Tag Archives: boycott workfare

There’s Still No Pay At The Y.M.C.A – Boycott Workfare Target Forced Labour Charity

ymca-protestA lively protest was held both inside and outside the head offices of so-called charity the YMCA today as part of the week of action against workfare.

Several demonstrators from Boycott Workfare carried out a short occupation of the charity’s offices before holding a protest outside where a sound system played and protesters sang the familiar ‘There’s no pay at the Y.M.C.A.”.

Lots of leaflets were handed out and many people expressed shock that a charity claiming to help the homeless would be involved in not just workfare, but also administering benefit sanctions.  The YMCA themselves have said that sanctions, which can leave people with nothing to live on at all, can have a ‘devastating impact’ on the lives of young people.

This hasn’t stopped them being part of the Mandatory Work Activity scheme and the Work Programme – both of which are backed by the same sanctions that the YMCA claim are of such concern to them.

In a major victory for all those who have campaigned against the charity it is believed that they have now decided not to be involved in Community Work Placements – the latest six month long workfare scheme being launched at the end of this month.  They are however involved in Traineeships which can involve up to six months unpaid work for private companies.  In his Autumn Statement George Osborne announced that people under the age of 21 who refuse an unpaid Traineeship will face being sent on a Community Work Placement instead.

An online action has also been called against the charity so you can tell them what you think of their use of workfare on twitter @YMCA_England or facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/YMCA.England

For more details and the latest news on the week of action visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=3436

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Week Of Action Against Workfare Begins: Please Spread The Word!

boycott-workfare-week-of-actionJoin the online action today against workfare exploiters @SUBWAYUKIreland in solidarity with #fastfoodrights. Tell them what you think on facebook, or for more info go to: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=3436

The Week of Action Against Workfare begins today with actions across the UK and online scheduled over the next seven days.

The week has been called in response to mass unpaid work schemes such as Traineeships and comes in the month that Community Work Placements are set to be launched.  These mandatory placements will mean unemployed people forced to work in at charities and in so-called community organisations for a period of six months.

In a huge embarrassment for Iain Duncan Smith, workfare’s biggest supporters The Salvation Army have already announced that this scheme is too exploitative even for them to stomach.  The charity had been invited by the DWP to bid for a lucrative sub-contract to administer the placements.  Other charities are also rumoured to be pulling out of the scheme – watch this space or keep an eye on Boycott Workfare’s website and twitter feed @boycottworkfare.

Protests and actions are already planned this week in Cardiff (tomorrow and on Friday April 4th) , Edinburgh, Liverpool, Brighton, Swansea and Glasgow.  Feel free to post details of additional events in the comments.

Online events will also be taking place throughout the week, I’ll try post them here but visit Boycott Workfare’s website for the latest news and join the facebook page for the week of events.

Please share, blog and tweet details of all events.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Stop Workfare In Its Tracks – Join The Week Of Action 29 March – 6 April 2014

salvation-army-workfareIn April George Osborne’s mass workfare scheme will begin.  Unemployed people will be sentenced to 780 hours community work simply for being unable to find a job. Not even lone parents with young children are to be exempt from the scheme which will see so-called charities like Groundwork UK and the Salvation Army paid by the tax payer to force people to work for free.  Part time workers and those currently genuinely volunteering will also face being sent on unpaid work.

Collective action can halt this forced labour scheme in its tracks.  A week of action against workfare has been called beginning on the 29th March.  An escalation in the campaign against unpaid work is vital and there is no better chance than this.  It only takes a few people to get the ball rolling, and protests against organisations using workfare have proved to be effective.  Boycott Workfare can offer support with publicity, leaflets and advice. Please help spread the word about the week of action and let’s make this the strongest stand against people being forced to work for free that has been seen so far.

From Boycott Workfare:

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.

For more info visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=3353 and follow @boycottworkfare for the latest news.

Please join and share the facebook page for the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1548766378680842/

Read about the recent inspiring action by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty against workfare exploiters The Salvation Army.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Take Action Against Workfare Exploiters Peacocks On March 1st

Boycott-workfare-holiday-innFrom Boycott Workfare

Another high street chain has now been exposed as using workfare: Peacocks have taken on workfare placements instead of hiring staff.

London Boycott Workfare is taking action on Sat 1st March. We invite other groups to pay a visit to your local store too and put the pressure on for Peacocks to pay its staff!

Visit Boycott Workfare’s website to read how workfare means job applications are ignored in favour of free labour:  Peacocks exposed: Apply for a job – get workfare!

Protest at a store on Saturday 1st March!

1pm, Peacocks store on Seven Sisters Road, Holloway with London Boycott Workfare

Peacocks Store in Catford with Lewisham Green Party

Can’t make it to a store on Saturday 1 March?

Let Peacocks know what you think on their social media channels:
Facebook | Twitter: @peacocks

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Day 5: Online Action on workfare and sanctions – the finale

WorkFare-not-workingFrom Boycott Workfare

The week of action has seen a very loud noise demo at the workfare industry’s annual conference, hijacking its hashtag and actions in Cardiff, Wrexham, and even one in Germany! There’s loads more planned this weekend – with a new action just announced in Sheffield this Saturday too (and one coming up next week in Oxford!).

Thanks to everyone who’s been putting the pressure on online too. We’ve kept a lot of workfare exploiters’ Facebook Page moderators very busy this week and we’ve seen time and again how pressure from action on the streets plus online embarrassment can be enough to make a company or charity think twice!

Today, please help show all the companies and charities we’ve contacted this week that we won’t stop until they do. Scroll down our website front page for ways to contacts some of the worst offending charities, biggest workfare-using companies, those that make the workfare industry conference happen and those cutting wage bills using young people on traineeships.

The petition to end all welfare sanctions without exception is only 300 away from 10,000 – please take a few minutes to spread the word and help make it 10,000 by the end of the week of action!

And if you’ve still got a bit of time to spare, please feel free to contact any of the workfare exploiters listed here.

Thanks for being part of the week of action!

Groundwork are on twitter @groundworkuk and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groundworkuk

TCV are on twitter @TCVtweets and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/TheConservationVolunteers

YMCA are on twitter @YMCA_England and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/YMCA.England

The Salvation Army are on twitter @salvationarmyuk and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/salvationarmyuk

Marks & Spencer

By email: Using their online form
By phone: See this useful list of numbers
Facebook: Marks and Spencer
Twitter: @marksandspencer

B&M Stores

By email: enquiries@bmstores.co.uk or customerservices@bmstores.co.uk
By phone: 0151 728 5400 or more numbers here.
Facebook: B&M Stores
Twitter: @bmstores

Asda

Asda contact form: Click here
Facebook: Asda
Twitter: @asda

Toywatch: let them know what you think on shop@toy-watch.com, comment on their Facebook page, give them a call on 020 3301 8744 or pay them a visit.  They are on twitter @ToyWatchWorld

Subway

Share your thoughts on Subway’s Facebook page or take a look at their contact details.  They are on twitter @SUBWAYUKIreland

Don’t forget to sign the petition calling for an end to all benefit sanctions without exceptions.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Day 3: Target the companies replacing paid work with workfare

If You Exploit Us We Will Shut You DownFrom Boycott Workfare

Workfare hands companies free labour which means fewer jobs and paid hours for everyone. But direct action and online pressure mean tens of brands now steer clear of it. Let’s step up the pressure on companies who still think they can profit from unpaid work!

Take action today to shame these companies and make them realise that exploiting unemployed people might just mean fewer customers this Christmas. There’s new online action every day this week so please keep checking back!

Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer’s use of workfare hit public awareness when they announced 1400 new placements in their stores and a benchmark of 2% of the workforce to be unpaid. But this isn’t the brand’s first encounter with workfare. Despite their CEO earning over £2 million a year, they are also profiting from unpaid work through another workfare scheme in Scotland, which targets single parents. It’s likely their involvement is much more widespread – we also heard from someone sent on a 4 week placement at one of their outlet stores.

Last time we took action, M&S was forced to disable comments on their Facebook Page. Several pickets and walks of shame will pay a visit to their stores this week. Please feel free to contact them with your thoughts as well:

By email: Using their online form
By phone: See this useful list of numbers
Facebook: Marks and Spencer
Twitter: @marksandspencer

B&M Stores

In May, B&M won an award from the workfare industry for its involvement. But the reality of this involvement is harsh. One person has reported: “B&M stores have started using workfare Jan 2013. Receiving free labour and stopping overtime for employees with contracts. The people forced to do this free labour are not happy and neither are the employees!” Boycott Workfare has had reports of workfare at B&M stores in Bangor, Glasgow, Manchester, Southend and Northern Ireland. Show them they can’t keep cutting their wages bill with unpaid work!

By email: enquiries@bmstores.co.uk or customerservices@bmstores.co.uk
By phone: 0151 728 5400 or more numbers here.
Facebook: B&M Stores
Twitter: @bmstores

Asda

Asda has been at the heart of workfare in the UK, helping the government relaunch its “Work Experience” scheme last year. We have had reports that one of their stores in Manchester uses disabled people on workfare on the night shift. They are frank about their involvement here.

Asda contact form: Click here
Facebook: Asda
Twitter: @asda

Don’t forget to sign the petition calling for an end to all benefit sanctions without exceptions.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Rowdy Mob Confronts Workfare Conference and Spoils Their Lunch

20131202_133225A rowdy mob gathered outside today’s welfare-to-work conference as part of the Week of Action Against Workfare and Sanctions.

The annual conference is organised by ERSA, the trade body established to lie on behalf of the workfare industry.  Whilst vile workfare supporters like Esther McVey and the hard right Tax Payers Alliance gave speeches inside, people outside brought pots and pans, musical instruments, sound systems and megaphones to ensure the delegates could hear the anger at their exploitation of people in receipt of benefits.

Up t0 50 people joined the protest which began outside the main entrance to Senate House, the venue for the conference.  The group then set off for a walk round the building to hunt down the workfare exploiters only to find them having lunch just around the corner.  There then followed a cacophony of noise as protesters whistled, jeered and made as much noise as possible right outside the window ensuring that the poverty profiteers tax-payer funded lunch was as unpleasant as possible.

Meanwhile scores of people took over the #ERSA2013 hashtag for the day, ensuring that any attempt at white-washing their dirty little forced labour schemes on twitter was a dismal failure.  Elsewhere people contacted the sponsors of the event demanding they end any association with workfare.

The main sponsor, who paid out a whopping £6000, were @learndirect.  In an expensive marketing disaster they were singled out and their facebook page bombarded after they were found to be workfare exploiters themselves.  Keep up the pressure  and make sure they bitterly regret every last penny they spent supporting forced unpaid work.learn-direct-workfareProtests are planned around the UK as part of the week of action with upcoming action in Reading, Wrexham, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Cardiff along with four more protests in London.  Online actions will continue everyday this week so keep an eye on Boycott Workfare’s website for the latest announcements.

A video of the protest along with a further report is available at: http://www.katebelgrave.com/2013/12/fighting-workfare-and-sanctions-there-is-no-negotiating-with-the-political-class-or-corporates/

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

What if the whole workfare industry got together in one place?

Boycott-Workfare-Poster-ColourFrom Boycott Workfare

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):  Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/557057277702834

Please spread the word.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

 

Week of Action to Stop Workfare and Sanctions: 2nd – 8th December

sanction-sabsFrom Boycott Workfare

In January this year, 110,000 people had their benefits stopped – ‘sanctioned’ – in a social security system that now leaves people with nothing for up to three years.

The government has not revealed how many thousands of people have been sanctioned since then, but it looks clear that more than a million people will have faced sanctions - and the hunger, pressure on families and stress they cause - by the end of the year.

Workfare, which forces people to work without pay and pushes those in work out of their jobs, is still the government’s ‘flagship’ solution for the unemployed. Osborne’s latest workfare proposal is more than twice the length of a maximum community service sentence.

But people’s action is pushing back their plans:

  • Wetherspoons, Argos, Shoezone, The Red Cross, and Superdrug have all dropped out since the start of the year. Homebase has scaled back significantly and Homes for Haringey has started paying people.
  • Despite a court ruling, the government is still refusing to publish the list of organisations exploiting people on workfare. It argued “disclosure [of names] would have been likely to have led to the collapse of the MWA [Mandatory Work Activity] scheme”!
  • The government’s plan to send people leaving the Work Programme from June this year on an automatic six month workfare placement could not be rolled out.
  • The government has had to double the amount of money it pays to workfare contractors like Seetec to find Mandatory Work Activity placements because they say it’s got so difficult since organisations started pulling out.

 This is your actions making a real difference.

The chances are you probably know someone who has faced the hardship and stress of sanctions – which means you’ll know that these devastating decisions are handed out for the pettiest of reasons.

It’s time to take action, and to push back against sanctions as we have against workfare. Whether you’re on your own or in a group, take part in the week of action

And let us know what you plan so we can help spread the word!

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

 

Welfare Reform Workshops at the Anarchist Bookfair

anarchist-bookfair-2013The 2013 London Anarchist Bookfair will be held on Saturday 19th October and feature two workshops on fighting welfare reforms.

The long running event which hosts workshops, films, political stalls and lots of people selling books attracts hundreds of people every year and is being held at the Queen Mary’s University on the Mile End Road.  The event has a creche for both younger and older children and all meetings and workshops are accessible – for full access details visit their website.

Boycott Workfare will have a stall at the bookfair and will be holding a workshop from 2pm in Room 326.  Earlier at 1pm activists from Brent Housing Action and the Haringey Solidarity Group will be discussing all aspects of welfare reform in Room G.07.

http://anarchistbookfair.org.uk/

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid