On May 26th Brighton Benefits Campaign held a national conference to co-ordinate opposition to Workfare – the idea of working for your dole, i.e. not being paid to work. BBC, which has been going for a number of years now, consists of both claimants and trade unionists, which accounts for why it has continued to be Britain’s most active group!
Today we held a Workfare Walk of Shame and over 30 people joined in and hundreds of people took leaflets. Almost everyone we spoke to was supportive of the campaign and opposed the wage slavery ideology of the Coalition Government that you should work for free when on the dole, so that Sainsbury’s et al. can cream off even bigger profits.
Just before the day of the demonstration we learnt that our major target in recent weeks – the ‘right-on’ company Holland and Barrett which supplies health foods for the trendy conscience end of the middle classes had decided that making people work for free is perhaps not quite compatible with a healthy life-style! It had therefore decided to pull out.
We began the walk of shame led by 4 Prisoners from the Workfare Chain Gang complete with a metal chain that clanked along. I was in favour of attaching an iron ball to it as well, to make it more realistic, but unfortunately this was turned down!
We started off with our favourite clothing shop – Primark – which demonstrates that when it comes to exploiting third world children and people in this country they make no distinction. They are an equal opportunities exploiter – race plays no part in who they decide to exploit. After Primark we paid a double visit to Argos Stores, which had allegedly pulled out of Workfare but hasn’t, and McDonalds – a multi-billion dollar corporation always looking for that little bit extra for Ronald, on the basis that you look after kids when they are sick in order that they can grow into healthy teenagers who can then be exploited (much like Barnardos which participated in a similar scheme some years ago).
And then it was across Brighton’s Western Road to visit the druggies favourite – Superdrug. There at an all but deserted shop we made our presence felt as the hapless manager looked on. And finally it was back to the Clocktower for a picket of the Boots store opposite. Boots is also eager to take maximum advantage of cheap/free labour via this kind and caring government. So this is what the Big Society is all about – you let bankers run riot through our finances and make sure that unemployed kids contribute free labour to make up the gambling losses.
And then finally it was across the road for a short visit to our old favourite – Holland and Barrett. Yes we know they’ve pulled out of Workfare now but they are bringing in apprenticeships instead – probably at the magnificent sum of £2.50 an hour. As we took up positions to proclaim our triumph the exasperated manager came out and asked ‘what are you lot doing here. I thought you’d be satisfied now.’ No mate, there’s no pleasing some people!
Boycott Workfare is a UK-wide campaign 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.
Week of action already a success! Major blow for government as Holland & Barrett pull out
A national campaign against Holland & Barrett was called by Sol Fed
Before it even starts, the Week of Action has had a major success: Holland & Barrett who have been using workfare on a huge scale (1100 placements a year amongst a workforce of 3500) have said that “the 60 people currently undertaking the work experience scheme will be the last to complete the eight week placement. After this time Holland & Barrett will not participate further in that scheme.”
Unable to acknowledge people’s ethical concerns about them using an unpaid workforce on a massive scale, they have made the hilarious claim that the decision is due to the threat to customer and staff safety from our peaceful protests planned this weekend! These follow regular pickets called by Sol Fed who co-ordinated a national campaign against the company’s involvement in workfare.
But Holland & Barrett aren’t totally off the hook yet. They continue to use the current 60 workfare placements until these finish. Their announcement indicates that they intend to replace workfare with apprentices, which would allow them to pay a wage of just £2.60 an hour, far below the living wage.
Nevertheless, their announcement shows that our protests can push back workfare in the UK. Holland & Barrett is just one of hundreds of businesses, public sector employers and charities profiting from replacing paid work with workfare. Protests will continue this week to target other brands still involved. These include British Heart Foundation, who have boasted that they have at least one workfare placement in every store, Argos, Superdrug, ShoeZone, Asda, Tescos, Wilkinsons, The Works, the list goes on.
The tide is turning and following massive public pressure, we are pleased to say the following companies and organisations say they will no longer take part in workfare:
TK Maxx Sainsbury’s Waterstones Shelter Marie Curie 99p stores Maplin Oxfam Mind BHS Burger King – although they have only mentioned one of the five workfare schemes HMV Boots Body Shop
The following have suspended their involvement. We look forward to them confirming that they will stop involvement in any of the government’s workfare schemes: Scope Matalan
The particularly misleading ones
Poundland have said they will pull out of the Work Progamme but remain in the Work Experience Scheme Tesco are still involved in the scheme Argos – despite telling the Guardian that they had suspended involvement, they are now back at it Superdrug – see their tweet which claimed they’d suspended invovlement but we’ve since has evidence they are using the Work Experience scheme again Pizza Hut say they have the scheme under review. Age UK is investigating.
The following have stated that they are not involved:
Miss Selfridge Mr Gleam wrote to tell us that they have never been part of the scheme.
Hold them to it!
Ask in your local stores to confirm that no one is on DWP “Work Experience”, Mandatory Work Activity, the Community Action Programme, Sector Based Work Academies, or Work Programme placements: all of these are forced unpaid work, or workfare schemes. Let us know if you hear otherwise.
The following companies and organisations are known to have used or be using workfare:
100+ Workfare Providers
List 1: Alphabetical list
List 2: Workfare Organised by a4e under Flexible New Deal (Holloway Branch) List 1: Alphabetical list A4e The AA [Source: @StockportJCP on Twitter] Age Concern Alpha Stream – Kent Argos Asda Asian Star Community Radio LTD ATS Barnardos BHS – British Home Stores  – claim to have pulled out Blue Arrow Bookers Wholesale Boots – Claim to have pulled out B&Q British Heart Foundation Burger King – claim to have pulled out Burton Carillion – Kent Capability Scotland Cancer Research Close Protection UK DB Accident Repair – Kent DC Cleaning Sussex Diamond Glass Medway – Kent Dorothy Perkins  Envirostream – Kent Evans  Finsbury Park Business Forum FP Mailing [Source: Interview with Director, LBC Radio 27/6/12] F&S Interiors – Kent Go Response – Kent Helen & Douglas House Hospice – Maidenhead HMV  – claim to have pulled out Holiday Inn Holland & Barrett – claim to have pulled out Gorgie City Farm – have informed us that they do not take part Greggs the bakers Grosvenor Casinos [Source: @DundeeTayside Jobcentre Twitter] Haven House Children’s Hospice Hilton Hotels JA Glover – Kent Jessup Electrical Wholesale Ltd – Kent JJ Vickers & Sons Ltd – Kent Kennedy Scott Kent Flooring Supplies – Kent Kent Space – Kent Marriot Hotels Maplin – have tweeted that they have withdrawn, awaiting statement Matalan – have suspended workfare. Keep up the pressure for them to drop it! Mayhem Paintball – Kent McDonald’s Medway Council Medway Tyres – Kent Miss Selfridge – claim were never involved Newham Council Newhaven Community Development Olympic Glass – Kent Omnico Plastics Ltd – Kent Outfit  Payless – Kent PDSA Pizza Hut – scheme “under review” – keep up the pressure! Plumbase – Kent Poundland Poundstretcher PPDG Primark Process Plant Services Ltd – Kent RBLI Regency Guillotine – Kent Richmond Fellowship Romney Resource Kent Royal Mail RNR Performance Cars – Kent Saffron Acres Project Salvation Army Savers SERCO Scope – have suspended their involvement. Keep up the pressure for them to pull out! Scout Enterprises Servest – Kent, London SHOC Slough Homeless Shoe Zone Signs & Imaging Ltd – Kent Slough Library Slough Furniture Project Southern Membranes Ltd – Kent Southern Metal Services – Kent Southern Roofing & Building Supplies – Kent Stephens Fresh Food – Kent Sue Ryder Superdrug Swan Lifeline – Windsor Tate Recruitment Tesco Topman  Topshop  The Range Town and Country Cleaners Kent Wallis  Westvic Enamellers – Kent WHSmith Whittingtons Silk Flower & Plant Centre – Kent Wilkinsons The Works
“The names and locations of organisations participating in the Work Programme in the South East (Kent, Surrey and Sussex) Contract Package Area by providing mandatory work placements through the DWP’s prime providers G4S and Avanta Enterprise Limited and their subcontractors.”The DWP appear to have removed this link, so you can find it here instead.
“A list of those organisations signed up to provide work placements (4 weeks, unpaid) under the Mandatory Work Activity and Mandatory Work Programme schemes as referred by JCP and its linked provider (A4E & Maximus) in the Thames Valley area, listing each name by town heading (Reading, Slough… etc).”
Note: Those organisations, such as Age Concern, are listed without reference to locality of placement(s) as they are a National organisation. However, it is possible for placements to have been organised on a local level without Corporate consent. Some organisations may be agencies that match volunteers with voluntary work placements, DWP Workfare Providers may be using them without the coordinating organisation or placement provider fully understanding the placements are Workfare.
List 2: Workfare Organised by a4e under Flexible New Deal (Holloway Branch)
4 ACRES 4 ACRES LIMITED PALMERS GREEN ABNEY PARK CEMETERY A-CLASS FOOTBALL FOUNDATION BARAKAH MINI MARKET
BOOKERS CASH AND CARRY BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION (Camden) BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION (Crickle Wood) BTVC CENTRE WESTMINSTER CHARITY SHOPS IN VARIOUS LONDON PLACES DAYLIGHT DOREEN HAIR FASHION SALOON ENVIRONMENT AND REGENERATION FINSBURY PARK BUSINESS FORUM FRIENDS OF THE EARTH HANDEL HOUSE MUSEUM HARRIOTS HIGHGATE NEWTOWN COMM CENTER HOME START HOMES FOR ISLINGTON HORNSEY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS KILTRO(UK) LTD LINCOLN HARTFORD SOLICITORS LIVABILITY MARIE CURIE NORFOLK TRUCKS OXFAM BOOKSHOP OXFAM BOOKSHOP HIGHGATE P.D.S.A P.H.A RECRUITMENT SOLUTIONS RESTORE COMMUNITY PROJECT SAINT MUGUS SALIBURY MEWS HARINGES SPRINGBOARD UK ST. MARY PRE-SCHOOL STRATEGIC PRO. OFFICE, ISLINGHTON STUDIO 28 LIGHT AND DESIGN SUNNYSIDE ECOLOGY CENTER
TRADE LIMITED WESTMINSTER VOLUNTEER CENTER WHITTINGTON HOSPITAL Y.M.C.A. YMCA GOODGE ST. YMCA KENSINGTON 1′OCLOCK CLUB BARNSBURY ARABIC CAREER DEVELOPMENT ASDA STARES EDMONTON GREEN ASPIRE FOUNDATION BARDENS CAFÉ BBC/subell leisure centre BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION CAREFREE KIDS ESSENTIAL RUBBER FINSBURY + CLERTRNWELL VOLUNTEERS FINSBURY PARK BUSINESS FORUM FINSBURY PARK BUSINESS FORUM (MARSHALLS TEAM) GARDENING HACKNEY COMMUNITY COLLEGE HIGH GATE NEWTOWN COMMUNITY CENTRE HIGH GATE NEWTOWN COMMUNITY CENTRE (POOR SCHOOL) MARIE CURIE MATRIX COMPLEX OUR LADY HELP OF CHRISTIANS OXFAM BOOKSHOP PRAMP RESTORE COMMUNITY PROJECTS RICHARD CL SCHOOL ROBERT BLAIRE PRIMARY SCHOOL THE R.S.P.C.A. WHITTINGTON HOSPITAL WILLIAM FROST GARDENING WORKING MEN’S COLLEGE ANGLO-CHINESE ARTS COUNCIL 4 ACRES A4E BTCV CAMPAIGN AGAINST ARMS TRADE – Since this placement, CAAT was the first NGO to sign up to the pledge not to accept workfare. CARE UK EALING HAMMERSMITH & WEST LONDON COLLEGE FINSBURY PARK BUSINESS FORUM GARDENING HIGH GATE NEWTOWN COMMUNITY CENTRE HIGH GATE NEWTOWN COMMUNITY CENTRE HOME START HOUSE STREET CHARITY BOOKSHOP/GILLESPIE PARK NATURE RESERVE LIGHT PROJECT INTERNATIONAL MARIE CURIE – Marie Curie have since withdrawn MEDOUET OXFAM OXFAM BOOKSHOP PETER BEDFORD HOUSING ASSOCIATION RESTORE COMMUNITY PROJECTS ST. JOHN’S STREET LIBRARY/AGE CONCERN Whittington hospital WHITTINGTON HOSPITAL YMCA CAMDEN OXFAM BOOKSHOP a4e CAMDEN A4E WOOLWICH BARAKAH MINI MARKET CANCER RESEARCH UK CITY OF LONDON CORPORATION FINSBURY AND CLERKENWELL VOLUNTEERS FINSBURY PARK BUSINESS FORUM HARINGAY VOLUNTARY SERVICES HIGHBURY NEW PARK DAY CENTRE HIGHGATE NEWTOWN COMMUNITY CENTRE LONDON FELD PRIMARY SCHOOL MIGRANTS RESOURCE CENTRE MONTEM PRIMARY SCHOOL OUR LADY KENTISH TOWN OXFAM BOOKSHOP RESTORE COMMUNITY PROJECTS ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE SAINSBURY’S GOLDERS GREEN SIMPLY ACCOUNTABLE SUE RYDER CARE – CITY OF ISL. TINY TOTS NURSERY/HG COMM CENTRE VOLUNTEER CENTRE HAMMERSMITH WHITTINGTON HOSPITAL YMCA YMCA CHARITY SHOP As of 16 02 12 Copy at: