B&M Bargains have won a ‘prestigious’ workfare industry award for their use of forced unpaid labour. We need to let them know this has not gone unnoticed. They need to understand that it is unacceptable to have this sort of exploitation take place in our communities.
B&M bargains are a private, profit making company (they made over £100 million last year) and yet it won’t pay its workers for their labour. People on workfare are given sanctions (loose their benefits) if they don’t work for free, and even when they do work they are sanctioned for ‘misdemeanours’ such as being late. Sanctions mean that claimants loose their basic means of survival – the money they need for food, bills and other necessities. Sanctions are a major cause of the rise in the use of foodbanks.
Apart from exploiting claimants, workfare also undermines the hours and conditions of paid employees at B&M. As with all workfare placements in the private sector, workfare provides free labour that replaces paid jobs.
Boycott Workfare has had several reports of reduced hours for paid staff as well as the practice of employing paid staff on a trial basis, sacking them after 12 weeks, and replacing them with workfare placements:
“B&M stores started using workfare Jan 2013. Receiving free labour and stopping overtime for employees with contracts. The people forced to do this free labour are not happy and neither are the other workers.”
“older or long term staff were sacked and a new wave of 20 workfare placements taken on.”
“Just to let you know B&M Stores have taken on new staff under a workfare scheme. This was 1 month after staff hours were cut by 50%. This meant my hours were cut from 20 to 10.”
With no sense of irony, ERSA awarded B&M Bargains ‘Large Employer of the Year’ for such behaviour. With almost no large charities (except for Salvation Army, sigh) and so many companies refusing to be part of workfare, such self-congratulatory awards start to smell more than a little of desperation!
B&M’s destruction of paid jobs and exploitation of claimnants is NOT something that we think a company should be congratulated for. Because ESRA, who gave this award, have no sense of irony and because we do…
Come out on Saturday 27th June and help ‘celebrate’ their award outside their stores:
- Make it noisy – bring pots and pans and wooden spoons
- Bring trumpets, drums, whistles and kazoos
- Make it colourful
- Bring a message small or big for B&M Bargains
Workfare can only take place if there are employers willing to take advantage of forced labour. And these employers will only do so if they think they can get away with it. Public pressure, protests, pickets and social media campaigns have already been hugely successful in forcing businesses and charities to pull out.
People can only be sent on workfare placements if there is somewhere to send them. Let’s make it impossible to do this!
Not on this street, not in this city!
How to get involved:
Use twitter, facebook and direct action to expose B&M Stores and call for a boycott of their stores
Find a B&M Bargains near you and join or organise a protest there
Get together to create banners, signs and share ideas