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Media release – Monday 18th March 2013
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Salvation Army HQ occupied by workfare protestors
Today, Monday 18th March, the Salvation Army headquarters was the venue for a series of creative and entertaining protests when workfare campaigners  paid it a surprise visit to challenge the church’s use of forced unpaid workers.
Protestors sang hymns with subverted workfare lyrics in the public cafe, while a ‘workfare army’ occupied its reception area for one hour. Banners including bible quotes such as ‘The Labourer is worthy of his hire’ (Luke 10:7) were unfurled.
The Salvation Army is one of the few large charities to remain involved in the government’s controversial workfare schemes. It had publicly denied involvement in the schemes until evidence of its involvement in Mandatory Work Activity – a scheme which carries a penalty of up to 3 years benefit stoppages – emerged in January. Since then it has stridently defended its involvement. 
Commenting on the action Joanna Long, member of Boycott Workfare said:
“Charities like the YMCA and Salvation Army are meant to help people, not make them poorer, but workfare schemes do just the opposite. People are forced to work without pay or face destitution. It is disgraceful that the Salvation Army can defend forcing unemployed, sick and disabled people onto workfare. It is time they join the growing list of charities who realise it’s just not ethical.”
The action was supported by Christianity Uncut . Chris Wood, a spokesperson for Christianity Uncut, said:
“Workfare workers are not volunteers – their work is not voluntary but obligatory, and they should be paid a living wage. Instead they are being threatened with losing the benefits on which they live if they refuse to take part in this forced labour scheme.
“We are deeply saddened that charities such as the Salvation Army and YMCA are undermining the good work they do, and their witness to Christ, by participating in workfare schemes. Throughout the economy, workfare is increasing poverty and unemployment by reducing the jobs available for paid staff. Christians need to make a public witness against workfare and proclaim Jesus’ teaching that ‘The worker is worthy of his pay’ (Luke 10,7).”
The sit-in launched a week of action against workfare, which runs until Sunday 24th, and will see actions in cities across the UK including Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Glasgow and Leeds. 
Notes to editors
 Boycott Workfare is a UK-wide campaign network 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. We are not affiliated to any political party and are open to all who share our aims. More info: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/
 The Salvation Army has defended its involvement in forced unpaid work, ignoring the impact on poverty of the sanctions (benefit stoppages) on the schemes. Their position statement can be found here: http://news.salvationarmy.org.uk/response
In a FAQ document released on 4 March, it answered the question: “Why do you force sick and disabled people to work?” with the statement “At the Salvation Army we believe in emancipation through employment…”. It was posted on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/salvationarmyuk/posts/547732655258369?comment_id=6130496&offset=0&total_comments=156
 Christianity Uncut is an informal network of Christians campaigning against the UK government’s cuts agenda and the wider injustices of capitalism. They are inspired by Jesus, who took direct action in the Jerusalem Temple in solidarity with people who are poor, marginalised and exploited. Please see http://www.christianityuncut.wordpress.com.
 The list of public actions for the week of action against workfare continues to grow and can be found here: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1996
Past press releases:
18th March 2013: Salvation Army HQ occupied by workfare protestors
12th February 2013: Workfare regulations quashed in huge victory for ordinary people
5th July 2012: Workfare protests to take place across the UK
25th June 2012: Workfare in the Dock
19th October 2011: Anti-poverty campaigners denied access to “welfare to work” conference
18th October 2011: Forced labour protest to target welfare to work conference
10th June 2011: Work Programme will replace paid workers with mandatory labour
7th June 2011: Workfare Conference cancelled due to protest
6th June 2011: Protest to target workfare conference
A selection of coverage:
December 2010 – Islington Tribune, Happiness Society will not bring us joy
August 2011 – Corporate Watch
August 2011 – Guardian
September 2011: Corporate Watch exposes Matalan, Savers and Newham Council amongst others as profiting from workfare
October 2011: Morning Star – Forced labour scheme activists vow to defy gag
October 2011: Islington Tribune – Protest against ‘forced labour’ reforms at the Business Design Centre
November 2011: Corporate Watch exposes Holland & Barrett and Tescos
November 2011: Red Pepper – All Work and No Pay
February 2012: The Guardian – Waterstones ends unpaid work placements