Holland & Barrett’s Inaction Reveals the Huge Profits in Workfare

Holland & Barrett continue to use unpaid labour despite storms of protest aimed at the company, simply because they are making so much money from workfare that they seem happy to ride out the public outrage.

When the workfare row first blew up ministers were quick to tell us that no companies were using workfare staff to replace real jobs. Lying bastard Chris Grayling said at the time: “I praise Tesco for offering unpaid work experience, short term, to young people because it helps them.”

Workfare exploiters were quick to claim that using unpaid labour is not profitable due to the time it takes to recruit and train people. The whole racket, they pleaded, was in fact an exercise of corporate humanitarianism, helping the young get their first foothold in the world of work.

This all began to sound a little hollow when Argos admitted that they only use workfare during the Christmas rush. Then along came research showing that Work Experience is useless at helping people find work, something underlined by Welfare to Work company A4e’s seemingly dreadful rate at helping anyone actually find a job.

But no-one has shown just how profitable using forced labour can be than fake friend to hippies Holland & Barrett.

Holland & Barrett are in the process of replacing up to a quarter of their employees with workfare staff, something which has drawn a furious response from their customers. There have been protests aimed at the so called ‘ethical’ company around the UK, from Brighton to Glasgow. In Liverpool an ongoing series of pickets has seen stores losing business on a weekly basis as customers turn away when they hear of the company’s shameful employment practices.

Next week sees the National Week of Action Against Workfare, with yet more protests and demonstrations aimed at workfare sharks. Boycott Workfare, Solidarity Federation and many other groups will be organising pickets around the UK, many of which will be targeted at Britain’s ex-favourite fake health food shop. Pickets against the store have already been called in both Brixton and Blackheath in south London. Other cities taking part in the week of action include Poole, Brighton, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, York, Hastings and Bristol, whilst central London will also see action along with Islington, Lewisham whilst more cities around the UK are signing up everyday.

Holland & Barrett have fought back, increasing their presence on social networking such as facebook – http://www.facebook.com/hollandandbarrett – and setting up a twitter account (@holland_barrett). This has led to hundreds of people have contacting them online to demand they stop using forced labour. A company which trades on their ethical credentials is now being boycotted by thousands of former customers.

Despite all of this Holland & Barrett have remained silent on their use of unpaid workers. It seems that using workfare staff is so profitable, that up until now, Holland & Barrett have calculated the cost of boycott, pickets and demonstrations is easily covered by employing 1000 young people on no wages. Far from showing that Holland & Barrett care about youth unemployment and want to help, it has turned into a public relations disaster for the company – yet they still appear to be making more money from forced labour than they are losing because of public outrage at the scheme.

Of course the answer to this is escalation. Join a picket or organise one locally, against not just Holland & Barrett, but all workfare exploiters. Contact them on twitter and facebook and tell them what you think of their disgusting treatment of workers. Let’s make sure that everyone in the UK knows exactly what this grubby bunch of snake oil salesmen are up to and hit them in the only place they care about – their wallets.

The argument that workfare is not profitable, or doesn’t replace paid jobs, is fatally undermined by Holland & Barrett. Workfare is increasing unemployment and lining the pockets of big business in the process. Workfare doesn’t help young people find work. The only people to benefit are companies like Holland & Barrett, Bodyshop and ASDA, welfare to work fraudsters like A4e and so called charities such as the British Heart Foundation (@TheBHF).

Someone else making money from forced labour is Blue Peter bimbo and face of Holland & Barrett, Gethin Jones, star of their advertising campaigns. He’s on twitter @GethincJones. Why not tell him what you think and perhaps someone will read it out loud to him.

17 responses to “Holland & Barrett’s Inaction Reveals the Huge Profits in Workfare

  1. It is UN-fucking-believable that anyone (with a conscience) is still giving these fucking exploiters business!

  2. Arbeitsscheu_UK

    Hardly a surprise that a cut in overheads due to unlawful state subsidy will increase profits for the unscrupulous, same with royal mail since they have been exploiting #workfare, people haven’t been receiving their mail but RM are in the black

  3. Pingback: Holland & Barrett's Inaction Reveals the Huge Profits in Workfare … « Twitter Trends!!

  4. christopher kewley

    Never trust a hippy,or a politician.

    • The Happy Hippy Collective

      yeah man, hippies you know, like, always sell-out, n become like politicians, n stuff, when they are not like grassing you into the cops… you know, that’s like just my opinion, man… it’s a gas, man…

      • Right on, man. We just want the money, all that communal sympathy and understanding stuff, so like forty years ago. Besides, we’ll never forgive the punks for putting the boot into our lovely prog rock.

  5. They’re on my Boycott List and will stay there sa long as they use unpaid workers.

  6. A reply I have just had from H+B –
    We have liaised closely with the Government as we were not happy with the sanctions they had imposed on the scheme and we were unaware of these when we signed up to offer work placements. However, this has now been reviewed and I am delighted to say they no longer impose any sanctions on those taking part, meaning the programme is entirely voluntary and people are free to leave the scheme at any time.

    As such we will continue to participate in the scheme. We have to date taken on 500 young people for 8 week periods since last summer and of these over 100 have been taken on permanently with us. They will now go on to enhance their careers by participating in our accredited training programme and becoming ‘Qualified to Advise’ by obtaining a QCF qualification-one that we ensure all staff have the opportunity to undertake.

  7. Arbeitsscheu_UK

    More relevant would be the performance of the competitors of Holland & Barret and the other unscrupulous rogue retailers cashing in on #workfare misery. They are being put at a financial disadvantage as they are not benefiting from state subsidised free labour, this is interference in the free market by the state and I understood it was unlawful under EU law. Whats more this practice is wide open to corruption as the rogue retailers could be offering incentives to the politicians and civil servants involved in the process presenting them with this advantage over their competition.

  8. christine redmond

    so if the jobs are there why not pay the wage….??? this system is not creating employment it just makes these rich companies even richer..cameron looking after the rich yet again…. we all need to hastle the managers in these shops, dont stop, do it every time you pass, wether its this company or any other company….

  9. christine redmond

    so they are saying 100 got jobs out of 500…..were is the proof ???

  10. H&B is just a brand name offshoot for these guys: NBTY Inc. Being from USofA they like workfare and probably won’t give it up – after al, it is commonplace in USofA!! Quote from their corporate website: ‘NBTY is a leading global vertically integrated manufacturer, marketer and distributor of a broad line of high-quality, value-priced nutritional supplements in the United States and throughout the world. Under a number of NBTY and third party brands, the Company offers over 22,000 products, including products marketed by the Company’s Nature’s Bounty®, Vitamin World®, Puritan’s Pride®, Holland & Barrett®, Rexall®, Sundown®, MET-Rx®, Worldwide Sport Nutrition®, American Health®, GNC (UK)®, DeTuinen®, LeNaturiste™, SISU®, Solgar®, Good ‘n’ Natural®, Home Health™, Julian Graves, Ester-C® and Natural Wealth brands. NBTY routinely posts information that may be important to investors on its web site.’

  11. It’s quite simple H&B-PAY YOUR STAFF

  12. Eric Greenwood

    A Statement from H&B At Holland & Barrett, we take our responsibilities as a retailer and employer very seriously, and any possible compromise to the safety of our staff and customers from opponents of our work experience scheme is treated with great importance.
    This factor, together with the planned introduction of a new full time, salaried apprentice scheme, means 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

  13. Are there any statistics available for how many people are on workfare at any particular time and the kind of work they are involved in?
    Mostly I’ve seen stories of people forced to work in retail which I’m assuming will involve serving customers and stacking shelves. Those jobs require little or no experience plus they tend to be low paid. Why the emphasis on retail and low pay? Are there any instances of “work experience” in interesting challenging well paid jobs like a helicopter pilot or a rock star or helping the BBC film on location in the Amazon? Are they not jobs?

    It’s very telling how the British government’s ambition for it’s worthy people is for them to be poor, uneducated and obedient while wanting the opposite for themselves and their rich “deserving” children.

    I’ve been on the work programme and what I experienced was bullying and sanctions and not much of anything else. There’s no doubt in my mind that bullying and impoverishment is the purpose of the work programme. It’s an expression of power that’s meant to force obedience and “put people in their place”. The bullied person only exists to carry out the will of the bully (the rich). It helps if you first demonise the bullied person as “benefit scrounging scum” then any abuse you subject them to is justified. This is a good way to run a country, right?

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