Another high street chain has now been exposed as using workfare: Peacocks have taken on workfare placements instead of hiring staff.
Two stores faced protests on 1 March and their Facebook moderators have been very busy deleting people’s messages for days now. London Boycott Workfare invites other groups to pay a visit to your local store too and put the pressure on for Peacocks to pay its staff! Download our leaflet template here.
This person’s story shows how this practice means job applications are ignored when free labour is on offer instead. Another report has come in that the Sutton store has 10 workfare placements at one time. Please find out what’s going on at your local store too and let us know!
Can’t make it to a store in person?
Peacocks’ code of conduct claims: “Employment is Freely Chosen. There is no forced, bonded or involuntary prison labour. This includes forced labour due to peer pressure…”
I started claiming in last August, and since then have been sent on several work placements.
In December of last year I had an interview for Christmas temp work at Asda (though in the end I didn’t undertake it). One of the interviewees was someone who had been on a work placement there. At the start of the placements, people are told they will take you on a temporary contract after completing the placement, but this person had to go through the same process as everyone else.
In December I also undertook a work placement within a local Holiday Inn branch that was tied into a ‘Sector Based Work Academy’ I was referred onto and that was organised by a local college and I believe jobcentre supported. They have also now however been placed onto the ‘work experience’ list available from my jobcentre.
A few months later, I was asked to put my name down for work experience again. Our local branch of Peacocks hadn’t long reopened. They had been advertising vacancies for some time and so within the first week of the shop being open I had put my CV into the store for consideration.
It wasn’t very long after filling in the paperwork for the store that I was given a call to arrange my placement. Initially I was given three days a week. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. But then when I came in for my first day I was told that I had the Friday as well.
This pushed my total time within the store to 32 hours. Barring the two managers and one high level supervisor no one else in the store worked anywhere close to those hours. I was also initially asked to come in from 9.30-5.30 but then this was changed to 9am.
I had been told that Peacocks was hiring however there were no more vacancies mentioned. I was on there with two other people and often there wasn’t really enough work for all three of us to do. Most of my time on the shop floor was spent tidying stock and on delivery days sorting deliveries. I was given no other tasks or any training that would be beneficial such as using the tills.
During conversations I found out the manager never looked at CVs that had been handed into the store.
I have been undertaking a training course with a local company. A week after I had finished my placement and went back I found out one of the other people taking training at this place had been taken into this placement as well.
Instead of offering paid work to people, they seem to be able to staff their stores with a constant flow of work placements. Meanwhile, despite having applied to the store for a job as soon as it opened, I ended up working longer hours than staff for no pay. If companies can keep getting staff and not paying them, how are people like me ever meant to find paid work?