Tag Archives: workfare

#WEcan Fuck Up The DWP’s Online Campaign To Promote Mass Workfare

workfare-stick-upA whole host of corporate vultures have teamed up with the DWP to launch an online campaign celebrating young people being coerced into working for no pay for some of the richest companies in the UK.

Marks & Spencer, Whitbread, Halfords and shamefully the BBC have all signed up to the #WEcan campaign which aims to encourage even more businesses to provide unpaid work experience positions instead of employing young people properly.  The new initiative comes as the Government draws up plans to force all unemployed young people into permanent unpaid work if they are unable to find a job within six months of becoming unemployed.  This means they have to find enough grubby companies and so-called charities who are prepared to take part in this shocking exploitation.  The #WEcan campaign is part of an attempt to achieve this, so let’s fuck it up.

Already parasites from the welfare-to-work industry are tweeting using the hashtag #WEcan whilst a tumblr page has been set up calling for young people to share their experiences of workfare.  The DWP have also posted a host of youtube videos (comments currently enabled) such as this one which says that “whatever you are doing, any experience is good experience”.  Gone is any pretence at providing placements which involve real training or a chance of a job at the end.  Instead they want young people to mop floors and stack shelves for two months and have the fucking gall to claim they are doing them a favour.

Please help spread the word about this and tweet using the hashtag #WEcan.  And let’s make sure everybody knows which companies are using workfare, starting with @marksandspencer, @premierinn, @Halfords_uk, @WhitbreadPLC, @Barclays and @BBC.

For the latest news on fighting back against forced unpaid work visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/

I’m still on a break.  Back properly in a week or so.

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Day 1: Take Online Action Against The Workfare Conference Monday 2nd December

sanction-sabsOn Monday 2nd December the welfare-to-work industry will be splashing out yet more tax payers’ money on their annual workfare conference in a plush Central London venue.

Workfare exploiters like the Shaw Trust and the Salvation Army will be gathering to discuss how to further profit from the huge increase in unpaid work. From April next year hundreds of thousands of unemployed people will be forced to work for free for six months or face losing benefits completely. The cost of this scheme is estimated to be £300 million. Most of this cash will end up lining the pockets of the welfare-to-work sector – companies like A4E, G4S, Ingeus and Serco who specialise in forcing people to work without pay.

Many of these companies will be present at Monday’s conference where tickets cost up to a whopping £534 in some cases. Claimants are clearly not welcome at the conference unlike Employment Minister Esther McVey and Matthew Sinclair from hard right think tank the Tax Payer’s Alliance who will both be giving speeches at the event. The Tax Payer’s Alliance recently released a report calling for permanent workfare for those out of work even if this is due to sickness or disability.

The conference is being organised by ERSA, the trade body established to represent the welfare-to-work racket along with the Centre for Social Inclusion (CESI).

Boycott Workfare will be holding a noise demo outside the conference from 12.30pm as part of the Week of Action Against Workfare and Sanctions . A day of online protest has been called targeting the sponsors of the event who hope to gain some positive publicity from being associated with this workfare love-in. Contact them on social media and let’s make sure that doesn’t work out quite in the way they hoped as they are named and shamed for their support of forced work.

Delegates at Monday’s conference will be tweeting using the hashtag #ERSA2013 so add this to all tweets. Don’t forget to tweet conference organisers ERSA and CESI themselves: @ersa_news  @InclusionCESI

Sponsors of the conference include:

Learn Direct, who can be found at:  @learndirect


Work Programme providers the Shaw Trust are at: @Shaw_Trust


Training charity Catch 22 who recently advised the Department for Education that the new unpaid Traineeships Work placements should be shown “to provide a commercial advantage to employers” can be found at: @Catch22charity


Spirit Resourcing are sponsoring the delegate packs: @HelloSpirit https://www.facebook.com/spiritresourcing

pauline-pensWelfare-to-work recruitment agency R3 Welfare & Skills will be sponsoring the pens at the conference: @R3WelfareSkills

Don’t forget to sign the petition calling for an end to all benefit sanctions without exceptions.

Wages For Interns, Workfare For The Poor Says Hazel Blears MP

blears-smugLabour MP Hazel Blears’ appalling workfare hypocrisy has been exposed this week after she jumped on the intern bandwagon to demand an end to unpaid work for middle class graduates.

Blears has been supporting the Intern Aware campaign, which rightly calls for internships – periods of work experience usually aimed at graduates beginning professional careers – to come with a salary.  Blears claims it is a “modern day scandal” that these jobs come without pay.

Yet astonishingly (as revealed by @boycottworkfare on twitter) Blears doesn’t just support unpaid work for young unemployed people, but she is actively involved in arranging workfare placements.  Blears runs the Kids Without Connections scheme, a ‘work experience’ programme linked to the Jobcentre and which doesn’t pay workers a penny.

Far from being a “modern day scandal” Blears claims it is “fantastic” that scores of young people have been sent to work unpaid for profit making companies like the multi-national Fujitsu.

Rarely has such naked class prejudice within the Labour Party been more exposed.  It is chilling that even a woman from a working class background like Blears appears to think that those who are poor should not have the same basic human right to a wage as everybody else.

Sadly even to Labour MPs the poor are a now seen as a barely human sub-class who can be kicked around at will as a warning to everyone else. In this context it is easy to understand why the increasing number of deaths linked to welfare reforms are glibly dismissed by politicians of all parties.  The suffering of the poor to these scum is nothing compared to the scandal that their own darling little Tarquins and Jemimas might have to work for a couple of months without pay before they begin their lucrative careers in politics, media, law or the arts.

And of course they should be paid, every worker deserves a wage, and Blears is right to say that companies using unpaid workers should be ‘named and shamed’.  So let’s start with @fujitsu_uk, @2ergo and @KeepmoatHomes who have all exploited young unemployed people as part of @HazelBlearsMP workfare scheme.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Rise In Unemployment Down To Fall In Numbers On Workfare Admits DWP

unemployment-rate-may13In an encouraging statement for anti-workfare campaigners, the DWP are claiming that today’s rise in unemployment is partly down to a fall in the numbers of people on Government-supported training schemes – otherwise known as workfare.

According to the Department, the number of people in work fell by over 47,000 over the last three months – which they say ‘reflects’ amongst other things a drop of 16,000  in the numbers on Government employment schemes.

For two years now thousands of people have been involved in taking action to bring an end to unpaid work.  High profile companies and charities alike have abandoned the scheme after storms of protest both online and in the streets.

The number of people working unpaid has now fallen every month since February showing just how effective these protests have been.  This is no time for complacency however.  There are still 147,000 people on some form of government training scheme*.  Those still quite happily using workfare workers such as @salvationarmyuk, @TCVtweets and @Poundland should expect to come under unprecedented pressure from customers over the next few months as resistance to forced unpaid work is not going anywhere.

With the Government unable to use workfare to hide the true state of the labour market, unemployment overall has risen by 15,000 people – the third monthly rise. This has been accompanied by small falls in the Claimant Count, the number of people actually claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance.  One possible explanation for this is that these smalls drops are simply due to benefit eligibility being toughened, meaning more people are unemployed, but less are receiving benefits.

One thing is clear, which is that despite two years of benefit reforms along with ever increased conditionality for those receiving benefits and rocketing use of benefit sanctions, the unemployment rate is barely changed from the depth of the first recession in 2009.

The Work Programme, aimed at bringing down long term unemployment, has also once again revealed to be a complete disaster by today’s figures.  The number of people out of work over one year rose by 23,000 over the last three months, and the number unemployed for over two years soared by 21,000 – a rise of just under five percent.

Iain Duncan Smith has based his welfare reforms on claims that unemployment is caused by unemployed people –  placing the scroungers narrative at the heart of everything he does.  If this is true, then the huge numbers of people still out of work for long periods suggests that his welfare reforms are simply making people lazy and workshy on a massive scale.

If the alternative is true, that unemployment is not caused by unemployed people but is a structural part of capitalism which is made worse by poor economic growth,  then his current brutal dismantling of social security is based on nothing more than lies and contempt for the poor.

Attempting to blame the public rather than the government for high unemployment has been a neat trick, for a while.  Acres of space in the gutter press has been devoted to pursuing this myth, with the aim of stigmatising and finally impoverishing claimants. But you can’t fool all of the people all of the time, and if unemployment continues to stay this high, then Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit bullshitting could start to unravel just in time for the next election.

*not all of these people will be on workfare, some may be taking part in the subsidised-employment Youth Contract racket or other schemes.  It is equally true that not everyone on workfare will be included in this number.

This months Labour Market Statistics are at: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lms/labour-market-statistics/may-2013/index.html

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Greenwich Council’s Workfare Blag To Exploit Benefit Cap Loophole

benefit cap rollout.captureGreenwich Council is attempting to dodge the costs of the Benefit Cap by launching a ‘workfare lite’ scheme for struggling parents affected by its introduction.

The benefit cap means that no-one out of work can now receive more than £500 a week in social security benefits.  This has left tens of thousands of parents in London facing imminent homelessness as Housing Benefits, the payment which makes up the bulk of most benefit claims and lines the pockets of landlords, is included in the cap.

The Labour run Council have announced they will exploit a loophole in the bungled new measures which means that anyone working over a certain number of hours a week will not be subject to the cap.  Those affected by the cap are to be offered full time, or in many cases part time temporary jobs.

Parents who refuse to take up this job offer, which will include single mothers with babies and toddlers, will almost certainly lose their homes.  The jobs will be paid at at living wage say the council, which is at least a mild improvement on the workfare style scheme Labour have threatened should they be returned to power.

But just like Labour’s workfare, which will force anyone on benefits over a year into a minimum wage job, this employment will end after six months.  In other words Greenwich Council are simply delaying the inevitable.  And just like other workfare schemes, those working under threat of homelessness will be used to replace other roles at the council and undermine working conditions for everyone.

The Council have said this option is cheaper than having to accept those affected by the cap as homeless and therefore being legally responsible to house them.  And they are correct.  For every dismal penny the cap might save the government it will cost local authorities a fortune putting up homeless families in shoddy temporary accommodation for months, if not years on end.

Several local authorities have without doubt been shafted by the cap, which predominantly affects London Labour boroughs with large working class populations.  Greenwich will no doubt claim this is the best they can do.  But it is a sticking plaster for a truly desperate situation for many families, and a disaster for those with very young children.

Predictably to anyone following welfare reform, Greenwich Council’s move will end up costing the government more than if they had done what was intended of them and exported the families outside of the capital.  Iain Duncan Smith’s bungled legislation means that someone working enough hours to be eligible for tax credits can now be eligible for more in benefit payments then someone out of work due to sickness, disability or unemployment.

A single parent with two children working part time on London’s alleged  living wage could receive around £515 in benefits (or £550 on minimum wage) including Child Benefit, Tax Credits, and Housing Benefits – but crucially that parent must be earning 16 hours a week or the benefit is capped at £500.  If those hours drop to 14 for any reason, as is not uncommon in part time low paid work, parents on the minimum wage will lose not just two hours wages, but £50 a week in benefits.

Astonishingly, it would therefore be in a parent’s financial interests to pay an employer to allow them to work another couple of hours a week!

Of course the other side of this is that parents don’t have to actually do those hours, but just make sure they get them on the books.  And here lies the answer to Greenwich Council’s problem if only they look.

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As Thatcher Starts To Rot Let The Seeds Of Resistance Bloom

class-war-thatcherResistance to austerity could explode back into life this weekend with protests and civil disobedience planned across the UK and all topped off by the long awaited Thatcher Death Parties in Trafalgar Square and elsewhere.

UK Uncut will begin the day by declaring “Who wants to evict a millionaire?” and taking anti-austerity to the doorsteps of the rich.  Creative protests are planned in central London, Chelmsford, Brixton, Manchester and Birmingham to highlight the upcoming bedroom tax set to plunge over half a million people into immediate destitution.

To join the central London event meet at 11.30am, Kings Cross station, main concourse, Saturday 13th April., full details on at: http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/actions/1007

Anti-workfare protesters will also be out this weekend with demos targeting Homebase amongst others in Wood Green and Bristol on Saturday 13th and Bath and Haringey on Sunday 14th.

Then at 6pm thousands of people could descend on Trafalgar Square after a nasty attempted smear campaign by the right wing press turned the Thatcher death gig into the hottest show in town.  The long advertised party called by Class War to celebrate the death of the old crow has been splashed across the newspapers in the last couple of days – meaning that the rejoicing should be plentiful in the Square from 6pm on Saturday 13th April.  Many more celebrations are planned on Saturday around the UK, please feel free to leave links in the comments.

The gauntlet has been thrown down, she will only die once after all.  Don’t miss the chance to show Cameron and his toff lackies what decent people everywhere really thought of the vile inspiration for their contemptible government.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

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

Where The Workfare Money Goes – Charity Rich List Released

Pile of British bank notes.Charity trade journal Third Sector have released a league table (PDF) which highlights the staggering sums being paid to the bosses of many so called charities.

The magazine lists the top 150 earners in UK charities by income and broken down into sectors.  It is a litany of obscene wealth built on the back of the poorest and most vulnerable, revealing for example that whilst next week the Anchor Trust Housing Association will be sending out bedroom tax bills – sure to result in eviction for many people – the highest earner at the trust earns a shocking £275,000 a year.

Elsewhere in the document is a list of the top earners at mainstream charities, most of them household names.  Unsurprisingly it reads like an roll call of workfare exploiters and Work Programme sub-contractors.

Right up at the top of the list is the notorious Shaw Trust, one of the largest charitable Work Programme contractors and responsible for thousands of claimants suffering benefit sanctions.  Whilst those sanctioned on the recommendations of the charity face immediate destitution and even homelessness, the boss takes home £180,000 a year, coming in at joint fifth of the highest paid mainstream charity earners.

Other Work Programme sub-contractors in the top 30 include Scope, RNIB, Leonard Chesire Foundation and Mencap.

Workfare exploiters Salvation Army predictably feature in the list at joint 27th.  The British Heart Foundation, who claim to be moving away from workfare but according to their website are still very much part of the Work Programme, are at number 12 with the highest paid staff member earning £173,000, whilst Barnados are also on the list at number 20.

The list is also a reminder of who has pulled out of workfare.  Age UK, Cancer Research, Marie Curie and Sense all make the top 40 and have all rejected workfare over the last year and a half.

Charities will claim they need to pay high salaries to compete with the business sector.  The upshot of this is business people running charities, who put profit and the needs of the corporate sector they left behind before the people they are funded by the public to help.  Workfare is good for business, helping to undermine wages and workplace organisation.  And it’s good for big charities, who not only get a stream of unpaid workers but if they are particularly compliant may also be offered lucrative government welfare-to-work contracts.

That these are contracts and workfare placements that punish, degrade and impoverish the very people they claim to support can be brushed aside with glossy PR featuring ‘success stories’ – the handful of people who haven’t had miserable experiences at the hands of these organisations.

Millions of lives are currently being crushed under austerity and the erosion of the welfare state.  As Scope Chief Executive Richard Hawkes has said however, these savage cuts provide big opportunities for charities.  The end result of corporate style charities paying bosses hundreds of thousands of pounds are those bosses acting in their own class interests and attacking the very people whose poverty they leech from to fund their own lavish lifestyles.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Workfare Makes You Free Claim Salvation Army – Join the Online Day of Action

jesus-workfare-salvationJoin the online day of action tomorrow (Tuesday 19th March) and tell workfare exploiters The Salvation Army exactly what the public think about their use of forced labour.

The Salvation Army released an astonishing statement recently which seems to suggest they will force people on sickness or disability benefits as into unpaid workers.

In a series of answers to questions asked on social media, the charity are unrepentant about their use of workfare.  Responding to a question asking how they “can morally take sick and disabled people and force them to work?” the charity reply that they believe in “emancipation through employment” – a chillingly familiar phrase.

The Salvation Army have shown they are happy to act as Iain Duncan Smith’s workfare foot soldiers and yesterday their fight for the right to use unpaid workers even became physical.  The charity’s response to a peaceful protest at their London offices was to man-handle protesters and then to falsely accuse one individual of assault.

This so called charity need to be shown just how many people object to their use of forced unpaid labour.  Join in the online day of action and tell them what you think!

Salvation Army UK can be contacted on twitter @salvationarmyuk and facebook: http://www.facebook.com/salvationarmyuk

They can be telephoned on (020) 7367 4500  or emailed at: info@salvationarmy.org.uk

The Salvation Army’s fake trendy youth section are on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alove-UK/120184218036083

The Salvation Army’s International Headquarters advised protesters to visit their London Elephant & Castle offices as part of today’s workfare protest.  They were met with a heavy handed and aggressive response which left one person arrested temporarily after being falsely accused of assault.  Salvation Army International are on twitter at @TSA_IHQ and facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/SalvationArmyIHQ

To tell Salvation Army branches round the world what is being done in their name in the UK find twitter details at: https://twitter.com/search/users?q=salvation+army

Please tweet, blog, share and spread the word!

Join the National Week of Action Against Workfare now taking place: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1996

Join the Rolling Online Picket of YMCA England

ymca-photo-joelsp-199x300via Boycott Workfare

YMCA England have come out fighting in the name of workfare with a new statement defending their use of forced unpaid workers on the Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) scheme. This follows their slur aimed at anti-workfare campaigners in which they claimed that just a handful of people are opposed to workfare.

Whilst most ethical charities have pulled out or tried to distance themselves from workfare, the YMCA, along with the Salvation Army have happily adopted roles as Iain Duncan Smith’s cheerleaders for unpaid work.

This is despite the YMCA’s own president, the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, saying last year:

“By all means, pay companies incentives to employ young people, but do not take advantage of the vulnerable by using them as free labour.”

The YMCA are justifying their use of forced unpaid workers by claiming that some workfare participants have had a good experience with the charity and they have heard of ‘several’ cases where someone even got a job after attending the scheme.

What they are choosing to ignore is the brutal reality for those sanctioned. Those who refuse forced labour at the YMCA are plunged into immediate poverty with benefits stopped, sometimes for up to three years. Whilst they continue their involvement in this scheme, YMCA England are directly culpable for the poverty, desperation and homelessness of those who refuse to, or are unable to serve as free workers in YMCA charity shops. It is often those who face the greatest difficulties, people who may have a mental health condition, or face other difficulties such as homelessness or substance misuse problems, who find themselves sanctioned for being unable to attend workfare – the very people the YMCA would claim to support.

The evidence shows that the Mandatory Work Activity scheme does not improve people’s chances of finding work. Despite the YMCA’s claims that the scheme is supposed to be beneficial, the Social Security Advisory Committee who scrutinise welfare reform noted (PDF):

“We wonder why, given that the Department views mandatory work activity as a beneficial change, people will not be permitted to volunteer to take part. This seems to us to signal that being mandated to mandatory work activity is regarded as a punishment rather than an opportunity to learn and develop new behaviours and skills.”

A rolling online picket against workfare exploiters in the charitable sector called in the run up to the Week of Action Against Workfare has already led to Sue Ryder pulling out when they realised the extent of public anger at forced unpaid work.

It’s time to show YMCA England that it is not just a handful of people who object to forced unpaid labour. Boycott them and let’s send a storm of online protest to show this charity just how many people are disgusted at their use of workfare.

Read about The Side Of Workfare That The YMCA Don’t Want You To See

YMCA England are on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/THEYMCA

Contact the Bishop on twitter @JohnSentamu or the charity direct @YMCA_England

Phone them on 020 7186 9500 or their shops hotline on 0845 601 0728.

Email: shop@ymca.org.uk or enquiries@ymca.org.uk

They have a youtube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/ymcaengland

To find contact details of your nearest YMCA shop visit: http://www.ymca.org.uk/find/ymcashops

Contact YMCA International to tell the world what this organisation is doing in their name to the poorest and already destitute in the UK @ymcaint or on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ymcas

YMCA have a range of fundraising arms including a Fitness Training company on twitter @ymcafit and facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ymcafit

They also run a corporate conference centre called Dunford House 01730 812381 sale@dunfordhouse.org.uk http://www.facebook.com/dunfordhouse

Join the Week of Action Against Workfare beginning on March 18th.

Please note: Whilst it’s well worth trying to speak to a manager or senior individual if possible please bear in mind most people taking calls/emails will be low paid retail/admin staff and could even be on workfare themselves. Be aware that is an offence to make telephone calls or send communications which are threatening, indecent or offensive.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid