Success! Workfare conference cancelled due to protest

Today, 7 June, the “Making Work Pay” conference was cancelled due to pressure from campaigners. Campaign coalition Boycott Workfare had called the action to launch the Welfare Uncut campaign that will take action against those organisations involved in rolling out the Work Programme.

A senior representative of conference organisers Inside Government stated that the conference was cancelled due to the call to demonstrate. Inside Government did not want to jeopardise their relationship with the venue, the Royal Society. A spokesperson for the Royal Society confirmed this to be the case.

Boycott Workfare is a coalition of unemployed people, anti-cuts campaigners, charity workers, trade unionists and allies. It is an ongoing campaign to challenge the government’s Work Programme, or ‘workfare’, and the companies profiting from the free labour it provides.

Despite DWP research concluding that “there is little evidence that workfare increases the likelihood of finding work”, the Work Programme will compel Jobseekers to work without pay for up to 30 hours a week. Existing placements include Poundland, hospitals, public parks and charity shops. Campaigners fear these compulsory placements are already replacing paid jobs.

Joanna Long, spokeswoman for Boycott Workfare welcomed the cancellation as a first campaign achievement:

“Today’s conference would have brought together organisations which may be involved in rolling out the Work Programme. That because of our actions it didn’t take place is a great way to launch the campaign and a success. All organisations involved in the Work Programme have been put on notice: They might get free labour but it will cost their reputation.”

Update 11th June:

We have since learnt that both the Royal Society and Inside Government lied to protesters, as the conference was in fact secretly relocated. We remain delighted that our first Welfare Uncut action was able to have such an impact, and that every delegate now knows that assisting the government’s workfare plans will not go unchallenged.


Comments (7)

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Linda Burnip

superb result, wonder if they'll get a refund of the extortionate fee they paid to attend?

Paul Swann

The conference wasn't cancelled, the venue was changed, and ended with some positive ideas for transforming the system from Simon Duffy of the Centre for Welfare Reform.

Demonstrations are important (I was on the Hardest Hit demo) but we also need to develop positive policies to put forward in place of the damaging policies that are being implemented. The Campaign for a Fair Society aims to do that so please consider getting involved:


Excellent news!

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Marty Goodman

Great to hear about your work (and success). Didn't know workfare was in London.

Workfare was introduced in the New York subway in 1997, I believe. Took lots of work from union cleaners, members of the Transport Workers Union Local 100. Our movement "New Directions," fought it but failed. Transit gave up on it a few years ago.
We've learned recently that as part of the attacks on all workers they are bringing it back to save money during the so-called "budget crisis." Trying to make others in my union aware. Best of luck. Put me on your mailing list!

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