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!