Saturday 8th December, 2pm
at the new Poundland, S12 Martinaeu Place, 76-77 Corporation Street, Birmingham, B2 4UQ
Please join and invite your friends to the facebook event and spread the word.
Accessibility information: The centre of Birmingham is step free. Event is outdoors and will last for 1-2hours. During the demonstration it may be decided to move to a different shop, but there is no planned route.
Accessible toilets and baby changing facilities are available in many shopping centres, cafes and pubs around the city centre.
Level Access is available at New Street, Moor Street and Snow Hill Train Station.
please contact by email at BirminghamAgainstTheCuts:gmail.com us with any access needs you have.
The national week of action will see events taking place around the country and online, and will focus on the charities involved in these forced labour schemes. We held a demo at the British Heart Foundation in Harborne earlier this month, and on the day before they announced they were stepping back from workfare. With British Heart Foundation being the only charity shop in the city centre, it was decided that here we’d take action over companies that profit from free christmas temps at our expense.
In Brighton, Superdrug have said they will not be taking any christmas temps this year, and in Birmingham last year, we were told by someone who applied for a temp job at Argos, didn’t get one then got sent there on workfare that they had more people on workfare than paid temps. Around the country, retail workers on zero hour contracts have reported loss of hours, and in Wolverhampton we’ve been told that many paid Argos staff are getting fewer hours than those sent on workfare.
Addition: As if to prove this point, when Boycott Workfare posted this event on their facebook page, one of the replies said this:
I was in **sco’s earlier with my workfare badge, and the woman on the till said”I suppose I’m being selfish really, but those people are taking hours away from me”.. I explained that workfarees had no choice, and that there’s nothing selfish about wanting worker’s rights
Addition 2: Boycott Workfare have had this report from a Shoezone worker, seeing workfare people coming in isntead of christmas temps, and worried about losing hours themselves.
These workfare schemes are not about helping people into work. The statistics from the Work Programme show that more people would have found work if they hadn’t been sent on the scheme, with A4e finding just 4% of people work lasting more than 6 months. For those sent on the work programme they find themselves on soul destroying schemes.
Another scheme, Mandatory Work Activity, has no effect on unemployment, but does increase the rate of people claiming sickness benefit.
None of this should be a surprise since in 2008 the DWP themselves said that workfare schemes don’t work. (pdf, page 5)
There is little evidence that workfare increases the likelihood of finding work. It can even reduce employment chances by limiting the time available for job search and by failing to provide the skills and experience valued by employers.
What they do is replace paid jobs with unpaid jobs, at the taxpayers cost. Saying no will mean sanctions of up to 3 years for unemployed people and 70% of benefits indefinitely for disabled people. The loss of money is inconcievable for many people and leads to severe hardships. Locally, Sifa Fireside have also reported “housing benefit is increasingly suspended if people are being sanctioned by Job Centre Plus“, leading to increased homelessness.
With over half a million sanctions handed out in 2011, and job centres being given targets for people to sanction, these schemes cannot be seen as anything other than punishment for unemployment, and a way of manufacturing falling unemployment figures (although in Birmingham, unemployment has continued to rise).
Join us to take action against these schemes. The DWP have refused to release names of companies that profit from workfare, saying that if we knew who did then we’d exercise our democratic right to protest which would see organisations leave, causing the schemes to collapse:
The DWP considered that, of all the workfare programmes being described externally as ‘workfare schemes’, the MWA programme was the most likely to be influenced by pressure from campaign groups and negative publicity, given that MWA programmes were generally provided by charitable organisations … and the placements were mandatory,” lawyers said.
“Put simply, disclosure [of names] would have been likely to have led to the collapse of the MWA scheme
We will meet outside of Poundland on Corporation Street. Poundland are a local firm, based in Willenhall, who suspended their involvement in the Work Experience Scheme in February, but returned to it after the judicial review ruled this scheme legal (appeals are pending). Our main issue of course is with the practical effect of such schemes, and although the rules for the Work Experience Scheme were changed following protests earlier this year, it was also made clear that anyone who didn’t volunteer would be forced onto Mandatory Work Activity instead.
Once gathered we will discuss who else we should visit. Saturday 8th December is also a UK Uncut day of action over Starbucks failure to pay their tax, and any organisation benefiting from the taxpayers deep pockets could expect a visit this christmas.