By claiming to withdraw the sanctions from its Work Experience scheme, (just one of five workfare schemes) the government has appeared to budge a tiny bit. Importantly Workfare has been exposed as a truly and deeply unpopular policy, with rattled ministers failing to reassure companies like Boots, who continue to pull out of the scheme. This is a direct result of the enormous public pressure that has been put on companies who have been profiting from workfare. But this is not the end of workfare and therefore we must keep the pressure up. That is why we will be taking to the streets this Saturday and why our campaign continues.
Work Experience is just 1 of 5 workfare schemes. The Work Programme is another one of these schemes in which job seekers will be forced to work unpaid in high street stores, including well known charities, up and down the country. Some of these stores that may be worth a visit include –
The Work Programme is a particularly disturbing form of workfare – not only can job seekers be forced to work unpaid for 6 whole months, but disabled people find themselves fast tracked onto this scheme after only 3 months of unemployment. The scheme operates a ‘black box’ approach meaning that we have very little information about what exactly is going on in this scheme.
If you cannot make it to your local high street (or there is not an action near you) then you can follow the link to the companies’ online complaints page to raise issues about the exploitation that they profit from (just click on their name or get their twitter accounts here). See the Facebook event for online action this weekend.
You can also target the usual suspects (Tescos, Poundland, McDonalds, Holland and Barret, WH Smiths) who are still taking part in the Work Experience scheme and may well be involved in others. And then there are the companies who have only suspended involvement: Scope, Matalan, Argos, Superdrug.
The Work Experience scheme is still a cause of concern. As the government press release made clear, there are still sanctions involved in this scheme and therefore there is still the element of compulsion. George Osborne has stated “Young people who don’t engage with this offer [of work experience] will be considered for mandatory work activity” where severe benefit sanctions (starting at 3 months!) can be imposed. With the Work Experience programme still being linked to sanctions directly and indirectly, and still remaining unpaid, we suggest pressure is put on companies to withdraw their support and to offer real paid jobs!
Here are some forms of action that will be happening up and down the country that you may like to try out: local groups are planning to do tours of the companies involved, set up stalls to make people aware of their rights on the various programmes (see this leaflet), perform street theatre outside, go into stores and ask managers to withdraw support or simply shut the stores down. Teach-ins and mic-checks are also fun activities you might want to include. If you’ve got other plans – let us know!
Most of all have fun and stay safe! Share pictures and reports on Facebook, Twitter and our comments section on the website. And remember, if you exploit us – we will shut you down!
Download a Day of Action leaflet.