12.30-1.30pm, Monday 2nd December, outside the ERSA workfare industry conference, Senate House, Malet Street, London (nearest tubes: Russell Square, Warren Street, Euston), facebook event here
(Can’t make it to London? Take part in the week of action where you are.)
On 2nd December, those driving forced labour for unemployed people on the government’s workfares schemes are getting together in one place for their annual conference. Be there too to show them that their days of vast profits for abusing the poorest people in the UK are numbered.
The workfare industry is already on the backfoot. The government’s flagship ‘Work Programme’ which promised to hand £5 billion to this sector – whose profits are wholly subsidised by public funds – has failed. The industry failed to meet even the minimum targets and tens of thousands have returned to the Jobcentre as the two year stint comes to an end.
Add to this arrests for fraud, consistent reports from jobseekers of the punitive and pointless measures these companies demand, and the immense public backlash against workfare – leading many of the big brands to withdraw from forced unpaid work.
ERSA, the trade body for the ‘welfare to work’ industry, have called their conference “Challenge and change in an evolving landscape”. Let’s make the scale of the challenge clear with fun and noise on the conference’s doorstep.
And in case you need more convincing, here’s a few good reasons you should come (in the form of a list of people who’ll be at [the conference] pushing their workfare agendas):
- Esther McVey MP, Minister of State for Employment and Stephen Timms MP, Shadow Minister for Employment – Making this a great opportunity to challenge the political consensus on workfare from all three main parties.
- The Department for Work and Pensions Director of Social Justice – Brought to you by the same department sanctioning 75,000 of the poorest people in the UK every month – leaving them with no income at all. Yes we can’t believe how Orwellian this job title is either.
- The lead researcher at Iain Duncan Smith’s workfare thinktank, the Centre for Social Justice – Same Orwellian-style name. Same agenda to abolish welfare.
- The Chief Executive and Director of Tomorrow’s People – Remember at the Queen’s Jubilee when 100s of unemployed people were forced to work without pay on 14 hour shifts and get changed under a bridge in London in the middle of the night? That’s just one of the workfare debacles brought to you by this crowd.
- Chairs, Heads and Directors from Avanta, Seetec, G4S, Pinnacle People – The companies pocketing billions of public funds to privatise welfare and fail to help people find work.
- The Executive Director of A4e – Is that the company where employees have been arrested for fraud and where the founder awarded herself a £8 million bonus – wholly funded by the taxpayer – and quit days before corruption investigations commenced? Yes, yes it is.
- The Chief Executive from Groundwork UK and the Director of ‘Employment Services’ at the Salvation Army – Two of the ‘charities’ profiting the most from using workfare, lending forced unpaid work the legitimacy it needs. Salvation Army was recently praised by the government for ‘holding the line’ on workfare.
- The Chief Executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance – Their recent report ‘Work for the Dole’ decided workfare was great. Did they ignore all the evidence? Yes they did. Would their proposals in fact involve massively ripping off the taxpayer? Yes, they would.
See the full programme here if you still need convincing that this conference is worth visiting with a lot of noise!
In the light of the massive clampdown on protest around campus by police and university management (see http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/