Boycott Workfare and Haringey Solidarity Group today occupied the premises of Urban Futures in protest at ther involvement in the government’s Community Work Placement scheme – better known as workfare.
Hidden away on an industrial estate in Wood Green London, Urban Futures run a training centre where unemployed people are sent by Jobcentres to be processed and referred to workfare with local so-called charities. Today protesters visited the company with the aim of speaking to the inmates forced to attend under threat of benefit sanctions. On entering the offices, one person politely explained the reason the action was taking place whilst others began to hand out leaflets.
The mood quickly turned ugly. Urban Futures staff, presumably furious at having their authority undermined, began tearing up the campaigners leaflets whilst others started grabbing and illegally seizing personal property. Protesters were repeatedly pushed and manhandled whilst one management looking type laughed at how he enjoyed profiting from harassing and bullying unemployed people. Others made snide remarks about protesters getting a job, showing their true attitude to the people they pretend they are supporting.
Very soon around a dozen police turned up and seemed slightly bemused at the over the top reaction from Urban Future’s pumped up employees. At this point campaigners decided to leave, with property such as phone and bags eventually reluctantly returned.
Even outside some of the staff at Urban Futures seemed determined to throw their weight around. When campaigners stopped to talk to some claimants having a fag, the company’s employees immediately ordered their inmates not talk to them and tried to usher them inside. One jumped up prick then informed us that these people were taking part in work related activity and were therefore not allowed to talk to anyone. Really.
People sent to Urban Futures are forced to work for six months or face desperate poverty as their benefits are sanctioned as part of George Osborne’s misnamed ‘Help to Work’ scheme. Nobody looked like they were being helped today, except for Urban Futures who are helping themselves to a huge chunk of tax payer’s money. Instead the environment resembled an open prison, with people shoved into rooms to hang about waiting before they are finally shipped out as forced labour for local charity shops like the one run by North London Hospice who face a protest of their own this Saturday.
There’s still time to get involved in the Week Of Action Against Workfare, keep an eye on Boycott Workfare’s website for the latest news.
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