Mar 042014
 

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.

For more info visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=3353 and follow @boycottworkfare for the latest news.

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.

Reposted with thanks from the Void http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/

 Follow on twitter @johnnyvoid

 

Jul 112013
 

One in five people sent on mandatory work activity in charity shops face destructive sanctions (benefit stoppages) of three or six months. Sanctions are a major reason for the soaring rise in the use of foodbanks as hunger is made a daily reality in the UK. The charities still involved in workfare are profiting from making people poorer and giving moral cover to the companies involved as well. Let’s tell them it’s time to pull out!

Last month, a poll of charity workers showed just how unpopular workfare is with the majority of people in charities: 92% thought that the government should publish the list of workfare providers that it is withholding.

Since the start of the year, thanks to your action, five charities have said they will no longer take part in workfare schemes: Sense, PDSA, Capability Scotland, Sue Ryder and the Red Cross. The Children’s Society has also pledged not to use workfare.

This means the workfare schemes which rely on charity placements are on the rocks! Already before the latest withdrawals, the government complained: “The high profile withdrawal of placements from a number of larger charities meant a sharp reduction in placements.”

Let’s help banish workfare from charities: contact these workfare exploiters today.

RSPCA

Fellow animal charity PDSA has already realised that it needed to show a bit more kindness to the human beings working in its shops. Time for RSPCA to do the same and stop using workfare!

Head office: 030 0123 0100
Facebook: RSPCA
YouTube: www.youtube.com/rspcauk
Flickr feed: www.flickr.com/photos/rspca
Twitter: @rspca_official

YMCA

The YMCA released a statement in March defending their use of forced unpaid workers, and ignoring the fact they are responsible for pushing people into destitution and possible homelessness through sanctions which can last up to three years. Persuade them to join the list of charities who will no longer have anything to do with workfare.

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

Email: shop@ymca.org.uk or enquiries@ymca.org.uk
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/ymcaengland
Find contacts for your nearest YMCA shop: http://www.ymca.org.uk/find/ymcashops
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/THEYMCA
Tweet their President, Bishop John Sentamu, has spoken out against workfare in the past: @johnsentamu

Twitter: @ymca_england

Salvation Army

The government has praised the Salvation Army for ‘holding the line‘ on workfare. When new figures emerged two weeks ago showing just how disastrous the Work Programme is for claimants, the Salvation Army released a pro-Work Programme report and have publicly claimed that ‘The Work Programme is working‘. They have boasted about the fact they even force sick and disabled people to do their workfare schemes.

Salvation Army UK can be contacted on facebook and on Twitter:  @TSA_IHQ and @salvationarmyuk

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

The Salvation Army’s youth section are on facebook here.

To tell Salvation Army branches round the world what is being done in their name in the UK find twitter details here.

British Heart Foundation

Following occupations and pickets in across the UK British Heart Foundation announced they were “moving away” from workfare. Recently they declared they had withdrawn from the Mandatory Work Activity scheme. But they are openly declaring on their website that they are still participating in the Work Programme – despite the fact that in December this scheme was extended to give providers the power to force many sick and disabled claimants on Employment and Support Allowance to work for nothing, or face sanctions.

BHF state on their site: “Our supporters are welcome to contact us directly if they have any questions about our participation in the scheme. Please email customerservice@bhf.org.uk“.

Don’t disappoint them, get in touch!

BHF Retail HQ – 01372 477 300
Head Office – 020 7554 0000
Customer Service Centre – 0300 330 3322
Facebook: BHF
Contact: http://www.bhf.org.uk/contact-us.aspx
Twitter: @thebhf

Papworth Trust

Papworth Trust told civilsociety.co.uk:
“Papworth Trust believes that by being involved in mandatory work activity, we can make sure that each work placement is as effective as possible for each disabled or disadvantaged person.”

Now tell them what you think of their use of disabled people on workfare!

A list of phone and fax numbers can be found here.
Email: info@papworth.org.uk
Youtube: www.youtube.com/user/papworthtrust
Facebook: Papworth Trust
Twitter: @papworthtrust

And if you’ve got a bit more time, why not get in touch with some of the high street brands profiting from workfare or the green charities exploiting forced labour too? Remember there’s loads of action on the streets this Saturday too!

With thanks and in solidarity with  http://www.boycottworkfare.org/

If you exploit us we’ll shut you down

Jul 012013
 

Edinburgh’s actions during the last week of action shut two workfare exploiters down!

When the Work Programme launched two years ago, the government wanted everyone finishing it to be sent to do six months of forced unpaid work. But all mention of this punitive scheme has now disappeared: a powerful testament to the strength of your actions.

People are pushing back the spread of workfare: One provider has complained that it has 100 fewer placements each week in its area alone. In recent weeks, Argos and Homebase claim to have pulled out of workfare, Wetherspoons has followed them and Debenhams are wobbling. The government has been ordered to reveal the list of workfare exploiters but keeps appealing: it is terrified that the public response will spell the end for workfare.

Now is the time to keep pushing.

On 6-14 July, the week that the poverty profiteers of the workfare industry will be gathering for their annual convention, let’s remind them there’s a lot to be worried about!

  • Call an action in your town or city: A walking tour of shame, surprise visits to your least favourite workfare exploiters, flash mobs, a chain gang… whatever sounds fun to you!
  • Order copies of our know your rights leaflet and get them to the people who need them!
  • Take part in daily online actions targeting those who profit from workfare.

Whatever you plan, tell us and we’ll help spread the word. Boycott Workfare can help with the costs of props, printing or travel, so tell us if that would be useful too! info[at]boycottworkfare[dot]org

Let the workfare profiteers know: If you exploit us, we will shut you down!

For updates: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=2667

 

Mar 272013
 

An important recent post on Disabled People Against Cuts’ (DPAC) website reveals how the big disability charities once again let down the very people they claim to support by being indifferent at best to the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF).

As the name suggests, the fund is designed to support the most severely disabled people in living independent lives.  In a chilling sign of what was to come, less than two months after this Government weren’t elected it was closed to new applications.  Funding is now being devolved to local councils, who will have no legal duty to maintain the support offered under the scheme.  All ILF claims are planned to end by 2015.

The closure of the fund has met fierce opposition from grassroots campaigners such as Disabled People Against Cuts and Black Triangle.  Documents recently revealed in a high court appeal against the fund’s closure reveal it has been met by little more than apathy from the major disability organisations.

The documents show that the DWP recognise “that upon reassessment by LA’s (Local Authorities) most users are likely to see some reduction in the current funding levels, and there are a group of users with low care needs that may not be eligible for local authority support under current needs thresholds in most LA’s.’”

Despite this – according to the DWP at least – Mencap (highest paid earner £190,000 pa*), The MS Society, and Scope (highest paid earner £140,000) all supported the closure of the scheme, although Scope’s support was weak and they showed ‘concern’.  RNIB (highest paid earner £140,000) disagreed with the closure of the fund, but this disagreement was summed up as ‘weak concern’ by the DWP.  Only Disability Wales and Inclusion Scotland are mentioned as strongly disagreeing with the closure.

Charities will no doubt argue with the DWP’s assessment of their indifference to disabled people’s lives, however for once it seems the department may be telling the truth (stop laughing).  The documents point out:  “none of the largest national disability organisations requested ministerial meetings and many did not submit responses to the consultation. While we have had an increasing number of letters from MPs on users’ behalf, the proposal to close the fund has received almost no attention in the mainstream media.”

DPAC themselves have requested several meetings with ministers over the closure of the fund.  All requests were ignored.

With thanks to the excellent Johnny Void see more brilliance at: http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/author/johnnyvoid/

Follow  on twitter @johnnyvoid