Tag Archives: boycott workfare

Shameful: Scottish Charity Journal Publishes Terrorism Allegations Aimed At Boycott Workfare

glasgow-bwAn astonishing piece of gutter journalism has been published by charity journal Third Force News which accuses Boycott Workfare of terrorism and says that charities have been blackmailed into pulling out of unpaid work schemes.

According to Robert Armour, the journalist behind the piece, three Scottish charities including Glasgow the Caring City, have been “blackmailed, intimidated and bullied by campaigners associated with Boycott Workfare”.  One charity goes even further saying anyone who challenges the campaign is “subjected to abuse and terrorism”.

The above picture is a message left on Boycott Workfare’s facebook page just two days before the article appeared and which shows that Glasgow the Caring City appear to take a very different view of Boycott Workfare to that presented by Third Force News.  They even encourage Boycott Workfare to communicate their positive message to others in the voluntary sector.  Which would be incitement to commit terrorism if Third Force News’ claims were anything other than sensationalist bollocks.

The charity who accuse Boycott Workfare of terrorism  along with an organisation who claim to have received a threat of arson are not named by Third Force News, so there is little way of checking the truth of these allegations.  What is certain however is that Boycott Workfare had nothing to do with this or any other violent threat.  To attempt to blame every single incident on one campaign group is as ludicrous as blaming the fucking RSPCA if an animal right’s group torches a slaughterhouse.

There should be no doubt.  Threatening workfare using charities or their staff with violence is a dickish way to behave.  The person you are threatening might be on workfare themselves for a start. But whilst there are laws against sending communications which are threatening, obscene or designed to cause anxiety there is nothing illigal about firmly telling a charity what you think by writing to them or posting on their social media pages.  Or holding a protest outside their premises.  That is not blackmail, it is legitimate protest.  And that is all Boycott Workfare, and hundreds of other claimants and supporters, have ever called on people to do.  In the case of Glasgow the Caring City they didn’t even do that.  They merely informed people that an offshoot of this charity were using workfare.

There are dozens of groups actively fighting workfare in the UK and possibly thousands of individuals.  Martin Himes, the CEO of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) who publish Third Sector News is one of them.  All are resisting in different ways.  Some have opted for civil disobedience.  Others have protested online.  Perhaps as Third Force News claim a few have grassed up charities to health & safety representatives or the local council.  This is not surprising given the appalling conditions some people on workfare have to endure.  It is hardly fucking terrorism though is it?

The truth is that many people are disgusted that charities are involved in forced labour schemes which are backed by punitive benefit sanctions that are leading to horrendous suffering.  These charities may claim that all their forced workers are happy fucking slaves, but they never see the impact on those sanctioned because they couldn’t or didn’t want to work for them without pay.  The homelessness that sanctions cause, or people queuing at foodbanks, ill health and poverty.  Workfare using charities are responsible for those consequences, no matter how they squirm and spin and try to blame everyone except themselves.  To pretend otherwise is shameful.  For Third Force News to smear those trying to bring this vile system to an end by publishing ludicrous claims of terrorism is beneath contempt.

Third Force News are on twitter @ThirdForceNews if you want to tell them what you think of this trash (in a non-threatening, non-obscene way of course).

Boycott Workfare are holding a week of action against workfare and sanctions this week, join in and spread the word.

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

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The 2.25 Million Hidden Unemployed People Reveals The Stark Truth: There’s No Fucking Jobs

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A senior DWP manager has a motivational meltdown on twitter.

According to the latest statistics there are currently 1.84 million unemployed people.  There are also 1.3 million people working part time because they cannot find a full time job.  Nearly half a million people who are officially employed work less than six hours a week.  Over 100,000 so-called employed people are actually on unpaid workfare.

But even this only tells half the truth about the number of under and unemployed people in the UK.  There are a staggering 2.25 million people who are ‘economically inactive’ and want a job but who are not included in the unemployment figures.  That means the true number of unemployed people, if unemployed is defined as not having a job and wanting one – which is how it should be fucking defined – is over four million.

The reason you never hear of the missing 2.25 million is because of an international definition of what unemployed means which has been agreed by statisticians to allow comparisons of employment rates between different countries.  As such unemployed, as far as the official figures are concerned,  means someone who is currently out of work, available to start work immediately and who has looked for a job in the last four weeks.  Clearly this does not include everyone who is really unemployed.  It doesn’t even include half of them.

The 2.25 million hidden unemployed include those who have simply stopped looking for a job in despair (40,000 people) along with those looking after the family home but who would rather be in work, people forced into early retirement against their will and sick and disabled people who want jobs.

There are currently just 743,000 vacancies, many of them part time or temporary.  If everybody who was unemployed found work tomorrow there would still be around 3.5 million people out of work who wanted a job.  There are not enough jobs for everybody.  Everybody knows this really, even Iain Duncan Smith’s think tank who said last year that “reducing unemployment to zero is neither feasible nor desirable”.

Unemployment is not caused by unemployed people but a lack of jobs.  So trying to ‘fix’ unemployed people with endless workfare, assessments and benefit sanctions will do nothing to fix unemployment.  Yet every major political party pretends to think it will.  The reason for this is that the public used to blame the government, or even capitalism, for unemployment.  Politicians however would rather they blame disabled people or lone parents.  Better that than governments having to admit to their own own ineptness –  or even worse acknowledge that the magical free market will not create a job for everyone.

The latest attempts to cure people of unemployment would be almost laughable if the impact on people’s lives were not so tragic.  Jobcentres are now being run like cults, with managers spouting mumbo jumbo motivational garbage like Sandra Lambert‘s now deleted twitter feed calling on staff to ‘pink up the pace’ and handing out sheriff stars to Jobcentres which meet benefit sanction targets.  Half-arsed online Cognitive Behavor Therapies are on the way, to cure unemployed people’s mental health problems.  Pull yourself together and get a job is the message from the DWP for those who are unable to work due to depression or other mental health conditions.  Forced treatment for some groups has been threatened should the Tories win the election.

That this flies in the face of what is considered good practice amongst psychologists no longer seems to matter.  Unemployed people are now fair game for almost any kind of treatment as long as it’s designed to punish and scapegoat.  Claimants have at best been abandoned and at worst openly attacked even by charities and institutions which claim to support those with a mental health condition.

Towards the end of last year the president elect of the British Psychological Society (BPS),  Jamie Hacker Hughes promised the body would carry out an enquiry into the use of pseudo-psychology, benefit sanctions and workfare.  Yet nothing has happened so far.  As part of the week of action against workfare and sanctions contact them and demand they speak out against the current regime which has driven some claimants to suicide.  Claimants do not have time to wait for them to get their act together, people are being pushed into desperate poverty and sometimes even their deaths now.  To not speak up is to be complicit in the actions of this Government and hands a licence to whoever wins next week’s election to carry on in the same way.

There are not enough jobs.  Unemployment is not caused by unemployed people.  The mistreatment of unemployed, sick and disabled people must stop.  That is what anyone with a conscience must now be saying, as loudly as fucking possible.

The British Psychological Society are on twitter @BPSOfficial  and have a facebook page.

The Labour Market Statistics are published monthly and the latest release on which these figures are based can be found at: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lms/labour-market-statistics/april-2015/statistical-bulletin.html

For more contact details and information about the rise of pseudo-science being used to bully unemployed people visit Boycott Workfare’s website.

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Join me on facebook or follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Join The Week Of Action Against Workfare And Tell @bmstores What You Think

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If you exploit us we will shut you down.

From Boycott Workfare

Take action against persistent workfare exploiters B&M Stores as part of the Week of Action vs Workfare and Sanctions!

B&M Stores has won an award from the workfare industry for their support for forced unpaid labour. The harsh reality of their involvement is exploitation of claimants – people working for nothing under the constant threat of sanctions – and workfare being used to reduce overtime and replace paid staff.

“B&M stores started using workfare Jan 2013. Receiving free labour and stopping overtime for employees with contracts. The people forced to do this free labour are not happy and neither are the other workers.”

Boycott Workfare has had several reports of reduced hours for paid staff as well as the practice of employing paid staff on a trial basis, sacking them after 12 weeks, and replacing them with workfare placements.

“Just to let you know B&M Stores have taken on new staff under a workfare scheme. This was 1 month after staff hours were cut by 50%. This meant my hours were cut from 20 to 10.”

B&M Stores made over £100 million profit last year but still they use forced unpaid labour.

B&M Stores have over 400 stores from Perth in Scotland to Portsmouth in the South of England. They have expanded by using workfare grabs from any local JobCentrePlus. It has been reported that in one B&M Store “older or long term staff were sacked and a new wave of 20 workfare placements taken on.”

What you can do:

Thanks to your efforts, more and more businesses and charities are withdrawing from workfare.  Keep up the pressure and let B&M Stores know:  ’if they exploit us, we will close them down!’

Use twitter, facebook and direct action to expose B&M Stores and call for a boycott of their stores.  Workfare exploits claimants and means poorer pay and conditions for all workers.

Tweet them @bmstores

Email customer services

Phone: 0151 728 5400 (remember to speak politely)

Facebook

Visit their Corporate Website

You could also let workfare apologists ERSA know what you think about awards that celebrate companies that profit from exploiting claimants.

Join me on facebook or follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Week Of Action Against Workfare And Sanctions Begins Tomorrow: Events Announced So Far

Boycott-Workfare-action No workfare. No sanctions. Whoever wins we will resist!

Latest details at: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=4239

25th April, London – Sanction Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice Shops: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=4298

25th April, Chingford – IDS – the Butcher of Benefits must go! DPAC action: https://www.facebook.com/events/630040803794662/

25 April, Leeds – Leeds Welfare Fightback will be out in Briggate throughout the week with stalls and leaflets.
https://www.facebook.com/events/695030883952537/

29th April, Edinburgh – Demonstrate at High Riggs Jobcentre, by Tollcross, Edinburgh: http://edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/node/165

1st May, Bristol – Bristol May day demo – Combat Workfare: https://www.facebook.com/events/1578782925705919/

2nd May, London – Sanction the Salvation Army: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=4281

Daily leafleting in Haringey, London: email info@haringey.org to get involved

Actions in the Netherlands: http://www.doorbraak.eu/25-april-to-2-may-international-week-of-action-against-workfare-and-sanctions-come-join-us/

Disabled People Against the Cuts have called for a “Revenge Tour” in the same week: https://www.facebook.com/events/726806607436136/

Please share, tweet, blog and help spread the word about all events!

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The Fight To Save Social Security Won’t Be Over Whoever Wins The Election, Come To The Welfare Action Gathering – 30th May

welfare-action-flyerfrom Boycott Workfare

Saturday 30th May, 10.30am-5.30pm, London Welsh Centre (10 minutes’ walk from King’s Cross station)

Faced with policies that are pushing ever more people into precarity and poverty, thousands of us have been coming together to support each other. We are pushing back workfare, standing up to sanctions, challenging the work capability assessment and fighting insecure, unaffordable housing.

If you are concerned about:

  • Job centres being places of intimidation and sanctions,
  • Private providers bullying claimants on ‘welfare-to-work’ schemes,
  • 35 hour jobsearch under Universal Credit,
  • ESA assessments putting sick and disabled people in fear of destitution,
  • Welfare rights for young people being abolished and replaced with unpaid work,
  • Workfare being required to be eligible for social housing,
  • Housing benefit being part of sanctions under Universal Credit,
  • Claimants in work being sanctioned under Universal Credit too…

…then do something about it and come to the Welfare Action Gathering to hear from other people organising across the UK! Learn about our rights and share ideas and tactics!

This isn’t a day for speakers from the front. Party political representatives aren’t invited. It’s a day for people at the grassroots to get together and work out how we can support each other, defend our rights and continue successfully to campaign against workfare and sanctions.

Organised by Boycott Workfare with Haringey Solidarity Group. Workshops and contributions from other groups are very welcome!

Want to come? Please register your interest now: info@boycottworkfare.org

Will you need help with travel costs? If you are in a local group where people support each other and take action on welfare or housing (or plan to start one), we should be able to help with your travel costs. Please help by booking travel early and accessing other sources of funding if you can. Get in touch as soon as you can to sort travel costs out.

Access info: Please get in touch if there are ways we can help make the event accessible to you. The venue is wheelchair accessible however one workshop room unfortunately is not. If you are a wheelchair user, please contact us in advance to let us know which workshops you’d like to attend, and we’ll make sure they are scheduled on the ground floor.

Want to organise something similar near you? We’d love to help if we can. We especially want to support another gathering in the North in Autumn/Winter 2015, but would need a local group to take the lead on organising it. Please get in touch.

For more details and a list of the workshops organised so far visit Boycott Workfare’s website.

Join the Facebook event and invite others to come too!

Join me on facebook or follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

A Visit To Urban Futures Shows The Nasty Side Of Charity Workfare

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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.

Urban Futures have a half-arsed social media presence on facebook and twitter @urbanfuturesuk

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.

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Take Action Against @GroundworkUK: No Grounds For Greenwashing Workfare

groundworkuk-ruining-livesFrom Boycott Workfare

Groundwork boasts of its involvement in workfare. Join in with an online blockade of their social media and let them know what you think of their prolific and unashamed use of forced unpaid labour.  

Take online action today against Groundwork, the green charity using unpaid labour. Branches of Groundwork up and down the country openly advertise their involvement in all kinds of workfare, including the latest and most exploitative programmes.

Charities and voluntary organisations should know the value of volunteering. Instead Groundwork is taking thousands of unemployed people on workfare placements with no pay and putting people at risk of sanctions. According to their own statistics they forced 4,500 people through workfare last year alone. They trade on the goodwill of their ‘volunteering’ projects to secure government money for unpaid labour schemes.

Groundwork is also taking part in the latest draconian scheme, Community Work Placements (CWP), as a sub-contractor of G4S in Merseyside, Lancashire and Cumbria. CWP is a six month long placement – twice the length of the maximum community service sentence for committing a crime.  Workfare criminalises unemployed people and then punishes them more harshly than other people who are forced to work for free. It does this without even the appearance of judicial process: people are punished just because they’re unemployed.

More than 400 charities and 22 councils have rejected CWP and other workfare schemes by signing the Keep Volunteering Voluntary pledge. They understand that workfare is punitive and that it doesn’t help people find jobs.

Following the latest attacks from the government on unemployed people, in which the Tories are promising to cut benefits and roll out more of the harsh schemes like the ones Groundwork provides, we need to show those involved in workfare just how unacceptable it is.

A lot of green charities and recycling companies are involved in workfare schemes. The environment is a useful alibi for forcing people to work for free, because it makes it easy to claim that the work unemployed people are doing is for “community benefit” – which it is supposed to be, if the scheme is one that people can be directly forced to do, like CWP or Mandatory Work Activity.  This is why there’s so many environmental charities, city farms, and recycling firms on our list of workfare exploiters.

Workfare schemes cannot operate without charities that are willing to take on unpaid workers, but Groundwork’s involvement is deeper: they help organise the schemes as well. Groundwork say they recognise that Jobcentre Plus is enforcing a “stricter application…of conditions and sanctions”, but they continue to help to run this punitive system anyway. Let them know about the hardship and destitution that benefit sanctions are causing. Let them know that forcing people to work under threat of destitution for no pay is wrong.

Groundwork are on Twitter  @GroundworkUK and on Facebook here.

Or you could contact them through their website, or on the phone (0121 236 8565).  They have local branches throughout the UK.  To find contact details for the nearest one to you, look here.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid