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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.

More success! Oxfam, Maplin and “crisis talks with the government”

Posted: February 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Call to action, Name and shame | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Another amazing day for the campaign. It’s reported that ministers will hold “crisis talks” with Tesco this week to try and keep them on board what looks increasingly like a sinking ship. Maplin has tweeted that it will join the list of retailers to pull out of the government’s forced unpaid labour schemes.

Oxfam has confirmed to us verbally that it will not accept workfare in any of its forms. This is particularly good news for one person on our Facebook page who was due to start Mandatory Work Activity with them next week! The fact that they already had policy against it highlights how slyly workfare is being pushed by the government and their workfare profiteers, as well as how slowly the third sector more widely has been to respond to this attack on volunteering. The fact that placements are often organised by local shops rather than at a national level is no excuse, and it is great to see Oxfam taking action to make sure all of their stores stick to its policy. We look forward to seeing their public statement.

Boots, Pizza Hut and HMV should take a leaf out of their book. They are all telling people that they do not arrange workfare centrally, and refusing to take responsibility for what happens in their local stores. It’s clear they’re still willing to see people forced to work unpaid in their stores. Keep up the pressure and we reckon we can persuade them otherwise!

In the meantime, Age UK are investigating their use of workfare, and Poundland has its policy under review.

The list of towns taking action on 3rd March is growing everyday, visit our Facebook event and link up with others in your area there!

The action you are taking is working. Keep telling everyone you know and keep up the pressure on the brands who are still profiting from forced unpaid labour. More tomorrow.


6 Comments on “More success! Oxfam, Maplin and “crisis talks with the government””

  1. 1 Alex Kennedy said at 7:34 pm on February 20th, 2012:

    You are doing a wonderful job. We’ll get there. The manager in Boots on Crow Rd seemed to have no clue about what was going on RE the Workfare program – the MANAGER – sayingthat she has ‘heard something about it on the TV’. This is not good enough. Even the branch managers are in the dark. Totally disgusting.

  2. 2 lisa said at 7:49 pm on February 20th, 2012:

    i donate by direct debit monthly to cancer research & have emailed them to clarify their position on workfare, (i also copied the link to the guardian piece re disabled & terminally ill cancer patients proposals to work for their benefits!) and said i will not support them any longer if they continue to be a part of it. not heard back yet – will be interesting to see/hear what they have to say!

  3. 3 22 said at 8:25 pm on February 20th, 2012:

    Mencap have issued a statement: http://www.mencap.org.uk/news/article/mencap-statement-its-involvement-governments-work-programme

    Maintaining that Mencap is not – and has never been – involved in the delivery of the government’s Workfare scheme.

    Yet they continue with: Mencap is subcontracted to deliver the Work Programme.

    This strikes me as a contradiction as Workfare is a generic term given to describe all the governments unpaid work to receive welfare schemes.

  4. 4 R A Watson said at 8:59 am on February 21st, 2012:

    Hi, As a member of the war generation and being brought up in the belief that the labourer is worthy of his hire, and a fair days work for a fair days pay was taken as said, I find the ethos of getting people to work for nothing (internees, work experience, etc), repugnant in the extreme.
    Even the employment exchange would not have had the nerve to send you to a job with no pay. If I had gone to find work and then been told that I would not be paid my Dad would have soon put an end to that little racket.

    Pay the 30hrs at the basic wage + the benefit, that would at least give youngsters a chance to feel it was worthwhile doing..

  5. 5 James Anderson said at 5:35 pm on February 21st, 2012:

    What about Scotland ? Up hear we have an organisation called Ingeus who are going to delivery 6 months full time workfare. For everyone that is tied too them via the work programme.

  6. 6 Geoffsky said at 11:52 am on May 5th, 2013:

    Regarding the Oxfam statement above; I personally know an Oxfam shop manager here in the East Midlands who was approached by a proxy and took on two “work experience volunteers” in kind faith, without ever being informed of the draconian economic coercion behind the scheme. This manager – not being of right-wing outlook – is now left feeling utterly disgusted that these two unemployed people, an international humanitarian organisation, and herself, could be so cynically abused in such a crass and deceitful manner by this current regime.


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