Arts Against Cuts, Disabled People Against Cuts, London Coalition Against Poverty, Single Mother’s Self-Defence and others launch their Boycott Workfare campaign.
Workfare – compulsory work for benefits – is being rolled-out across the country. We call on public sector bodies, voluntary organizations, and businesses being offered these placements as well as union branches and anti-cuts groups to join others in signing a pledge to boycott the scheme.
Workfare is a modern form of forced labour in which claimants are forced to work for their benefits: the equivalent of £2.25 per hour. Many Charity Shops, Poundland, supermarket chains and other organisations are already using this steady supply of cheap labour to replace paid employees.
A detailed list of organisations which will be involved in using cheap labour through workfare programmes, including already several local councils and Remploy can be found here: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?page_id=16
DPAC say disabled people who have been thrown onto JSA as well as others will now be forced through the Single Work Programme to work for a minimum of 30 hours a week for 4 weeks whenever they are told to, carrying out tasks such as sweeping streets, cleaning graffiti off walls, stacking shelves in Tesco and Sainsbury and carrying out other menial tasks. Failure to comply enthusiastically enough, regardless of any pre-existing impairments, will result in benefits being stopped.
Many anti-workfare campaigners fear one of the main dangers of these schemes is that if extended they may threaten the minimum wage, as the pool of available unemployed workers steadily increases. However even we did not expect to find a private members’ bill from Christopher Chope (Conservative) already going through parliament and due for its 1st reading on July 5th seeking to abolish the minimum wage and replace it with a bill to enable the national minimum wage to be varied to reflect local labour market conditions and for connected purposes. The 2nd reading is due on October 14th.
Minimum Wage Amendment Bill 2010-2011
Get your union branch to pass the Boycott Workfare motion & resist forced unpaid labour in your workplace: boycottworkfare.org