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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.

Q: What do the Jubilee and Argos have in common? A: Workfare

Posted: June 4th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Name and shame, Personal accounts | Tags: | 11 Comments »
Argos: still exploiting people with workfare

Argos: still exploiting people with workfare. Photo: olishaw/flickr

Following the excellent blog post that revealed workfare at the Jubilee, today the Guardian exposed the full shocking story of the conditions faced by workfare stewards and security guards at the Queen’s Jubilee. Unfortunately this story would not be a surprise to those carrying out workfare at Argos.

Earlier this year, Argos admitted it was using forced unpaid work to cover its “busiest time of year”. Then under pressure from the public and media, Argos said it would suspend its involvement in workfare. However, we have been contacted by someone forced to work in an Argos store in the East of England whose story shows that Argos is back at it, and intent on getting as much free work from unemployed people as possible…

I just thought I’d tell you that I’m currently being forced to do mandatory work experience at Argos. They have three of us and we were doing 10 hours extra a week more than any member of staff at our level so they’re obviously doing it so they don’t have to give overtime to their current members of staff.

It was only when I phoned up Seetec and complained about the amount of hours extra we were doing compared to everyone else that they cut us down to 16 hours, it makes you wonder how many other people who are too scared to speak out against it are doing huge amounts of hours for no pay.

Seetec failed to contact me about the placement at Argos until 20 minutes before I actually had to be there (my Seetec advisor’s excuse for not letting me know sooner was that she was in Barcelona on holiday, must be nice for some)!

I was sent by Seetec to do work experience, they told me there was a job at the end of it and that I could quit at any time if I wanted, but I have received nothing in writing about the placement and was threatened with loss of benefits if I quit it. As soon as I turned up at Argos they said there were no vacancies at the moment.

I’m doing it for four weeks but when I started there was a person that was referred directly by the jobcentre who was doing it for six weeks.

My advisor at Seetec was very patronising over the phone and I could tell she thought I was a ‘jobseeking scrounger’ as you must well know people in my position experience when it comes to signing on.

Since Argos found out that if they get people from Seetec they only get us 16 hours a week, they’ve moved to other work providers as they will give people over for 30 hours a week.

So they’ve got two more people starting next week to cover the lack of hours from the current work experience people. Really shows they’re going out of their way so they don’t have to pay people to work there.

Want to let Argos know what you think?

  • Email them via their website
  • Leave a message on their Facebook page.
  • Tweet what you think to @Argos_Online
  • Or call their Head Office (01908 690333) or Customer Services (01785 710253)

It really does have an impact. Last week online action convinced Body Shop to pull out of workfare!


11 Comments on “Q: What do the Jubilee and Argos have in common? A: Workfare”

  1. 1 FairWork « Cubik's Rube said at 10:23 pm on June 6th, 2012:

    [...] and many tabloids are still trying to convince us that the workfare scheme isn’t an unjustifiably cruel and exploitative joke, and that immigrant benefit cheats are the ones who are really destroying our country. But [...]

  2. 2 ghost whistler said at 1:00 pm on June 7th, 2012:

    Disgusting

  3. 3 Anon said at 1:45 am on July 7th, 2012:

    I can confirm this is correct.

    I was forced to undertake two months of “work experience”, also in the East of England, at Argos.

    I worked 25 hours a week, including Saturdays, for no pay.

    This was more hours than the majority of their staff, most of which were on just 3 hour contracts.

    I was often in the warehouse on my own for 5.5 hours processing customers’ orders (which was incredibly boring, depressing, and lonely).

    Unlike the story above, my “placement” was organised by my “Personal Advisor” at the job centre.

  4. 4 Anon2 said at 8:35 am on July 11th, 2012:

    I can confirm this. I work for Argos (in the East of England) and since before Christmas there has been a ban on overtime.
    This is because they can get free labour from the job centre.
    We are on contracts between 3 hours and 16 hours, yet they make the ‘work experience’ guys work full-time.

  5. 5 SerpentSlayer said at 12:03 am on July 30th, 2012:

    It is truly disgusting. I feel that workfare is a cover for getting people used to working for free, just as the current economic crisis is being exploited to condition British and European people into accepting any work that they are offered. Darker days are coming to these shores and the impositions imposed upon all of us will be worse than we have seen in decades.

  6. 6 Leicester Socialist PartyIndustrial Dispute Time-line for Argos » Leicester Socialist Party said at 11:18 am on September 21st, 2012:

    [...] June 2012: Argos continues utilizing free labour through the government’s workfare program. [...]

  7. 7 Birmingham Trades Council » Easter for some. Workfare for others. said at 2:23 am on March 30th, 2013:

    [...] year the boss of Home Retail Group – who also own workfare exploiters Argos – was paid £1.1 million. You’d think they could afford a living wage for the people [...]

  8. 8 Boycott Workfare » Blog Archive » “Would 750 hours with no payroll costs benefit YOUR store?”  said at 11:51 am on April 6th, 2013:

    [...] 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 [...]

  9. 9 Birmingham Trades Council » “Would 750 hours with no payroll costs benefit YOUR store?”  said at 3:16 am on April 7th, 2013:

    [...] 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 [...]

  10. 10 Two more major retailers – Argos and Homebase – out! | SLaM TWIG: Operations said at 7:37 pm on May 28th, 2013:

    [...] to cover its busiest period at Christmas. In at least one store, workfare workers were doing ten hours a week more than paid staff. That they have now pulled out is a testament to the strength of feeling amongst the general public [...]

  11. 11 HOMEBASE AND ARGOS PULL OUT OF WORKFARE | Wessex Solidarity said at 8:15 pm on October 13th, 2013:

    [...] to cover its busiest period at Christmas. In at least one store, Workfare workers were doing ten hours a week more than paid staff. That they have now pulled out is a testament to the strength of feeling amongst the general public [...]


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