Boycott Workfare York

workfare-montageThis article is in support of our Boycott Workfare protest, Sat 15th, 12pm, Ryedale House, Piccadilly, York, YO1 9PE. Please invite friends to our Boycott Workfare Facebook event.

Boycott Workfare has called for a week of action (8th-15th) against companies which exploit unpaid labour. Workfare is part of 5 programmes, started by the previous Labour government and expanded by the current government. Here are the 3 worst examples:

The Work Programme: Jobseeker’s allowance claimants are referred to private companies, who organise mandatory unpaid work placements for 6 months. Refusal can mean the loss of benefits. Acceptance means working full time jobs, for jobseekers allowance. This is in effect, working a full time shift for £14 a day.

Mandatory Work Activity: The Job centre can order claimants to work for up to 30 hours a week, for a period of 4 weeks without pay. This works out as working for £2.36 an hour.

Community Action Programme: This will be rolled out nationally in 2013. It claims to focus on community service work, but provides cheap, unpaid labour to replace low level public sector jobs that will be cut by councils due to austerity.

Not a government scheme to lower unemployment

Throughout all of this, someone who could be spending their time looking for a job is forced into working full time, or living without the £71 a week afforded to them by Jobseeker’s Allowance. While in a full time job, it becomes harder to edit and check CVs, to phone companies, to attend interviews or to go on training. This is not a government scheme to lower unemployment. The Department of Work and pensions own research report states:

“There is little evidence that workfare increases the likelihood of finding work. It can even reduce employment chances by limiting time available for job search and failing to provide the skills and experience valued by employers. Workfare is least effective in getting people into jobs in weak labour markets where unemployment is high.”

This is a government scheme to provide cheap labour for companies, and allows them to get away with not hiring new workers. It threatens existing workers’ conditions – when a company can get employees for free from the government, why bother listening and acting on an employee’s or union’s concerns?

boycott-workfareAcross York, there are national and international companies which exploit unpaid labour, provided to them by the government. This is morally repulsive, and York Stop the Cuts fully supports Boycott Workfare’s call for a week of action. Join us on our march across York’s city centre on the 15th.

Meet Sat 15th, at 12pm, Ryedale House, Piccadilly, York, YO1 9PE. Facebook event: Boycott Workfare.

For more information on workfare, see


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