Yesterday, Boycott Workfare members hit their local high street to find out which stores used workfare. Just a couple of hours of sleuthing delivered great returns as we uncovered new workfare exploiters, including several big brands.
Finding out who takes on workfare is really useful so that we can take action against those who are exploiting unemployed people. It’s also really simple to do as several managers actually bragged to us about how many unemployed people had been exploited in their stores.
*drum roll* for newly (re)exposed exploiters of workfare
The Body Shop
Although the British Heart Foundation have been on our list for some time now, their sheer enthusiasm for workfare sees then get a special mention here. The manager boasted that 5/6 people will work 30 hour weeks at any one time, with workfare provider Seetec sending fresh replacements at the end of each month!
Sleuthing on your high street
Here are some handy tips to get started with sleuthing on your high street. If on your missions you come up with others – let us know!
1. Buddy up with a friend to make it more fun
2. Take some Boycott Workfare leaflets so that if you meet someone who is on workfare they can know their rights and get in touch with us.
3. Try and approach floor staff first because you sometimes get quite a different story from them than from the manager. (Which is why TK Maxx made it onto our “probably taking workfare” list yesterday.)
4. Plan your opening line. We simply said: ‘We’re doing a survey on work experience on the high street, we were wondering if you knew if this store takes work experience from the Job Centre or from A4e?’ Most of the store staff were happy to help with our survey.
5. Have a few more questions ready to follow up with:
- Do you know if that is company policy?
- Do you know if you have had work experience in the past?
- Is there anyone else we can ask about this?
6. If they do take workfare, try and find out:
- How many people do they take?
- How many hours do they work?
- How long are the placements for?
- Who arranges the placements? The Job centre or a private provider? (check out this list for the providers in your area beforehand.)
- What kind of work do they do?
7. Write down the answers as you go. After you’ve been into five stores, it’s easy to lose track!
8. Email your answers to us straight away and we’ll update our website/ direct action target list!
It is really easy – no one asked us where we were from, they seemed happy to participate in our survey – and it is quite fun too!