Monday, 10 December 2012

Anti-Workfare Pickets Glasgow Report

 On Saturday 8th December as part of the Boycott Workfare Week Of Action a couple of dozen people from Clydeside Industrial Workers Of The World, the Crutch Collective, Glasgow Anarchist Federation, Glasgow Solidarity Federation, the Right To Work Campaign and other individuals leafleted a branch of Superdrug in one of the city centre's busiest streets. The one thousand leaflets given out highlighted Superdrug taking on even more people on the Government's 'Work Experience' workfare scheme for the Christmas period. The extra people on workfare means less holiday pay for the regular staff. There was a lot of police about and Superdrug had hired extra security for the day. However the combination of the picket, the leaflet saying, 'Don't Shop At Superdrug' and the added security costs meant we succeeded in our objective of costing Superdrug money for using Workfare. Thanks to everyone who took part. Apparently someone also left placards saying 'Superdrug + Unpaid Work = Superdrudgery' outside their other city centre branch.

The picket also attracted some media attention from local journalists. The Sunday Mail, with a reported readership of around one million, mentioned the Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow protests, and their article, 'Big Businesses Taking On Jobless Young People To Work Unpaid Over Christmas', helped get our general message across to a larger audience. It appears to contain some useful information on the extent of Workfare involvement of a number of companies, but it also includes some of the distortions of the reality of Workfare by these companies and the Department for Work and Pensions. We would have to question if the newspaper verified any of the information in the statements of the the Workfare companies and the D.W.P.

The Superdrug distortions - 'Work Experience' is not voluntary in practice. Job Centre Plus and third party workfare profiteers like A4E bully benefit claimants on to the scheme. Benefit claimants can have their benefits cut if they do not not continue to 'volunteer' to stay on the scheme, after they have been on the scheme for a week. Only a tiny number of people on workfare get jobs afterwards. For example it is 3.5% for the 'Work Programme' and that includes participants getting jobs with other companies and very short-term jobs. Stacking shelves for Superdrug is not learning a skill. Argos state that 'Work Experience' people work alongside paid colleagues, but don't replace them, but the permanent staff lose out on holiday pay. Why aren't all of their temporary staff paid? Of the 25% Poundland say left their 'work experience' early, because they received a job offer elsewhere, how many were going to get offered a job anyhow? Poundland also put a positive spin on 10% going on to get jobs with them, but that means 90% do not, while Poundland continue to make profits from all the unpaid labour.

We brought forward the time of the picket so that people could take part in he UK UnCut Starbucks demo in Glasgow. UK UnCut have been making the links between tax avoidance, cuts to public services and their impact on women. The Starbucks PR machine has gone into overdrive saying that they will pay a few more peanuts in tax in the next couple of years based on their own estimates while they don't mention all the unpaid tax from the past in their media releases. It has been revealed that the tax payments will be paid for by cuts to the terms and conditions of the Starbucks staff. The IWW Starbucks Workers Union is looking for volunteer organisers to help them organise Starbucks staff to fight these cuts c/o -

PO Box 7593, Glasgow G42 2EX

One person did manage to get inside the Sauchiehall Street coffee shop with leaflets, but there was too many police for a Refuge from the Cuts to be set up in this branch of Starbucks. The demo moved on to create a noisy presence with cake outside the Starbucks on Buchanan Street, another one of the main shopping streets in Glasgow.

From there a few people went on to picket the city centre furniture store of the British Heart Foundation. The manager of the store aggressively told us we needed a permit to hand out leaflets. This is another fake claim from BHF. When we told him we didn't need one he told us he was then going to ring the police and he stropped off phone in hand. Of course the police never arrived. A customer said that the manager said we were talking 'shit', but at the same time the manager had confirmed that that they do use Workfare in that store. BHF have had 1500 placements on 'Mandatory Work Activity' and the 'Work Programme'. Despite BHF claims, the schemes are not voluntary. BHF must know the meaning of the word, 'mandatory'. All workfare companies have to sign a contract saying that they will report anyone who does not show up for the schemes, which automatically results in benefit claimants having their benefits cut. BHF have vaguely stated that are 'moving away' from workfare at some unspecified point in the future, but hopefully this picket and others will bring their use of workfare to a halt sooner rather than later. They have been pressurised in to making another public statement, which could be a sign that they are about to cave in.

We are already making plans for a bigger Anti-Workfare campaign in the new year.

Claimants Resisting Unfair Treatment Cuts and Harassment
A group of benefit claimants and supporters in Glasgow
Hopefully we will have photos of the picket here soon.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Superdrug are taking on more people on the Government's 'Work Experience' workfare scheme for Christmas.

It's good for the bosses and their profits.

But bad for unemployed people on the scheme who don't get paid.

It's also bad for other workers who lose out on holiday wages.

Workfare is an attack on us all!

Main Text of the Anti-Workfare Superdrug Picket Leaflet

 Like many chain stores, Superdrug, who made a £20 million profit last year, have been given a massive public subsidy, in the form of unemployed people working for nothing but their benefits on a workfare scheme. Superdrug suspended their participation in the Government's 'Work Experience' workfare scheme earlier in the year after actions against Tesco exposed this scam, but Superdrug began using the scheme again from at least June.

This scheme is not only an attack on the unemployed - who are bullied on to the so-called voluntary scheme by Job Centre Plus and fraudster workfare provider companies like A4E, or are forced on to other workfare schemes for refusing to take part in 'work experience' that mostly involves stacking shelves for up to 30 hours a week for 8 weeks, and who face sanctions i.e. having their benefits cut in certain circumstances, while on the scheme.

It is also a direct attack on Superdrug workers and other workers - replacing paid jobs, holiday pay & ending temporary posts.

Superdrug will no longer be taking on temporary staff to deal with the busy Christmas period - rather than hire extra workers, Superdrug will be taking on more people on 'Work Experience' – workers Superdrug still don't have to pay. Not only will this impact on those being exploited as unpaid labour, but on students & others who rely on holiday work.

The same number of people will be doing the same amount of work – but thanks to workfare, Superdrug can replace paid workers with unpaid ones. Once again, the lies of the government and businesses, claiming that workfare is a way to help people back into work, are exposed. The exact opposite is true - workfare is a job destruction scheme.

We call on Superdrug to end this exploitation and withdraw immediately from all workfare programmes - any workers now working unpaid should be hired straight away.

The best way to end the iniquity of workfare is to directly affect the profits of the companies exploiting it - we have shown that it works - join us doing the same to Superdrug!
Until Superdrug gives in, help us in fighting this attack on all workers’ terms and conditions -

Don't Shop At Superdrug.

This picket is part of a 'Boycott Workfare' National Week Of Action. They have information on other High Street stores that use workfare on their website:

A guide to all the workfare schemes and advice on how to avoid them can be found here:

Claimants Resisting Unfair Treatment Cuts and Harassment -
a group of benefit claimants and supporters in Glasgow:

Supported by Clydeside Industrial Workers Of The World – Clydeside IWW is on Facebook
We've changed the starting time of the Superdrug Workfare picket to 11 a.m. as some places online are saying that the Starbucks demo starts at 12 noon and some people want to go on to the Starbucks demo after the picket and the 2nd workfare picket!

British Heart Foundation Furniture shop on Argyle Street.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

How To Appeal & How To Beat Atos & The D.W.P.

We have recently noticed that 1000s of people have viewed the 'How To Appeal' pages on our website and that the number has been greatly increasing in recent months.

We just want to emphasise that it best to appeal with the help of an advice centre as this will greatly increase your chances of winning.  If you are in Glasgow or Edinburgh (and co-incidently Leeds as well) we can suggest places for you to go for for help.

We know that some people are too ill to do this, but we suggest you get collectively involved in fighting benefit cuts until the whole system is scrapped and replaced with a way of doing things that is based on genuinely meeting peoples' needs.  You may win your appeal as an individual, but you could be re-assessed every 6 months under the current system.  We have suggested finding other people in your area to fight benefit cuts by posting on the Black Triangle and Disabled People Against Cuts Facebook Pages (plus try the Atos Miracles Facebook Page for help and advice).  A selected list of groups fighting benefit cuts has also been produced in the last few weeks:

At least they should be able to tell you of a good advice centre to go to.