
The last time we picketed the Homes for Haringey office, they issued a statement attempting to deny their involvement in replacing paid jobs. But tenants on Broadwater Farm Estate have seen people on the Groundwork scheme cutting hedges and doing other grounds maintenance work, work that was previousy done by paid council staff. Job Seekers have also been sanctioned for refusing to work for no pay under the Groundwork workfare scheme, losing all entitlement to benefits for several weeks.
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Posted: April 16th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Call to action, Charities | 3 Comments »
YMCA: still backing workfare despite all the evidence (Photo: Joelsp/Flickr)
Everyone already knew it, but now Work Programme providers have themselves admitted that they’re failing (though of course to them this means they should be paid more for doing less). Online pressure and protests pushed Homebase to make another statement on its use of workfare but “no further commitment” to workfare still leaves paid hours devastated in at least one store, and tens of people working without pay. Lord Freud, architect of welfare reforms, George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith have all been served ‘eviction notices’ by UK Uncut. Liverpool have also kicked off a week of action. Workfare and other welfare reforms are under pressure, as ministers consistently lie to justify them.
In the second of our ‘Workfare Wednesday’ callouts, help keep up the pressure on another workfare exploiter: YMCA. In recent weeks, Christian charities using workfare have come under fire for failing to note that “The Labourer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7).
YMCA’s latest statement on workfare defends their use of forced unpaid workers, and ignores the fact they are responsible for pushing people into destitution and possible homelessness through sanctions which can last up to three years. Help persuade them to join the list of charities who will no longer have anything to do with workfare. Help keep up the pressure today!
YMCA England are on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/THEYMCA
Their President, Bishop John Sentamu, has spoken out against workfare in the past. Contact him on twitter
or the charity direct
Phone them on 020 7186 9500 or their shops hotline on 0845 601 0728.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
They have a youtube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/ymcaengland
To find contact details of your nearest YMCA shop visit: http://www.ymca.org.uk/find/ymcashops
Contact YMCA International to tell the world what this organisation is doing in their name to the poorest and already destitute in the UK @ymcaint or on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ymcas
YMCA have a range of fundraising arms including a Fitness Training company on twitter @ymcafit and facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ymcafit
They also run a corporate conference centre called Dunford House 01730 812381 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.facebook.com/dunfordhouse
Please note: Whilst it’s well worth trying to speak to a manager or senior individual if possible please bear in mind most people taking calls/emails will be low paid retail/admin staff and could even be on workfare themselves. Be aware that is an offence to make telephone calls or send communications which are threatening, indecent or offensive.
While you’re at it, you may also like to contact another Christian charity and major workfare exploiter, Salvation Army too.
Posted: April 10th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Call to action, Name and shame | Tags: homebase | 2 Comments »
Homebase boasted about cutting paid work with workfare. We can’t let them get away with it!
In the first of our weekly call outs for online workfare action, it’s time to show Homebase that we won’t settle for their PR guff!
Two weeks ago, it emerged that Homebase is taking on tens of workfare placements in their Haringey store: 750 hours of unpaid work in just one week in just one of Homebase’s 342 shops.
A week later, a Homebase poster was leaked: it showed managers boasting about how they have been able to cut the wages bill with workfare. Then a staff member told us what it had meant for staff: overtime cut for everyone and some people’s hours reduced cut from 48 down to 8.
People’s response has been immense, with loads of online pressure, people pledging to shop elsewhere, and pop-up demos outside their shops.
It’s obviously having an impact.
On Easter weekend, Homebase took their Facebook Page down at least three times because of the scale of response from the public. Since then they have deleted literally hundreds of comments.
Yesterday, Homebase posted a new statement, saying “While we review our local arrangements, we have decided to make no further commitment to the Job Centre work experience programme.” But that still leaves tens of workfare placements in their Haringey store and possibly elsewhere too.
Step up the pressure for every single person working in Homebase to be paid.
At their stores
A week of action has been called against Homebase, culminating in protests, leafleting and pickets at their stores this weekend. Why not print some leaflets and visit a store near you? Haringey Solidarity group put this poster, this poster and this leaflet together, which you might like to adapt and print. Let us know if you need help covering printing costs!
So far actions have been called in:
London on Saturday
London on Sunday
Bristol on Saturday
Bath on Sunday
Let us know what you plan and we’ll add it to the list!
On Facebook (if they bring their page back again): facebook.com/homebase
By email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
By phone: 0845 077 8888 or 0845 601 6911
Or contact the company they are owned by: The Home Retail Group.
A clever project has been set up for people to write or send parcels to workfare users’ Freepost addresses. More info here.
…and if you’re in Liverpool, there’s a whole week of workfare fun planned next week.
Homebase has boasted about workfare reducing paid work. We can’t let them get away with it. After all, “If you exploit us, we will shut you down.”
Posted: April 6th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Call to action, Name and shame | 16 Comments »
This poster was leaked from the Haringey Homebase store.
This poster, leaked yesterday
from Haringey Homebase, shows exactly how employers view workfare: an easy way to cut the wages bill. Homebase claim “We ensure they work alongside, not replace, paid colleagues”
, but a staff member has told us that since tens of workfare placements were brought in, overtime has been cut for everyone. Some people’s hours have been cut from 48 down to 8 – far below the threshold for Working Tax Credits – because that is all they are contracted for.
It turns out 750 hours with no payroll costs – the figure for just one week in just one of Homebase’s 342 stores – does have a massive impact on the paid work available. Apparently it’s an effect that is popular with the regional manager, who we’ve heard has been trying to get all Homebase stores in her region to use workfare, and has been suspending or moving managers who don’t.
Homebase have been quick to claim that the scheme is voluntary, but our source told us that workfare workers have all been told “work for free or lose your benefits”. As Boycott Workfare have exposed, even on paper the Work Experience scheme is only voluntary if you say ‘yes’, since it is backed with the threat of Mandatory Work Activity which carries up to three year sanctions.
Haringey Homebase is not advertising for workers and we’ve heard that managers have been instructed to tell people on workfare that there are no jobs for them. This, despite the fact that last year the boss of Home Retail Group – who also own workfare exploiters Argos – was paid £1.1 million.
The public response to this story has been immense with hundreds of comments on Homebase’s Facebook page deleted, and the company taking it offline at times. But it hasn’t yet been enough. In a week where people claiming benefit have been smeared by the Chancellor, the fact of the matter is that it’s not people on benefits who are scrounging off the taxpayer, it’s businesses. We need to show Homebase that they can’t get away with workfare exploitation and we won’t go away until everyone working in their stores is paid.
Contact Homebase and their parent company Home Retail Group. Order leaflets from Boycott Workfare for a pop-up action at your local store. Help spread the word!
Oh, and if you were ever tempted to think this is a one-off mistake, this is what someone else told us this week: “a friend of mine who was working 40 hours per week at Argos has just had his hours cut by half because they have been getting workfare in. Now he can’t afford his rent.”
Feel free to contact Argos, Homebase’s sister company, too.
Posted: March 24th, 2013 | Author: boycottworkfare | Filed under: Call to action | 2 Comments »
Workfare demonstration in Bristol
At the start of the week of action, the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) put out a “myth buster” in defence of workfare. The ERSA is the trade body for welfare to work companies like A4e and JHP Employability, so it’s no surprise that their myth buster continues to propogate myths about workfare.
Yesterday demonstrations and pickets took place around the UK. Today we are back online, and asking you to combat the lies ERSA is telling about workfare, and spread the simple truth that workfare doesn’t work. So firstly we explore the five “myths” about workfare, and then five truths that you can help share.
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Posted: March 22nd, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Call to action, Info on schemes, Welfare to work industry | 10 Comments »
Iain Duncan Smith and his thinktank friends think that workfare and sanctions are a good idea for people in low-paid and part-time work too. tell him what you think! (Photo: CBI / flickr)
It’s now Day 6 of the week of action – and we must have already topped 35 hours of anti-workfare activity. Shame we can’t stick that down on the form!
Join people in cities across the UK for pickets and creative action, and take part in online action too!
For today’s online action, we will turn our eyes towards the future and step up efforts to get another ‘flagship’ scheme grounded before it even sets sail out of the harbour. Not content with the devastation sanctions are already causing, the DWP and their thinktank friends Policy Exchange have been seeking ideas on how to extend workfare and ‘conditionality’ – let’s call it profiteering, time-wasting, potentially life-sapping harassment – to working claimants when Universal Credit kicks in. And we have this weekend to tell them: don’t even think of it.
According to Lord Freud, the banker-turned-welfare-minister: “The fact that those in work will come under the ambit of the JobCentre Plus for the first time as a result of universal credit gives the government radical new opportunities.” The ComDems have learned their lessons from New Labour in the spin of framing retrogressive steps as ‘radical’. They are boldly going where no poverty profiteer has gone before.
However, the government is well aware that the usual divisive rhetoric about benefits robbing ‘the taxpayer’ will be more difficult to direct against people who are already working and paying taxes. Also, many of the workers they aim to harass are organised, belong to unions and have access to resources such as free legal advice. The Cait Reilly case upset IDS so much he threw a spectacular hissy fit. There’ll be many more challenges if the DWP insists on sticking its nose where it’s not meant to go.
Therefore, the DWP and Policy Exchange are asking for suggestions on how to widen the range of their nets to self-employed, part-time and low-paid workers. In a document with the catchy title of “Extending labour market interventions to in-work claimants – call for ideas”, the DWP requests feedback from “employers, behavioural economists, social psychologists, think tanks, welfare to work providers, academics, charities, application designers and those at the sharp end of delivering existing services”. Of course, this call-out doesn’t include those at ‘the sharp end’ of DWP schemes.
The DWP’s call for ideas on in-work conditionality will run until 25 March. So we have only a couple of days to go, but let’s make them count. It asks that people submit ideas to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alongside this, the Policy Exchange has formed a policy and academic group dedicated to this project. These lovely folks kindly invite comments ‘on a personal basis’ for Matthew Oakley at email@example.com.
We can ensure that they come to work on Monday to an overflowing inbox. Many websites allow you to download free PDFs of classics. Perhaps the DWP and Policy Exchange folks might want to read some. Dickens might be a good place to start, which will show just how ‘radical’ their plans are.
Suggestions, they want? Those of us likely to be on the sharp end of this stick could tell them what we think. Let ‘em have it!