Archive for the ‘anarchy’ Category

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]

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.

As humans, we are a species.  We are mammals, and as such we have certain things, on a biological level, that we have to adhere to.  We have to eat and drink, we have to breathe etc…  However, we have a great amount of choice and we have free will.  We can choose not to drink any alcohol, we can choose not to eat meat.  These are all biological factors.  What I am far more interested in, is how we should behave towards each other.  How we should co-exist.

We Are Driven to Be Selfish

One thing that I notice again and again and again is that we seem to be driven more and more to only think about ourselves.  Some of these messages are subtle.  For instance, we know we need a roof over our heads to live comfortably, but have you ever thought why we need to have one house per family, rather than living in a commune together?  This is one of the many subtle messages that we are being exposed to, but there are also some far less subtle ones.

Take the culture of suing others for instance.  Say you have a car accident, a pretty minor one that just happened.  How quick will you be to run to the doctors, claim whiplash and claim some compensation on the insurance of the other party?  We are being told in popular culture and by the media over and over again that we should do this.  It is our right to sue someone, it is our right to amass money.  In fact, we need money, otherwise we are nobody.  But by suing someone, you are suing another human being, a human being that also has a life and feelings.  If this was just an accident, and accidents happen, how can we be so mean and cruel to our fellow humans?  Because we are desensitised to the plight of other human beings, that’s why.

A good example was given to me a while ago: if you walk past a dead body, you will probably be shocked.  But how many dead bodies along the way will it take for you to no longer be shocked?  That is desensitisation and that is what is happening around us all the time.  And it’s scary.  It’s scary because it means we have gotten so used to hardship in others that we don’t even see it anymore.

Another good example for me is authority.  We always have people in authority, but why is that?  For me, it’s an element of trust.  People in authority don’t trust others to make the right decisions.  People who need a figure of authority don’t trust themselves to make the right decisions.  Because of this, like sheep, we look towards a leader who tells us what to do.  And if this leader tells us that we need to think about number one first, and no one else, we do it.

What Should it Be Like?

I personally believe in co=existing.  We are here together, we share this planet, we have lines that link us all together.  Why not nurture those lines?  Why not be there for each other?  If I have something you don’t, why can’t I just share that with you?  No doubt a time will come that you have something I need and you can share it with me.  Why don’t we live together, help each other take care of one another?  Why aren’t we co-existing as humans?

This isn’t about privacy.  Everybody is entitled to privacy.  Everybody is entitled to have a space for themselves, some time to just be with their self.  We are, after all, individuals.  But is there any need for us to be so individualistic?  I personally believe in community.  I believe in helping people who need my help.  And I don’t give this help because I may need help back at some point.  I hope beyond hope that I will never need help.  But I also believe that if the time were to come that I do need help, someone will be there for me too, because that is how a community works.  That is how we should all co-exist.  Instead of focusing on our differences and using them to elevate one belief or behaviour above another, why not celebrate differences and use these differences to learn more?

I, personally, am sick to death of the coalition government, even more so now that the conservatives are going to be making more cuts to tax the poor and benefit the rich.  So, I have written to my local MP to ask him to put in a vote of no confidence.  I would like to ask anybody in the UK that also has some serious issues with the coalition government to do the same.  You can find your MP and enter the email I sent (change your name, obviously) by going to this website.  I will keep you up to date in terms of responses, please do the same!

Dear Alex Cunningham,

I would like to enter an official vote of no confidence in the current coalition government. I have various reasons for this, including but not limited to the fact that no citizen of the UK has voted for a coalition government and the fact that, once again, the divide between rich and poor is being made bigger, particularly by taxing the poor and giving tax breaks to the rich. I feel I don’t need to explain this to you as you have always seemed to fight the corner of the working man.

My initial idea was to enter an online e petition through the government’s official website. I was very interested to see that when searching for “no confidence” (or “no confidence in current/coalition government”), a range of petitions are shown. None of these, however, show that the British public have no confidence in the government that represents them, but rather look at specific issues. Interestingly, approximately 8,200 petitions that request specifically a vote of no confidence in the current government have been rejected on the basis that this petition is already running. Either the powers that be that run the website don’t actually read the petitions, or the government is putting obstacles in the way of democratic voicing.

I would appreciate it if you could either tell me how to enter a vote of no confidence through the official channels, or if you could enter this vote on behalf of what I am sure is a good 99.9% of the residents of Billingham.

Yours sincerely,

Have fun and let me know what happens and I will do the same!

The Problem with ATOS

Posted: October 4, 2012 in anarchy, controversy, politics

You may have heard of ATOS, they have been in the news quite often lately.  But who exactly are they?  What do they do?  And why does it seem like so many people have such a huge problem with them?  Let’s start by being honest and showing you who ATOS say they are.  Then, let’s take a look at why this company is the scum of the earth and what you can do to tell them that their business is not ok.

Who Are ATOS?

ATOS was one of the main sponsors of the Olympic Games.  Together with other ever so sporty sponsors, like MacDonald’s, Coca Cola and Visa…  ATOS is a company that focuses on IT services.  They generate 8.5 billion Euros per year and employ 74,000 people in 48 countries.  So yeah, they are everywhere.  What they do is deliver all sorts of IT consultancy services in all sorts of different industries.  They basically say that their IT systems are almost full proof and that they can deal with any type of project.  Ok, doesn’t sound so bad, does it?  Everybody needs IT and if they are providing a fantastic service, then what’s the big deal?

The Big ATOS Deal

Take a wild guess at what sort of contract ATOS has been awarded in the UK?  Obviously, the government wants to cut their budget and they think the way to do this is to overhaul the benefit system.  Because, obviously, the real money is in benefits and not in tax dodgers and millionaires in this country.  ATOS has been awarded a contract of £100 million per year (yes, when the government is making “savings”) and their role is conduct interviews with people who claim disability benefits.  They have designed a system that will test whether or not they are actually fit for work.  That is the problem with Atos.  And it isn’t just disabled people who are worried about seeing their benefits cut who have a problem with this.  MPS has voiced their opposition, as has the British Medical Association.  They have both called for an immediate halt to Atos’ system.  The system was also reviewed by Dispatches, who showed that staff using the system were put under pressure to declare people fit to work.

This is wrong for so many reason that I don’t even have the space to write it all down here.  But here are some facts for you: a number of people have now died due to their disabilities, who were declared fit and healthy by the Atos program.  Oh and in terms of saving money, the statistics show that only 0.5% of disability claims are fraudulent, but the government aims to save 20% on their welfare bill.  This means 19.5% of disabled people (who actually are disabled) will be forced into work when they are actually incapable to do so.

What Has Been Done?

There have been many anti-ATOS protests recently and they are set to continue.  A big focus came on ATOS during the Olympics, when UK Uncut organised demonstrations all across the country.  Also, a coffin filled with messaged from people who have fallen victim to Atos’ program has been delivered to their Head Quarters in London.  In Cardiff, a mass die-in was staged, Armchair Olympics have been organised and the ATOS Sheffield centre found itself stormed.  Also, protestors were able to jam ATOS’ phone and email lines for a whole day.

All I can say is keep your eye out for further ATOS protests and join in where you can.  Every little helps as they say right!  By the way, you too can email ATOS to annoy them a bit, mainly on customer-relations@atoshealthcare.com.  Have fun!