In 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.
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