News

“Would 750 hours with no payroll costs benefit YOUR store?” 

This poster was leaked from the Haringey Homebase store.

This poster was leaked from the Haringey Homebase store.

This poster, leaked yesterday from Haringey Homebase, shows exactly how employers view workfare: an easy way to cut the wages bill. Homebase claim “We ensure they work alongside, not replace, paid colleagues”, but a staff member has told us that since tens of workfare placements were brought in, overtime has been cut for everyone. Some people’s hours have been cut from 48 down to 8 – far below the threshold for Working Tax Credits – because that is all they are contracted for.

It turns out 750 hours with no payroll costs – the figure for just one week in just one of Homebase’s 342 stores – does have a massive impact on the paid work available. Apparently it’s an effect that is popular with the regional manager, who we’ve heard has been trying to get all Homebase stores in her region to use workfare, and has been suspending or moving managers who don’t.

Homebase have been quick to claim that the scheme is voluntary, but our source told us that workfare workers have all been told “work for free or lose your benefits”. As Boycott Workfare have exposed, even on paper the Work Experience scheme is only voluntary if you say ‘yes’, since it is backed with the threat of Mandatory Work Activity which carries up to three year sanctions.

Haringey Homebase is not advertising for workers and we’ve heard that managers have been instructed to tell people on workfare that there are no jobs for them. This, despite the fact that last year the boss of Home Retail Group – who also own workfare exploiters Argos – was paid £1.1 million.

The public response to this story has been immense with hundreds of comments on Homebase’s Facebook page deleted, and the company taking it offline at times. But it hasn’t yet been enough. In a week where people claiming benefit have been smeared by the Chancellor, the fact of the matter is that it’s not people on benefits who are scrounging off the taxpayer, it’s businesses. We need to show Homebase that they can’t get away with workfare exploitation and we won’t go away until everyone working in their stores is paid.

Contact Homebase and their parent company Home Retail Group. Order leaflets from Boycott Workfare for a pop-up action at your local store. Help spread the word!

Oh, and if you were ever tempted to think this is a one-off mistake, this is what someone else told us this week: “a friend of mine who was working 40 hours per week at Argos has just had his hours cut by half because they have been getting workfare in. Now he can’t afford his rent.”

Feel free to contact Argos, Homebase’s sister company, too.

Comments

Comments (18)

Leave a Reply

concerned

Read about this earlier and looked on the Homebase facebook page. They have been deleting all posts relating to this matter.

https://www.facebook.com/homebase?filter=2

Jj

It doesn't surprise anybody with an ounce of sense.
The language used says it all. It's not so much an endorsement of trialling with intent to hire the best, but more 'the best person is the cheapest person'.
It actually contrasts well with how the Work Programme contracts were allocated. Who needs quality when you can save money in the short-term?

Jeff

The implications of workfare for paid employees is laid bare by the industrial scale use of workfare in one Homebase shop. People who rely on overtime to get by will clearly lose out and as for employees who are sick or who express an interest in improved working conditions!

When a shop takes on 1 or 2 forced unpaid workers they may spin it to current staff that the benefit claimants will do all the particularly unpleasant tasks. Later the current staff realise that their overtime opportunities are reduced and that paid staff who are dismissed or move on are not replaced by paid staff. Where a shop takes on a "gang" of 21 workfare claimants I think paid staff will be less easily convinced of the benefits, not that a workfare exploiter would give much consideration to the concerns of paid staff.

stevie alsop

funny i thought slavery was outlawed centries ago.

John Ladrill

Homebase didn't even have the sense to claim the flyer was a fake.

This is quite possibly the most shocking thing I've seen on here.

Take Action Against Homebase Lets Stop Workfare in its Tracks | Bristol Anarchist Federation

[...] they say that the workfare scheme has not impacted staff or reduced over time hours, boycott workfare quickly exposed this as an outright lie with a staff member reporting massive reductions in overtime. They also revealed that Homebase [...]

Ruth

OMG that's appalling + scandelous. This is the sort of story that needs to be brought to the attention of 'Panorama' or 'Dispatches'. It's not just JSA bill they wanna cut but the tax credit bill too. To cut the hours of a full time to less than 16 hours is worse than words can describe + surely posiby illegal under the contract the emplyee is on.

Andy

I have been trying to start a business for five years now. This, so called recession has obviously impacted upon that ambition. I had to sign on, but was told that I could not do that, due to the fact that I was advertising for work and they deemed that as subsidising my so called business. I aked for advice as to where to get some financial support for advertising, tools etc, and they declined any. Now, I can, and would, take on, and train people in my trade. It is immoral and unethical to expect people to work for less then a decent living wage, and, if they do, how can you expect them to show any interest, or show a good work ethic, as they are shown no respect, and have no future. This nation lacks ambition, and does not like its people to show any. That, is workhouse mentality. We fought to break free from that yoke a century ago, and now we must fight again.

Johson

This is shoddy. I will not be shopping at Homebase any more.

Garry

Workfare, community service for criminals, sorry but I can't see the difference

ALL YOUR HOMEBASE ARE BELONG TO US | BARF

[...] they say that the workfare scheme has not impacted staff or reduced over time hours, boycott workfare quickly exposed this as an outright lie with a staff member reporting massive reductions in overtime. They also revealed that Homebase [...]

Ian Wightman

Well just another example of how the poor are being exploited, all the organisations which subscribe to this form of slavery should be taken to court surely there must be something in the anti slavery laws to combat this ?

Join the Week of Action Against Homebase On Workfare Wednesday | the void

[...] it showed managers boasting about how they have been able to cut the wages bill with workfare. Then a staff member told us what it had meant for staff: overtime cut for everyone and some people’s hours reduced cut from [...]

Birmingham Trades Council » Workfare Wednesday: We won’t stop until you do Homebase!

[...] it showed managers boasting about how they have been able to cut the wages bill with workfare. Then a staff member told us what it had meant for staff: overtime cut for everyone and some people’s hours reduced cut from [...]

Take Action Against Homebase: Let’s Stop Workfare in its Tracks – From Bristol Anarchist Federation. | Hastings Anarchists

[...] they say that the workfare scheme has not impacted staff or reduced over time hours, boycott workfare quickly exposed this as an outright lie with a staff member reporting massive reductions in overtime. They also revealed that Homebase [...]

Annonymous

I was claiming job seekers when they told me they have a work placrment which is MANDTORY or i will loose my benefits if I don't complete the 3 Month work experience, I completed the work experience UNPAID just for the manager to tell me there are no hours/work available, several months later I get a call from the manager asking me to come back and start working, They gave me a 12 week fixed term contract which lasted for 5months when they dismised me, I appealed and won but they only gave me the SAME contract 12week fixed term, They also just recruited another 6 FREE members of staff last week which they all work 40 hours each a week, Permanent employees have had hours cut to there basic standard contract, THIS IS SLAVE LABOUR! How can the governmment allow big companies to employ people for free and not pay them a dime!

Homebase faces protests over unpaid workers in Haringey and Willesden after attempting to mislead activists again | Brent Housing Action

[...] [1] After a poster was leaked showing managers boasting about saving 750 hours of payroll costs (per week), a whistleblower told the campaign that all staff had had reductions in overtime, and that some people’s hours had been cut from 48 hours down to 8 hours: http://bworkfare.mayfirst.org/?p=2404 [...]

HOMEBASE AND ARGOS PULL OUT OF WORKFARE | Wessex Solidarity

[...] gets better. Remember how Homebase were exposed for using 25 workfare placements in one store and boasting about it? How we heard some people’s [...]