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National Week of Action Against Workfare

Workfare imageFrom July 7, Boycott Workfare is holding a national week of action against workfare. There are links to events and other sites at the end of this post.

Image: by Louise Whittle

What is the Government’s solution to mass unemployment due to a financial crash in 2008?

Well - punish the unemployed, of course. With jobs in the public and private sector slashed, the forthcoming Universal Credit making life worse for low paid workers and the use of the unemployed as an unpaid workforce, the bosses and shareholders of big companies never had it so good.

Instead of tackling the root causes of unemployment or investing in creation of jobs, the coalition government has followed the blueprint laid by Labour’s ‘Flexible New Deal’ and is rolling out workfare on a massive scale.

The cabinet of wealthy millionaires hands out taxpayers' cash to companies such as A4E, Atos, G4S and REED to bully and mistreat the unemployed. Wilfully ignoring its own DWP evidence that workfare does not lead to employment, the government also ploughs on with sanctions for the unemployed on workfare schemes, holding the unemployed to ransom with the threat of loss of benefits.

With the unemployed forced to slave away in supermarkets, retail shops, fast food shops, restaurants, where is the need of for paid staff?

A4E, which was paid £180m of taxpayers' money in 2011, now falls behind the Government’s minimum target of 5.5% for getting people into long term employment. In addition, amidst allegations of consistent fraud and misconduct, CEO of A4E Emma Harrison was made to resign from her seat in the company as well as David Cameron’s close associate on workfare.

Private companies such as Argos, Tesco and even seemingly ethical company Holland & Barrett swiftly moved in to accept free labour from workfare schemes. This raises questions about the priority of the private sector and statements from Conservatives of the private sector being about growth and employment. Is it?  When big company bosses can employ staff for free, so they can keep their profits, the rhetoric seems to be rather a mythical propaganda.

At Boycott Workfare, we are outraged. We are also fighting back. For the past eighteen months, Boycott Workfare has been staging actions, building networks and calling on the unemployed to speak out against the exploitation they face. We all now live in a precarious condition where jobs are lost and replaced by the unpaid workers. Recent news that workfare stewards staffed the Jubilee celebrations expose the extent to which the unemployed are replacing decent salaried positions.

Boycott Workfare launches its national week of action against workfare this weekend from 7 July to 14 of July. Actions are taking place from Brighton to Liverpool. In Birmingham, to coincide with the Welfare to Work convention, a counter-conference is being organised on 10 July. The ‘Making Welfare Work’ conference aims to bring together the unemployed, disabled people, workers in private and public sector and others to counter plans to exploit and victimise the unemployed, weak and poor.

Boycott Workfare hopes to grow as a network, uniting all those who oppose workfare, whether in work or unwaged. But above all, there needs to be recognition from those profiting from the exploitation of people looking for work, disabled people and the poor – we will be holding you to account.

By Manishta Sunnia from Boycott Workfare

Events for the national week of action - add yours too

Boycott workfare site

More on workfare and a list of actions for next week at Johnny Void.

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