Stop workfare in its tracks – Take action 29 March – 6 April

blockade of salvation army shop

Workfare: If you exploit us we will shut you down!

Tens of organisations have already quit workfare. The government will not reveal which organisations are still using it for fear the schemes will collapse. Its contractors complain that they have lost hundreds of placements due to public pressure.

But they’re trying it again with a new scheme – “Community Work Placements” – launching on 1 April 2014 which will force claimants to work for six months without pay. Six months – 780 hours – is more than twice the maximum community service sentence. Workfare does not help people find jobs and being unemployed is not a crime.

This new workfare scheme is part of a raft of draconian measures, misleadingly called “Help to Work”, which are designed to increase sanctions (benefit stoppages) and undermine wages still further.

For the workfare schemes to happen, they need places to send people, but tens of large charities have already quit. Oxfam stated that the schemes were incompatible with its goal of reducing poverty in the UK. Liverpool CVS has condemned the scheme in the strongest possible terms.

Our action can stop companies, charities and councils from exploiting forced unpaid work and make sure this new scheme falls flat on its face. Wherever you are, however you can contribute, take action on 29 March-6 April.

Target the charities:

  • Friendly local charity or Volunteer Service? Invite them to commit not to use forced unpaid work by signing our pledge.
  • Big workfare user like RSPCA, YMCA, Salvation Army, The Conservation Volunteers, British Heart Foundation, Barnardos or Cancer Research? Write to them, organise a demo or encourage people you know not to donate until they stop using workfare!
  • Approach workers in the voluntary sector to ask them to pressure their employer not to participate in the scheme. There are often Union branches for voluntary sector workers you could contact.
  • Visit boycottworkfare.org daily during the week to take part in online action!

Target the councils:

  • Find out if we know about workfare in your local council on this spreadsheet.
  • If so, adapt our press release and expose them in your local paper.
  • Contact local Unison, GMB or Unite branches for council workers and encourage them to pass the motion to challenge workfare and to take it up with the council.
  • Find out if any sympathetic local councillors would take a motion to the council for it to boycott workfare. It has been done!

Support each other to get our rights:

  • Order know your rights leaflets to give out at the job centre or around your local community – email info[at]boycottworkfare.org with how many you would like!
  • Thinking about starting a mutual support group? Invite an existing group to help get it going with a workshop or talk.

Want to target the companies involved in workfare as well?
There are currently call outs to target Peacocks, and Grosvenor Casinos. Or there’s our crowd-sourced list of workfare exploiters to whom you may also like to pay a visit.

More about the Community Work Placement scheme:

Making links:

  • One year too long for the Bedroom Tax – End it now! Protests are organised in Leeds, Manchester, Ashfield, Harlow, Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Southend and London on Saturday 5 April. Why not go along, make the links and pay a visit to a local workfare provider afterwards?
  • The TUC has called for a Fair Pay Fortnight from 24 March-4 April. Despite the threat it poses to members’ jobs, workfare (zero pay work) doesn’t seem to be on the agenda. The TUC currently even has policy supporting sanctions (PDF – 3.6, pg 31). Our week of action at the same time is a chance to point out that trade unions urgently need to take action on workfare and sanctions.

TAKE ACTION ON 29 MARCH – 6 APRIL TO STOP WORKFARE IN ITS TRACKS AND PUSH BACK AGAINST SANCTIONS.

Whatever you’re planning – let us know and we’ll help spread the word! info[at]boycottworkfare.org

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From Boycott workfare: Take action on the charities creating hunger and homelessness.

end-unpaid-work_0One in five people sent on mandatory work activity in charity shops face destructive sanctions (benefit stoppages) of three or six months. Sanctions are a major reason for the soaring rise in the use of food banks as hunger is made a daily reality in the UK. The charities still involved in workfare are profiting from making people poorer and giving moral cover to the companies involved as well. Let’s tell them it’s time to pull out!

Last month, a poll of charity workers showed just how unpopular workfare is with the majority of people in charities: 92% thought that the government should publish the list of workfare providers that it is withholding.

Since the start of the year, thanks to your action, five charities have said they will no longer take part in workfare schemes: Sense, PDSA, Capability Scotland, Sue Ryder and the Red Cross. The Children’s Society has also pledged not to use workfare.

This means the workfare schemes which rely on charity placements are on the rocks! Already before the latest withdrawals, the government complained“The high profile withdrawal of placements from a number of larger charities meant a sharp reduction in placements.”

Let’s help banish workfare from charities: contact these workfare exploiters today.

RSPCA

Fellow animal charity PDSA has already realised that it needed to show a bit more kindness to the human beings working in its shops. Time for RSPCA to do the same and stop using workfare!

Head office: 030 0123 0100
Facebook: RSPCA
YouTube: www.youtube.com/rspcauk
Flickr feed: www.flickr.com/photos/rspca
Twitter: @rspca_official

YMCA

The YMCA released a statement in March defending their use of forced unpaid workers, and ignoring the fact they are responsible for pushing people into destitution and possible homelessness through sanctions which can last up to three years. Persuade them to join the list of charities who will no longer have anything to do with workfare.

Phone them on 020 7186 9500 or their shops hotline on 0845 601 0728.

Email: shop@ymca.org.uk or enquiries@ymca.org.uk
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/ymcaengland
Find contacts for your nearest YMCA shop: http://www.ymca.org.uk/find/ymcashops
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/THEYMCA
Tweet their President, Bishop John Sentamu, has spoken out against workfare in the past: @johnsentamu

Twitter: @ymca_england

Salvation Army

The government has praised the Salvation Army for ‘holding the line‘ on workfare. When new figures emerged two weeks ago showing just how disastrous the Work Programme is for claimants, the Salvation Army released a pro-Work Programme report and have publicly claimed that ‘The Work Programme is working‘. They have boasted about the fact they even force sick and disabled people to do their workfare schemes.

Salvation Army UK can be contacted on facebook and on Twitter:  @TSA_IHQ and @salvationarmyuk

They can be telephoned on (020) 7367 4500 or emailed at: info@salvationarmy.org.uk

The Salvation Army’s youth section are on facebook here.

To tell Salvation Army branches round the world what is being done in their name in the UK find twitter details here.

British Heart Foundation

Following occupations and pickets in across the UK British Heart Foundation announced they were “moving away” from workfare. Recently they declared they had withdrawn from the Mandatory Work Activity scheme. But they are openly declaring on their website that they are still participating in the Work Programme – despite the fact that in December this scheme was extended to give providers the power to force many sick and disabled claimants on Employment and Support Allowance to work for nothing, or face sanctions.

BHF state on their site: “Our supporters are welcome to contact us directly if they have any questions about our participation in the scheme. Please email customerservice@bhf.org.uk“.

Don’t disappoint them, get in touch!

BHF Retail HQ – 01372 477 300
Head Office – 020 7554 0000
Customer Service Centre – 0300 330 3322
Facebook: BHF
Contact: http://www.bhf.org.uk/contact-us.aspx
Twitter: @thebhf

Papworth Trust

Papworth Trust told civilsociety.co.uk:
“Papworth Trust believes that by being involved in mandatory work activity, we can make sure that each work placement is as effective as possible for each disabled or disadvantaged person.”

Now tell them what you think of their use of disabled people on workfare!

A list of phone and fax numbers can be found here.
Email: info@papworth.org.uk
Youtube: www.youtube.com/user/papworthtrust
Facebook: Papworth Trust
Twitter: @papworthtrust

And if you’ve got a bit more time, why not get in touch with some of the high street brands profiting from workfare or the green charities exploiting forced labour too? Remember there’s loads of action on the streets this Saturday too!

A plague of anarchosyndicalists descends on Portsmouth Poundland 2nd of March 2013.

To get everyone in the mood for SolFed’s southern regional conference, host local Solent called a flash picket of the devious workfare provider on Commercial road; A joint action with CNT-AIT Caen France, Forest of Dean Anarchists, Wessex Solidarity and other comrades.

Poundland’s repeated protestations that they have given up the DWP’s slave labour scheme have proved to be worthless. As always, we talked to the staff and handed them some literature: the stakes were raised somewhat as it turned out two of them were working for JSA (about £2 an hour). It was only fair to share this information with the Saturday morning shoppers, and it was enough to put most of them off.

Bit of déjà vu for Holland and Barrett but they just happened to be next door and there wasn’t room for us all to stand outside Poundland’s shop window. Passers by were mostly friendly including some passing Trots, who were impressed with our level of organisation! Cheers comrades, did you know it was the 92nd anniversary of the start of the Kronstadt Rebellion?

From thence to our secret conference venue, multiple breakfasts and plotting the downfall of the bourgeoisie. The day rounded off with a sociable evening of radical folk, punk & noise. You should have been there!

2012: a year in the life of SolFed.

Lib-dem conference and Anarchy in Brighton.

    

The start of this year’s Libdem conference was met by a noisy march and demo called by Brighton Stop the Cuts and the local Trades Council. Speeches followed, the final one being given by a member of the Solidarity Federation who called on those present to join us in shutting down workfare in Brighton. For the rest of the afternoon, the centre of town was dominated by anarchosyndicalists, their friends and comrades. Red and black flags and banners were ubiquitous the length of London road as members of SF locals Brighton, Bristol, Croydon, North London, Solent, South London and Thames Valley picketed workfare parasites and handed out thousands of leaflets to the staff and shoppers. Two branches of Poundland were picketed along with Argos, Costa’s Coffee, Primark, and Superdrug. We were also graced with a visit from Brighton’s lonely fascist photographer who fucked off after a group of anarchists decided to picket him.

From Vice: MAKING FRIENDS WITH LIB DEMS, THEIR FANS AND THEIR HATERS AT THEIR BRIGHTON CONFERENCE

Brighton Benefits Campaign:  Austerity demo & mass workfare picket

 

Solidarity In Action on Brighton Poundland Picket

 Re-blogged from Hastings Anarchists.

On Saturday Brighton Solidarity Federation were joined by Brighton Benefits Campaign on our first picket in the national campaign against Workfare profiteers Poundland. Over the course of two hours we handed out a thousand leaflets and struck up many conversations with the public at their North Street store. This follows the high court ruling that the DWP were within the law to force two unemployed workers out of voluntary work and into unpaid labour at the store.

May Day celebrations in Cardiff

 

The irrepressible South Wales Anarchists and comrades celebrated Mayday with an anarchist picnic in the city centre. Assorted free literature, free food in the shape of bread rolls and spicy veg stew provided by Food Not Bombs Cardiff plus free entertainment from local acts busking in the shadow of Nye Bevan’s statue. A sunny day brought a crowd out and some interesting conversations were had.

The event also marks the launch of their stylish new website The A Hole.

We also managed to slot in a couple of workfare pickets: Primark and Poundland, I can report that management and security at both are proper bell-ends. We then adjourned to the boozer and it all gets a bit hazy after that…

May Day is our day! – International Workers’ Day, and this is what it’s all about: The Anarchist origins of May Day (pdf)

Mayday roundup from London