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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.

Stop workfare in its tracks – Take action 29 March – 6 April

Posted: March 3rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Call to action, Charities, Pledge to boycott workfare, Welfare to work industry | 10 Comments »
blockade of salvation army shop

Workfare: If you exploit us we will shut you down!

Tens of organisations have already quit workfare. The government will not reveal which organisations are still using it for fear the schemes will collapse. Its contractors complain that they have lost hundreds of placements due to public pressure.

But they’re trying it again with a new scheme – “Community Work Placements” – launching in April 2014 which will force claimants to work for six months without pay. Six months – 780 hours – is more than twice the maximum community service sentence. Workfare does not help people find jobs and being unemployed is not a crime.

This new workfare scheme is part of a raft of draconian measures, misleadingly called “Help to Work”, which are designed to increase sanctions (benefit stoppages) and undermine wages still further.

For the workfare schemes to happen, they need places to send people, but tens of large charities have already quit. Oxfam stated that the schemes were incompatible with its goal of reducing poverty in the UK. Liverpool Volunteer Centre has condemned the scheme in the strongest possible terms.

Our action can stop companies, charities and councils from exploiting forced unpaid work and make sure this new scheme falls flat on its face. Wherever you are, however you can contribute, take action on 29 March-6 April.

Target the charities:

  • Friendly local charity or Volunteer Service? Invite them to commit not to use forced unpaid work by signing our pledge.
  • Big workfare user like RSPCA, YMCA, Salvation Army, The Conservation Volunteers, British Heart Foundation, Barnardos or Cancer Research? Write to them, organise a demo or encourage people you know not to donate until they stop using workfare!
  • Approach workers in the voluntary sector to ask them to pressure their employer not to participate in the scheme. There are often Union branches for voluntary sector workers you could contact.
  • Visit daily during the week to take part in online action!

Target the councils:

  • Find out if we know about workfare in your local council on this spreadsheet.
  • If so, adapt our press release and expose them in your local paper.
  • Contact local Unison, GMB or Unite branches for council workers and encourage them to pass the motion to challenge workfare and to take it up with the council.
  • Find out if any sympathetic local councillors would take a motion to the council for it to boycott workfare. It has been done!

Support each other to get our rights:

  • Order know your rights leaflets to give out at the job centre or around your local community – email info[at] with how many you would like!
  • Thinking about starting a mutual support group? Invite an existing group to help get it going with a workshop or talk.

Want to target the companies involved in workfare as well?
There are currently call outs to target Peacocks (download a leaflet here), and Grosvenor Casinos (download a leaflet here). Or there’s our crowd-sourced list of workfare exploiters to whom you may also like to pay a visit.

More about the Community Work Placement scheme:

Making links:

  • One year too long for the Bedroom Tax – End it now! Protests are organised in Leeds, Manchester, Ashfield, Harlow, Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Southend and London on Saturday 5 April. Why not go along, make the links and pay a visit to a local workfare provider afterwards?
  • The TUC has called for a Fair Pay Fortnight from 24 March-4 April. Despite the threat it poses to members’ jobs, workfare (zero pay work) doesn’t seem to be on the agenda. The TUC currently even has policy supporting sanctions (PDF – 3.6, pg 31). Our week of action at the same time is a chance to point out that trade unions urgently need to take action on workfare and sanctions.


Whatever you’re planning – let us know and we’ll help spread the word! info[at]

Actions announced so far:

Anti-workfare campaigners will also be supporting:


10 Comments on “Stop workfare in its tracks – Take action 29 March – 6 April”

  1. 1 Jeff Smith said at 2:37 pm on March 5th, 2014:

    We have had a massive increase in Workfare Placements here in Exeter. Pinnacle People have been sneaking around trying to get people to sign -up to this disgusting scheme. So far they have got two – British Heart Foundation, and to their shame, St.Sidwells Community Centre, Sidwell Street, Exeter.

  2. 2 Jeff Smith said at 2:44 pm on March 5th, 2014:

    If any of want to contact St.Sidwells Community Centre in Exeter, to tell them what you think about workfare, their Phone number is 01392 666222, or email:

  3. 3 SINEAD said at 2:48 am on March 7th, 2014:

    Im in on this, Tescos in Cov does workfare the tramps!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. 4 sinead said at 2:50 am on March 7th, 2014:

    Tescos near Bullyard Coventry…..the target

  5. 5 Jeff Smith said at 2:29 pm on March 11th, 2014:

    Hi Sinead,

    I think you mean
    Tescos, 5 Bullyard Coventry. CV1 1LH.
    Tel: 0247 622 3381
    or email:

    We can all support this lady by letting Tesco know what we think of workfare.

  6. 6 Rachel said at 6:11 pm on March 12th, 2014:

    I think your Council spreadsheet may have become corrupted, the calculation in the final column uses incorrect cell references

  7. 7 jody said at 7:31 am on March 17th, 2014:

    I am writing on behalf of a friend in Birmingham who has been forced to work at a so called Boys Brigade charity shop called

    Anchor, Unit 21, Central Square High Street, Erdington B23 6RY

    0121 333 5868
    Please let them no what you think

  8. 8 carole collins said at 12:27 pm on March 17th, 2014:

    Letter sent to British Heart Foundation.

  9. 9 DazzlerDarryl said at 1:26 pm on March 19th, 2014:

    I was unemployed for 10 years. I did sod all and got put on the MWA in London last year with a council. Probably the best thing in all honesty cos I got like a motivation to work. Now put that in your pipe and smoke it

  10. 10 emmabee said at 12:35 am on March 24th, 2014:

    Disgusting! nothing suprises me any more really, i’ve not looked on here for a while so thought id have a read to get an update and i’m glad i quit the JC, too much crap going on there right now, i haven’t been back since the end of August 2012 and i’m doing alright on my own, they thought i couldn’t well… i showed them.

    If you live near a college that does placements and helps get you an apprenticeship take full advantage of it! i’m now looking for an apprentice chef position, i applied for one but not sure if i’m going to hear back but i’ve improved everything including my CV without their help. One thing they fail to mention is how employers are now increasingly using Social Media, also they fail to tell you about the automated systems which search up CVs and Applications related to the job, meaning by your file name ;).

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