Last week’s National Week of Action against Workfare saw protesters across the country take the fight to companies using unemployed workers forced by the ConDem’s Workfare schemes to work unpaid or lose their benefits.
On the eve of the Week of Action, Holland and Barrett, a Workfare pioneer, pulled out of the Government’s Work Programme, having been the beneficiaries of 1100 unpaid workers over the past year.
They cited the protests as the reason for their withdrawal, but in a statement that slanders anti-workfare protestors, the company accuses campaigners of abusing and assaulting their workers and damaging their stock.
When asked by the Guardian to provide evidence, Holland and Barrett could not point to a single criminal charge against a protester.
As Right To Work’s Mark Dunk said in a letter to the Guardian:
“The real violence is hugely profitable companies making even more money on the back of these labour schemes, while more than a million young people are left to rot on the unemployment scrapheap. Poundland, another workfare exploiter which recently announced profits up 27% to £40.1m, should take note”
Through the week, there were protests at Greggs, McDonalds and Superdrug in London, WH Smiths in Bath, Argos and Primark in Brighton, the British Heart Foundation in Leeds, A4e in Liverpool, Holland and Barrett in Oxford to mention a few.
On Tuesday, a delegation from Boycott Workfare’s Making Welfare Work counter-conference in Birmingham marched down the road to protest at the Welfare-To-Work industry’s convention at the ICC.
David Cameron, ministers Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling are desperate to increase the numbers of unemployed forced to work unpaid.
This is despite the fact that workfare is having “zero effect” on getting people into employment.
Involving the wider trade union movement in the protests can finish off the Tories’ “state-sponsored slavery”.