Willesden Homebase to be subject to protest over unpaid workers
Press Release from Brent Housing Action and Boycott Workfare
On Saturday 13th July members of Brent Housing Action and Boycott Workfare will be picketing the Willesden Homebase store at 473 High Road, NW10 2JH between 11 and 13:00hrs in protest at their use of unpaid workers employed through the Work Experience programme overseen by the Department of Work and Pensions.
Brent Housing Action are taking this action as part of Boycott Workfare’s “Week of Action” against companies and organisations who make profits from employees who are paid through the taxpayer-funded Social Security system, which not only reduces the opportunities for these individuals to find appropriate work but reduces the number of paid jobs available in our community.
This is particularly significant in the case of Homebase. Boycott Workfare were surprised to be contacted by a whistleblower recently as it is less than two months since Hayley Fowell, a PR Manager for the Home Retail Group which owns Homebase released the following statement:
“…after careful consideration we have decided to halt any further recruitment of colleagues through the work experience programme with Job Centre Plus”.
Minutes later she added to the statement:
“… we have decided not to recruit from this particular Job Centre Plus scheme going forward.”
On-site research by a Boycott Worker activist suggested that this is not the case in Willesden, and after giving the store manager the opportunity to clarify his position – which was not taken up – the decision was made to re-instate the national protests of April and May 2013 which led Homebase to claim they had withdrawn from the programme.
The previous protests emerged after The Guardian published a poster from the manager’s office at the Haringey Homebase which appeared to boast about cutting paid work “Would 750 hours with no payroll costs help YOUR store?” A whistleblower has described how hours in Haringey have been cut from 48 per week to 8 per week for some staff.
Speaking for Brent Housing Action, Nic Lane said:
“It is obviously disappointing to see such a large organisation as the Home Retail Group get involved with workfare at any point, but utterly disgraceful that they claim to have ceased using these programmes when all they were interested in was ending the bad publicity they were subject to as a result of the previous protests. As they are solely interested in profiting from the enforced labour of claimants we will continue to act to hinder this profiteering until they bring paid employment back into our borough and into all their stores nationally.”