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.
Previous conferences of workfare profiteers have faced occupations, disruption and twitterstorms to challenge their business of carving up welfare for profit. Take action online on Monday 1 December!
Monday 1st December is conference time for the ‘Employment Related Services Association’ whose speciality is ‘Championing the welfare to work industry’, i.e. lobbying and spin for workfare profiteers.
The profiteers have a luxury hotel booked for this annual celebration of all the money they are making from workfare. An opportunity to hear Esther McVey describe her plans to psychometrically test the unemployed for ‘resistance to work’. Not to be outdone, she’ll be joined by shadow employment minister Stephen Timms; just to prove that Labour and the Con/Dems are as one when it comes to their commitment to workfare, sanctions and the dismantling of labour rights.
If you don’t have the £450 registration fee to hand, you could always find other ways to let ERSA know your views on people whose profits depend on forced unpaid labour and the no pay/low pay economy that workfare sustains.
If you haven’t come across this lot before, here’s a helpful glossary for the language they use from Another Angry Voice:
Voluntary = Forced
Support = Punishment
Opportunity = Compulsion
Help = Hindrance
Let them know what you think of people who make money from ‘help to work’ contracts designed to annihilate workers’ rights and plunge those who resist into poverty and destitution.
Tweet them:Tweet to @ersa_news Phone: 0203 757 9415 (always worth asking for a senior manager – the person answering the phone could well be on workfare themselves. The Chief Executive is Kirsty McHugh) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s no surprise to find support for this festival of workfare exploiters coming from the Shaw Trust, the Papworth Trust, Tomorrow’s People and Groundwork. But it’s disappointing to find Julia Unwin from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on the programme – in a session headed ‘better together’. Even more troubling that she’s on the platform with Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham Council and responsible for evicting the Focus E15 Mothers.
Then on 3rd December, the Institute of Employability Professionals (making a career out of delivering workfare) is holding a leadership event at the Olympic Park, London. Book your place at email@example.com They say you are welcome to bring a friend.
Previous workfare profiteers’ conferences have faced occupations, disruption and twitterstorms to challenge their business of carving up welfare for profit. We know that taking action is effective! Workfare is falling apart – as more and more organisations refuse to take on forced labour. Without placements, the ‘employability’ sector will collapse.
Today members of Haringey Solidarity Group and Boycott Workfare paid a visit to workfare provider Urban Futures in Wood Green. Fifteen people occupied the office with banners and a soundsystem – challenging Urban Futures on their treatment of claimants and speaking to people on enforced jobsearch about their experiences and sharing info on their rights.
We’d already heard that the managers are aggressive and bullying towards claimants, so expected the same. But the short occupation revealed the nasty attitudes throughout the staff team – about ten staff tried to hassle people out and came out with some revealing lines, taunting a number of us that we should “get a job” (yawn). When one of us replied that he had a job, they replied, “I can’t believe you have a job, looking like that.” Read the rest of this entry »
As the week of action against workfare begins, Boycott Workfare can reveal an email sent by a subcontractor for the new Community Work Placements, a six month workfare scheme. It exposes how workfare is being marketed to employers as a way of replacing paid jobs. It also exposes the smoke and mirrors involved, with people mandated to workfare referred to both as “unpaid employees” and “volunteers”.
If you are in paid work, that list of potential roles should worry you: at the moment these are paid jobs. After Ixion Holdings have offered “large numbers of [volunteers] to cover the same job role or to cover different departments”, why would any unscrupulous employer keep paying people to do them? Read the rest of this entry »
Wherever you are, why not let the private companies, charities and think tanks involved know what you think online #intowork2014. If you only have a minute – use our handy tweet buttons below!
The conference is being organised by CESI (Centre for Economic & Social Inclusion) – self appointed ‘thought leaders’ in the welfare to work industry. People who make their money supporting policies that mean forced unpaid labour and poverty for many, but escalating profits for the few. Tweet to @InclusionCESI Read the rest of this entry »
Making it not worth businesses’ while to be involved in workfare is one tactic that could help stop workfare internationally
Where is Ireland’s welfare system headed? It’s clear where the Irish government want it to go. They have been explicit about what it is that they want: something that looks like the UK system. The reforms point to what now exists here: the same multinational companies (G4S, Serco, etc.) are bidding for contracts; similar unwaged work schemes, like the already existing internship programme JobBridge, are set to play a prominent role; and the use of benefit sanctions is set to increase.
The reforms are already underway. The winning contracts for Jobpath, the welfare-to-work scheme for those unemployed over a year, modelled on the UK’s disastrous Work Programme, will be announced shortly for four Contract Package Areas across Ireland. Private employment service providers such as Ingeus are set to create a welfare industry with themselves at the head of supply chains and the taxpayer footing the bill. Below them, they will aim for a host of subcontractors from the voluntary and charity sectors, as well as smaller private providers.
Ireland’s government has ignored the vast evidence of the welfare to work industry’s failure in the UK, and instead are on a path to repeat the same mistakes. Read the rest of this entry »
Workfare: If you exploit us we will shut you down!
Tens of organisations have already quit workfare. The government will not reveal which organisations are still using it for fear the schemes will collapse. Its contractors complain that they have lost hundreds of placements due to public pressure.
But they’re trying it again with a new scheme – “Community Work Placements” – launching in April 2014 which will force claimants to work for six months without pay. Six months – 780 hours – is more than twice the maximum community service sentence. Workfare does not help people find jobs and being unemployed is not a crime.
This new workfare scheme is part of a raft of draconian measures, misleadingly called “Help to Work”, which are designed to increase sanctions (benefit stoppages) and undermine wages still further.
Our action can stop companies, charities and councils from exploiting forced unpaid work and make sure this new scheme falls flat on its face. Wherever you are, however you can contribute, take action on 29 March-6 April.
While millions of people struggle to eat or heat their homes, and thousands of families face eviction, foodbanks and homelessness due to sanctions, bedroom tax and loss of disability benefits, Capita cashes in with conferences for Lord Freud (Minister for Dismantling Welfare) and his workfare collaborators.
You could pay £350 – £575 (plus VAT) to join all those snouts in the workfare trough at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel. Or you can let them know what you think via twitter, email, phone – follow the links below.
The conference is using the hashtags #capitaconf and #welfarereform if you’d like to join in the discussions today (or you can check out @capitaconf for their feed). You could also use the DWP’s #job2014 hashtag. The DWP are making a big effort to improve their social media presence – the least we can do is increase their footfall @DWPgovuk
The aim of the conference is to get ‘partners’ who make money from it ready for the next stage of ‘benefit reform’, with a special focus on ‘shifting the culture’. Let’s shift it in another direction!
In addition to the DWP’s own Lord Freud, (one of the chief architects in paying the private sector to dismantle welfare rights aka the great welfare rip off) the organisations below are supporting the event.
Private and voluntary sector organisations making big money from the outsourcing of welfare – let them know (politely) what you think… Read the rest of this entry »
This August will see the start of yet another role out of a scheme of unpaid labour aimed at the poorest. “Traineeships” are the grand plan of Skills Minister Matthew Hancock to provide free workers to companies for up to 5 months at a time to help us “secure an apprenticeship” afterwards ( which themselves have a minimum wage of only £2.65 an hour!). Although starting with 16-19 year olds it will eventually involve people up to the age of 24.
The government state they want traineeships to “simplify the system” for companies and “bring together, or cease, other similar programmes”. Although they do not say which schemes the traineeships will replace, it is most similar to the current work experience scheme. However, traineeships will not just be restricted to those on JSA, but also school kids when the compulsory age of education moves up to 18.
Like with the work experience scheme the placements can be with companies. However, whereas the Work Experience scheme placements were 2-8 weeks, with traineeships the length will more than double to 6-22 weeks (5 months). This will make it easier for companies to exploit us as they won’t have to train new people as often. Read the rest of this entry »
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.