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Workfare: Who's the one being intimidating here?

Some developments over the last few days are worth flagging up for anyone interested in or affected by Workfare - which show pretty comprehensively exactly who's being a bully and who's not.

Freeing the data

Most important is that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has lost its appeal to hide the names of companies and charities which are involved in using unemployed people as a source of free labour.

It had tried to block freedom of information requests after telling all and sundry that campaigners picketing shops and explaining why to their customers amounted to "intimidating" behaviour, meaning commercial companies should be protected from being outed as participants.

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.

SolFed picket Poundland 15th December

A great turn out again to all that turned out for today's anti-workfare picket at the Clayton Street branch of Poundland - a big thank you and well done to all that took part. See you all next time!

Anyone wishing to help in SolFed's anti-workfare campaign should get in touch via the contact page (top left)

 

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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.

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.

Audio: Workfare discussions at the London Anarchist Bookfair

The following talk was recorded at this year's big anarchist bash and features comments on the controversial government "Workfare" scheme by reps from Boycott Workfare, Solidarity Federation, Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty and others, explaining how people are treated and looking at some of the techniques which are being used to push companies out of the programme.

Critics of the scheme say that using job centres to provide free labour for unskilled or low-skilled jobs actively discourages companies from paying living wages for such jobs - why would they, when they can get the same thing done for free?

October 20: The view from Oxford Circus

It has to be said today went well. An anarchist contingent several hundred strong gathered at Harmsworth for the big march into central London, with more red and black flags than ever and plans to totally ignore Hyde Park's selection of crusty bureaucrats telling us that we (ie. they) are "being heard" to ask nicely for slightly less austerity, please? Oh go on, pretty please?  

A report from the Workfare Tour of Shame, Liverpool City Centre (Sat 8th September 2012)

On Saturday 8th September, as part of the campaign against the government’s workfare programme, members of Liverpool Solidarity Federation, the Anarchist Federation and various other local activists held a tour of some of the city’s most high-profile exploiters of the unemployed.

First stop was Poundland in Williamson Square, who recently restarted their work programme following a high-profile court case brought by students who were forced to work in one of their stores. Banners were unfurled and we immediately began engaging with the passing public, passing on information about workfare and letting them know Poundland’s role in it.

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