Fighting Workfare At Royal Mail

Most people will have heard about the CWU leadership endorsing the Royal Mail's participation in the workfare scheme, whilst at the same time ignoring rank and file members views on forced labour and attacks on workers rights.

Concerned posties from SOLFED, IWW, Boycott Workfare, and CWU send you the following call out, and request for solidarity.

See you on the picket!

Solent Solfed 

NO TO WORKFARE AT ROYAL MAIL- APRIL 2ND 11am

Open Letter to all members of the Communication Workers Union, (CWU)

Disciplining the workforce: Mandatory Work Activity

Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) is one of the Government’s five unpaid labour schemes in which unemployed people may be required to participate or lose their benefits. According to Chris Grayling Mandatory Work Activity “is something where people have no choice but to participate, otherwise their benefits will stop until they do”

MWA is not voluntary and people of any age can be mandated to take part, even if they have been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for a short time (source). Job seekers are referred to the scheme at the discretion of a Jobcentre Plus advisor and placements are organised through private companies who arrange for the participant to work 30 hours per week for four weeks for no wage.

Day of action against workfare - Liverpool

The International Workers Association has called days of action against austerity, exploitation, and oppression on 29, 30 and 31 March. As part of this, on Saturday 31 March, Solidarity Federation locals will be taking action against workfare.

Following on from the succesful day of action initiated by Liverpool Uncut on 3 March, our aim is to spread the action beyond the City Centre and get claimants and local communities more involved.

Our action will take place in Wavertree, at a target to be announced on the day. There, as last time, we intend to engage staff directly and encourage them to organise against their employer's use of workfare as well as encouraging the public not to give their business to the target.

Day of action against workfare - Brighton

As part of the International Workers' Association days of action, Solidarity Federation Locals across the country will be taking action against workfare on Saturday 31st March. In Brighton, we will be meeting at the Clock Tower on the junction of Queens Rd and North St at 11am. Target to be confirmed, as firms are pulling out regularly at the moment. 

The following Monday (2nd April), there will be a communications blockade of the same target to keep up the pressure. 

The workings of the Work Programme

With around six jobseekers to every vacancy it may seem strange that the government is paying private companies to compete with jobseekers to take those jobs, but that is exactly what the Work Programme is about.

Leaked documents show that one of the contracted workfare providers, A4E, suggests daily priorities for its branches should include: reviewing job centre vacancies, newspaper listing, subscribing to job alerts and, of course ‘telesales calls’ (which is to say offering their services to the businesses that are recruiting).

 


These were and continue to be the tasks assigned to unemployed people as conditions for receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) - with a requirement that activity records are kept and sanctions dished out for failure to satisfy the criteria set out in their jobseekers’ agreement.

The great workfare scandal

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. (…) Workfare is least effective in getting people into jobs in weak labour markets where unemployment is high.

 

Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) Research Report No 533

Workfare means doing unpaid work for your job seekers allowance (JSA) of up to £67 per week. The government claims workfare helps the unemployed and create jobs, and yet their own report says this is not true, especially when unemployment is high (see quote above).

Workfare demo, Islington

As part of Boycott Workfare's National day of action against the government,s divisive workfare program, members of NLSF met up In Islington to show their opposition. McDonalds on Chaple Market was our first port of call. Loads of leaflet were handed and some good conversations were struck up, mostly in support of our presence outside these exploitative and unscrupulous shops. Although couple of the market stallholders gave us a bit of verbal and the McDonald's manager couldn't understand why his shop was being targeted as "they had nothing to do with the program", Chaple Market was undeniably supportive. Moving on to Upper St, the manager at Holland & Barrett just didn't want us there at all. We didn't plan staying there too long as some wanted to go to the main event in central London.

Solent Solfeds First Picket!

Solent Solfed answered the call from Boycott Workfare on Saturday morning (3rd March) and joined a picket outside Primark in Portsmouth’s Commercial Road. A small group of anarchists from Solfed, Surrey and Hants Afed, and Portsmouth Anarchists turned out alongside the local SWP group. Although the anarchists and socialists had their own specific leaflets it was good to see political differences put to the side to unite against workfare. Our leaflets were drawn up and printed by Surrey and hants Afed, (thanks guys!).