Workfare Disappearing From the High Street – Join the Week of Action and Help End Forced Work for Good

mcds-workfareTwo determined groups of workfare sleuths hit the streets of both north and south London yesterday in advance of the upcoming National Week of Action Against Workfare which begins tomorrow.

In both Kentish Town and Elephant and Castle many shops and businesses were visited to ask about their use of forced unpaid labour.  In a blow to Iain Duncan Smith’s plans for mass workfare, yesterday’s investigation revealed forced labour on some High Streets seems to have almost disappeared.

In Kentish Town, branches of  Subway, Poundstretcher and Mcdonalds all admitted they had used workfare in the past but had chosen not to continue.  All said that unpaid workers may be employed at other branches of these household names.  Both the PDSA and Age UK charity shop were quick to state they no longer took part in workfare schemes.  In fact the only well known name in Kentish Town (one independent business remains under investigation) who openly admitted to workfare were Oxfam.  Which frankly, after everything that’s happened, is disappointing.

In Elephant and Castle the lack of workfare placements was equally apparent with only Poundland admitting to using unemployed claimants as free labour.  This is in stark contrast to just over a year ago, when workfare seemed to riddle every High Street in the UK.

Whilst the results of this sleuth may not be typical, with so many large companies and charities withdrawing from the scheme, it does seem that High Street workfare has suffered a huge blow.  Unfortunately this does not mean the fight is over.  According to the monthly Labour Force Survey, the number of people on some form of workfare scheme are at record levels – although many of these may be Youth Apprentices, who may not be directly coerced but are paid the repugnant sum of just £2.65 per hour.

More than ever it is vital to know who is using workfare which seems increasingly hidden from public view.  If you know of a workfare exploiter name and shame them by visiting:

And join the Week of Action Against Workfare which will see actions and protests around the UK aimed at bringing a final end to forced labour.  For the latest details of all events visit:

Please help spread the word about all events.

On Tuesday Iain Duncan Smith will attempt to rewrite history and introduce new regulations to override the recent Appeal Court judgement which declared many previous benefit sanctions illegal and therefore repayable.  Sources have suggested Labour may support this vile move.  The Lib Dems almost certainly will.  Contact your local MP tomorrow (Monday 18th March) to urgently demand that they will not vote for this bill which steals money from the poorest and makes a laughing stock of an independent judiciary.  It takes just two minutes via this page set up by the PCS Union.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

22 responses to “Workfare Disappearing From the High Street – Join the Week of Action and Help End Forced Work for Good

  1. link to the PCS page doesn’t work–

  2. I’ll write to my MP, but as its Cameron, I don’t expect much of a response!

    • get all your mates together, get them all to join the local conservative group, and get him deselected using a motion of no confidence.

  3. cannot access the pcs page

  4. Pingback: Join The Workfare Week of Action Now ~ Help End Forced Work for Good! | Black Triangle Campaign

  5. That will be the same PCS whose members implement the sanctions then?

  6. Pingback: DWP seeks law change to avoid benefit repayments after Poundland ruling ~ TAKE ACTION NOW! | Black Triangle Campaign

  7. has it really disappeared, or are high street stores better at hiding it?

  8. Good point about asking before shopping. I asked by email to B&M stores if they were using Work Programme type labour but got no reply so asked at the store and they yes. Told them the reason I wouldn’t shop there anymore. Did same with ASDA, got a reply by email today saying its a difficult subject but they acknowledged that they do have a voluntary placement scheme. I intend to write back asking if it is voluntary in the DWP sense, i.e if the person is given the choice of benefit sanctions or work at ASDA. There is nothing voluntary about this – forced labour with no pay.

    • Workfare Victim

      Ingeus definitely use B&M, they like to keep it quite though. B&M, another one for the boycott list.

    • Where can any of us shop now with a clear conscience? Didn’t know about B&M, won’t be going there again unless I have to.

  9. Salvation Army and YMCA are stubbornly remaining part of the disgusting scheme.

  10. emailed me local MP (Labour), fat lot of good it will do though.

  11. IMNSPH It’s a fat lot of good – because, all major 5 parties (inc. BNP and UKIP) are controlled by the EU. This a orchestrated collapse of the UK.

  12. After reading your mention about Oxfam I replied to a mail from them and recived the following in reply in turn…

    From: Joella Lynch [] On Behalf Of Campaigning
    Sent: 18 March 2013 17:01
    To: Vic Curtis
    Subject: RE: Only two days to go
    Hi Vic,
    Thank you for your email, we do appreciate it when supporters get in touch with their feedback and comments.
    Oxfam shops do not take part in any mandatory workfare schemes, as Mandatory Work Activity is not compatible with Oxfam’s stance on benefits.

    I would be grateful if you would let me know if you have come across a shop who is taking part in a mandatory work scheme and I can follow it up with our shop team.

    (My reply…)
    Hi, thanks for the reply.
    If what you state is true that is good news. However, I was basing my comment on the information I read recently on the blog
    where it was stated that …”In fact the only well known name in Kentish Town who openly admitted to workfare were Oxfam. Which frankly, after everything that’s happened, is disappointing.”
    Was their finding incorrect? If it was I am sure the author of the blog would be happy to hear and publish an update/correction.
    Vic Curtis.

  13. British heart foundation still doing it, our j.h.p advisor meets the client in a near by street to refund bus fares.

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