London Solfed on Mayday: "You say Workfare, we say warfare!"

May 1st was, of course, Mayday, International Workers’ Day, held in memory of the six anarchists executed after the Haymarket riot, a protest in Chicago way back in 1886 over the 8 hour working day.  Despite it falling on a normal working day this year, both London SF branches called an anti-Workfare roving picket through central London, as well as attending an electricians’ picket and, least interestingly, the official, Trade Union Congress (TUC) march.

The electricians’ picket – called by the Sparks rank and file group – was in response to employers trying to block rank and file activists from even attending the ongoing negotiations over the JIB agreement. We braved the bleak, grey early morning for a couple of hours befire retreating to a
café for a break and a caffeine fix.

London May Day 2012 - Against Workfare

MEET: 12:00pm @ Clerkenwell Green.

RE-CONVERGE: 16:00pm @ West One Shopping Centre (by Bond Street tube)

MAP OF LOCATIONS: http://g.co/maps/wx93f

On May Day we are calling on all those fighting back against the government's austerity plans to join us in taking direct action against companies participating in the workfare schemes. Instead of standing around and listening to speeches at the end of the TUC march we will be heading straight into the West end to regroup and start taking action.

National Conference: how do we break Workfare?

Organised by our friends at the Brighton Benefits Campaign, Saturday May 26th 11am-5pm at the The Railway Club, 4 Belmont, Brighton BN1 3TF.

Under the guise of ‘helping the unemployed back into work’ the government is rolling out various workfare schemes that will provide free labour for their rich corporate friends.  Many charities and even trade unions – who should know better – have been hoodwinked into supporting these schemes.

 

Second Day of Picketing Holland & Barrett in Brighton

On Saturday members of Brighton SolFed and Brighton Benefits Campaign picketed the North Street branch of Holland & Barrett. This was the second action in an on-going national campaign against the retailer’s continued use of unpaid workfare placements to reduce staff costs. The picket successfully turned away a large number of potential customers and we engaged many members of the public in discussion of the issues, the majority of whom were sympathetic to our message.

The Youth Contract: Rescuing the Work Programme

The Youth Contact was launched at the beginning of April amidst much fanfare and empty talk about helping young unemployed people, whose numbers now stand at record levels. The initiative includes not only the expansion of workfare but also the much anticipated means by which the government will seek to salvage its flagship employment scheme, The Work Programme, from the consequences of its unsustainable funding model.

Catford Holland and Barrett picket

As part of the national day of action against workfare and the IWA days of action, SLSF picketed Holland and Barrett along with 20 other SF locals and others around the country. 


A heavy security presence in Lewisham Shopping Centre was outwitted when protesters moved down the road to Catford where a noisy demonstration began outside the local Holland & Barrett.  The store closed as 20+ SLSF and comrades chanted, sang and dished out leaflets.  Many people passing supported the need to take action against forced labour, particularly in a borough which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. 

Communication Workers Union HQ picketed in protest against workfare at Royal Mail

On Monday April 2nd members of London SF, Solent SF and the IWW joined Boycott Workfare activists to picket the headquarters of the Communication Workers Union over their support for workfare.

CWU officials have signed an agreement with the Royal Mail to allow DWP "Work Experience". People on the scheme face the threat of sanctions for refusal and if they do not take part they are likely to be sent on a number of other compulsory schemes.

The CWU leadership insists that their agreement with Royal Mail is for "voluntary" work experience only. Unless there is a guarantee that people leaving the scheme will not face sanctions the scheme is not voluntary. No such guarantee is in place.

Report on 31 March workfare pickets in Brighton and Hastings

On Saturday Brighton SolFed held three separate pickets of Holland and Barratt stores in Brighton and in Hastings in response to their continued use of unpaid workfare placements to reduce staff costs. Across the country SolFed locals and other groups took part in a day of action to highlight the use of workfare by high street companies.

The national day of action was called by SolFed to coincide with the International Workers’ Association (of which SolFed is the British section) days of action which included the general strike in Spain called by our Spanish section, the CNT.

Kilburn Anti-Workfare picket a success

Last Saturday, the North London Solidarity Federation was joined by members of the Industrial Workers of the World and Boycott Workfare for a mid-day picket of the Holland and Barrett in Kilburn, North West London.

Picketers numbered over twenty in total and came prepared with flags, hi-vis jackets, and various banners decrying the exploitative nature of the government's various workfare schemes. Nearly 1000 leaflets were handed out over the course of the action and throughout the picket prospective customers were persuaded to do their shopping elsewhere.

Public response was overwhelmingly positive. One member of the public even stopped by for half and hour to help us do some leafleting. Others took the opportunity to go into the store and express their dissatisfaction directly to the Holland and Barrett manager on duty at the time.