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Workfare protests to take place across the UK

Media release – For immediate release. Media contact details here.

See list of events and how to get involved here.

Protests against workfare will take place on 7-14 July across the UK in a week of action called by the Boycott Workfare network to escalate the campaign against forced unpaid work. Twenty one towns and cities are already taking part, with more locations expected to be announced throughout the week. [1] [2]

The week of action will take place in the wake of several serious challenges to the government’s workfare schemes. Leaked figures suggest that workfare company A4E is failing to meet the minimum requirements for its Work Programme contract, with only 3.5% of “clients” finding longterm work (at a cost of roughly £11,250 per person). [3] Peer research has shown that Mandatory Work Activity has no impact on people finding work. [4] The outcome of a Judicial Review which argued that the schemes are unlawful and amount to forced labour is expected soon. [5]

The peaceful protests will step up the pressure on those still involved in workfare. [6] A variety of creative actions are expected to take place including a chain gang march, guided tours of workfare providers, workfare “sleuthing”, colourful pickets and importantly letting unemployed people know their rights. A counter conference will take place in Birmingham during the industry’s Welfare to Work convention. [7]

Holland & Barrett, who are committed to over one thousand workfare placements, representing a significant proportion of their 3500-strong workforce, are expected to be a particular focus for the protests. [8] Work Programme providers including A4e, Reed, Ingeus, and G4S should also expect local protests and a mass telephone and email action.

Liz Wyatt, a member of Boycott Workfare commented:

“It is staggering the government continues to push out workfare on a massive scale despite all the evidence that workfare is a costly mistake which achieves nothing other than another taxpayer subsidy to big business. Yet the workfare industry want more funds and greater powers to cut benefits.[9] Workfare affects all of us: it drives down wages and replaces paid work.”

Notes to editors:

[1] 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://bworkfare.mayfirst.org/

[2] The list of public actions for the week of action against workfare continues to grow and can be found here: http://bworkfare.mayfirst.org/?p=1154

[3] On 29 June 2012, Channel 4 exposed leaked figures which show that A4E is failing to meet its minimum targets: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXg4-6frynM

[4] Research find Mandatory Work scheme does not improve job chances: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jun/13/mandatory-work-scheme-government-research

[5] Cait Reilly’s Judicial Review took place on 26-27 June 2012. See her lawyer’s press release: http://www.publicinterestlawyers.co.uk/news_details.php?id=263

[6] A list of some of the companies which are or have been involved in workfare can be found here: http://bworkfare.mayfirst.org/?page_id=16

[7] Making Welfare Work counter-conference details: http://bworkfare.mayfirst.org/?p=1192

[8] More information on Holland & Barrett’s involvement in workfare: http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/one-quarter-of-holland-barrett-staff-could-be-workfare-slaves/

[9] David Cameron’s back-to-work firms want benefits cut more often
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jun/30/david-cameron-work-firms-benefits?INTCMP=SRCH

[10] For links to DWP documents about workfare and evidence that workfare does not improve job outcomes, please see Boycott Workfare’s “The Facts” page:
http://bworkfare.mayfirst.org/?page_id=663

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Holland & Barrett pull out of workfare – Boycott Workfare week of action 7th-14th July 2012 | Notts Save Our Services

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