Tag Archives: tesco

Tesco Called on Government To Scrap Benefit Sanctions As Profits Dipped

tesco-exploitationTesco claim to have called on the DWP to scrap benefit sanctions in a response to a letter asking them about their use of forced, unpaid workers.

In a humiliating snub to Iain Duncan Smith, the company set up their own workfare scheme outside of the Jobcentre system last year.  Tesco say that this scheme is entirely voluntary but add in the letter:  “I appreciate your concerns and can advise that Tesco have suggested to the Department of Work and Pensions that, to avoid any misunderstanding about the voluntary nature of the scheme, the risk of losing benefits that currently exists should be removed.”

Now unless Tesco are fibbing, if their scheme is outside of the various DWP workfare schemes, then it should be entirely voluntary.  The statement suggests that in order to avoid confusion Tesco would like to see all benefit sanctions removed.  Tesco want free workers without the bad PR, and have no doubt calculated that with youth unemployment soaring, they can easily manipulate young people into working for free.  The company have even stated that “going forward” young people “accepted for work experience with Tesco” will have the option of being paid minimum wage and those that complete a placement successfully will be given a real job.

Yet just 300 of those who worked unpaid at Tesco have been employed, despite around 1,400 people having ‘donated’ their time to support the company.  What Tesco really seem to be saying is that occasionally we might employ someone without making them work unpaid first.  How fucking big of them.

There is another reason why Tesco might oppose benefit sanctions however.  Whilst Tesco are far from the cheapest shop, they are often the biggest in areas where there are high numbers of benefit claimants.  A significant chunk of the UK’s social security budget ends up in the pockets of Tesco shareholders – along with small local businesses and the utilities companies – something George Osborne seems to have forgotten.

Every family queuing at a foodbank is a family that didn’t shop in Tesco that week.  The latest available figures suggest 680,000 benefit sanctions were handed out in the first 10 months of 2012.  During the same period Tesco’s profits fell for the first time in 20 years.

The bedroom tax, council tax benefit changes, housing benefit cuts and the raft of other vicious measures set to impoverish the already impoverished are also all about to begin.  These changes are big enough, and will affect enough people, that Tesco, along with ASDA, Poundland, Lidl, Aldi and other discount retailers are waking up to the fact that if their core customers have less money, then so will they.

Tesco have already taken steps to mitigate this problem.  Shortly before Christmas last year Tesco teamed up with the The Trussell Trust “to launch the biggest ever nationwide food collection for people in crisis.”

Customers in Tescos around the UK were invited to donate an item of shopping bought at the supermarket to their local Trussell Trust foodbank.  The company set up collection points in many of their stores to make this easier.  Claimants shouldn’t be fooled by this apparently charitable gesture.  Tesco make no real secret of the fact they are a bunch of cunts.  They are simply attempting to ensure that if people are getting their food from foodbanks, then that food was bought in Tesco first.

Join South London Solidarity Federation and others to protest against workfare outside Peckham Poundland tomorrow: https://www.facebook.com/events/631652860184840/

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

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Meet the Job Snobs – Who’s out of Workfare (and who’s still in)

Job snobs Sainsbury’s, Waterstones, TK Maxx, 99p Stores and Maplin have all made statements that they will pull out of workfare.  Miss Selfridge also said on facebook yesterday that their company does not participate in the government’s workfare schemes. Matalan have suspended their use of the scheme.

Superdrug have said they will not be taking on any new candidates, which presumably means they won’t be paying the workfare slaves they already have.  Support your local drug dealer instead.  Poundland, which as it turns out refers to the wages they pay as well as the cost of the broken toys they sell, have said the scheme is under review.

Of the major charities involved Marie Curie have pulled out, Oxfam are expected to make a statement any time soon, and SCOPE have suspended their workfare activity.  Whether this includes pulling out of the Work Programme delivery is so far unclear.  Shelter have also announced they abandoned the scheme last year.

(if you are on or expected to start workfare at any of the above let us know in the comments or contact Boycott Workfare.  Let’s make sure no-one’s telling porkies)

According to Boycott Workfare – Boots, HMV and Pizza Hut have confirmed they will not arrange placements centrally, but are happy to let local stores do so.  HMV are going out of business anyway, boycott them and help speed things up.  Alternatively steal your music from the internet like a normal person.

Age UK are reviewing the situation and MIND say they will no longer use workfare in their shops.  Mencap say they don’t have any shops, but won’t use workfare volunteers.  Neither MIND, Mencap or any of the other Disability Works charities appear to be pulling out of the Work Programme scheme – more on this later.

PDSA, Banardos and the British Heart Foundation have kindly said we can email them about any concerns we may have about workfare.  Cancer Research (@CR_UK), and Capability Scotland (@Capability_Scot) have decided to simply ignore the scores of people who have contacted them.

God botherers the Salvation Army (@salvationarmyuk) are unrepentant. This is hardly surprising. They don’t just employ workfare staff but also appear to have a contract bullying people onto workfare. On their website they say: “Providing short-term work experience for unemployed people is part of our provision for those in need”. Forced labour is good for you, especially as the Jesus army states one of their priorities is ensuring vulnerable people are “less dependent on the state”.

ASDA, Arcadia, Holland & Barrett, Mcdonalds, Burger King and Primark appear to have no qualms about using forced labour to keep profits high and have kept schtum. The most shocking statement of all comes from Argos (@argos_online) who have said: “We can confirm that Argos does not have a policy to recruit colleagues through the governments Work Experience Programme, but we do make use of it to offer work experience.  Christmas is our busiest time of year and we are pleased to provide the opportunity for work experience during this time.”

So they don’t have a policy to use forced labour, they just do it anyway, especially at Christmas when they are super busy. It would be harder to find clearer example of company using workfare rather than recruiting paid staff than Argos taking on workfare slaves to help with the Christmas rush.

Which brings us on to Tesco, who have tacitly admitted they were using workfare effectively as free labour and a two month long interview. Tesco are asking the government to remove the threat of benefit sanctions if people stop their work experience and have said they will now offer workers a wage. How fucking big of them. Furthermore, according to the Telegraph, the 1,500 people (which includes the 300 already employed) who Tesco plan to take from the Jobcentre is part of their planned recruitment strategy. In other words no new jobs are being, or have been created due to workfare. The 300 people who have already been employed under the scheme would therefore have got jobs anyway, without having to work for free first. The 1,200 who didn’t get jobs have just had their time wasted.

You can still contact all the above workfare sharks at once via twitter using this handy site: http://www.pint.org.uk/work/

Better still join in the National Day of Action on March 3rd. If there isn’t an action taking place near you, organise one!

Above pic from the ever busy Anarchist Media Project.

UK-wide day of action against workfare – Saturday 3rd March

From Boycott Workfare

In solidarity with Liverpool Uncut’s action against workfare on Saturday 3rd March, Boycott Workfare has called a national day of action against workfare. There’s already actions planned in Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Leeds, Sheffield and Tunbridge Wells (with Glasgow, Lincoln, Notts and others planning!). Why not visit your high street as well?

So many high street stores are involved in taking on forced unpaid labour that there is plenty of choice – Tescos, Asda, Holland & Barrett, Primark, HMV, and Topshop to name but a few. Get a group together, make a plan, and head to the streets.

Workfare means that those who need welfare are forced into unpaid work for multi-million pound companies. Instead of a living wage, they receive only JSA – a tiny £53 a week for the under-25s – far below minimum wage.

Workfare means those in paid positions may see their jobs replaced by this unpaid labour. Why would a company pay for people to do these jobs when they can get free labour from the Job Centre?

We can put a stop to this forced unpaid labour – Waterstones, Sainsburys and TK Maxx have all recently announced that they would no longer take unpaid placements – the other companies just need a bit more encouragement to stop this exploitation.

We demand an end to this exploitation and call for welfare rights and living wages for all!
If you continue to exploit us we WILL shut you down!

Details of actions:

  • Birmingham – 11.30am outside Poundland on Union Street. Facebook event.
  • Brighton – Brighton Benefits Campaign are picketing Tesco in Jubilee Street (opposite Jubilee Square) from 12 noon. See Facebook event. Brighton Youth Fight for Jobs & Education are picketing Tesco in St James’s Street Kemp Town from 11.30am.See Facebook event.
  • Bristol – 12 noon at College Green. More info.
  • Cardiff – 2pm Outside Poundland on Queen Street. See Facebook event.
  • Leeds – See Facebook event. And join the Tesco demo on Monday 20th Feb.
  • Liverpool – Take action with UK Uncut, 1pm until 4pm. Meet Next to Nowhere Social Centre, Bold Street, Liverpool. More info
  • London, Oxford Street – Meet outside BHS on Oxford Street, 11:30am. More info and download a leaflet.
  • London, Hackney – See Facebook event.
  • Sheffield – Meet Devonshire Green, Sheffield, 1pm. We will meet at 1pm and decide on a target. See Facebook event.
  • Tunbridge Wells – Meet at the Millennium clock in Tunbridge Wells at 12 noon.

Let us know what you’re planning. The campaign is UK-wide!

above pic found at: http://theredeyeportal.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/tesco-value-slave-labour/

Tesco’s Secret Workfare Slaves

Furious shoppers are threatening to boycott Tesco after their use of forced labour schemes came to light yesterday.

An advert on the Jobcentre Plus website is calling for night-shift workers who will be expected to work for just Jobseekers Allowance (paid by the Government,  not Tesco, at a rate of £53.45 per week for under 25s) plus expenses.  The position is advertised as permanent.

Tesco have claimed the role is not permanent and that this was a mistake which they have asked the DWP to remove from their website.  So far it is still there.

Tesco, who seem unnerved about the extent of their involvement with forced labour being revealed to customers, have today gone on the offensive. Tesco claim that over 300 people have been given permanent positions with the firm since they began using free workers and that they are ‘giving young people valuable experience of the workplace‘.  That Tesco are attempting to claim this is some kind of charitable gesture just shows that they think their customers are fucking stupid.

This is the company that rips off suppliers, workers and customers alike.  The company whose aggressive expansion policy has ripped the heart out of communities resulting in over 450 local campaigns against them according to Tescopoly.  Tesco ensure any local resistance to their presence is bulldozed away, sometimes literally, as in the destruction of popular local beauty spot Titnore Woods.

So let’s not pretend Tesco are in the midst of some grand humanitarian crusade.  Tesco don’t do ethics, they do profit.  Should that change their shareholders might well have something to say about it.

If Tesco had 300 positions available for young people then why didn’t they recruit through the usual channels, without forcing them to work for free first.  And despite the firms promise of a ‘guaranteed interview’ (big fucking deal), Tesco have  forcibly recruited 1,400 people onto workfare since they started using the scheme.  So barely 1 in five of them was finally offered a no doubt minimum wage job at the end of it. Are these the only young people Tesco have recruited in that time?  Perhaps they’d like to tell us.

Previous workfare schemes have failed because providers have been unable to find enough placements for claimants bullied onto them by the DWP.  This has led to thousands of young people being forced to sit around for 30 hours in the office’s of poverty pimps like A4e, or face losing all benefits.  With Tesco finally getting involved (along with other major employers including McDonalds and ASDA), it is possible that economy of scale may have finally resulted in corporate sharks working out how to make a profit from it.

That Tesco (and ASDA) are forcing workers to work nights, for which they would usually pay their paid employers a premium, shows that what counts here is the bottom line.  There’s money to be made from these Workfare schemes.  Of course that means they will take on less paid staff than they would have done, and as an added bonus it can be used to put pressure on wages and conditions for all staff.

The most cynical predictions about Workfare, that it will lead to higher unemployment and lower wages, appear to be coming true.  Forcing young people to work nights is particularly vile, especially as the health risks to night time workers is now well documented.  It also reveals that this scheme has nothing to do with helping young people find work, leaving them little time for job hunting if they are knackered from doing a night shift.

The weasel words from Tesco’s marketing department will do little to dampen the outrage.  Already on their facebook page they can’t delete comments fast enough from furious customers whilst on Twitter the #boycotttesco and #tescogate hashtags are taking off.  Tesco customer services can be contacted (for free) on: 0800 505 555.

Sainsbury’s, Waterstones and allegedly Superdrug have all announced they will no longer be taking part in workfare.  With the 3rd of March called as a National Day of Action Against Workfare then this abandonment of the government’s flagship scheme is  sure to spread.  If workfare is now profitable then direct action, boycotts, pickets and demonstrations outside stores will at the very least help to make it less profitable.

It’s a sad and crazy world when Tesco can claim they are helping young people by forcing them to stack shelves all night for no pay.  With the recent announcement that boss of workfare provider A4e paid herself £9 million of tax payer’s money last year, supermarkets getting night shift workers for free at the tax payer’s expense and even charities clamouring to pick up lucrative ‘Work Programme’ contracts it seems that the benefits system is indeed a gravy train.  Unless of course you happen to be a benefit claimant.