Anti-workfare campaign in Thames Valley

The anti-workfare campaign is building up in Reading. Over the summer, SF members organised ad hoc pickets with local IWW and AF members. We decided to build up the basis of these joint efforts through coordinated planned actions. We held an initial meeting in August at which we decided to follow SF’s national target and to build our campaign with claimants. So we are aiming to alternate actions outside Poundland and JobCentrePlus.
Three weeks ago, two of us distributed propaganda on the rights of claimants in relation to the workfare schemes outside JobCentre. It became obvious that many of them did not know about it yet. Last Saturday, we held the first picket outside Poundland, which was met with overwhelming sympathy for the campaign from workers and members of the public alike.

Workfare picket Poundland, Gateshead.

Friday 7th of September saw a picket of the Gateshead branch of Poundland, organised by Newcastle Solidarity Federation, against the governments highly controversial workfare scheme. Poundland seek to profit from the exploitation of what is essentially forced free labour.

Following the SolFed's successful campaign against Holland and Barretts involvement in workfare and joined by members of the Anarchist Federation and others, the demo saw massive levels of public support, with car horns being pipped and hundreds of leaflets handed out.

This is a highly loathed and highly exploitative scheme, work will continue until workfare is consigned to the dustbin.

Newcastle SolFed (In formation) Poundland Workfare Picket, Poundland Gatehead.

Poundland has been targeted after it announced that it is re-launching its participation in the Workfare scheme following a recent High Court ruling in its favour. The campaign comes on the back of successful action by the Solidarity Federation and other groups and individuals against Holland and Barrett who were forced to pull out of the various schemes. We expect to keep up the same levels of pressure against Poundland in the coming weeks and months.

Newcastle Solfed will be picketing the Gateshead highstreet branch of Poundland.

232-240 High Street, Town Centre, Gateshead, NE8 1AQ

Friday 7th September 16:00

Solidarity In Action on Brighton Poundland Picket

On Saturday Brighton Solidarity Federation were joined by Brighton Benefits Campaign on our first picket in the national campaign against Workfare profiteers Poundland. Over the course of two hours we handed out a thousand leaflets and struck up many conversations with the public at their North Street store. This follows the high court ruling that the DWP were within the law to force two unemployed workers out of voluntary work and into unpaid labour at the store.

Pizza Hut distance themselves from workfare after H&B withdraw

Following enquiries from Solfed, Pizza Hut have confirmed they are no longer using workfare and do not intend to in the future. A spokeperson for Pizza Hut said “none of our restaurants currently take part in the workfare scheme, and haven't for the last six months, and we have no plans to change our hiring practices."
 

Five Pizza Hut restaurants had been using claimants from the work experience element of workfare but the company is keen to stress this was not national policy. In the middle of a pasta based makeover, Pizza Hut understandably wants to steer clear of association with the government scheme. With Holland & Barrett the latest in a growing number of companies to pull out, workfare is fast becoming toxic on the high street.
 

Anti workfare protest in Reading against Costa Coffee and support for London IWW cleaners against John Lewis

At 12pm on Sunday 15th July, SolFed members dragged themselves out of bed to join forces with local AFed and IWW activists to extend the anti-workfare campaign to the Costa coffee chain. A cup of coffee from the independent coffee shop next door helped us get ready for the picket. We managed to hand out around 150 leaflets, and, as before, we felt that people were generally very sympathetic to our action (apart perhaps a traditional Catholic, (French) National Front voter).

After H&B - Oxford Day of Action against Workfare

   On Saturday the 7th of July Thames Valley Solidarity Federation joined a host of other groups in a day of action against workfare in Oxford to mark the start of the Week of Action.

   Like many other groups on the day, we began with the dilemma of who to target. Holland & Barrett had surrendered the previous week and there were so many exploiters to choose from. Still, all were in agreement that it was a fine dilemma to have!

Workfare: Adding to Barclays' woes

When we discovered a day before our planned Week against Workfare that Holland and Barrett had pulled out of the government's "replace paid jobs with JSA conscripts" scheme we almost found ourselves at a loose end.

We've spent months doing scary-dangerous things like handing out leaflets, waving placards and sending emails of complaint, so in the absence of H&B we had to ask ourselves, who deserves a swift kick to the ethics most this week?

Fortunately we're up on our current affairs and the answer came quickly - a Libor fixing, unrepentant banking giant led by sociopaths which is so greedy it still uses Workfare to get its menial tasks finished. Yes, we went after Barclays. Never let it be said we think small.

A domino falls: Holland & Barrett quit workfare after direct action

Campaigners are claiming a major scalp in the fight against workfare after retailer Holland & Barrett announced they were pulling out of the scheme. On hearing the news, Brighton Solidarity Federation tweeted "we've won an important battle against workfare, but the war is far from over." The announcement came just 24 hours before a planned national week of action against workfare organised by the Boycott Workfare Network. Holland & Barrett had strongly backed workfare, announcing that they were committed to taking 1,000 people on unpaid work schemes this year alone (out of a workforce of just 3,500).