Archive for March, 2013

The headline in the Guardian yesterday:

Jobcentre was set targets for benefit sanctions

• Inquiry launched after league tables revealed
• Leak shows pressure on staff to refer claimants

And, today, it seems that charities are playing right into that.  Charities, which exist to help the worst off have a better life.  Charities, where many of us shop and turn to for help, are the same ones that are now profiting – hugely – from the misfortune of the very people they are supposed to help.  Time to get something done.

Let’s start with the good news – the action people like yourself have taken in the last month has brought about positive change.  We mentioned Superdrug yesterday, but there are also six charities that have pulled out.  These are:

  • Sense
  • PDSA
  • Capability Scotland
  • Sue Ryder
  • The Red Cross
  • The Children’s Society

Don’t forget to tell them you appreciate the wonderful example they are setting.  According to Boycott Workfare:

This means the workfare schemes which rely on charity placements are on the rocks! Already before the latest withdrawals, the government complained: “The high profile withdrawal of placements from a number of larger charities meant a sharp reduction in placements.”

Today, we are targeting the charities that are still putting profit before people.  They are:

Lastly, there is Salvation Army.  They are doing all they can to keep this quiet.  I contacted them via Facebook ages ago, and it took them all of 2 minutes to remove my comment and block me from their page.  They have done this to numerous people now and have also started to flood their page with images, so that the comments of other people quickly disappear down the list.  Keep it up though!

Once again, here is a template you can use, although you’re welcome to come up with something yourself.

I object to your involvement in mandatory unpaid labour (Workfare) schemes. I believe that the exploitation of unpaid labour is morally wrong and urge you to reconsider your involvement with these DWP Workfare placements.

I would like to follow suit with other charities and make a public statement (press release) explicitly stating that you are no longer involved in any of the various unpaid labour or “work-for-your-benefits” schemes administered by the DWP or by private sector interests working on their behalf.

I would appreciate it if the issues I have raised were dealt with by someone in authority. I shall look forward to hearing your response to these concerns.

Yours
Jolande
[Your Name]

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Success people! Superdrug have pulled out of the Workfare scheme.  Take the time to thank them for this, positive reinforcement is as important as protest actions.  This way, they stay on the side of the regular people, who need all the help they can get.

However, Superdrug may have set a fantastic example, there are still plenty who have not done the same.  There are still quite a lot of companies who do want to use the scheme and today, we are focusing on the following:

  • Debenhams
  • Poundland
  • Asda
  • Argos
  • Tesco

Click on the links below to take you straight to their Facebook page, where you can copy and paste the following letter, or write your own.  Try as much as you can not to use swearwords or get angry.  This is about making a stand, not raising hell.  By the way, there are a number of organisations, including the Salvation Army, who are purposely removing any Facebook mention of the Workfare Scheme.  So much so, in fact, that if you do complain through those means, they will block you from commenting on their page.  Censorship is rife people!  Let me know if you find yourself blocked from any of the pages, more ammunition to go against these companies.

Here’s the letter:

Dear [Use full name if apparent]

I am a longstanding customer of [Name of retail outlet] but I have decided to boycott your company because I object to your involvement in mandatory unpaid labour (Workfare) schemes. I believe that the exploitation of unpaid labour is morally wrong and urge you to reconsider your involvement with these DWP Workfare placements.

I believe that as a responsible employer, your company has an obligation to meet the statutory Minimum Wage for all of your employees. I shall continue my boycott until I am provided with satisfactory evidence that your company is no longer involved in these mandatory work schemes and agrees to the principle that all employees deserve to earn at least the UK National Minimum Wage. I also believe that it is actually in your own interests that these unpaid labour schemes are abandoned, since workers with wages in their pockets are consumers and consumer spending is the principal driver of demand in the retail sector. It may seem counter intuitive that paying your staff better wages would increase your profitability, however Henry Ford demonstrated that he understand this economic principle almost 100 years ago when he made the decision to price his cars low and to pay his workers reasonably well.

I would like your company to make a public statement (press release) explicitly stating these two things:

1 That your company is no longer involved in any of the various unpaid labour or “work-for-your-benefits” schemes administered by the DWP or by private sector interests working on their behalf.

2. That it is company policy that all workers (including trainees) are paid in accordance with the National Minimum Wage.

I would appreciate it if the issues I have raised were dealt with by someone in authority. I shall look forward to hearing your response to these concerns.

Yours

[Your Name]

The following is taken directly from the Boycott Workfare website, where you can find further contact details of the various companies.

Debenhams

Debenhams has 165 stores across the UK and Ireland and has a turnover of £2.2 billion. They too have been taking advantage of wageless, rightless workers supplied by the DWP at the taxpayers’ expense. They’re very keen to insist that the scheme they’re involved in is voluntary, but DWP rules say if you don’t get take part you’re referred to a scheme which carries 3 year sanctions. So it’s only voluntary if you say yes.

Press Office: press.office@debenhams.com 
Customer services: customerrelations@debenhams.com 
Company secretary: company.secretariat@debenhams.com (Paul Eardley)
Facebook: Debenhams – the official page 
Twitter:

Poundland

Countless reports of workfare in Poundland’s stores have emerged, and the retailer has come under particular pressure since Cait Reilly successfully challenged her Poundland placement in the courts. So much so that instead of staying involved in the existing workfare schemes, they have set up their own. They tell us: “We currently have people taking part in work experience placements across 71 of our stores, and since launching the scheme, 20% have been offered a job with us”. That’s 80% who have worked for free for nothing. Poundland profits soared to £40 million last year. If Poundland needs people to work in its stores, it can pay them.

Feedback form: click here
Press centre: poundland@bottlepr.co.uk
Chief Executive (Warburg Pincus – their US based private equity fund owners): egustafson@warburgpincus.com 
Facebook: Poundland 
Twitter:

Asda

Asda has been at the heart of workfare in the UK, helping the government relaunch its “Work Experience” scheme last year. We have had reports that one of their stores in Manchester uses disabled people on workfare on the night shift. They are frank about their involvement here.

Asda contact form: Click here
Facebook: Asda

Argos

Argos appears to be using six week placements from the Job Centre on a massive scale. Multiple reports of Argos using workfare placements so that paid staff hours are being reduced and fewer Christmas temps employed have emerged.

Business email: info@argos.co.uk
Corporate responsibility (HRG): gordon.bentley@homeretailgroup.comcorporate.responsibility@homeretailgroup.com 
Media relations (HRG): media.relations@homeretailgroup.com 
Managing director: john.walden@argos.co.uk
Head Office (01908 690333)
Customer Services (01785 710253)
Facebook: Argos

Tesco

Tesco has committed to 3000 workfare placements, and so far 80% of the 1500 people who have gone through their stores have not been given a job. In response to public pressure, they have introduced a fudge which offers people a place on their own scheme instead but this misses the point.

Tesco’s profits last year were £1.7 billion. 1500 eight week, thirty hour placements would mean the company has so far profited from 360,000 hours of free labour on the schemes. Tesco need to stop fudging the issue, pull out of workfare and start paying every single person who works in their stores a living wage.

Head office email address: online@tesco.co.uk
Customer service email address: customer.service@tesco.co.uk
Phil Clarke, Current CEO of Tesco’s: philip.clarke@uk.tesco.com

Telephone: 0845 7225533 (Head office number) or 0845 600 4411 (This is the number for Tesco direct)
Facebook: Tesco

This week is national boycott workfare week.  Make sure you check out the Boycott Workfare website.  Each day, you can take part in a different  protest to bring down those companies that have agreed to join in the workfare scheme.  Today’s turn is A4E.  Why not copy and paste the following email and send it to all known A4E email addresses (included below the email)?  Hopefully, if enough of us do it, we will bring down their system.

workfareI believe all companies in the UK should pull together to end forced unpaid work for people who receive welfare. Workfare profits the rich by providing free labour, whilst threatening the poor by taking away welfare rights if people refuse to work without a living wage.

Yesterday, aside from a few votes against, Labour lined up with Conservative and Lib Dems to enable the workfare bill to go through by abstaining. Not only did politicians enable a retroactive law be enacted, they also deprived 225,000 people of justice, effectively robbing £130 million in welfare payments people were lawfully due.

You are one of the biggest beneficiaries of Government welfare policy. In 2011 your company’s turnover was £180 million, 100% of which came from the public coffers. Out of this your bosses shared out £11 million between them.

You have a catastrophic record of failing to meet even the paltry minimum targets set by the Department for Work and Pensions for finding people jobs on the workfare scheme, the Work Programme. You have more chance of finding a job without your bullying ‘back to work’ tactics.

Not content with what amounts to the officially sanctioned scam of lucrative welfare to work contracts from your  friends in Government there are numerous accusations of fraud against you, where records are apparently falsified, so that you can claim even more public money for not doing your job. You are further subsidised by the public by your use of mandatory unpaid labour within your company as well. The costs of Workfare are socialised while the profits are privatised.

I have worked with A4E myself regularly in my capacity as a council worker for children and young people’s services.  I am horrified by the fact that you have agreed to sign up to this scheme.  It proves that you have no clue about what is happening at grass root level, where your own employees are truly committed to helping people make the most out of their lives.  It is these same employees that will now be left with doing your dirty work, effectively telling their service users they will be expected to perform slave labour.

Pull out, while you still can.

The email addresses I have sent this to are:

Email A4e: customerservices@a4e.co.uk
Head of Communications: kmccrory@a4e.co.uk
Media Relations Manager: jkerr@a4e.co.uk

adutton@a4e.co.uk

If you know more email addresses, please add them here.

Yesterday, protest was directed at the Salvation Army.  You can still jump on that bandwagon by going to the Boycott Workfare website as well.  Also, make sure you join  the Boycott Welfare Facebook event.

Together, we CAN make a difference!

austerity is class war

Posted: March 3, 2013 in anarchy, politics, protest

austerity is class war.