Stupid or malicious? You decide: STUPID SANCTIONS.
We’ll probably add more as we hear of them, send us yours!
We’ve been lucky to mark International Workers Day (1st May) with some effective & fun demonstrations and direct actions for the past four years.
Last year we directly a large local organisation to end all involvement with workfare – picture of the demo is the one above! This year we hope to build on that, and our other anti workfare successes.
Boycott Workfare have called for a week of action that covers May Day, we aim to target a couple of companies who are profiting from the forced exploitation it represents – and hopefully help out some people affected by the schemes at the same time.
We’ll post more details nearer the time, yes we know its during the day on a workday but we also know a lot of you use any means at your disposal to avoid working on May Day! If you are forced into it you have our sympathy, if not see you on the streets again!
“THE DAY WILL COME WHEN OUR SILENCE WILL BE MORE POWERFUL THAN THE VOICES YOU ARE THROTTLING TODAY.”
– (August Spies on the scaffold before his execution)
South Wales Anarchists will be demonstating in Cardiff to celebrate this years May Day. Originally a pagan festival, the modern May Day bank holiday has its roots in the fight for the eight hour day and is celebrated across the globe as an International Workers’ Day to commemorate the anarchist trade union organisers who were executed in Chicago 1887. They were framed and wrongly accused of throwing a bomb at police breaking up a crowd in the Haymarket during a demonstration involving over 400,000 working in Chicago on May 4, 1886.
The anarchist idea did not die with these workers in 1887 and continues to be the inspiration for many fighting capitalism around the world. We call on all those struggling for a world of justice, dignity and freedom to come together and join us this May Day in Cardiff.
Bring your red and black flags and class struggle banners!
Meet at 12 noon at the southern end of St Mary St, under the railway bridge near the Great Western Wetherspoons. March starts at 12.30 through the streets of Cardiff City centre to…. somewhere with no bureaucrats’ speeches!!!
May 1, 2015: from Milan, capital of the crisis, to Europe.
After seven years of crisis the precarious pride has become rage and indignation against the burgeoning unemployment and the growth of poverty imposed by BCE & IMF to most of the population with austerity policies, particularly in Italy, Greece and the rest of the Latin Europe. Social slaughter, plunder of wealth and common goods, the end of the public city are the bases upon which governments build their response to the economic crisis.
Make a week of it:
APRIL 28: INTERNATIONAL NO EXPO CAMPING. Until May 3 with debates and workshops
APRIL 29: THE CITY OF MILAN AGAINST THE FASCIST MARCH
APRIL 30: NATIONAL STUDENTS DEMONSTRATION
MAY 1: #NOEXPOMAYDAY
MAY 2: MOBILIZATIONS AGAINST EXPO
MAY 3: GENERAL ASSEMBLY for 6 months of mobilizations
FROM MAY 3: 6 months of meetings and conflict against and beyond the Expo paradigm.
Tyne & Wear:
What follows was posted as a reply to the blog post here: twice; we then asked the blogger whether our comment had been censored, as we could see other, more sycophantic comments had since been approved by the admin; that reply didn’t appear either. It doesn’t auger well for a future under labour if even their supporting bloggers seek to stifle mild dissent.
From the anti-capitalist point of view of course they’re all the same, – should the turkey vote for Christmas? The Chartist and suffragette campaigns were not primarily about the right to vote, that was just a means to an end. They were an attempt to bring the selfish and greedy ruling class to heel, and they weren’t afraid to fight. But it was too late, they let us have the vote once they had completed the theft of our means of production, and condemned every single one of us to wage labour, which however you dress it up, is an abusive relationship; an abomination. The labour party gave the working class someone to vote for that could speak politely for it in the corridors of power then take its seat again without ever altering the balance of that power.
The worst thing about voting is that it’s an excuse for not doing anything, it reinforces the idea that someone, somewhere, is in control and it’s up to them to solve the problems they created, it isn’t, it’s up to us. People waste their time and energy campaigning in an election and then sit back on their arses as if they’ve done something worthwhile. What a fucking cop out. The working class has power, governments claim to have it; government is a conspiracy between rulers and ruled. Your reward for allowing yourself to be governed is absolution from responsibility for the misery created by the society you inhabit. Recent history has shown that whilst elected governments must bend to corporate interests a handful of determined militants can thwart their best laid plans. An example of the futility of parliamentary democracy can be found here: yet generations of leftists have defeated themselves in this arena. Read how the labour member respects our enemies for their ability to frustrate us.
What if labour do get elected? A thinly-veiled corporatism is sold to us on the basis that it will be slightly kinder; and to the bourgeoisie on the premise that it will be more stable than their cut-throat piracy (in other words we will be persuaded to collaborate in our own exploitation). When we start kicking off, wildcatting, blockading fracking sites, stopping evictions and deportations, closing down exploiters, actually hurting our capitalist enemies, they’ll tell us to stop rocking the boat or we’ll let the tories in again, just like they did in the 70’s. Anyway, here’s our original reply:
“All three parties are fighting this election under false pretences, the idea that countries must balance their books like petty bourgeois households and that abstract debts created in computer programmes exert some moral obligation over real people – much less the working class, who even built their wretched computers for them. The idea that there is a shortage of work and money when in fact there is too much of both. There is plenty to do; to be sure, saving the bloody planet for a start, but the only activity that will earn you a qualified right to exist in their world is one that adds value to someone else’s capital thereby enhancing the fetishised status of the socially useless. A true socialist would have the courage to say so.
Of course the tories are despicable and wish to enslave the working class, but need I remind you the last labour government introduced workfare and lied to the United Nations to start a war in which a million people died, despite an unprecedented and inarguable level of active public opposition. Short of taking up arms against the state the British people were powerless to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe engineered by Tony Blair on behalf of his sponsors in the oil industry – Halliburton – who were at the time running the United States. They’ve got form for this; the Wilson government took a solemn decision in cabinet to lie to the U.N. over Diego Garcia which it had sold to the U.S. for a military base, had the population forcibly removed and left to stave to death on a rock.
Now Miliband will pander to the moral panic painstakingly created by the corporate media over immigration; curiously the public service broadcaster has led the way in this. The BBC incessantly prompts callers for reactionary comments, reassuring wavering racists that it’s understandable to be scared of foreigners. Any fool knows that economic migration is not controlled by governments but by the bourgeoisie, who use it to lower the wages and conditions at the bottom, whilst ‘quality immigration’ – importing I.T. specialists from India or doctors from the Philippines is just a shameful pillage of the education systems of the poorest countries by the richest – primitive accumulation. National borders are of no use to us, being only necessary to maintain differentials in prices and wages to the benefit of the employing class. A true socialist would have the courage to say so.
A ‘Labour’ party would stand for the working class regardless of nationality and expose the concept of national interest for the scam it has always been. It would stop lying about the realities of economics, stop apologising for the excesses of global capitalism, stop trying to fix the economy, stop polishing the turd. If we want an end to capitalism we have to stop trying to make it work. The economy is the mechanism that maintains the dominance of the few over the many and we must push it until it breaks.
We don’t want a different government we need expropriation of private property and to take control of the infrastructure to institute sustainable demand-led production. No political party is going to do that for us, the emancipation of the exploited is the task of the exploited themselves, not some lily-livered apologist for the exploiters.”
Mal C x
Bridport Chamber of Trade and Commerce are putting on a ‘networking brunch’ with Oliver Letwin M.P. On Saturday 8th November, 10 a.m. – 12 noon, at: Avenue, West Street, Bridport, Dorset, DT6 3QW Map
“Oliver Letwin, Member of Parliament for West Dorset will be hosting a Q & A session. West Dorset District Council will also be speaking. Our networking brunch is only open to businesses* and early booking is advisable.” Mr Letwin is considered a world-class authority on flogging off the fruits of our labour and pissing off with the money.
Rrrright, now, ahahahahahaa!
A warm welcome is assured for the old etonian author of ‘Privatising the World’ who will be delighted to answer questions about how he has made a career out of selling us things we already own. In addition there will be speakers from West Dorset District Council, who are, as I type, plotting the sale of Dorset County Hospital’s Pathology Lab which currently employs over 100 people. – what more could you ask?
* We will award prizes for the most imaginative business names and the most pertinent questions, as determined by our panel (whoever comes down the pub on the night).
Some highlights of Letwin’s career you might want to ask him about.
When asked about his membership of the Cambridge University Liberal club he explained: “I was also a member of the Fabian Society. But I am sorry to have to tell you that this was because I was interested in the thoughts of Liberals and Fabians … rather than because I was ever a Liberal Democrat or a Fabian.” – The technical term is ‘hypocrite’.
In 1988, with John Redwood he published a pamphlet entitled Britain’s biggest enterprise; his blueprint for selling the NHS. Both of these MPs were directors of NM Rothschild Corporate Finance Ltd‘s international privatisation unit. Letwin remained a director until December 2009, being paid £60,000 a year for an eight-hour week whilst he devised Tory party policies in line with their corporate agenda.
In 2001 Letwin failed to live up to his name when he ballsed up Hague’s election campaign by telling the Financial Times that the party would slash public spending by £20 billion a year. They hid him until after the election
Later in 2001, as Shadow Home Secretary he was credited with forcing the Home Secretary to withdraw his proposal to introduce an offence of incitement to religious hatred.
In 2004 Letwin told a group of economists that it would be “irrational” to tell voters by how much he wanted to cut public spending. He later astonished a gathering of construction industry representatives in his constituency by saying that within five years of a Conservative election victory “the NHS will not exist anymore”, according to one of those who were present.
Between 2004-2009 Letwin claimed claimed more than £80,000 in parliamentary expenses for a cottage in Somerset.
In 2009, according to the daily Telegraph, he was induced to repay a bill for £2,145 for replacing a leaking pipe under his tennis court.
In October 2011, the arrogant twat dumped a pile of his constituents’ personal letters in public bins in St. James’s Park – how fucking rude! If he was going to breach their confidentiality he could at least have done it in Dorset.
In 2012 by e-mail to Terry Stewart, president of the Dorset branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England Letwin said:
“I anticipate that subsidies for both solar photovoltaic and onshore wind will come down to zero over the next few years and should have disappeared by 2020”
Along with his colleague, Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax M.P. for South Dorset, whose family introduced slavery to the Caribbean and made their fortune from brutal sugar plantations, he is a vociferous opponent of wind farms, mainly on cosmetic grounds. Despite campaigning for the abolition of renewable energy subsidies, Drax will now cash in on a 174 acre solar installation on his vast estate, over the heads of 500 local objectors. If ever a piece of land was paid for by the blood of the working class, it is the 7,000-acre Charborough house, surrounded by what is known locally as ‘the Great Wall of Dorset’
In July 2014 he told a meeting of right-wing think-tank Politeia that an improvement in the economy would open the way for a flat tax rate, so that preposterously wealthy toffs like him (and most of the cabinet) would pay the same rate as us.
Here are some of Ollie’s replies to e-mails, on his own website, in which he supports fracking, foxhunting, raising the pension age for fire-fighters and the transport of live animals for slaughter. He also expresses the opinion that legal controls on dog breeding are adequate (he says he hasn’t got time to attend the debate, sorry) and implies that the education secretary Michael Gove knows what he’s doing!
Journal of the Royal College of Physicians: Opening the oyster: the 2010–11 NHS reforms in England
Recipe for Ruin: TTIP the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
Word reaches us that the Spyglass and Kettle Stourwood Ave, Bournemouth, Southbourne, Dorset BH6 3PW Phone: 01202 424888 facebook uses workfare. A storm erupted on social media as a number of comrades called or messaged the establishment. Their responses have varied throughout the day, from:
“Unsure where you find your “facts” but they are ALL false”
“We have only fully employed staff here, on full pay, no work exp, or workfare staff.”
“The team members that we have within workfare are from the job centre who are on job seekers and do earn money each week from the job centre. I see nothing strange”
Which would seem to imply they support the principle of people being forced to work for benefits.
“We do use the scheme, but as the above comment states there is no abuse of it. 5 people have got full time jobs with us from this job centre scheme to give young people the chance to gain experience and confidence in the work place.”
So they’ve swallowed IDS’ story hook line and sinker, still unaware that workfare is a massive scam that as well as robbing workers of their livelihoods is costing the taxpayer millions. See Johnny Void’s blog for the gory details.
“As I have already pointed out we claim not to be abusing the scheme, not that we have not been using the scheme, and they do get employed by us when they finish the scheme. Speak to the 5 staff we have employed.”
So they get some free labour then give ‘em a job when they have to, that’s nice.
‘Ok, point taken, I don’t have any workfare people at the moment and won’t take any on in the future. Can I also suggest that you contact Apple who’s phones are all made in China using slave labour’.
Well of course we do support workers in struggle around the globe as you can see from our archives.
Here’s the point: if you need permanent staff and approach the Job Centre who send you unpaid placements, some of whom you subsequently employ you are doing us all (and them) no favours. The workfare industry gets paid for placing people whether they get a permanent job or not. If you could just get a job straightaway, there would be no profit in it for them. The last thing they want is unemployed people applying for jobs like these in the normal way and being taken on. So the poorest, most disadvantaged workers are supporting corporate entities that serve no one.
If they are serious about giving this up and have learned their lesson they could make amends by paying those staff the difference between their jobseekers allowance and what they should have earned in the first place, backdated to when they started work, as a gesture of goodwill to them and contrition to the working class as a whole.
Every business tainted by this loathsome scheme must be put under pressure until everyone who works receives decent compensation for doing so.
If you exploit us we will shut you down!
Just to complicate the picture, groups of unsavoury UKIP types have been observed entering the Spyglass and Kettle, best avoided, if you can.
One in five people sent on mandatory work activity in charity shops face destructive sanctions (benefit stoppages) of three or six months. Sanctions are a major reason for the soaring rise in the use of food banks as hunger is made a daily reality in the UK. The charities still involved in workfare are profiting from making people poorer and giving moral cover to the companies involved as well. Let’s tell them it’s time to pull out!
Last month, a poll of charity workers showed just how unpopular workfare is with the majority of people in charities: 92% thought that the government should publish the list of workfare providers that it is withholding.
Since the start of the year, thanks to your action, five charities have said they will no longer take part in workfare schemes: Sense, PDSA, Capability Scotland, Sue Ryder and the Red Cross. The Children’s Society has also pledged not to use 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.”
Let’s help banish workfare from charities: contact these workfare exploiters today.
Fellow animal charity PDSA has already realised that it needed to show a bit more kindness to the human beings working in its shops. Time for RSPCA to do the same and stop using workfare!
The YMCA released a statement in March defending their use of forced unpaid workers, and ignoring the fact they are responsible for pushing people into destitution and possible homelessness through sanctions which can last up to three years. Persuade them to join the list of charities who will no longer have anything to do with workfare.
Phone them on 020 7186 9500 or their shops hotline on 0845 601 0728.
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Find contacts for your nearest YMCA shop: http://www.ymca.org.uk/find/ymcashops
Tweet their President, Bishop John Sentamu, has spoken out against workfare in the past: @johnsentamu
The government has praised the Salvation Army for ‘holding the line‘ on workfare. When new figures emerged two weeks ago showing just how disastrous the Work Programme is for claimants, the Salvation Army released a pro-Work Programme report and have publicly claimed that ‘The Work Programme is working‘. They have boasted about the fact they even force sick and disabled people to do their workfare schemes.
Salvation Army UK can be contacted on facebook and on Twitter: @TSA_IHQ and @salvationarmyuk
They can be telephoned on (020) 7367 4500 or emailed at: email@example.com
The Salvation Army’s youth section are on facebook here.
To tell Salvation Army branches round the world what is being done in their name in the UK find twitter details here.
British Heart Foundation
Following occupations and pickets in across the UK British Heart Foundation announced they were “moving away” from workfare. Recently they declared they had withdrawn from the Mandatory Work Activity scheme. But they are openly declaring on their website that they are still participating in the Work Programme – despite the fact that in December this scheme was extended to give providers the power to force many sick and disabled claimants on Employment and Support Allowance to work for nothing, or face sanctions.
BHF state on their site: “Our supporters are welcome to contact us directly if they have any questions about our participation in the scheme. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org“.
Don’t disappoint them, get in touch!
Papworth Trust told civilsociety.co.uk:
“Papworth Trust believes that by being involved in mandatory work activity, we can make sure that each work placement is as effective as possible for each disabled or disadvantaged person.”
Now tell them what you think of their use of disabled people on workfare!
And if you’ve got a bit more time, why not get in touch with some of the high street brands profiting from workfare or the green charities exploiting forced labour too? Remember there’s loads of action on the streets this Saturday too!
From Boycott Workfare:
“In yet another massive blow to workfare, Argos – which has 740 stores nationwide – appears to have pulled out of Workfare. Argos had previously boasted that it was using Workfare to cover its busiest period at Christmas. In at least one store, Workfare workers were doing ten hours a week more than paid staff. That they have now pulled out is a testament to the strength of feeling amongst the general public and shows the results we can get when we keep up the pressure!
It gets better. Remember how Homebase were exposed for using 25 workfare placements in one store and boasting about it? How we heard some people’s paid hours were cut from 48 a week down to 8 as a result? They faced such a huge response from the public that they took their Facebook Page down repeatedly. People protested at their stores across the UK. Now, they too, have apparently stopped using workfare. Their statement is full of doublespeak, but people protesting during the bank holiday at the store where the story emerged were told by the manager that the last Workfare workers finished on Friday and they won’t be using any more.
These companies were saving thousands on their wages bill by exploiting the unemployed. This, despite the fact that the CEO of Home Retail Group – which owns Argos and Homebase – was paid £1.1 million last year. They didn’t ditch Workfare out of the goodness of their hearts: it’s clear that your actions are making a massive difference, taking two big scalps! Please keep an eye on your local stores to check they don’t slip back into Workfare when the pressure eases off.
There are still many scalps waiting to be taken – a list of which, unless the government manages to find a way out of it, it will now be compelled to reveal soon. One such example is retail chain B&M Stores, which wasawarded a prize for its work with Work Programme provider Ingeus. While the award talks about the people who have been given jobs after their stint of unpaid work, it seems existing staff are having their hours cut as Workfare is brought in.
If Workfare is one side of the coin, then sanctions are the other. Without the threat of sanctions forcing people to undertake Workfare, these schemes could not exist. To underline this harsh fact, last week it was revealed in research by London Assembly and Green Party member Jenny Jones, that one in three people in London and the Home Counties sent to Mandatory Work Activity was sanctioned. Another reason to challenge the London Mayor’s Workfare scheme, which forces young people to work without pay from the first day they sign on.
With your support this campaign will continue to take action action against the businesses, charity groups or organisations exploiting Jobseekers and the disabled through Workfare, as well as those forcing people into Workfare via sanctions. After all, it’s not only basic morality, it’s basic common sense. Workfare makes everyone poorer. It’s up to us to stop it, and as these successes show, together we can do it – and we are!”
Activists from BARF and Bristol Anarchist Federation worked together over the last two months in the campaign against Homebase, so we’ll claim this one, thanks.
A group of us travelled up to London to attend the ‘thatcher’s dead’ party called by Class War about a decade ago. During the day we divided ourselves between UK Uncut’s ‘bedroom tax’ action at Lord Fraud’s house and North London SolFed’s workfare pickets in Wood Green.
The workfare pickets continued both SolFed’s campaign against Poundland and supported Bristol AFed’s new initiative against Homebase; we were able to have some interesting conversations with staff and customers. The area is stricken by the government’s austerity programme with the crappiest jobs imaginable drawing hundreds of applicants. People here are in absolutely no doubt what is being done to them, why, and by whom. Homebase pickets were simultaneously conducted in Bristol and Bath.
Meanwhile in Bournemouth: Bournemouth Uncut took on the Tory MP’s and councillors of Bournemouth and Poole this weekend for their “Who wants to evict a millionaire?” action. Their homes were dressed as crime scenes with yellow markers, crime scene tape, evidence bags with ‘blood’ soaked cotton buds, and some lovely eviction notices. Some of the lucky recipients of our crime scenes were Robert Syms MP, John Beesley of Bournemouth Council, and other usual suspects like May Haines, Carol Evans, Ann Stibley, Mike White and Peter Pawlowski. At a time that people are facing losing their homes due to the bedroom tax, we thought it high time those architects of misery felt (for a few seconds) what it would be like to face eviction from their own homes. Very nice homes indeed…with plenty of spare bedrooms.
On to Trafalgar square, a picture circulated on twitter showing the square fenced off and surrounded by police proved to be bogus, trying to put us off? Not a hope, even the rain couldn’t do that, the vibe was joyful and good-natured, and solidarity was palpable. During the course of the evening a steady 3000 revellers divided their time between the square and surrounding pubs. A few incidents of police misbehaviour were swiftly and efficiently dealt with by the crowd, who had to clear them all out of the way from time to time; similarly, a smattering of fascists showed up to spoil the fun and got battered for their trouble. It’s worth pointing out that we can do this perfectly well without the ‘vanguard’ of press photographers that hurl themselves into the fray at the first hint of bother.
Of course this was not just about celebrating the death from natural causes of some demented old fascist (what was her name again?) who was admired in some circles for doggedly sticking to her principles of greed, self-interest and disdain for anyone who didn’t share her precise ethnic origins and social prejudices. Many present had their own lives blighted by the Dead Thing and had good reason to gloat; but far more importantly this was a positive affirmation of our determination to bury her mean-spirited ideology with her.
We, the working class will do this, we have no faith whatsoever in political or industrial representation, our future is in our hands, as the hangovers fade, let’s get organised!
UPDATE: Homebase are feeling the heat, time to turn it up! Bristol Demo This saturday ( Facebook / Indymedia ) Bath on Sunday ( Facebook / Indymedia) and two demos called in London. More in the works… In the mean time keep up the pressure online!
Yesterday, sources including Tom Pride’s blog, revealed that Homebase had been recruiting unpaid workers via a ‘work experience program’. Even worse they were actually boasting about getting extra hours of work by exploiting job seekers and reducing their ‘payroll costs’. A poster was spotted in a management office asking ‘would 750 hours with no payroll costs benefit your store?‘. Few companies are this brutally honest about their motivations!
Our first response was to ‘politely contact’ homebase online, and we were far from the only ones. Angry comments on twitter & facebook were popping up faster than they could delete them. They managed to remove ours, only for a many of our facebook friends to repost it. All these responses seemed to worry the management at Homebase and they quickly put out a couple of rushed statements including:
‘[..] The company has not signed up to the workfare programme, but, on occasions, works with local organisations to help unemployed people into the workplace. A number of unemployed people have recently joined our Haringey store through JobCentre Plus in a short, voluntary programme, to gain work experience. They are entirely under no obligation to participate, nor will non participation affect any benefits. Colleagues at this store also have not been impacted by this programme in any reduction of hours.’ and ‘Some of our best colleagues have joined us having previously been unemployed […]‘
Even on a first read through these statements seem to be full of double speak and blatant lies. They start by saying they haven’t signed up to workfare but then describe a workfare scheme they have evidently signed up to! They move on to say it is voluntary even though it has been repeatedly revealed that the job centre forces people onto so-called ‘voluntary’ schemes, by threatening them with sanctions, telling them the only alternative is an even worse mandatory scheme, illegally giving inaccurate information and not explaining to them their right to refuse.
Next they say that the workfare scheme has not impacted staff or reduced over time hours, boycott workfare quickly exposed this as an outright lie with a staff member reporting massive reductions in overtime. They also revealed that Homebase isn’t offering any of their unpaid workers jobs, hardly surprising given the fact that only 4% of people on the work program end up with steady job. As for their claim that some people who got a job with them were unemployed before hand? Well surely this is true anywhere, its quite common to be unemployed before you get a job!
We’re calling on individuals and groups around the country to join us in taking action against Homebase. (facebook event)
Bristol AFed, SolFed and friends at one of our previous anti-workfare demonstrations
We propose that people keep up the contact and criticism via their twitter, facebook, you tube, customer email, media enquiries email, post box, and telephone. Then, if Homebase has not 100% officially backed out of all methods of exploiting unpaid workers at the expense of their paid staff, we call on people to hold protests at their local homebase store a week from now, on Saturday the 13th and Sunday the 14th of APRIL. If there isn’t a Homebase close by, why not hold a protest at an Argos instead, seeing as it also uses workfare in the same way and is owned by the same parent company!
If you are thinking of joining in with the national days of action against Homebase, we highly recommend you speak to the staff working in the shop before hand. If you work their yourself, or know someone that does, this is ideal. Even if you don’t it is worth going down before your protest and politely talking to staff in a relaxed way. Make it clear that your protest is not aimed at them, but at the management and owners of homebase. Explain how if this isn’t stopped it could negatively affect their jobs. Encourage them to get together and talk to other members of staff at Homebase, and consider joining a workplace group or union to fight to protect and improve their pay and conditions (we would recommend the IWW or Solidarity Federation, but the choice will depend on the local situation).
We will be calling for a picket and protest at our local Homebase, in the mean time we have set up a Facebook Event to help people network, share ideas, and advertise their local events. We also suggest using the Boycott Workfare and UK Uncut websites to help network with other people in your area.
Calling a protest doesn’t have to take a lot of time, print off some leaflets (feel free to copy anything from our last workfare leaflet – we will post links to other leaflets produced (send ‘em to us!) so people can copy them if they don’t feel like writing their own), make some placards and banners, text call and speak to your mates, then publicise the event online or on any community notice boards etc.
Additionally, this is the demand we’ve made of Homebase, what would be enough for you to call off your action may vary:
Release a binding statement that clearly states 1) you will never participate in any workfare schemes nationally or locally*1 2) Homebase will stop all current involvement with all schemes (including the ‘work experience program’) that equate to people working for you for no money*2 3) you apologise for the callous nature of the poster that was up in a management office (a picture of which is bellow) and will investigate the manager(s) responsible 4) You compensate anyone who has been on such a scheme with you, and if a paid position is available offer them a job should they decide they want one. Due to the circumstances of the job offer it should be completely acceptable for someone to refuse, homebase should work with the job centre to ensure this in itself does not lead to sanctions. This absolutely must not impact on hours, overtime or pay for current staff members.
*1with the definition of workfare being any scheme where unemployed people work for you without pay, including (but not limited to) so-called ‘work experience’ schemes operated by the job centre and private companies.
*2 Homebase will also ensure that no one suffers any sanctions due to the scheme ending, something they should actively pursue and check up on with the relevent job centres.
Labour controlled Birmingham City Council, which represents around 1 million people, said that from 1 April it would force benefit claimants to use prepaid cards that could be redeemed only in Asda supermarkets. Purchases are restricted to a predetermined list of items excluding phone credit, fuel, tobacco and alcohol.
To get everyone in the mood for SolFed’s southern regional conference, host local Solent called a flash picket of the devious workfare provider on Commercial road; A joint action with CNT-AIT Caen France, Forest of Dean Anarchists, Wessex Solidarity and other comrades.
Poundland’s repeated protestations that they have given up the DWP’s slave labour scheme have proved to be worthless. As always, we talked to the staff and handed them some literature: the stakes were raised somewhat as it turned out two of them were working for JSA (about £2 an hour). It was only fair to share this information with the Saturday morning shoppers, and it was enough to put most of them off.
Bit of déjà vu for Holland and Barrett but they just happened to be next door and there wasn’t room for us all to stand outside Poundland’s shop window. Passers by were mostly friendly including some passing Trots, who were impressed with our level of organisation! Cheers comrades, did you know it was the 92nd anniversary of the start of the Kronstadt Rebellion?
From thence to our secret conference venue, multiple breakfasts and plotting the downfall of the bourgeoisie. The day rounded off with a sociable evening of radical folk, punk & noise. You should have been there!
Another bunch of sleazy slave-mongers has been brought to our attention:
From their website:
JHP Employability Call: 0800 6800 321:
“The Department for Work and Pensions has created a new work programme designed to give those who are unemployed the opportunity to gain new skills and experiences by completing a work placement which will benefit their local community.”
– It beats us how the community benefits from losing 4 weeks full time paid employment when there already aren’t enough jobs to go round. –
“What’s great about the programme…”
– We’re all ears –
”We are giving our clients new opportunities and a fresh start. A 4-week placement gives them the chance to experiene” (sic)
– won’t teach ‘em to spell then – “a new sector or job and”
– wait for it… “give back to the community”.
– There you go, give back to the community that denied you a living by lining JHP’s pockets at your own expense! Who exactly do these bastards think they are? –
“…The programme lasts 4 weeks with each client completing a 30 hour working week…”
If you’d like to support this programme”
– If, like us, you want to put a stop to the exploitation of your Fellow Workers: –
“and provide our clients with this unique opportunity,” – to work 30 hours a week for fuck all –
“please get in touch with our regional team on
0870 4780 919”
Please feel free to tell them what you think.
from Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty:
Protestors blockaded and occupied both British Heart Foundation and Superdrug in Edinburgh today Saturday 8 December, in opposition to their participation in the government’s workfare schemes.
A huge banner declaring IF YOU EXPLOIT US WE WILL SHUT YOU DOWN blocked the entrance to the BHF furniture store in Leith’s Kirkgate centre as demonstrators occupied the shop. Impromptu speeches were given inside and out, explaining that although BHF had claimed to be “moving away” from workfare, they were still taking on new compulsory placements.
When you get bored with Starbucks, there’s a Brighton Benefits Campaign picket outside Superdrug on London Rd (there may also be one on Western Rd if there are numbers) this Saturday at 2pm.
WORKFARE NOW FOR SICK AND DISABLED PEOPLE
Since Monday, sick and disabled people claiming ESA can now be forced to work without pay. As if this isn’t bad enough, many of their placements will be with the very charities which are meant to support disabled people. Charities such as Scope, Sense and British Heart Foundation are all profiting from workfare.
But what we do is having an impact: yesterday Age UK announced they were pulling out; Scope claims to be reviewing its involvement; British Heart Foundation has not pulled out completely, but has announced it is “stepping back”.
REPLACING CHRISTMAS STAFF
We’ve had reports that Argos and Superdrug are systematically replacing paid Christmas staff with workfare. They’re not the only ones. Asda was definitely at it this time last year. http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=306
We’ve heard from staff at Shoezone too: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1778
If they exploit us, we will shut them down!
TAKE ACTION THIS WEEK
Bristol Anti-cuts alliance:
On Wednesday November 14th, the European Trade Union Confederation has called a European Day of Action and Solidarity against austerity. Workers in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus & Malta are staging an International General Strike. In other countries workers will take action. At the initiative of Greeks and Spaniards living and working in Bristol, local activists and trades unionists are holding a solidarity protest on the Centre near Neptune’s statue from 5pm.
Please come if you can. Bring banners. All welcome.
For more information email admin@bristolanticutsalliance.
Bristol Solidarity Federation are planning to hold a protest picket against stores that continue to use the Workfare programme to recruit unpaid labour.
This will be held on Sunday 18th November 2012. Commencing 11.30am and we plan to finish at 1.00pm. We asking people to gather outside Poundland, 42 – 46 East Street, Bedminster. As part of our on-going campaign we are nationally targeting Poundland but we also recognise that other stores continue to profit from this source of free labour. Others that operate in Bedminster include Asda, Greggs, McDonald’s, Poundstretcher, Savers, Shoe Zone, Super Drug and Wilkinsons.
We would like to call on your support to apply pressure to these stores.
Bristol Solidarity Federation.
Ed Miliband booed for promising cuts to TUC anti-cuts march – 20th October 2012
They are going to give us an outlet for our misery while they do their best to help this government of comedy toffs save capitalism. On our behalf they are going to bleat and beg the selfish millionaires, very loudly – until they get their seat in the house of lords.
Who wants to work? There is plenty to do, to be sure, saving the environment, feeding and housing the people, eradicating poverty and disease; but the only activity which will earn you a qualified right to survive in their warped universe is that which enriches someone else.
The TUC echoes the bourgeoisie in fetishising work and money – we already have too much of of both!
Save the economy! Create jobs, stimulate economic growth – which is nothing more than the expansion of debt. We must work longer for less, why? Their money is just other people’s debt and worthless unless someone is prepared to work for it, fuck ’em! All we need is a fair distribution of resources and and end to wastefully producing commodities for exchange.
Fuck the economy, save the planet and the people, it’s time we took back the world we built with our hands, eyes and brains and put it to our own use.
If you can’t be arsed to listen to speeches from a load of career politicians and time-servers who aspire to nothing better than changing sides in the class war:
Stay free, stay safe, no comment, see you on the streets!
The start of this year’s Libdem conference was met by a noisy march and demo called by Brighton Stop the Cuts and the local Trades Council. Speeches followed, the final one being given by a member of the Solidarity Federation who called on those present to join us in shutting down workfare in Brighton. For the rest of the afternoon, the centre of town was dominated by anarchosyndicalists, their friends and comrades. Red and black flags and banners were ubiquitous the length of London road as members of SF locals Brighton, Bristol, Croydon, North London, Solent, South London and Thames Valley picketed workfare parasites and handed out thousands of leaflets to the staff and shoppers. Two branches of Poundland were picketed along with Argos, Costa’s Coffee, Primark, and Superdrug. We were also graced with a visit from Brighton’s lonely fascist photographer who fucked off after a group of anarchists decided to picket him.
Brighton Benefits Campaign: Austerity demo & mass workfare picket
On Saturday Brighton Solidarity Federation were joined by Brighton Benefits Campaign on our first picket in the national campaign against Workfare profiteers Poundland. Over the course of two hours we handed out a thousand leaflets and struck up many conversations with the public at their North Street store. This follows the high court ruling that the DWP were within the law to force two unemployed workers out of voluntary work and into unpaid labour at the store.
“Trades unions and community groups have called on the Bournemouth and Poole College to withdraw its support for the government’s discredited Work Programme which seeks to coerce the unemployed into unpaid work, after it emerged the college was encouraging employers on their website to “Try before you buy” – describing the unemployed as expendable commodities.”
From Bournemouth and Poole Anti Cuts Coalition (BPACC): –
It seems that The Bournemouth and Poole College Students’ Union are supporting this, either unwilling or unable to condemn such practise from the College; when the chance to comment was offered to BPC SU via Facebook, they chose to delete the post (Click to enlarge):
Surely they don’t represent the views of real students – who could just as easily starve to death with their feet up! Dorset has 3,635 residents claiming jobseeker’s allowance and just 2,111 listed vacancies, according to latest figures. – Get in touch if you want to do something about it.
B.P.A.C.C. plan to “target the college with a wave of protests if it refuses to distance itself from the Work Programme.”
Having stuffed it up Holland & Barrett our flying pickets are getting restless… We’re in!
Article from Bournemouth Echo:
Auditors expose salary scandal at Bournemouth Council
All the while they’re cutting services and getting people on workfare to pick litter.
Following the sudden caving in of Holland and Barrett, our local anti-workfare group convened outside a branch of Argos in Poole. A diverse range of activists’ groups answered the call out and our peaceful picket commenced, following the usual format:
Reassurance was given to staff and a letter explaining the action along with a copy of Solfed’s Workfare Pamphlet. We had the usual mixed response we get round here: some are already affected by this, some are worried about it, some ignorant but interested, some right right behind us and a few “I’m all right Jack, bugger off”.
After a while we were joined by some sinister black-clad figures who scowled a great deal to no good purpose; they turned out to be the security prats from the nearby Dolphin Centre arcade; a good-natured plod appeared and basically told them to mind their own business as we were doing nothing illegal.
After the picket we took a short-cut through the Dolphin Centre on our way for a coffee, and found ourselves followed by a crowd of the aforementioned prats who were evidently desperate to have a row, near the exit, for some inexplicable reason, several comrades were assaulted, including a grandmother and a teenage girl.
We had resolved to maintain Boycott Workfare and SolFed’s strategy of peaceful protest – which is clearly working – and with Holland and Barrett’s spurious claims of violence uppermost in our minds, we took great care not to harm any of these buffoons, making it our priority to just get everyone out of there safely – though they really were asking for it.
Anyway they did us a big favour because the gathering crowd were suddenly interested to hear all about our protest and the workfare campaign.
We’ll be back!
The usual suspects will be conducting a picket of the hypocritical workfare slave-mongers in the Poole area on 7th July. If you’d like to be involved contact us
A spur of the moment picket was called by Bournemouth Uncut and Occupy in solidarity with comrades in Liverpool on Saturday 23rd. It was well attended, supported by members of BPACC and Solent Solfed. Two shops picketed; police called in relation to attachment of flags and placards to street furniture, despite the plethora of bunting and advertising material in the precinct – we were only asked to take it with us when we’d finished.
At the arcade, the security prat in the jeweller’s next door asked us to go outside (there were two entrances, one inside, one out), another prat in a suit came out, he was asked to prove that he was an agent for the landowner. After variously claiming to be the owner, chairman of the committee and some company he couldn’t name, he “couldn’t be bothered to argue” and went back in to call the police – which he didn’t – so there you go.
On Saturday 26 May, nearly fifty anti-workfare activists met up in Brighton for a national conference entitled ‘How do we break workfare?’; hosted by Brighton benefits campaign
Participants came from Liverpool, Norfolk, Oxford, Dorset, London, Surrey and Sussex as well as Brighton and Hove. They represented welfare and anti-cuts campaigns, claimant organisations, political groups and trade unions, as well as many individuals opposed to workfare.
The irrepressible South Wales Anarchists and comrades celebrated Mayday with an anarchist picnic in the city centre. Assorted free literature, free food in the shape of bread rolls and spicy veg stew provided by Food Not Bombs Cardiff plus free entertainment from local acts busking in the shadow of Nye Bevan’s statue. A sunny day brought a crowd out and some interesting conversations were had.
The event also marks the launch of their stylish new website The A Hole.
We also managed to slot in a couple of workfare pickets: Primark and Poundland, I can report that management and security at both are proper bell-ends. We then adjourned to the boozer and it all gets a bit hazy after that…
May Day is our day! – International Workers’ Day, and this is what it’s all about: The Anarchist origins of May Day (pdf)
Mayday roundup from London
As part of our rolling campaign against workfare, members of Wessex Solidarity, Bournemouth Uncut and B.P.A.C.C. leafleted members of the Communications Workers’ Union outside their Conference in Bournemouth; both on Sunday and today, ahead of the vote on Bristol branch’s Motion 26 Category A which reads as follows:
This Conference agrees that the Postal Executive will cease all involvement in the Royal Mail Work Experience (as outlined in the letter to branches 012/12) and notify Royal Mail of this immediately after the close of conference.
The Postal Executive is instructed accordingly.
Incredibly the motion was defeated! More detailed report to follow from our journalist comrade on the inside…
The fight goes on.
They’re having their conference in Bournemouth, who’s up for it?
H&B really are taking the piss; having announced that no less than a quarter of their workforce is to be unpaid – and heavily subsidised by the taxpayer through the offices of Chris Grayling’s mendacious cronies.
So it was with some relish that we descended on our local purveyors of quack remedies to neurotic old hippies. Under the banner of Wessex Solidarity, members of IWW, Solent Solfed, Portsmouth Anarchists, Bournemouth Uncut and Surrey/Hants Afed picketed two branches of this bogus medicine show, later we were joined by a couple of SWP. A letter was handed to staff explaining the action along with a copy of Solfed’s Workfare Pamphlet.
Our ginger ninja on the megaphone harangued passers-by with her acidic wit while the punters scurried in in search of cures for their creaky joints, failing eyesight and uncompliant third leg.
The manager showed up: “are you allowed to be here?” What? On a pavement in a shopping precinct on a Saturday! He claimed to be ‘creating jobs’ then bemoaned the fact that we were going to cost him his £59 bonus; we were all set to move on to the next one when we found out he’d called the plod with some spurious allegations so we had to hang around on principle. “Who’s in charge?” – where do they get it from? Our letter now in the hands of babylon we can all expect some traffic on our web sites over the next few days.
As time was cracking on the group then split, a second H&B was picketed while Bournemouth uncut did their thing at vodafone. Having run out of fliers we reunited in top shop on our way to the pub; we brightened up when the guvnor announced security were going to “remove us using force” but they evidently didn’t fancy it and called plod again. I think it was the same copper, they all look the same to me.
One thing that struck us from talking to people was how many posties there are who are pissed off with their jobs and their union. if any CWU members are reading this give us a shout and we’ll put you in touch with others who want to do something – and don’t forget the picket of CWU headquarters on Monday!
A las Barricadas…
We intend a picket/leaflet of one of the national firms participating in a workfare scheme, in the Bournemouth area. This will be followed by a communications blockade on the 2nd. The lucky recipient of our attentions will be revealed in due course – watch this space – but I bet you’ve got a pretty good idea! This is a nationwide initiative originating from the Solidarity Federation but now taken up by a wide range of anti-workfare groups across the country.
This is intended as a non-sectarian demonstration of working class unity, so please invite anyone you think would like to come.
Most people will have heard about the CWU leadership endorsing the Royal Mail’s participation in the workfare scheme, whilst at the same time ignoring rank and file members views on forced labour and attacks on workers rights.
Concerned posties from SOLFED, IWW, Boycott Workfare, and CWU send you the following call out, and request for solidarity.
See you on the picket!
Solent Solfed: NO TO WORKFARE AT ROYAL MAIL – APRIL 2ND 11am
Open Letter to all members of the Communication Workers Union, (CWU)
The following events are taking place during March, your support would be greatly appreciated.
21st March – Budget Day Vigil – Bournemouth Square – 6pm
24th March– BPACC street stall – Boscombe – meet just outside entrance to Sovereign Centre – 10.30pm.
28th March – This day is likely to see smaller level strikes regarding the pensions injustice. Details of a local rally to follow once confirmed.
31st March – Is International Day of Action against capitalism.
UK groups are focussing on workfare and Wessex Solidarity is supporting this campaign; despite the government’s recent apparent climb down, the issue is not resolved. Details to follow – get in touch to get involved.
3rd April – Public Meeting regarding the future of local hospitals – The Royal Bournemouth Hospital, Conference Room, Education Centre, Castle Lane East, Bournemouth. BH7 7DW. – 6pm
To contact BPACC see link to the right of the page.
IWW Flyer 2 sided:
Solfed generic flyer:
From Bristol Indymedia:
Generic flyers in English and Welsh pdfs here:
Holland & Barrett specific flyers in colour, B&W and toner friendly grey:
The SF ones with H&B specific page – could print A4 or A5 double sided perhaps.
and Boycott Tesco in English and Welsh:
One of our comrades submitted the following freedom of information request:
Dear Department for Work and Pensions,
Please could you provide a list of organisations signed up to
provide unpaid work placements under the mandatory Work Activity
and Mandatory Work Programme schemes as referred by Jobcentre Plus,
and the name of the linked providers in the Poole and Bournemouth
Well what do you fucking know!
They’re rattled, because it’s working!
Update – here’s another: