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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.

Good news! Sainsbury’s withdraws from workfare

Posted: February 11th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Action report | Tags: , | 10 Comments »

In another promising victory for public pressure, Sainsbury’s has joined Waterstones in withdrawing from the government “Work Experience” scheme, which forces people to work unpaid for 30 hours a week for 8 weeks or lose their benefits.

Sainsbury’s has said it will now only participate in the work trial scheme which is “entirely voluntary” and where “candidates did not lose their benefits if they didn’t participate”. Let’s hold them to it: if you know anyone mandated to work without pay on any government scheme (Mandatory Work Activity, the Work Programme, Community Action Programme or anything else), let us know!

This is a really important precedent. Big companies can afford to pay a wage. They should not be getting a forced unpaid workforce. If there is work to be done, those doing it should be paid a living wage.

We now know that we can stop forced unpaid work placements by publicly exposing those profiting from workfare. On Saturday 3rd March, people in Liverpool and London are taking to the high street to up the pressure on brands who still think these schemes are acceptable. Why not organise something on your high street too? Let us know if you are!


10 Comments on “Good news! Sainsbury’s withdraws from workfare”

  1. 1 victim said at 3:19 pm on February 15th, 2012:

    I emailed Salisbury’s about the scheme and they have confirmed they are no longer participating, quoting his link.

    Dear Sir/Madam

    Thanks for your email about the Workfare programme.

    We’re pleased to tell you that we announced that we will no longer be participating in this scheme. More information can be found at http://bworkfare.mayfirst.org/ .

    We appreciate you contacting us and look forward to seeing you in store again soon

    Kind regards

    xxxxxxxxxxxx Customer Manager

    Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd | 33 Holborn, London | EC1N 2HT

  2. 2 roger said at 4:38 pm on February 15th, 2012:

    You are doing some really important work, do you have a donate button yet?

  3. 3 Tesco's unpaid labour shows the flaw at the heart of workfare | Left Foot Forward said at 11:20 am on February 16th, 2012:

    […] has a choice in this matter. Many of their competitors, such as Sainsbury’s and the Co-op, have confirmed that they will not be using work experience labour; but Tesco insists […]

  4. 4 Workfare – another policy in the social media firestorm | A dragon's best friend said at 10:15 pm on February 16th, 2012:

    […] scalps in their campaign against a key part of the Government’s welfare reform policy. Both Sainsbury’s and Waterstone’s have pulled out, and in recent hours, TK Maxx have announced the same. Tesco […]

  5. 5 Boycott Workfare » Blog Archive » Tescos accidentally reveals the exploitation at the heart of workfare said at 11:15 pm on February 16th, 2012:

    […] week Sainsbury’s withdrew from the scheme after public pressure. Following today’s public outcry, TK Maxx has also stepped back. Help […]

  6. 6 The Samosa » Archive » Tesco’s unpaid labour shows the flaw at the heart of workfare said at 10:53 am on February 17th, 2012:

    […] has a choice in this matter. Many of their competitors, such as Sainsbury’s and the Co-op, have confirmed that they will not be using work experience labour; but Tesco insists […]

  7. 7 Look Left – The fight for the soul of the NHS goes on | Left Foot Forward said at 9:02 pm on February 17th, 2012:

    […] has a choice in this matter. Many of their competitors, such as Sainsbury’s and the Co-op, have confirmed that they will not be using work experience labour; but Tesco insists […]

  8. 8 National Day of Action Against Tesco’s Workfare Scheme. Kingston Upon Thames. 22nd, February. « Voice of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford said at 12:49 am on February 20th, 2012:

    […] successes over the last month, with Sainsburys, Waterstones and TK Maxx bowing to pressure and pulling out of some (though not all) of the government’s workfare programmes. Other companies now face a […]

  9. 9 The Tories’ Vile Workfare Project, and How It Has Now Infiltrated the NHS | Andy Worthington said at 6:08 pm on May 14th, 2012:

    […] and organisations have now said they “will no longer take part in workfare”: TK Maxx, Sainsbury’s, Waterstones, Shelter, Marie Curie, 99p stores, Maplin, Oxfam, Mind, BHS, Burger King […]

  10. 10 Supermarket Food Programme | Edinburgh Eye said at 7:53 am on October 5th, 2012:

    […] is a part of the problem: they took part in Iain Duncan Smith’s workfare scheme (they claim they’ve withdrawn from it now), they pay their employees a per-hour wage below the UK Living Wage and below even what other […]


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