"The Secretary of State may select a claimant for participation in a scheme"

The title of this post is the sole criterion set down in the new workfare regulations regarding whom and under what conditions a person might be required to undertake one of the Government’s forced labour schemes (with the exception of MWA). Gone is the much vaunted ‘voluntary’ aspect that was used to defend the schemes for the last year; now, if you are a claimant it is now completely arbitrary whether you're forced to chose between wageless employement or the loss of your benefits. 'The benefits system has entered the State of Exception.'

These are schemes that are specifically aimed at providing free labour to parts of the private sector whose profits are hit by crisis. 

Workfare: what's your experience?

Are you unemployed and placed on one of the DWP’s Workfare schemes? Contact us.

The court recently judged the DWP regulations surrounding the workfare programme as unlawful. Claimants on any of the other schemes can now withdraw without threat of sanction and existing sanctions must be brought to an end. Unless the DWP wins the right of appeal, all those who have been sanctioned will be entitled to repayment of lost benefit and all referrals will have been unlawful.

However, the DWP is currently laying new regulations which could make all the workfare schemes lawful and mandatory. Added to this, we’ve had numerous reports of claimants being forced under threat of sanction onto the ‘voluntary’ schemes and there is no reason this won’t continue.

Poundland: still using workfare

Despite being the focus of the court judgement of 12 February which ruled workfare regulations unlawful, Poundland continue to use unpaid labour. In a statement after the judgement, Poundland boss Jim McCarthy said

“Poundland recognises the importance of offering work experience to people looking to get back into work.

“We have been working in partnership with the Job Centre Plus over the last few months to launch our own work experience programme for those considering a career in retail. Our work experience programme is completely voluntary – no one has their benefits taken away from them at any point during the process. This programme replaces any involvement with the
Department of Work and Pensions prime providers and their work experience schemes.

The Pickets Continue!

Managed to cram in another Poundland picket before the nationwide week of action against workfare and our CALLING ALL FREEDOM LOVERS! A benefit extravaganza for Freedom Bookshop event on the 23th!

Positive responses from those on the streets as always, many thanks to everyone who came down to help out. Watch out for a new banner - this one is getting rather tatty (poor old thing!)

Lets keep it up!

Anti-Workfare Pickets Glasgow Report

On Saturday 8th December as part of the Boycott Workfare Week Of Action a couple of dozen people from Clydeside Industrial Workers Of The World, the Crutch Collective, Glasgow Anarchist Federation, Glasgow Solidarity Federation, the Right To Work Campaign and other individuals leafleted a branch of Superdrug in one of the city centre's busiest streets. The one thousand leaflets given out highlighted Superdrug taking on even more people on the Government's 'Work Experience' workfare scheme for the Christmas period. The extra people on workfare means less holiday pay for the regular staff. There was a lot of police about and Superdrug had hired extra security for the day. However the combination of the picket, the leaflet saying, 'Don't Shop At Superdrug' and the added security costs meant we succeeded in our objective of costing Superdrug money for using Workfare.

Picket in Holloway during the national day of action against workfare

The struggle against workfare continues. As a part of the national day of action members of the North London SolFed picketed several shops around Holloway.
As the stores coped with increased demand, Christmas season traditionally meant opportunities for temporary work in retail. This is changing. Under the guise of work experience, businesses increasingly take on benefit claimants instead. For today’s picket we chose shops where we heard this was happening. We started at Superdrug and  later moved to Argos. We held pickets outside, where we engaged with customers. We also went to the shops and talked to staff – if we don't stop workfare together, it may replace their jobs too.

Bedminster sees anti-Workfare picket of Poundland

Bristol Solidarity Federation were joined by Bristol Anarchist Federation and Bristol IWW to protest against Poundland's continuing participation in the Workfare Programme.

A clear message was relayed to the store management. "We will be back again and again until you formally withdraw from the scheme". When quizzed about the local use of Workfare, the store replied that anyone taken on under the scheme was treated exactly the same as anyone else employed by Poundland. So, we asked, do they get paid the minimum wage? "No they don't, they only get their benefits" Was all they could respond. Free labour for the shops, unemployment figures manipulated by the government and huge profits for the workfare placement providers like A4E.

SolFed Anti-Workfare Demos continue in Newcastle.

Newcastle SolFed continues its ongoing work against the Governments controversial Workfare Scheme. At the moment our focus is targeting one of its biggest beneficiaries, the Poundland chain of of high street stores. There was a large turnout for the demo, our numbers bolstered by local anarchist and anti cuts groups. As ever the support from the public was overwhelmingly sympathtic, with the anger toward the scheme palpable. Newcastle SolFed will continue organising against Workfare and anyone interested in getting involved please email us.

Hastings Solfed (In formation) Pickett Poundland 10/11/12

On Saturday a group of us formed a protest outside Poundland in Priory Meadow shopping centre Hastings against their continued use of the government's workfare scheme. Although few in number we made a very big impact. The first action was to send someone in store to put anti workfare leaflets on the store's shelves. At lot of customers pick these up and read them. We then stood outside the shop front with our banner and handed more leaflets and talked to members of the public. We got a good response and at least 15 people would not shop there after talking to us.