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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.

Week of action already a success! Major blow for government as Holland & Barrett pull out

Posted: July 6th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Action report | Tags: , | 7 Comments »
A national campaign against Holland & Barrett was called by Sol Fed

A national campaign against Holland & Barrett was called by Sol Fed

Before it even starts, the Week of Action has had a major success: Holland & Barrett who have been using workfare on a huge scale (1100 placements a year amongst a workforce of 3500) have said that “the 60 people currently undertaking the work experience scheme will be the last to complete the eight week placement. After this time Holland & Barrett will not participate further in that scheme.”

Unable to acknowledge people’s ethical concerns about them using an unpaid workforce on a massive scale, they have made the hilarious claim that the decision is due to the threat to customer and staff safety from our peaceful protests planned this weekend! These follow regular pickets called by Sol Fed who co-ordinated a national campaign against the company’s involvement in workfare.

But Holland & Barrett aren’t totally off the hook yet. They continue to use the current 60 workfare placements until these finish. Their announcement indicates that they intend to replace workfare with apprentices, which would allow them to pay a wage of just £2.60 an hour, far below the living wage.

Nevertheless, their announcement shows that our protests can push back workfare in the UK. Holland & Barrett is just one of hundreds of businesses, public sector employers and charities profiting from replacing paid work with workfare. Protests will continue this week to target other brands still involved. These include British Heart Foundation, who have boasted that they have at least one workfare placement in every store, Argos, Superdrug, ShoeZone, Asda, Tescos, Wilkinsons, The Works, the list goes on.

See the list of actions planned for the Week of Action 7-14 July here. If there’s nothing near you, why not add something to the list?

7 Comments on “Week of action already a success! Major blow for government as Holland & Barrett pull out”

  1. 1 Holland & Barrett pull out of workfare – Boycott Workfare week of action 7th-14th July 2012 | Notts Save Our Services said at 11:14 am on July 6th, 2012:

    […] info: H&B pull out – Workfare facts – of action 7th-14th July […]

  2. 2 Lord Stapleton said at 12:17 pm on July 6th, 2012:

    £2.60 per hour is the pittance set by the government for apprentices aged 19 and over, but don’t worry folks, this will soon rise to a massive life-changing £2.65 in October 2012. Does the government really think new graduates are happy with this after additional years of education and being forced to take out loans to complete that education?

    Also, whilst I’m at it, shouldn’t there be even higher rates for people in their 30s or 40s as they generally have more responsibilities?

    I don’t understand our society. We are supposed to have a free-market economy so why is a private company like Holland & Barrett using government regulations to underpay its staff? It should be setting its own salary levels in accordance with company profits, just as co-operatives like Waitrose do (or did). We need salaries we can live off COMFORTABLY without needing to run up credit card bills in order to stay above the breadline or being forced to buy cheap crappy products from China.

    Love this extract from a LibDem activist from Plymouth:
    “The idea that people need to carry out unpaid work experience in order to be qualified to stack shelves at the local supermarket is ridiculous. A four week unpaid internship in order to be considered for a job that probably doesn’t pay much over minimum wage is just wrong. How long do you have to work for free if you aspire to amounts such as £7 or £8 an hour? It’s crazy.”

  3. 3 Beating Balfour Beatty, humiliating Holland & Barret, and round 2 of the Israeli Summer: late June-early July round-up | Cautiously pessimistic said at 5:47 pm on July 6th, 2012:

    […] quick round-up:The first big victory, which you’ve probably seen something about already, is that the ongoing campaign against workfare has forced Holland & Barratt to pull out. The timing of the announcement clearly has something […]

  4. 4 Anonymous said at 7:06 pm on July 6th, 2012:

    Who is the next target? Argos, Wilkinsons? I can’t see Asda budging as easily. It seems effective that we work together to target individual stores and raise public awareness.

  5. 5 One Battle Won, War on Workfare Continues this Saturday | Edinburgh Anarchist Federation said at 11:05 pm on July 11th, 2012:

    […] Holland & Barrett are pulling out of their involvement in workfare. Described by the Guardian as “pioneers” ofthe scheme, this is a major blow to the government’s workfare plans. […]

  6. 6 Jonathan said at 2:07 pm on July 12th, 2012:

    Interesting tactic I’ve been using is bombarding these companies facebook sites. Not orginal but they don’t like the bad publicity, its worked with Tesco.and Holland and Barratt.

  7. 7 “The Real Enemy?” Why We Should Reject Left Unity as a Concept said at 8:08 pm on February 18th, 2013:

    […] and Boycott Workfare following their own paths over unpaid labour hasn’t stopped them both making significant dents in the scheme together or coordinating and supporting each others’ days of […]

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