Archive for the ‘protest’ 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]

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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.

NO DASH FOR GAS

EDF is trying to sue the activists from No Dash For Gas for £5 million. The activists shut down the first in a new generation of gas power stations, which if built will mean we won’t hit our climate targets.  You can help No Dash For Gas by leaving a nice message on the EDF Facebook page by clicking here.

For more information, click on the following links:

Channel 4 news

The Guardian

No Dash For Gas

GOVERNMENT WORKFARE PROGRAM

The government’s workfare program is basically endorsing slave labour.  There is not other way around it.  Expecting people to work around 35 hours a week to get their measily £69 worth of dole money means that they have to work well below minimum wage.  Nobody is suggesting that working for your benefit money is a bad idea, but fair pay for fair labour should always overrule.  Here is a list of the companies that have agreed to take part in the workfare program.  Send them a message to show how you disagree with what they are doing.  Try to be eloquent, that always hits them harder than swearing at them.

To make life easier for you, there is also a fantastic template you can follow to send them your message of discontent.  Use Facebook, Twitter, email and everything else you can think of.

Remember, one person can make a difference at that one person may just be you!

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]

Complaining – it works

Posted: February 17, 2013 in Fun, protest, social

I have recently started a one woman action against the driving parents at one of our local senior schools and have made great strides.  It has had newspaper coverage and road signs have been repainted as a consequence.  Baby steps, but we are getting there.  More on that some other time.  I decided that it was about time I ceased to be a couch potato and took up an age old hobby of mine – swimming.  That is, until I saw the price of it.  Couch potato doesn’t sound so bad after all.  However, why should I have to get unhealthy simply because sports are unaffordable?  Isn’t that wrong?  So, I have emailed the Forum (where our local swimming baths are), to see how their prices work.  My email is below, I’m looking forward to their reply.

Take a guess first, however.  I foresee one of four options:

  1. They won’t reply at all, or only send a standard “thank you for your interest bla bla” response
  2. They will tell me that they appreciate my concerns but…
  3. They will give me a voucher for one free swimming session but won’t change a thing
  4. They will waver the administration fees (a girl can dream right)?

Which one do you think it will be?  Or have I overlooked an option.  Here’s my email anyway.

To whom it may concern,

I would like further information about the following:

Monthly – 6 month Committed swimming membership

All for only…

£20.00 per month per individual 

£16.00 per month per individual concession** 

Please note a one off administration fee of £25.00 is payable for this package.

First of all, you state that the subscription is “only” £20 a month (I believe this is now £19.75?).  Considering FULL membership to the Forum and all its activities is “only” around £25 a month, would it be possible to only pay £6 a month and use everything except the pool?  I can already guess that your answer to that is going to be no, but I do hope it illustrates how bizarre your pricing plans are.  All I want to do is swim, I have no interest in going to any classes or to use any equipment except for your pool.  I find it completely unfair that I should have to pay 80% of a full membership, when I only want to use a single facility.  I’m sure you will now say that this is simply the way your pricing works, but before I part with my money, I would like to know why this is the way your pricing works.  We live in a very difficult global economy at present and enabling people to stay and get healthy should be a priority, but you make it very difficult for us.  I currently do not work, nor am I in receipt of any benefits.  As a consequence, I am not even able to receive the Option 3 leisure card.  Why is it that people like myself always have to get penalised?

My second issue is the “one off administration fee of £25”.  Having worked as an administration worker for many years myself, I know how very little admin workers are paid.   An admin fee of £25 would suggest that you require somebody to work for 4 to 5 hours just to enter my details on your system.  If you were to provide me access to one of your computers, I will enter my own details in about 10 minutes, and I will even do that free of charge.  Again, please explain to me where this seemingly random amount of £25 comes from, and why there is even a need to charge this, consider the exorbitant amount a month you will already be charging me for swimming.

I look forward to your reply.

 

I hate them.  Not just out of some misplaced sense of jealousy because I don’t drive.  I quite simply can’t drive.  I can park (even parallel), I can change gears, I can reverse around a corner.  What I can’t do, however, is steer.  At all.  In fact, the only car I have ever driven without banging into a curb or driving straight over the roundabout (and I do mean STRAIGHT OVER), was a 1969 Morris Minor.  But I thank my lucky stars for the fact that I can’t drive, because drivers are, quite frankly, wankers.  All of them.  Not just the taxi drivers or the white van men, just all of them!

My Mode of Transportation

I walk and I cycle.  And I have never felt like I couldn’t get anywhere.  If the destination is a little bit too far, I’ll take a train or a bus and walk from there.  Besides the fact that it is reasonably convenient, it is better for the environment and a whole lot better for my health as well.  I try to instil these values into my son as well, who, at just five years old, cycled from my home to the beach, a good hour or so bike ride across hills and busy roads.  Find me a five year old who can do that when he or she has parents that drive everywhere?

My Major Gripe

My major gripe at the moment is with a senior school where I live.  The school is in the middle of a residential area and parents INSIST on driving their kids to school.  As a consequence, the whole residential area is at a complete standstill twice a day.  This wouldn’t annoy me so much, because I don’t actually live in that particular area, so I don’t have a problem with crubs getting destroyed, not being able to get in or out of my own house, or the exhaust fumes.  What does annoy me, however, is that me and my son either cycle or walk there and almost get ran over every bloody time.

What I Have Done

So, I’m seriously pissed off and I’m taking action.  I hate people who complain to others but refuse to stand up and actually do something.  So far, I have done the following:

  • Play lollipop lady every morning by simply jumping in front of the cars and letting everybody pass at a leisurely pace.
  • Petitioning residents to ask for a solution and sending this to the local council.
  • Write to my MP.  He recently wrote a letter saying changing the area into a one way system wasn’t feasible.  Fuck a one way system, parents need to stop dropping their kids off in front of the school.   The school is within walking distance of a town centre, a large supermarket and a number of other main roads, why not drop them off there?
  • Speak to the school.  Who, by the way, casually informed me that the children at their school could not be expected to have sufficient road sense, mainly because the school is responsible for these children and doesn’t want to get sued.  No, of course kids don’t have any bloody road sense if they get driven EVERYWHERE!!!

I am now in the process of making a huge sign with “kids can walk” or another catchy text, which I intend to hold up to the cars whenever I get passed them.  The other thing I have done is scream at any driver who does the typical driver thing and just simply doesn’t look.  If you are a driver, do you have any concept of the fact that you are driving in a huge killing machine?  Getting ran over by a car doesn’t just hurt, it kills.  So open your fucking eyes and pay attention to the rest of the road.  Particularly since I may only be a person on a bike, but I still have right of way!  I don’t have a driver’s license and even I know shark teeth on the road mean you bloody well have to stop.

I would really welcome any ideas anybody else has about what I can do.  I’m getting to the point now that I’m tempted to track the cars and simply slash their tires, or write offensive messages on their cars with battery acid or something (I did write a message of sarcastic thanks in the dust on one of the cars the other day).  So yeah, any thoughts, let me know!