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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.

Body Shop and Shoe Zone exposed – help find out more!

Posted: May 29th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Call to action, Name and shame | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments »

Body Shop is one of the latest shops to be named as taking workfare, Photo: Crashworks/FlickR

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

Shoe Zone

The Body Shop

Dorothy Perkins

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!

Happy sleuthing!


11 Comments on “Body Shop and Shoe Zone exposed – help find out more!”

  1. 1 Boycott Workfare – the campaign to end forced unpaid work for benefits | Liberal Conspiracy said at 4:31 pm on June 10th, 2012:

    [...] exploiters through their twitter and facebook accounts. One of our current projects is ‘the Great High Street Sleuth‘ in which we encourage people to investigate workfare on their local high [...]

  2. 2 Boycott Workfare – the campaign to end forced unpaid work for benefits | said at 6:27 pm on June 10th, 2012:

    [...] exploiters through their twitter and facebook accounts. One of our current projects is ‘the Great High Street Sleuth‘ in which we encourage people to investigate workfare on their local high [...]

  3. 3 Workfare | stainesanarchists said at 9:02 am on June 24th, 2012:

    [...] here is useful for anyone planning action against retailers involved in workfare in their local [...]

  4. 4 mary smith said at 11:12 am on August 2nd, 2012:

    I am just wondering why no one is mentioning Seetec, they have the contract in london. I have been send to Seetec by my JCP and they have placed me for MWA in a charity in Islington, Seetec is exploiting the Queensland Art and Media Center and now is busing about 50 unemployed every week to their center off Caledonian Road. This small charity is struggling to survive and Seetec is using them as work provider. People go there and sit and do nothing all day, once a week Seetec rep Mr. Darius H (no one knows his full name) comes in and pay for travel expenses of the people forced to this shameful MWA. Why don’t you look at Seetec and their activities in London.

  5. 5 Peter Tompstone said at 12:14 am on September 4th, 2012:

    People at Woolwich Jobcenter Plus South East London are being refered to Seetec.
    ESA, JSA and single mothers with childern over 1 year. The are doing WRAG of ESA.
    Also Brantano Footwear UE Cannon Retail Park Thamesmere Drive, Thamesmead, London SE28 8RD are having workfare people refered from above.
    They use the usual tactics threat of sanctions for not atending and the good old telephone harasment with calls and automated txt. I would recomend not giving DWP your number or asking them to remove it. I must admit I got a lot joy out of swearing at them for calling the wrong person. :) .
    Hope the info helps

  6. 6 Birmingham Trades Council » Easy, quick and simple: a one person action on the high street said at 2:05 am on March 4th, 2013:

    [...] the UK are planning to step up the pressure on workfare exploiters in their towns. From workfare ‘sleuthing’, to workfare walks of shame to pickets and sit-ins, the possibilities are endless. Lots of people [...]

  7. 7 Workfare « The Benefit Justice Campaign said at 5:49 pm on March 18th, 2013:

    [...] Investigating workfare on your high street: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1017 [...]

  8. 8 Birmingham Trades Council » 24 hours to stop IDS rewriting history and robbing £130 million – Day 1 in the Workfare Week of Action said at 2:00 am on March 19th, 2013:

    [...] Investigating workfare on your high street [...]

  9. 9 percy45 said at 9:41 am on January 18th, 2014:

    Have a suspicion workfare might be going on near me. On a visit to Wilkinsons, in Acocks Green in Birmingham I saw a lad dashing about collecting up empty baskets and putting them back for customers to use. He did seem very enthusiastic.
    When he was facing me, I noticed he was wearing a badge proudly declaring ‘I am getting work experience’
    Looking back now I realise this poor sod may have been a slave. I think I need to look into this and if I find out they are using workfare they will be losing a lot of custom.

  10. 10 chris said at 10:53 am on May 30th, 2014:

    The best way 2 avoid workfare is 2 get a p\t job spread over a week.I work 8hrs a week, an hr 2 an hr and a half a day.

  11. 11 chel said at 2:50 am on June 18th, 2014:

    Are there any groups and or events happening in Sheffield…I’ve got my appointment at a4e on June 30th and i’m getting schooling up on knowing my rights…im armed and ready!


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