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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.

HMV misleading the public about workfare?

Posted: February 16th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Name and shame, Personal accounts | Tags: | 1 Comment »

HMV have today tweeted at us that “@boycottworkfare HMV is NOT & will not be participating in the #workfare scheme. We’re not aware of who the quoted mgr is but this is untrue”

We can however, publish a testimony of someone sent on the DWP Work Experience scheme at an HMV store – along with two others. This person was wise enough to leave her unpaid work placement after the first day. If she had stayed to the end of the week, under DWP rules she would have had her benefits stopped for doing so and been trapped into the placement for eight weeks.

This testimony shows that HMV was taking DWP Work Experience before Christmas. If they can show that they are no longer doing so, we will happily remove them from the list. But since they’re denying it happened in the first place, that makes things more difficult.

Why not help them out? Pop into your local HMV and ask staff if there are or have been any job centre Work Experience placements there. Then let us know what you find out.

Read this person’s testimony:

I have been claiming since August and when it got to October time my adviser started pushing me towards work placements for me to gain some experience. I really want to get into admin as I only have retail experience but she offered me a place at HMV over Christmas. I felt pressured into saying yes even though I have previously worked a) in a record shop and b) as a sales adviser. I was told I would be working in the stock room and wouldn’t have to be face to face with customers.

When I went for my introduction at HMV I was with two other work placements from JSA, both were boys and I am a girl. The person interviewing us stated that they had asked for “one too many” placements and since I was the female I was to go work on the shop floor rather than in the stock room. Come to my first day, and I spent six hours wandering around the shop floor without any purpose other than “ask the customers if they are okay”. I was not told when I was going to finish and given a plain blue t-shirt to wear rather than a HMV t-shirt. I got talking to a boy who was working as Christmas staff and he explained that the blue t-shirts were for people working who were not “accepted” as part of the team. Both me and the two other JSA placements had blue t-shirts. This member of staff also informed me that he was going to make close to £2000 for working the Christmas period where as I was just receiving my normal benefits of £212 a month, he said he wouldn’t be working such a high-stress retail job over Christmas for no pay and I must say I agree with him!

The original hours were 30 a week but many staff members informed me that HMV put pressure on them to work much longer hours and start earlier than their shifts. We were told outright that we were not going to be taken on as staff at the end of the period because the company was going bankrupt and at the end of the day I walked out of the shop and didn’t go back! Luckily my advisor was sympathetic to me since I was doing a job I had not been put through to do and my benefits were paid as normal. It still didn’t stop me feeling like a failure for only completing one day before getting fed up and leaving. I felt like people would see me as just another “scrounger” for not being grateful for the opportunity, but I definitely feel more validated in my choice of not continuing with the placement now.


One Comment on “HMV misleading the public about workfare?”

  1. 1 Birmingham Trades Council » More success! Oxfam, Maplin and “crisis talks with the government” said at 2:03 am on February 21st, 2012:

    [...] Pizza Hut and HMV should take a leaf out of their book. They are all telling people that they do not arrange workfare [...]


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