2% Of Our Workers Don’t Get Paid Boast Marks & Spencer

marks-spencer-workfareIn a brave public relations move Marks & Spencer are boasting how they intend to staff their dreary stores with over a thousand unpaid workers.

The company have announced they intend to provide 1,400 ‘placements’ for young people in a huge extension of their workfare scheme which has already seen over a thousand people work without pay for the company.

They claim this scheme is to help people find work – but only half of those who have been on the scheme have found jobs and not all of those were with M&S.  This is probably around the number who might have been expected to find jobs anyway.  Workfare has a terrible record in actually helping people find a real job and may even trap people in unemployment as the time available to job search disappears.

And it is this which should be pointed out to every young person who thinks that working unpaid for a supermarket or chain store will help then find work.  Some of the richest companies in the UK are colluding with the Government to trick those beginning their working lives into believing they should have to work for free first.

So entrenched has this become that Marks & Spencer are happy to boast that 2% of their work force is not paid. There was a time when companies paid their staff, even whilst they were being trained. Now they are attempting to offload this cost onto unemployed people and the tax payer,  and they think this is something to show off about!

Astonishingly this mass theft of people’s labour is presented as a wonderful opportunity for the people the company is exploiting.  It is certainly is a an opportunity for the greedy bosses at Marks & Spencer.  Unemployed people will be expected to work for a period of four weeks for up to 37 hours a week.  Even at minimum wage, this represents a whopping £1.3 million pound wage subsidy for the company – a subsidy being provided by some of the UK’s poorest people.

It is unclear whether this mass workfare scheme will be linked to formal Jobcentre workfare schemes such as the Work Programme or Work Experience.  After the workfare row blew up last year many companies pulled out of these programmes to launch their own versions of workfare instead – which they claim are entirely voluntary.

However under the present eligibility rules for Jobseekers Allowance, it is difficult to see how workfare can exist without some form of endorsement from the Jobcentre.  Claimants are now expected to spend 35 hours a week looking for work as a condition of claiming unemployment benefits.  Such is the draconian nature of the regime introduced by power crazed fool Iain Duncan Smith, unemployed people are no longer able to choose how and where they look for jobs.

If workfare at Marks and Spencer does not form part of Jobcentre agreed ‘work related activity’ then it is likely to affect a claimant’s eligibility for benefits.  And if it does, whilst it may not be formally mandatory, then young people who refuse this kind of workfare risk being sent on Mandatory Work Activity instead as the DWP takes revenge against those who refuse to work for free.  With claimants living in fear of soaring and punitive benefit sanctions – which can force people into utter destitution for up to three years – almost nothing is really voluntary for those signing on anymore.

Marks & Spencer are on twitter @marksandspencer and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/MarksandSpencer.  You know what to do.

Feminist Fightback have called a picket of M&S in Hackney on Saturday 13th July https://www.facebook.com/events/181572138678606/

Join the Week of Action Against Workfare from the 6th-14th July.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

157 responses to “2% Of Our Workers Don’t Get Paid Boast Marks & Spencer

  1. They can also take them back to exchange for new ones if they don’t fit.

    • Please feel free to tell them what you think

      It’s not just any old slavery
      It’s Marks and Spencer hand picked ComDemned shirkers dripping with IDS calumny and honey roasted in DWP sanctions

    • Marks & Spencer Annual General Meeting – Wembley Stadium, Wembley London on 9 July 2013. Protesters welcome. LOL

    • Marks and Spencers have placed barriers of their own, to prevent unwanted types trying to get work experience. Some cut and paste below, showing their ideal participants. What they really want, is to bypass the traditional method of employment, and have a return policy. If it doesn’t fit, after 30 days, they can send it back. Whilst the scheme is voluntary, many young people will be tempted to participate. When I was 16, I had nothing on my CV, and it took a long time before I got a job. But back then it was different, there were more jobs. There are simply not enough jobs available after a placement anywhere, so all it does, is take a number of the JSA queue and keep business afloat. A vicious circle.

      “Marks & Spencer’s flagship community programme, Marks & Start has become the biggest programme of its kind in the UK and Ireland, aiming to offer up to 10,000 work experience placements to people who may face barriers getting a job*

      It’s not one-size-fits-all at M&S. We’re helping young people, the homeless, lone parents and those with disabilities find work with us**

      Only available to young people who:
      have the right to work in the UK
      have not got any unspent convictions
      have never been dismissed for misconduct, violence or dishonesty
      do not have an alcohol/substance abuse dependency
      have not been on a ‘Marks & Start’ placement before
      What attributes are needed:
      Neat appearance
      Ability to read and write***”




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  3. Carls Dickinson

    Complete and utter Teflon tongued window dressing. Pure exploitation and humiliation of the people to justify this deceptive scam. Free labour and no jobs in sight. I really hope everybody that’s “I’m alright Jack” wake up and realize that the only within a precarious hare’s breath of walking in the same moccasins.

    • something survived...

      Not as bad working environment as many other workfare places are, but it is still slave labour. The utter irony of slogging away on your feet all day, for no money, by food your benefit can’t afford.

  4. UK going back to Victorian era

    My sister is unendated with cv’s every week from people looking for work in her business. She always replies to them all saying that she hasn’t any openings in her shop and some people even offer to work free. The biggest pain in the arse are the emails, letters, phone calls and even visits from staff from JCPlus to try andpush her into taking Work fare clients but she refuses saying if she can’t afford to pay she wont hire and still JCPlus won’t take the hint to get stuffed. Last week she formed out £70 for a solicitors letter to the local JCPlus telling them to stop harassing her and back off. We wait to see if this works.

    • The jcp staff should take part in workfare. (see what a load of sh*t it is)

      • something survived...

        There was a rotting dead bird outside our front door the other day. I had to remove it. I thought of giving it to the JCP. But that would be very disrespectful – to the dead bird.

      • something survived...


        [Background/Reality: In Rome there is a saint, and her body is inside a waxwork (I watched it a couple of nights ago on BBC4: documentary ‘Rome the Eternal City’, episode 2). If you get close enough you can see the skeleton under the wax.]

        The fantasy: Atos visit Saint Victoria for a medical assessment. Amazingly they cure her of death, being dead for centuries encased in wax, etc. You’re fit for work!

  5. Here is the clue ” How can this help your business?
    There are many tangible business benefits to offering work placements opportunities to young people, from recruitment to employee engagement.
    That way you can sack your staff thus saving you money plus the bonus of having people work for nothing.
    Yes you can be quids in . that new posh car or second home will no longer be a pipe dream..sign up today and become one of many successful clients of M&S (mean & skinflints )

    • In Northern Ireland, YES (Youth Employment Scheme) are very obvious, with their intentions.

      “To find out how your business might benefit from the Youth Employment Scheme, please register your planned attendance by emailing yes@delni.gov.ukhttp://forum.outdoorni.com/Thread.aspx?ID=335

      And this next one, title says it all.


      28 March 2013

      The Department for Employment and Learning has launched the Youth Employment Scheme (YES). The focus is on young people aged 18 to 24 with the specific aim of helping them gain work experience, develope additional skills and achieve recognised relevant qualifications.”http://www.manufacturingni.org/news/viewdetails.asp?ID=183

      Most of the full time jobs in NI are now Youth Employment Scheme. And many companies are starting up their own work experience programmes. It isn’t just M&S taking advantage.

      And this next one, title says it all.


      28 March 2013

      The Department for Employment and Learning has launched the Youth Employment Scheme (YES). The focus is on young people aged 18 to 24 with the specific aim of helping them gain work experience, develope additional skills and achieve recognised relevant qualifications.”http://www.manufacturingni.org/news/viewdetails.asp?ID=183

      Most of the full time jobs in NI are now Youth Employment Scheme. And many companies are starting up their own work experience programmes. It isn’t just M&S taking advantage.

      • something survived...

        They could call it the Finding Employment Cost-Kutting (FECK!).

        For older unemployed people: Arranging Ridiculous Slave Entanglements (ARSE!).

  6. Obi Wan Kenobi

    Workfare – Take on one, get 100 free!

  7. I’ve just had a rant all over the M&S facebook page about this; can I share the link to this article there, or is there a newspaper report I can refer to? I’d like to be able to ‘educate’ people visiting their page about the company’s ethics, and I’d like to do that a lot over the next few days…. it would look better if I could cite a newspaper report, rather than be written off as ‘just another leftie’.


    • Feel free to share this as much as you want. There’s been lots of pieces in The Guardian about workfare, here’s the one whch show how mandatory work activity is useless at helping people find a job: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jun/13/mandatory-work-scheme-government-research

      • something survived...

        Some employers (not knowing the difference between work programme/work scheme, workfare, MWRA, and community punishment orders), seem to think that people on MWRA placements and workfare etc. are on community punishment orders, after being convicted of a crime. Or they associate the two things. Or they think it is only for jobseekers who have broken rules and caused trouble at the jobcentre. Or they think ‘you might not be a criminal (convicted in a court), but you are on benefits so you have obviously done something (crime), so you deserve this treatment’. Still others assume that because you are on benefits you are a bad person, drug user, alcoholic, mentally deficient, useless, etc. Especially if you’re longterm unemployed.

        It makes it less likely that employers will want to take you on, for a McJob or for a proper/decent job, or even an internship.

    • Obi Wan Kenobi

      Ask M&S if they are going to pay these people the National Mininum Wage whilst they are on their placements, because if M&S are taking these people on then there must be acual work that needs doing.

  8. @JohnnyVoid. Gingerbread princes trust remploy having a ‘buddy’ to help you plus help with cv. And all these helpful citations…wow…


  9. Mark Williams

    Well i am wondering how long it will take them to delete my post asking why they are asking or taking young people on for free when they could just employ them. we all know why because their profits will go up and they want their share holders to get more money on the back of free slave labour

  10. Mark Williams

    Well just looked at M&S on facebook looks like my post has been deleted if you see the post please let me know if not it took 26 minutes lol will post again i think later

  11. Obi Wan Kenobi


    The case could have implications across Europe including here in the UK


  12. “It’s not just Slavery, it’s Marks and Spencers Slavery.”

  13. The only thing they achieve by their greed and manipulation of the unemployed is to stop people like me shopping at their store.
    Thereby putting the jobs of the rest of their workforce at risk, from people boycotting the business.
    It’s all a downward spiral of bad management and failure affecting the staff who are willing to work hard for a decent living.

  14. I got this from a forum about working for M&S. This post was made 2006 so this isnt new it seems.

    BiTC Employability Award – Marks & Start

    This award is given to the company that has done most to promote employment opportunities for disadvantaged groups, M&S have won the award for their ground-breaking Marks & Start programme. Every year, through Marks & Start, M&S offers work placements to 600 adults who would normally face barriers to employment, for example through homelessness or disability. They also offer placements to 2,500 school children and first generation university students. Currently 40% of their adult programme participants go on to get permanent employment – that’s twice the rate of similar Government schemes.”

  15. “There was a time when companies paid their staff, even whilst they were being trained. Now they are attempting to offload this cost onto unemployed people and the tax payer, and they think this is something to show off about!”

    Its not just the big companies… a recent offering in my local Job Centre advised that training could be arranged at the employees expense.

    The job ? Behind the counter in a local fish & chip shop ! Whatever happened to on-the-job training ?

  16. Mark Williams

    Well i ask on the facebook site why they want our young to be slave labour it was deleted in 6 minutes so i would ask everyone to ask the same questions on thier facebook page to see if anyone get a answer or the post get deleted if deleted how long it took for them to delete it many thanks

  17. margaret hamer

    well this is the greed off all fat cat companys and they also pay a pittance for the goods they sell it utterly disgraceful how the people are treated in uk while all the greedy little piggys in goverment get richer and richer

  18. In partnership with the Princes Trust? Wonder who will claim the Outcome Payment? If there is one.

  19. £1.3 million tax wage subsidy? I presume that is the min wage bill they are saving? However there are no NI contributions being made by the company for their ‘volunteer’ workforce and the tax payer is paying jsa to pick up the wage tab, so the total cost to the tax payer is 3 fold if you take into account jsa as a labour subsidy to companies, non-withdrawal of jsa payments due to ‘volunteer’ labour instead of wages, and zero NI contributions from employer and employee. The government wish to privatise everything except for state funded ’employment’ to anyone that will take it, it seems. Apart from being morally unjust, its economically stupid (at best)

  20. This smacks of the job experience schemes of the 80’s. My son went from one 3 month placement to another without ever being given a job at the end as they were supposed to create. The rich profiting at the expense of the minions all over again.

  21. Obi Wan Kenobi

    Marks and Spencer now getting full on and serious critisism regarding Workfare on Twitter and Facebook.

  22. I’ve worked for m&s and they are poor at getting your pay correct at the best of times. Wouldn’t work for them again.

  23. I’ve stacked shelves before, and it’s not much fun even when you’re getting paid for it.

    Having to do this work for free though … I can only imagine the despair and anger of the people forced into it.


  25. Oh well…..there goes my little shopping trips for my potato croquets and Quiche Lorraine! Not that I could afford to buy them that much to be honest, but the ones there were the only kind I liked as other makes are not up to much. Maybe I should learn to make my own now!
    However….I try best I can to avoid places that use workfare. So I am rarely found in Poundland.
    So now I will add M & S to my list of places not to go, regardless however much I may like what they have. Especially as the are BOASTING about it. That is Shocking, and blows away the claim by Regime’s ppl that big business will not be allowed to profit from workfare.
    Trouble we have though is that so many places are using workfare and slave labour that it becomes difficult to avoid it.
    It is now almost impossible to make a stand by not using these places as we have to buy things we need, somewhere.
    If there is an alternative, and to Poundland there are a few I would like to think, then I will use it.
    But I will certainly not be going into Marks & Spencer ever again.

  26. Regards Valerie’s point about Human Rights, etc, this has been mentioned so many times, as well as Health & Safety. But it seems nothing is done about it. Why is UK Regime not taking to Court by the ppl in Europe? For it must definitely be against ppl’s human rights.
    I would lie to know for example if those on these workfare schemes get any expenses. How for example are ppl to get transport to work? Are they given extra money to but food at dinner times for instance? Orlike I said other day do they see those paid staff they work beside/for talk about their nights out and what they will be buying this and that one for Christmas at a Debenhams, while they can’t even afford a cheap £I.00 hamburger, or even be able to make up their own sandwiches, etc.
    And from a simple economic point, How is this going to help the country generally if half the ppl are working for nothing? No one will have money to buy anything! The whole thing is appalling.

  27. Landless Peasant

    Ok, Marks n’ Sparks it is then for a bit of posh shoplifting. If 2% of their staff don’t get paid, then I will only pay for 2% of items.

    • andiantichrist

      Kerching 🙂 I like the cut of your jib sir. A little carelessness with some slippery bottles of overpriced plonk may be in order too…

  28. The thing is… just how much training can be given a 30 day month of un-paid “benefits for work” work experience?

    Day 1, “you know how every time you’ve ever brought something from a shop how they swipe the product in front of the shiny thing? Well thats what you have to do, then take the money, give any change that the till tells you to and jobs a good-un” Duration 5 mins.

    Day2, “you see the labels and stuff on the shelves and this big pallet of stuff? Well just take the stuff from the pallet and match it up with the stuff on the shelves and jobs a good-un” Duration 5 mins.

    Day 3-30 “you are fully trained up, you now are slave labour for benefits workers suckers!”

    Yes, I do know its slightly more involved than this what with H&S etc. but my first job was for “The Wimpy” making hamburgers, dropping fry stuff, and manning the tills, hardly rocket science; a number of 30 min vids telling you how to each function, how to be safe, and to ask a supervisor if you were unsure of anything… guess what, I even got paid while watching the vids and a generous meal allowance (well I say generous, it was about 2 quid which was enough for a half pounder, fries, large coke and a dangerously hot apple pie)

  29. not the first time they’ve tried to avoid paying by the looks of it…

    Marks & Spencer under fire over online tax arrangements
    Exclusive: M&S accused of scheme in which goods shipped to Europe from UK are invoiced to Irish subsidiary at lower rate

  30. I’m surprised the unpaid workers don’t steal stuff or fix the cash registers to record less then what goes in, then steal the surplus.

  31. Oh thats very sneeky of them… they have removed the wall/users posts section from the page which had had a shed load of negative posts on it.

  32. Obi Wan Kenobi

    M&S now taken Facebook recent comments section down.

  33. Obi Wan Kenobi

    Hopefully M&S will now contact the DWP and tell them to forget about Workfare free placements.

  34. Arbeitsscheu_UK

    @marksandspencer have been forced to remove the comments by others box from their facebook page due to the avalanche of anti #workfare hostility – RESULT for the people keep up the great work

  35. All the negative comments have been removed from M&S’s facebook. Went on twitter and asked them why, are they keeping this as a dirty little secret? Don’t expect an answer though.

  36. overburdenddonkey

    loose connection…well m & s 10bn t/o over 1/2bn profits poor things…and on food for thought..

  37. We gave Tesco a swift kick in the crutch with our boycott campaign, time to give these shysters the same treatment and lets see how their shares hold up…..

  38. More pressure needed as I just posted this on their page and it was deleted immediately. “So I hear 2% of your workforce are going to be unpaid ‘slaves’. This is unacceptable, and unfair on them and the rest of your staff. Trainees should be paid like everyone else.”
    http://corporate.marksandspencer.com/media/press_releases/mands-makes-a-mark-on-youth-unemployment-with-1,400-new-placements-for-young-people https://www.facebook.com/MarksandSpencer

  39. just sent them a message asking why they had removed ALL the comments/concerns about workfare

  40. Obi Wan Kenobi

    Marks and Spencer want to take on unpaid slaves on Workfare but don’t want to hear any negative comments about it – Bloody hipocrites.

    • I got a email from Marks and Spencer. Basically they say its “voluntary” it’s not part of any Government scheme. (They also say all young people will still get their benefit. Aswell as helping with there confidence. The placement lasts for atleast 4 weeks. (They also say over half taking part will land an employment) … guess the other half will rejoin the dole queue ?? If what they have said is true then what’s the problem ??

      • Arbeitsscheu_UK

        the problem is its the same old pack of lies all the others have tried before, #workfare is founded on lies, lies are the name of the game

      • the problem is that people working for profit making companies should get paid, and as explained in the piece, even if its not part of a formal scheme people could still be bullied into working there.

  41. Arbeitsscheu_UK

    If M&S have nothing to hide then why hide the facebook comments?

  42. Just sent them a message on FB. I await thier reply with bated breathe!

  43. Obi Wan Kenobi

    Mandatory Work Activity – This FOI Confirms that MWA’s are only for 4 weeks. – You may want to print a copy of this for when you go back to the Jobcentre from the WP.

    Freedom of Information request 2333/2013

    Click to access foi-2333-2013.pdf

    • Four weeks per mandation Obi, but there’s nothing stopping them mandating someone several times if they can find a justification for doing so!

      • Obi Wan Kenobi

        That an interesting one, may be worth an FOI request to DWP asking how many times can you legally send a claimant on MWA’s in a 12 month period.

  44. whats sad about all this, is that your average tax paying person, the kind of people who slag off the unemployed as lazy scumbags etc etc,
    are funding, thru their tax’s, the profits of these companys,
    yet they dont realize it,
    maybe because they are truly blind to whats really going on in this country and many others around the world.
    they believe everything without question and accuse others without research or knowledge, bit like that landlord bloke, acting in the very same way he doesnt want his tenents to act… how ironic.
    its sad that a lot of problems we have in this country are partly self inflicted by our own attitudes.
    basically we just love to treat people like shit in this country, it is done to us, therefore we do it to others….sad, sad, sad.
    if you dont belive me, look how we treat old people compared to other countrys and cultures etc…

  45. I was on a mandatory week long course with Steps to Work. A Princes Trust spokesperson called in to see us one afternoon, and spoke to us individually, offering us the chance to do a (voluntary) full time 4 week Retail Course with Marks and Spencers. I was not eligible, as I am over 25. She then spoke to the teenager next to me, who straight away, asked if it was a paid placement, to which she replied, he would continue to receive JSA + expenses (travel costs – tax payer funded), he would get a £20 M&S gift card (which she suggested he could spend on lunches) and have something to put on his CV. She also warned him that there would be no guarantee of a job with Marks and Spencers at the end of the course.

    Marks and Spencers are insisting this scheme is to help people who face barriers seeking employment. The reality is, they are taking advantage of unemployed young people on these mandatory courses, making them believe that taking part in this scheme will benefit them greatly and improve their chances of employment. A foot in the door, I suppose, is how many would view it.

    There are currently only about 134 jobs in Marks and Spencers across the UK. 66 of those are full time, and mostly managerial roles. The chances of any voluntary participant, on a Marks and Spencers Retail Course, getting a job with Marks and Spencers is extremely slim. And exactly what do Marks and Spencers get out of this, but free labour. They can retort their charitable Marks and Starts “mission statement”, to defend themselves from criticism, but it is obvious to see that they are the ones benefiting from this scheme.

    • something survived...

      A £20 giftcard buys you about 2 days worth of decent lunches from M&S. Presumably you are meant to go hungry the other 3 days of the week.

      Yeah thanks M&S, you gave me something to put on my CV.
      Mashed avocadoes.

      Marks and Sharks? They should say ‘and you won’t get a job at the end of the workfare, just be kicked back onto the dole’. They don’t mention they hire you for it if ablebodied not disabled, though disabled people get sent on workfare so presumably some get sent anyway.

  46. I’ve started posting on their youtube but they keep marking as spam. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtqgeEPAOmo

  47. It’s all kicking off now at M&S Facebook. Perhaps their mods have knocked off for the night…

  48. Rosemarie Harris

    Well if they are not paying all the staff then they won’t need to be paid for the items in their stores will they! Free Labour= free goods!

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  50. CodewordConduit

    I actually worked at Marks and Spencers temporarily over the Christmas period when I was seventeen. No prior retail experience. Same salary as everyone else and full training – which was done over the course of one day. Naughty M&S have gone very much downhill, and they are lying if they are saying it takes any longer than that to train an entirely inexperienced teenager, or other candidate.

  51. How fitting that the little boy in the the picture on the left plays Oliver Twist!

  52. Marks & Spencer Annual General Meeting 2013. To be held at Wembley Stadium, Wembley London on 9 July. Buy a share held in your own name (not a nominee account) and you can turn up and ask questions.

  53. Everybody is forgetting one thing, the unemployed people who are working on the Workfare Scheme ”ARE” being paid. They all receive State Benefit (e.g; Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support etc…).

    Isn’t it better they give something in return for the benefit they receive, than to receive and give nothing ?

    • Brian Hanson- They are not being ‘paid’, JSA is not a wage, not everybody claiming JSA has to go on a mandatory work scheme. Even Iain Duncan Smith would not claim that JSA constitutes payment. Why, you ask? Because if it did, it would be illegal because if people are being ‘paid’ they have to receive minimum wage at least. The whole point is that people on Workfare schemes are not paid, that’s how the government gets round minimum wage laws. And in any case, do you think 30 hours work a week for £71.70 is reasonable?

      • “Even Iain Duncan Smith would not claim that JSA constitutes payment.”

        You’re quite wrong there because IDS has said exactly that in an interview!

      • Oh, forgot to say, people on government work schemes are exempt from the minimum wage laws.

        • something survived...

          ‘Paid’ staff need an employment contract. They are subject to insurance, health and safety legislation, statutory sick pay, codes of conduct, tax (though JSA is taxed before the jobseeker receives it), pensions, union eligibility. Workers’ rights/employment laws can apply to them. They have a right to healthcare, rest breaks, food, time off, holidays, overtime pay, childcare, etc. Also and perhaps most crucially, a paid worker has the right to leave the job. (but now will lose JSA eligibility for ‘deliberately leaving’). If you are on JSA and workfare, or ESA and workfare, if you walk off workfare or get thrown off, they stop ALL your benefits. So you can be evicted too. Maybe lose your kids.
          How many paid jobs does the employment contract signed up to by the employee, include the clause ‘If anything doesn’t work out 100%, including if you get too ill to continue, we will sack you, take all your money and possessions, and take your home and children’?

        • Lucozade-

          I meant that he would not claim that JSA constitutes payment in a strictly legal sense in an official capacity. I was aware that he had claimed it in an interview, but in case you hadn’t noticed, IDS has a habit of talking bollocks to try and make him and his schemes look good. He knows full well that JSA is not a wage and if he doesn’t he’s an even bigger fool than I thought. And yes, I realise people on govt work schemes are exempt from minimum wage laws, that is because they are not actually paid, which is what my previous post said.

          You seem to have a habit of attempting to shoot down my posts, you did it on the Unemployment Movement Forum as well. Why can’t you accept I might have some idea of what I am talking about?

          • Lucozade, you even insist on doubting me when I say it is possible to not be sanctioned for not allowing the WP to retain a copy of your CV, that despite the fact it states this on Boycott Workfare, Consent me, in Freedom Of Information Requests and I’ve fucking been there and done it. And you still imply that I don’t know what I’m on about.

    • Obi Wan Kenobi

      Brian Hanson:

      Jobseekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance £71.70p – these are benefits, not a wage or salary. If you are classing this as a wage it works out at £1.83p per hr for a 39 hr week and thats before travel costs and lunches.

      M&S and other firms are not told the entire story by the government when they approach firms like this and offer them a contract to recieve people from the Jobcentre (benefit claimants) to work for them for free.

      That’s why we quite rightly call it Workfare – but it’s anything but fair – once referred to a work placement, it’s basically do it or you WILL be sanctioned (which means a total loss of all our benefits inc. rent) for a period of up to 3 years now.

      Do you still think this is fair Brian?

    • And so do you believe it is right that the tax payers of this country pay for M&S’s staff, they don’t even pay NI for this free labour. Yes, it is better that society as a whole gets something in return for the benefits people are given,
      but we don’t benefit from M&S’s profits.

      • Obi Wan Kenobi

        S M Jones:

        Do you believe that somone who has worked half their lives and has paid their taxes and National Insurance and now become unemployed should have to put up with Workfare? Is that what your seriously advocating?

        If you personally are working at the moment, I can see your point of view – after all you have eaten up the propaganda this government keeps spouting without a thought of what will happen to you when (and mark that word WHEN) you get made redundant or sacked.

        Trust me when that happen’s your point of view with change overnight – especially when you get threatened with a sanction from the Jobcentre, you are in for a right shock.

    • Brian Hanson………. FUCK OFF!

      • overburdenddonkey

        voltaire…you have a way with words, i like them…
        brain hanson is nlp/cbt..behaviourist person..”we know what is best for you”, type of person, a boss…a job should be paid a wage..do you get a wage brain?…workfarce has nothing to do with creating long term sustainable employment..erm, other wise it would have done…to create demand people with money need to spend it…bank rolling business, to providing no cost work force is slavery, pure and simple…these schemes erode self esteem…ie self worth..”i’m not worth paying, and in fact i have to pay to work” …why don’t you live on £71/wk..and give the rest of your income away…or is it you believe that you think rightly that you deserve to be paid, therefore you think you are more worthy than those that do not get paid for the work that they do..ie what makes you so special brain? people on workfarce are receiving, nothing, being tantalized, and sucked dry…ie left m/tied workfarce is worse than nothing…tantamount to punishment for crime of being unemployed…the best way to get w ex is through being employed to work..not being taught that one is not worth paying..

        • something survived...

          30 hours a week is £2.39 an hour. 40 hours a week is £1.79 an hour. 45 hours a week is £1.59 an hour. Etc.
          If you did manage to spend 35 or 40 hours a week jobseeking: how do you fit this in if on 30 hours a week of workfare? When are you supposed to go to the bank, doctor, etc?
          Workfare and work programme actually stop you having free time to look for real jobs in your own area, and stop you from doing activities (study etc) to get more employable.

    • The poor and the needy are selfish and greedy! Brian, what you have said is truly disgusting, People should always be paid a fair wage for the hours they work, unemployment benefit or sickness benefit is not a wage. That’s right people you are long term sick and disabled can be forced to work there also! You sicken me.

    • You sound like my sister, about a year ago she was sounding off about “lazy bums, lying in bed & my taxes are supporting them & of course they should work for their dole” This from a woman who can afford to go on cruises twice a year.
      I pointed out to her that we’re ALL taxpayers due to VAT “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that” & that claimants in many cases were working, sometimes very long hours for their benefits, And, I asked her, was it right that the likes of Tesco & Poundland were using unpaid workers to boost their profits when they can easily cover the wage cost. She, up to this point had never heard of Workfare , so becoming increasingly irritated at her by now told her to google Boycott Workfare & read some the horror stories on there & come back to me & tell that this is right or even legal.I’m still waiting for her answer….

    • Brian, why don’t we scrap wages altogether, and everybody work for about £60 a week, paid for by the taxpayer. Your argument is illogical, try and see the bigger picture.

  54. Obi Wan Kenobi

    Current National Minimum Wage Rates – There are graphs on here showing the NMW for each age group – for over 21’s the current rate is £6.19p


    • Before work placements and work experience, companies would hire the under 18s because they were cheaper. Now they can get them for free.

  55. Obi Wan Kenobi

    Lets say you have completed the Work Programme, you are back with the Jobcentre but you keep getting letters or phone calls from you now Ex Private Provider pestering you as to how you are progressing.

    This may help because the Jobcentre is then regarded as your employer until you get a job.

    Third-party harassment provisions in Equality Act repealed
    1 October 2013

    The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 repeals s.40(2) to (4) of the Equality Act 2010, which provides that the employer will, in certain circumstances, be liable where an individual is harassed by a third party. The Government’s indicative timetable for commencement of the provisions in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (PDF format, 271K) (on the UK Government website) provides a date of repeal of 1 October 2013. The Act (PDF format, 1MB) can be viewed on the UK legislation website.


    • “This may help because the Jobcentre is then regarded as your employer until you get a job.”

      I sincerely doubt that Obi. You’re officially unemployed so, by definition, you have no employer.

      • Obi Wan Kenobi


        The reason the Jobcentre is regared as your employer when claiming JSA or ESA is because of tax purposes and your P60. Next time your signing on ask the adviser.

  56. ‘Isn’t it better they give something in return for the benefit they receive, than to receive and give nothing ?’ Not for businesses that seek to make a profit out of selling services in a ‘free market economy’. This is called exploitation!!!!!
    Marks and Spencers should not be looking for ‘State Support’ in the form of free labour. Your moral philosophising has no place in the hearts and minds of people who are trying to put food on their tables.

  57. Pingback: Week of Action Against Workfare Starts Early As Marks & Spencer Bombarded With Boycott Threats | the void

  58. rainbowwarriorlizzie
  59. fiona ambrose

    I just posted a polite request for clarification on Workfare referrals & it was immediately deleted.

  60. Mr Marks was Jewish was he not? Oh, the bitter irony of his business now using slave labour.

    • Absolutely right Chris, and this hasn’t escaped a helluva lot of people. Just have a look on M & S facebook site…….they are getting a complete pasting!!
      Well done everyone!

  61. Pingback: Week of Action Against Workfare Starts Early As Marks & Spencer Bombarded With Boycott Threats

  62. I left this message on the facebook page: So I hear that 2% of your staff are unemployed people working 4 week placements in your business and being paid nothing, in effect a taxpayer funded wage subsidy of £1.3 million per year. Less than half of those who complete the placement get a paid job either with M&S or elsewhere. You may have fair trade chocolate on your shelves and be able to flog bags for life as an ethical choice, but where do you stand on exploitation of the vulnerable?
    Their response: Hi John, thanks for your comments about our new scheme, ‘Make Your Mark’. By working with The Prince’s Trust, our aim is to help young people build the skills they need for the retail industry to get them into sustainable jobs. The initiative is not affiliated with any government scheme and M&S has invested in the training provided by youth charity The Prince’s Trust to boost the skills and employability of young people. The participants are there purely to learn and get experience and are not replacing any other role. We aim to help them get valuable training and build their skills and confidence, whilst still keeping their benefits. Ultimately we aim to offer many of them a paid job. For more information on this scheme, please take a look at our full press release. Thanks.
    I have just replied: It is admirable that you choose to provide the opportunity for ‘young people to build the skills they need for the retail industry’ but why not pay them? I started off in retail in 1986 as an 18 year old. I was paid a full time equivalent wage and I soon learned that with work, comes reward – that being if you worked hard and were paid a living wage, you soon became a productive individual with a strong sense of duty and the freedom (the wage provided) to make choices beyond those you were limited to by either your parents’ economics or that which was provided by the state (umemployment benefit). I understand that your initiative is not affiliated with any government scheme and so not linked to benefits but my concern with that is there is a risk that a young person claiming benefits would need to leave your scheme to work elsewhere in order to remain in receipt of their benefits (as is stipulated in the current legislation). If you really wish to invest in the workforce of tomorrow then invest in them as individuals. Give them a full time equivalent wage for the period they work for you ( instead of relying on the state to pay a below market wage – or barely useful benefit ) this would sit better with a lot of people in the UK right now, it would also ensure you do not lose the multitude of customers (myself included) who will no longer shop in your stores.

  63. Looks like their own attempts at producing a kind of work programme if you ask me… CV writing and employability skills?. Looks like this struggling store wants a slice of the government cash cow…




    Sorry, The UK DWP has decided.


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  68. Pingback: Boycott Workfare: Picket Of Marks And Spencers – Sat 13th | Birmingham Against The Cuts

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  70. Pingback: Is M&S Workfare Scheme Illegal? | the void

  71. Pingback: Is M&S Workfare Scheme Illegal?

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  73. Pingback: The Void on how M&S Exploits its Workers | Beastrabban's Weblog

  74. Pingback: Boycott Workfare » Blog Archive » Workfare Week of Action Round-up

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  76. What people should do if sent on a mandatory scheme is sign off the day BEFORE it is due to start then make a new claim after a couple of days.
    The DWP cannot sanction you for not going as you were not actually claiming when scheme started. If they refer you again go through the same process again. You can do this for any scheme and it will cause problems for the DWP and in particular for the workfare providers.

  77. The long-established workstation has certain approach
    to the laptop mainframe and can currently be beside yourself to everywhere one wants to do suchlike they
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  78. I am a section co-ordinator (supervisor) at M&S, responsible for staffing resource. We have a number of “free” workplace placement people working at my store at the moment. If I may, I would like to debunk a few myths:

    1) You do not cost us “nothing” – We have to provide basic training for you. This involves moving existing resource into core-day shifts in order to provide your training, and spending money paying the trainer additional hours to do this. At the same time, I must spend money from my limited budget covering the shifts this trainer would otherwise work.

    2) We, as a store, will give at least one of these “free” workplace placement employees a permanent position, This will cause us nothing but trouble (last year’s intake have put in a higher-than-average amount of paid sickness).

    3) You are not being “paid nothing”. You are receiving back-to-work benefits. Myself and the vast majority of my colleagues are actually paying you via our taxes. The company may not be paying you – but its employees are.

    4) We don’t actually want you here, I’m sorry to say it, but if you don’t want to be here, then you will not not be productive and are actually nothing more than a time-and-money-sink. We will spend money training you (see above), and then gain nothing in return.

    5) We never employ placement people on “contracts” of more than 16 hours. This applies to DWP, M&Start, and Remploy candidates.

    My feeling (as someone who was long-term unemployed prior to starting at M&S as temporary Christmas staff after being made redundant from another career three years ago) is that you guys need to re-learn the value of a working week, and if this is what it takes (in the current economic climate) then perhaps you should look upon this as a opportunity rather than a burden.

  79. Pingback: Corporate Benefits – Workfare «


  81. Pingback: Welfare-To-Work Award Nominees Greggs Compared Workfare To Slavery | the void

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