Manchester SolFed support IWA days of action

We had hoped to support the CNT and the general strike in Spain only to find that the Spanish Consulate has been closed. On the 30th, we leafleted the Holland and Barret shop we were going to picket the following day and had a chat with the workers in the shop. We leafleted then went on to leaflet the shops close by again talking to workers. We then went on to leaflet shops round the centre of Manchester.

On 31 we picketed a Holland and Barret shop in the centre of Manchester. We gave out several hundred leaflets. The picket followed the usual routine: manager came out, asked us to leave, we refused. She then called police a bit of a heated exchange and so on. One person who had just finished a Warkfare programme stopped to have a go at the police and went into the shop to have a go at the manager.  

Combating workfare in Liverpool (31/3/2012)

Members of Liverpool Solidarity Federation were joined on pickets by other activists today as part of the Solfed national day of action against workfare. We distributed around 800 leaflets across three sites. Our first target was an ASDA store in Wavertree before returning to the city centre in order to target two branches of Holland and Barrett.

As we began our ASDA protest the Police were already in attendance, but after we answered ‘no’ to their fiendishly subtle question, “Are you lot here to cause a disturbance”, they generally left us alone. That was until the store manager and several security staff came out in an attempt to intimidate us. Some of the security staff actually physically pushed customers out of our way to prevent us giving them our leaflets.

Bristol - Abolish Workfare demo targets Holland and Barrett

Joining with actions across the country against Workfare, members of Bristol Solidarity Federation, Bristol Anarchist Federation, Bristol & District Anti Cuts Alliance, Youth Fight for Jobs, The IWW (union), Right to Work and others took to the streets as part of the fight-back against the Workfare providers.

Escorted by the police throughout, the 40 strong group headed straight for a Holland and Barrett's in the swanky Cabot Circus. Bemused shoppers were treated to punk classics from the wheeley-bin sound-system and gladly accepted a variety of literature outlining the perils of Workfare. Then the march headed-off to picket more of the cities Workfare poverty-peddlers. Primark, McDonalds, Greggs, Wilkinson's and another Holland and Barrett were targeted.

Anti Workfare Poundland Picket (Wakefield)

WYSF and SRSM were joined by members of AFed in the picket at Poundland. Although it started slow we distributed 250 leaflet well within the hour. Reception seemed pretty good and we retired to the pub to discuss future actions. Between the 3 groups it was decided to continue to picket such p[laces as Poundlandand to include A4e and BEST in future pickets. Thanks to everyone who turned out, keep tuned for future actions!

Holland and Barrett Picket in Halifax

Members of West Yorkshire Solidarity Federation were joined by Huddersfield Anarchists to picket Holland and Barrett in Halifax today as part the anti workfare campaign in conjunction with the IWA days of action.
We were met with a good response overall and gave out 250 leaflets. H&B had a member of staff on the door to "welcome shoppers" which shows they were worried we'd have an impact.
One person who we gave a leaflet to took it to the local Job Centre and handed it round. It apparently went down well. Other feedback included an ex member of staff at H&B who stated that they were a rubbish employer and leaving was the best thing she'd ever done.
This isn't the end, we will continue to hold pickets at various H&B branches (as well as other slave labour companies ) until they stop using unpaid slave labour.

Abolish workfare - the Solidarity Federation's guide to the government's unpaid work schemes

Workfare is a term used to describe a range of schemes in which people are forced to work without wages in order to receive their benefits. After recent controversies the government has sought to obscure the nature of its workfare policies; this pamphlet will set out clearly and concisely the details of all the programmes and why we need to work together to oppose them.

If workfare was about getting people jobs, the government might have paid heed to its own research which states: “There is little evidence that workfare increases the likelihood of finding work. It can even reduce employment chances by limiting the time available for job search and by failing to provide the skills and experience valued by employers.”

Download the pdf below.

Don't forget the Work Programme

Workfare is a catch-all term that refers to a range of state sponsored wage-less work schemes. Recent withdrawals by high-street firms that had been involved in  the Jobcentre’s nominally voluntary ‘work experience’ scheme has put politicians on the defensive forcing them to emphasise the (dubious) voluntary nature of the scheme. However the same defence cannot be made of the coalition’s flagship Work Programme, a compulsory scheme with a ‘mandatory work related activity’ component. But aside from the recent controversies surrounding workfare provider A4E relatively little has been said with regard to the Work Programme, which forces jobseekers as well as many sick and disabled Employment Support Allowance claimants into mandatory unpaid work through a number of private companies.

The Community Action Programme - replacing jobs with unpaid labour

A new compulsory work scheme for the long-term unemployed was announced by the government in November 2011. The Community Action Programme (CAP) is currently being trialled (or ‘trailblazed’, in the government’s terminology) in four regions with the intention to implement the scheme nationally in 2013.

The CAP will be organised through private companies and in many ways resembles the Work Programme but with a greater focus on community work. Participation in the scheme is mandatory – refusal to take part will result in loss of benefits. Placements last six months at 30 hours a week of work with an additional 10 hours of job search under the supervision of the provider (source).