Workfare Campaign Activities in Feb and March

Last nights demo at Tesco on New Street

Over the past week, there has been an explosion of interest in workfare, and the Boycott Workfare campaign we signed up to last month. The campaign has seen lots of high street names withdraw from the scheme entirely (including Waterstones, Sainsbury’s, and TK Maxx), others suspend their involvement (Matalan, Superdrug, Argos) and Tesco seek to change the scheme beyond recognition, offering to pay people on one of the two schemes they take part in – a big step in the right direction but still taking part in the scheme which older people get placed for 8 weeks without pay. Poundland, Burger King and Pizza Hut are all reviewing their involvement, and high profile charities, including Mind, Scope, Oxfam and RSPCA have either withdrawn or confirmed they never took part in these schemes.

Every day another organisation distances itself from the schemes which see benefit claimants forced to work 30 hours/week for companies or lose their benefits for up to 3 years. Currently this is just those on Jobseeker’s Allowance, but with plans to extend this to disability claimants in the Work Related Assesment Group (which means that they might be able to do some kind of work, with the right support, maybe – this group includes terminal cancer patients with more than 6 months to live). There are a number of schemes, and placements range from 4 weeks to 6 months, with disability claimants being told there will be no time limits on their schemes once it starts.

This means that your local Tesco or Poundland could have someone who is dying of cancer working for them for free in the final months of their life.

Meanwhile, the companies are cutting hours, or not replacing staff that leave, knowing that they can make it up with workfare labour. Over Christmas, when extra staff would usually be hired and paid, many stores took advantage of the schemes to cut costs and make more profit for their shareholders.
Tesco made enough profit in 1 day to pay ALL of the people who worked there in 2011 minimum wage for their work.

You can read more about workfare, and why we are supporting Boycott Workfare here.

The backlash to this scheme has well and truly begun. Last night, Right to Work joined in, organising a demo at Tesco on New Street. In Birmingham next week and throughout March there are many events happening to keep the pressure up and get workfare scrapped entirely.

Saturday 25th Feb

Kings Heath, 12-2, Stall and Leafletting outside Poundland on Kings Heath High Street – More Details
Yardley 2:30pm, Demo outside new Tesco Store, on the site of the old Swan pub, meet at Yardley Road Roundabout, B26 1BU, organised by Youth Fight for Jobs.
City Centre, 2pm, demo outside McDonalds on Cherry Street (near Pigeon Park), organised by Right to Work.

There are also plans for stalls in Cotteridge and City Centre, please email us at BirminghamAgainstTheCuts@gmail.com if you can help and we will let you know if and where they are happening.

If you can organise some leafletting in your local high street, or local job centre, you can download and print leaflets from our resources page.

These will be building for the national day of action:

Saturday 3rd March


Boycott Workfare national day of action. Demo at Poundland on Union Street, City Centre Birmingham, from 11:30am-12:30pm. If Poundland have pulled out, we will go to Tesco on New Street. If Tesco have pulled out we will decide on the day where to go – meet at Poundland.
Many other towns and cities around the UK are taking action on the 3rd, so if you are not in Birmingham please have a look here for your local demo, or consider organising one yourself

For accessibility information for all workfare events click here

Wed 7th March

Kings Heath public meeting, 7pm-8pm, All Saints Centre, Kings Heath. Meeting to plan and organise locally to make Kings Heath high street a workfare free zone.
More information

Thursday 29th March

City Centre public meeting, 7pm-9pm, Unite the Union, Transport House, Broad Street More information
To discuss and plan action around Birmingham and the west midlands, or to celebrate if the scheme has collapsed by then!

Because we can win this. But if we are going to we must keep up the pressure. Join us.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Workfare Campaign Activities in Feb and March

  1. Pingback: Today Birmingham City Council Will Vote Through £100m Of Cuts – Here’s What We Won And What We Are Losing | Birmingham Against The Cuts

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